Yes, New York City can be quite expensive, but there are actually quite a few free activities for children and families. One of the easiest ways to have fun for free is head to a nearby NYC park. There are over 1,000 city operated, public playgrounds in New York City waiting to be explored. In addition to all of the playgrounds, there are over 1,700 parks. Some parks a busier than others, but most provide a little time to have fun without having to spend any money.
Whether you are visiting New York City for the first time or you just need to your get out of the house for a few hours, the parks are worth a visit. We spend our fair share of time at the park and it often ends with one of us crying because we have to go home because we have so much fun.
Year-Round Fun & Exploration
Regardless of the season you can always find a way to explore a park. On a ‘hike’ through Central Park Stazi found a nice walking stick to help conquer the inclines on some of the paths we explored.
Don’t let cooler temperatures keep you from spending a day exploring outdoors. Layering clothing and packing a warm drink can help keep you tip top on colder days. The great thing about New York City is that if you need to head indoors to warm up or grab a snack you’ll be able to find something nearby.
You will be surprised at how underutilized some parks are in NYC, especially in colder months. It might be worth arguing that this actually one of the better times to head to a city park. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to picnic on the lawns in Central Park during the dead of winter, they close for the season. There is still plenty of space to enjoy a snack an take in some urban nature. If you want to see a different side of the ‘concrete jungle’ then you should definitely check out one of the events hosted by the NYC Parks Department here.
Cool Down During Summer
In warmer months you will find many parks have sprinklers for people to cool down in. Pack a swimsuit and head down to a nearby playground, quite a few (not all) have sprinklers for children to frolic in. Spoiler alert: They are busy on hot summer days. Weekends tend to be the busiest.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the trek as children of all ages (an adults) enjoy the mist of cold water on the hottest summer days.
Just Have Fun
It goes without saying, but just have fun. There’s no reason why you can’t take a little bit of down time during a busy week to sit on a bench and let kids be kids. NYC parks and playgrounds are a great way to do just that. The cost is always free and you can enjoy most playgrounds from dawn to dusk.
If you visit New York City during the summer and want to visit a public pool, we’ll discuss the ins and out of that in a later post. If you live in the city and want to take a free summer swimming class for your children, or even yourself, we’ll be posting about that soon.