Best Places to Get Wet in NYC
outdoors & recreation
by Dan Avery, Time Out New York contributor, 08/09/2010
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Looking to get away to the islands? Heck, most of us already live on one. NYC offers ample opportunity for your kids to go wild in the water.
Daily 7:30am to dusk. Central Park, Fifth Ave. at 85th St. (212-310-6600, centralparknyc.org). Free. All ages.
Get-wet factor: 2
A big draw at this Egypt-inspired playground, built by architect Richard Dattner in the ’70s and completely restored in 2009, is its novel spray fountain. In a nod to the mighty Nile, a not-too-torrential blast of water pours down several steps onto a stretch of sand that represents the Delta. Other pharaonic flourishes include scaleable pyramids and Cleopatra’s Needle–style obelisks.
After Snack on fresh panini, salad or pizza at Caffe Grazie.
Aquatic Center at Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Mon–Fri, 6am–10pm; Sat, 9am–10pm; Sun, 9am–8pm. Avery Ave. at 131st St., Flushing Meadows, Queens (718-271-7572, nycgovparks.org). Annual membership $75, senior membership $10 (adults must join for kids to swim), under age 18 free. All ages.
Get-wet factor: 3
Part of New York City’s bid for the 2012 Olympics, this two-year-old natatorium was the city’s first new indoor swimming pool in four decades and is in much better shape than some of its older cousins. (The complex is also home to an NHL-grade ice rink.) The shallower end of the 25-meter pool sports an adjustable floor that changes depth from just a few inches to more than seven feet, a great feature for new swimmers. Another, much deeper area allows more-experienced water rats to plunge from one- and three-meter diving boards.
After Burgers and smoothies at Fresh to You Café will sate all but Phelps-size appetites.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Playground at Pier 6
Daily, 9am–8pm. Furman St at Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn Heights (718-802-0603, brooklynbridgeparknyc.org). Free. All ages.
Get-wet factor: 3
The paint’s barely dry on this brand-new, 1.6-acre green space where kids can navigate a water-play area with three distinct features: a riverlike channel, a water lab (great for learning about measuring and pouring) and a water-jet field (for some old-fashioned, get-soaked fun). The park’s also home to a sandbox village, "slide mountain" and plenty of swings and Tarzan ropes. To maximize the fun factor, visit the park on a Saturday or Sunday, when free ferries run between Pier 6 and Governors Island.
After Why leave? Pick up quesadillas at Calexico, which operates a concession stand near the playground.
Get-wet factor: 3
Daily, Jun 29–Aug 23, 11am–7pm. Barretto Point Park at Tiffany St, and Viele Ave, Bronx (718-617-2373, nycgovparks.org). Free. Ages 18 months and up.
In the early 1900s, New York City had more than a dozen "floating baths" dotting the Hudson and East Rivers. Philanthropist Ann Buttenweiser’s dream of a modern swimming-pool barge came true in 2007, and now the Floating Pool is back in the Bronx’s Barretto Park for a second summer. Unfortunately, the MTA is no longer offering shuttle service from the subway, so it's a bit of a trek to the seven-lane, 82-foot-long pool. But it is outfitted with locker rooms, bathrooms and showers. Is your little bathing beauty ready to shed her water wings? Free, two-week swimming classes for children ages 1½ to 16 run weekdays from 9 to 11am; new sessions begin July 7, July 27 and August 13.
After Although the snack bar was scrapped, you can grab a slice on your long walk back to the subway at Fratelli's Pizza Cafe.
The High Line
Get-wet factor: 1
Daily 7am–10pm. Tenth Ave. between Gansevoort and 20th Sts. (212-206-9922, thehighline.org). Free. All ages.
On the Diller–von Furstenberg sundeck between 14th and 15th Streets, visitors are encouraged to tiptoe through a new artificial, recirculating stream, or have a seat on one of the wooden benches hovering over the water and splash to their heart’s content. Just be careful of the wetland plants adorning the edges.
After No parent can deny a child begging for a sweet treat from Fat Witch or People’s Pops in Chelsea Market. They can, however, ask for a bite.
For more spots to beat the heat in NYC, visit Time Out New York.