Kids Beat the Heat in Lower Manhattan's Water Playgrounds

By Irene Plagianos on July 15, 2013 8:09am 

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 Lower Manhattan Water Playgrounds
Lower Manhattan Water Playgrounds
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LOWER MANHATTAN — With the city’s sweltering summer heat upon us, keeping children active — and cool — can be a bit of a challenge.

But even without escaping to a beach or a pool, there are plenty of Downtown parks where fountains, sprinklers and other forms of shooting water are sure to bring hours of fun in the sun.

Here’s a roundup of some of the top cool-down spots in Lower Manhattan:

Imagination Playground, Front Street at Burling Slip

This expansive South Street Seaport favorite offers plenty of room for kids to splash and frolic in sand and water.

“It’s the best playground — we come here every day in the summer,” said Alison Don-Michael, 38, on a recent warm afternoon, as her 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter ran about the busy area.

The playground, designed by famed architect David Rockwell, encourages interactive play with moveable foam pieces and water-spouting hoses. As an added benefit, the pools and fountains in the park are also surrounded by a stepped wooden deck, with umbrellas, for kids and parents to lounge.

“Sprinklers, I love the sprinklers,” said Don-Michael’s son, as he zoomed by his mother. “It’s fun.”

The park is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Spiral Fountain, Battery Place and State Street

Battery Park’s Spiral Fountain is all about getting wet.

Jets of water burst up at different speeds from the 40-foot granite spiral, sending kids — and the occasional overheated teen or adult — running through the columns of water.

“It's so very pretty here, and the kids, they have so much fun," said Stephanie Botelho, as her 4-year-old son and a family friend zipped though the shots of water.

Botelho, visiting from Portugal, said the fountain, set amid gardens in Battery Park, is a unique experience for her and the kids.

"We don't have something like this in Portugal," she said. "They'll miss it."

West Thames Park, Rector Street at West Street

Places to climb, run and splash in sprinklers await youngsters at West Thames Park on the eastern edge of Battery Park City.

“It’s great here — safe, clean and he’s loving the water,” said Chris Galati, as his 3-year-old son Dylan let himself get soaked by one of the park’s sprinklers. “We’re new to the neighborhood, but I think we’ll keep coming back.”

The playground, which sits along West Street, also keeps kids busy with tire swings and a large jungle gym.

Rockefeller Park, Murray Street at River Terrace

A granite hippo and elephant, along with concrete dog heads, spout plenty of water for kids to play with in Battery Park City’s Rockefeller Park.

The large playground also features a host of other activities, including swings, slides and a bouncy bridge, to get kids of various ages building up a sweat before cooling down in the sprinkler area.

“Oh, she spends hours here,” said Natalia Ponomareva, as her 2-year-old granddaughter, Sophia, ran past the water-shooting hippo.

Ponomareva, whose son lives a block away, said they are regulars at the playground.

"They're lucky to live so close — it's wonderful here," she said.

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