Why go to Brooklyn? Manhattan gleams with it’s famous skyscrapers, oasis like Central Park, it’s bustling Times Square and it’s one of a kind shops and theater…so why go to Brooklyn?
Truthfully, before we moved here in May of 2016 I hadn’t spent much time across the bridges. Don’t get me wrong, Manhattan is awesome but hop one borough away and you might be amazed at all there is to offer.
Where to start? Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Walk, drive or train across into Brooklyn and the first thing you will meet is Brooklyn Bridge Park. It runs 85 acres along the East River waterfront from Atlantic Avenue, past the Brooklyn Bridge, all the way to the Manhattan Bridge.
The unique park is divided into Piers 1 through 6. Each is part of the waterfront revitalization and includes a variety of playgrounds, diverse topographies, landscaping, art pieces and more. There is truly something for everyone in one of these nooks.
If you follow us on Instagram, you saw our playground pit stop early in our Brooklyn adventure with the gorgeous Manhattan skyline in the background. We have since explored Brooklyn Bridge Park several more times with our twins and we have some don’t miss spots for this fun Brooklyn spot.
The park website has a pretty good map, but let me give you a little tour…
What to do at Brooklyn Bridge Park with Kids
Sitting North of Pier 1 and directly under the Manhattan Bridge is this fantastic nautical themed playground. Our kids have a fantastic time running around here. The Education Center also has wonderful programming for preschoolers.
The downside: you hear every single train that rumbles across the bridge and they are not quiet.
The upside: There is a bathroom in the Education Center next to the playground, the play structure is tons of fun, and if you wander inland a couple of blocks there are yummy things to eat and a cute bookstore to explore.
Empire Fulton’s Ferry
Head South from the Manhattan Bridge and you will wander into this little section. The highlight? Incredible views of Manhattan and Jane’s Carousel. I was amazed at how reasonably priced a ride on the carousel is per person and with the glass windows you really can’t beat the view. Just down the street you will also find two of the best pizza joints in all of New York City.
Strutting just a few yards South from the snacks and excitement of Empire Fulton’s Ferry, is Pier 1. If you’re visiting with toddlers this is the spot for you. This playground is best for the 3 and under crowd.
Head further South and you’ll be sure you wandered into an outdoor gym. Covered, but open air sections offer basketball courts, bocce ball courts, shuffleboard courts, a roller rink and more. These are all available for walk up use and come complete with lockers, water fountains, and restrooms.
In the Summer, Pier 2 also offers free kayaking programs and a pop-up pool. It’s all kind of too awesome for words.
Pier 3 + 4
While these piers offer some pretty places to explore and great views across the harbor, if you’re walking with kids they will likely be less impressed by these sections. Keep heading South to Pier 5.
Here you can find some fun field events on the waterside soccer fields, but the highlight for kids are the two playgrounds. There are two – one for younger children that is perfect for toddlers and babies on the move and another climbing structure for older kids. Neither is as expansive as the playgrounds at Main Street, Pier 1 or Pier 6 but they are enjoyable and offer some spectacular views.
At the Southern-most end of Brooklyn Bridge Park is Pier 6. In some ways it is tucked away, so much so that we missed it the first time we visited. It is worth searching for however, because this little nook has one of the most fantastic playgrounds I have ever seen. For Southerners, this reminds me most of the amazing Shelby Farms Park playground in Memphis TN.
Whatever your child’s preference – sand, water, slides, swings, or exploring – one of these five playground nooks will hit the spot. Get here early to avoid the crowds because these playgrounds are worth the hype.
Note: The sand area is reserved for the 5 and under crowd and the water lab is turned on only in the Summer. Also, the Governor’s Island Ferry runs from this Pier.