Known for its picturesque scenery and spacious natural areas, the Hudson Valley offers some amazing parks and playgrounds where kids can enjoy nature, cool off on hot days, and even meet new animal friends. Out of the dozens of parks spread out over the Hudson Valley, we have picked out the best options with the most activities for kids of all ages, plus some fun attractions for the adults too, so you can make a day of it with the whole family.
For more ideas on where to play, check out our Guide to Playgrounds and Parks in Westchester and the Hudson Valley.
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Run through the sprinklers at the splash pad at the Village of Nyack Memorial Park. Photo courtesy of the park
Top Parks and Playgrounds in Rockland County
Memorial Park is located on the Hudson River within walking distance of numerous restaurants and cafes in the Village of Nyack. The park includes a viewing platform on the river with views of the beautiful newly rebuilt Mario M. Cuomo (formerly Tappan Zee) Bridge. Kids will love watching the big boats go by as well as the many types of birds that flock to the river. The park also has a children’s playground with swings and multiple climbing structures, a skateboard park, and a splash pad. Free outdoor concerts are held on Tuesday evenings in the summer.
With a beautiful natural glacial lake as its centerpiece, Rockland Lake State Park is a perfect family day trip destination. The park features 3.2 miles of paved walking/biking/stroller trails along the lake as well as a nature center with hiking trails. The trails wind through marshland with a lot of birds up to a lookout point with a gorgeous view of the lake. We saw swans, ducks, and geese the day we visited. The large, shaded picnic area overlooks the lake, and there is also a shaded playground with baby swings and several climbing structures for toddlers as well as big kids. Swimming is not allowed in the lake, but there is a large pool with two big waterslides and a splash pad area that is open to the public throughout the summer for $5 per person (see the park website for the updated pool schedule). The park is open year-round to the public, but a $10 per car parking fee is taken between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Bathrooms are located next to the playground and in the pool complex. Check out more pools and splash pads in the Hudson Valley.
With miles of hiking trails, a boating lake, an indoor carousel, a pool, a playground, and even a zoo, Bear Mountain State Park provides a full day of fun for families with kids of all ages. Families can also enjoy dining at the Bear Mountain Inn's 1915 Bar & Restaurant or grab an ice cream, coffee, or quick bites in the hiker's cafe next to the gift shop. There is a $10 per vehicle parking fee, with additional fees for the carousel, pool, and boat rentals. The new playground is across the road from the carousel house and features climbing structures for kids of all ages. Read our review for more information.
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Kids can enjoy a natural playground at Grasshopper Grove. Photo courtesy of the park
Kids can cool off and get messy in this nature-based playground located at the Hudson Highlands Outdoor Discovery Center. The playground has water features that utilize collected rainwater, natural wooden obstacles, and a sand pit with digging toys. The playground is $5 for nonmembers and FREE for children under 3. Families can also visit the nearby Wildlife Education Center, which has a collection of locally rescued animals plus a kids' area with hands-on nature education and STEM activities. The entry fee for the Wildlife Education Center is $5 for ages 3 and up. Read our review here.
Located near the village of Piermont and on the Palisades uplands overlooking the Hudson River, Tallman Mountain State Park offers a swimming pool with a cafe, a running track, tennis courts, a playground, and shaded picnic areas in addition to hiking trails with beautiful views of the Hudson River and the Mario Cuomo (formerly Tappan Zee) Bridge. There are bathrooms throughout the picnic area, but the only one open during the official off-season is located at the playground. There is an $8 parking fee collected from Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day. The Tallman Pool Club is open to the public from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with live music on Friday and Saturday evenings. The club features a large adult pool and a kiddie pool, with lots of chairs overlooking the Hudson. The park has a restaurant, Tallman Bar & Grill, that offers a full menu with kid-friendly options as well as cocktails for adults.
Slide down the towering slides at Plum Point Park.
Best Parks and Playgrounds in Orange County
This park has arguably the best view in the Hudson Valley as it is situated right on the Hudson River, with views of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge on the left and the Taconic Mountains on the right. The park has two main parking areas. The first one to the right as you enter is a picnic area with a gazebo and a beach play area. If you take a left and follow the sign to Plum Point Park, you will find a kids' playground with swings, a seesaw, and a play structure with four slides and a built-in scavenger hunt. The two areas are connected by hiking trails that overlook the river as well as the train tracks. Kids will love watching the trains that go by on both sides of the Hudson River. All facilities at the park are free and open to the public. Swimming is prohibited at the beach, but fishing is allowed. Restrooms are located in the Visitor's Center.
Situated on a creek at the Walden Rail Trail Welcoming Center, Wooster Memorial Grove Park has basketball courts, picnic tables, and the Walden Community Playground, a hidden gem in the heart of Walden. The large playground features castle-shaped wooden structures with lots of climbing, swinging, and exploring for kids to do. The playground is nicely shaded, with covered picnic tables in the middle for parents to relax while the kids play. Restrooms are available in the Welcoming Center. The rail trail is a stroller-friendly paved trail that is great for walking or biking and winds along a creek that ducks frequently visit.
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Ride a frog at Thomas Bull Memorial Park. Photo courtesy of the park
Thomas Bull Memorial Park is a 20-acre park with sprawling open fields, a lake, and an arboretum with multiple trails through gardens and water features, all free and open to the public. The park is also home to Sally's Dream Playground, a beautiful handicapped-accessible playground with plenty of ramps and platform bridges as well as swings, climbing structures, instruments, and even a giant frog to climb on. There are restrooms at the playground and in various locations throughout the park.
Plan your next move while swinging at Freedom Park.
Other Top Hudson Valley Parks and Playgrounds
Freedom Park is a little off the beaten path, but it is definitely worth taking a day to explore. The playground features two castle-shaped climbing structures, swings, a small kids' zipline, and several cute playhouses. Next to the playground is the Little Woods trail, a hiking (or jogging stroller) trail that winds along the creek and loops through a wooded area. Along the trail, there are various places to play, including teepees, playhouses, and musical instruments. There is also a story walk about butterflies leading to the butterfly garden. The creek is a popular place for fishing if you have your own gear. Freedom Lake is open for swimming in the summer, but a permit is required for non-residents. Restrooms are located near the playground.
Of all the playgrounds on this list, Julie's Jungle definitely takes the cake for equipment. It is the first fully accessible playground in Dutchess County, with amenities for kids of all abilities, including ramps, short stair heights, braille play panels, and a beautiful sensory garden. The playground is great for toddlers but has enough climbing structures to be fun for the older kids as well. The play area is completely fenced in, so no worrying about the little ones wandering out. The serenity garden features brick walkways and a landscaped stream and waterfall. Admission is completely free, but donations are accepted on the website.
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Mingle with the animals at Forsyth Park and Zoo. Photo courtesy of the park
Kingston's Forsyth Park is an 18-acre area with a kids' playground and a nature center with a zoo. The playground is fenced in with several castle-shaped structures, a pirate ship, and a sand-digging pit. Seasonally open restrooms and a picnic area are nearby. The park is also home to Forsyth Nature Center, a handicapped-accessible outdoor learning center featuring multiple gardens, fountains, and 24 animal exhibits that include llamas and alpacas, goats, and a reptile house. The center is open year-round and is free to the public.
No list of parks in the Hudson Valley would be complete without mentioning this popular destination park overlooking the Hudson River. Bowdoin park features a large playground with a splash pad in the summer as well as multiple hiking trails, ponds, and covered pavilions that can be reserved for barbecuing or parties. The park is free and open year-round, boasting one of the best sledding hills in the Hudson Valley during winter.
Unless noted, photos by the author