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5 Places To Let Your Kids Run Around Outside In Manhattan

Travel Tips From a Local: 5 Playgrounds for Your Kids in Manhattan
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Note from the editor (Rachael): This is my kind of travel list! Laurie Berkner is the famed children's musician and author who has brought us songs like Buzz Buzz, We Are the Dinosaurs and The Goldfish Song. We interviewed Laurie on The Today's Mama Podcast and as part of that interview we talked about what life with kids was like in Manhattan.

I'm fascinated by New York City AWAY from all the big, bustling, tourist packed attractions and am always pumped to get insider tips and a taste for living like a local. This might be my very favorite travel post we've ever run on the site and every one of these locations is now on my NYC To Do (or TO PLAY) list!

You can catch Laurie's full podcast interview HERE. Check out this clip from the interview!

Laurie and Lucy's "Let-Loose" List!

by Laurie Berkner

I started thinking about where I liked to go with my daughter Lucy when she was younger, and I kept thinking of playgrounds. A lot of things in Manhattan are indoors, and it's great to have a kid-friendly place where you can let your kids run around after a day of restaurants, sight-seeing or museums. These are just some of my favorites that visitors to NYC may not know about and that are near other places they might also be going to see.

Heckscher Playground

If you need a break from sightseeing and your kids just need to run around, there is a beautiful, expansive playground with water, sand, grass, slides and interesting structures at the south end of Central Park. Then walk to the north end of the playground, and take a ride on the famous Central Park Carousel (beware parents, it goes fast! I have gotten very dizzy on this ride!). Go south and west if you want to go to the Columbus Circle shops for food, or down into the Columbus Circle subway if you want to visit an outpost of Dylan's Candy Bar (one of the shops at the new underground "Turnstyle") without braving the crowds on the east side. If you have an Eloise fan, get yourself high tea at the Plaza on the east side of 59th St, or go downstairs to use their restrooms and buy a treat at one of the many food stalls or shops.

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Evelyn's Playground and Union Square Market

This is a medium-sized very innovative playground with my favorite thing in it: a big, smooth, metal, dome that kids can try to climb up and then slide down. There is usually some kind of art activity going on in the structure next to the playground or musicians playing in Union Square Park. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the Union Square Greenmarket surrounds the playground, and you can buy yummy things to eat and drink there.

Battery Park City's Rockefeller Park and Teardrop Park

Rockefeller has water, sand, and lots of different kinds of climbing structures and objects on the lawn for free play. Teardrop Park is made to mimic a natural stone structure with waterfalls. They are both right next to the water taxis that can take you across the Hudson River for a short boat ride or to Liberty State Park where the Liberty Science Center is, for your hands-on science kid.

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Billy Johnson Playground

Just a few blocks up from the Central Park Zoo (in Central Park) on the east side at 67th St., this was built as an adventure style playground so it has a rustic feel that blends into the landscape. If your child likes slides, it also has a wonderful one made of granite; it's one of the longest slides I've seen in Manhattan.

The Peacock at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

If you find yourself uptown, a cool place to run around outside is The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of the largest cathedrals in the world. There is sculpture garden next to it with many animals incorporated to look at together, a quiet garden in the back of the property, a playground, grass to run around on and steps, steps, and more steps to play on. The inside of the cathedral is beautiful and there are often art exhibits or musicians playing or choirs singing during the day. AND, if you walk the grounds outside, you just might catch a glimpse of the white peacock that lives there. (Don't forget to look up, he might be in the trees!) If it's time for lunch you can get pizza across Amsterdam at V&T's, or a sweet treat at the iconic Hungarian Pastry Shop.

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Listen To Laurie's Interview:

More from the Today's Mama Podcast HERE!

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