NYC Guide: A Hidden Playground in Manhattan

I’ve lived in New York City for ten years, and I’ve had a baby for more than a year, but the other day I stumbled upon an amazing hidden playground that I had NO IDEA existed.

When you walk into Battery Park City, you see rows of tall apartment buildings. But if you walk behind the building 22 River Terrace, there’s a cluster of big trees. They don’t look like much, but if you head into them…

…you’ll reach a clearing with a sandbox, splashy fountains, and giant slide! It feels like you’re in the middle of a forest, and the 14-foot-tall slide feels surprisingly steep. Alex challenged me to slide down while holding my arms up (as if it were a roller coaster) and it was totally exhilarating. (I’d actually love to go back with grown-up friends sometime:) Toby adores it, too, of course, and I’d highly recommend Teardrop Park as a lovely little secret garden.

P.S. 19 best NYC playgrounds.
P.P.S. Coming up tomorrow: Where to eat and sleep in NYC… xoxo

(Photos by Smith & Ratliff)

  1. Hi Joanna, I have to thank you for all the tips about NYC you posted. I am a Brazilian married mom and live in San Diego. We flew to East Coast with my 11 month girl and met my hubby for 4 days in Vermont and 2 1/2 days in NYC. It was amazing! We went to Teardrop Park and I got taxi cabs as a New Yorker… kkkkk…

  2. How cool! I hope Toby loves it and wow it looks like you can enjoy that slide as well! xox

  3. You found our secret sprinkler garden! The best part are the sprayers imbedded in the rock formations…I must admit to taking advantage of those on a few particularly hot days this summer! And that slide *is* scary!

  4. That slide is amazing! I want to give it a go. Maybe next summer when Miss L has her first trip to NYC…

  5. Oh how I would love to live in NYC for a year.

  6. I love hidden treasures! this seems like such a tranquil gem! Great find!

  7. i like that slide!

  8. Oh my gosh I’m freaking out about how cool that looks! Now I HAVE to come to NY.

  9. The landscape architect who designed this park also “renovated” the Wellesley College campus to bring it back to its original Olmstead glory. He is really great at capturing that late 19th century urban pastoral vision while making it work for the modern world. Love it!

  10. I live in the beautiful San Juan Islands in Washington State. Our island can be reached by a bridge, so no ferry. I raised my kids here…..a small town of 14,000. We are now a bit larger and many retiree’s are moving here. It is off the beaten path…and we have miles of bike trails for little and big ones. Good luck to you in your search.

  11. WOW! It looks amazing! Who knew! Adding it to my to-do list for New York, if we ever move there! :-)

    xox Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris

  12. that’s amazing! i can totally see you and toby running around there.

  13. it looks like a wonderful place! How I’d love to live in NY <3

  14. This looks amazing! I can’t wait for your guide to NY, we are heading over early next year (from Australia) and deciding where to take little kids in such a big city is a bit of an undertaking. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  15. Wow, it must be amazing to live somewhere for so long and yet it still keeps hidden secrets and gems from you, just to keep you smiling :)

  16. OOooo how cool <3

  17. I’m gonna need to slide down that. And I think arms in the air sounds like great fun.

  18. isn’t it fun when a park/playground discovery becomes this exciting. it is a joy to be thrilled for nothing other than the emotions of your child when you see them explore a new place. we found a new playground in columbus the other day & it was a kick to watch my daughter puzzle over the new place!

  19. we take Lucia all the time. It’s such a gem! so happy you found it and loved it.

  20. wow! that’s the amazing thing about sities like NY. even after ten years you can still find something new :)

  21. I went to school in Los Angeles and fell in love in LA but I kept saying to my soon-to-be husband — I can’t imagine raising a family here and we recently moved to Santa Barbara and it’s the perfect place for a family, it’s also an amazing place to live.

    My family lives in Portland and I was raised in Atlanta — and I think no matter where you are raised it works out. Unless you can’t wear red or blue to class and then maybe it’s time for a move.

  22. Ooh! That slide looks fantastic! I love discovering hidden gems in cities I’ve lived in for a long time- it’s totally exhilarating!

  23. How lovely :)

  24. Oops! It’s really giant slide!. I was looking at the little girl who is next to it. What a amazing place to play!.

  25. I wa in the big apple in July, very hot indeed! My husband and I too stumbled upon this super park and found a seat, sat for a while and found a small space of time for each other.

  26. Our family fav is the one t 67th and 5th…we always called it the “granite slide” park…so fun. NYC has the best playgrounds and I do remember the one at Battery Park City. We have wonderful memories of discovering all the great playgrounds in NYC…from when we lived in New Canaan.

  27. MJ says...

    Yes please! Share more about NYC. I will be visiting in Nov! :-) I think I will go to this hidden gem.

  28. SO cool!!! If I ever find myself in that neck of the woods during an NYC visit, I am totally visiting this park. :-)

  29. Manhattan’s never ending hidden surprises is one of my favorite things about the city. It seems like there’s always something new waiting for you.


  30. What?? That’s nuts. I have traversed that park a million times and never would have known. That’s why I love NYC so much…surprises everywhere.

  31. Next time I’m in New York I’m definitely going there! (Even though I don’t have any kids). :)

  32. wow, that is really cool!

  33. Wow this sounds amazing.

  34. nice find! isn’t it a delight to stumble on a little hidden gem?
    As for raising a family in the city it would be so great! go for it!
    I feel like I had the best of both worlds. I grew up in the Tri-state suburbs, first in Sleepy Hollow Manor on the Hudson, then we moved to Westport, CT. both are lovely. But my parents ALWAYS had us in the city as much as possible, whether is was visiting family, museum, circus, zoo, botanical garden concert, play, etc. Parents were both New Yorkers and encouraged my sister and I to go into the city on our own when we were teenagers. It’s probably why I beelined for the big apple right out of high school and never looked back.

  35. I love that playground! If I lived in NYC, I would go there immediately!

  36. This is so cool! Even as an adult I still love looking at new parks. Exploring is still so much fun, I imagine it would be even more fun with a little one!

  37. We found this last month and it was the best (it was a holiday weekend and only a few kids were there, which I was told was rare). Don’t you love the ledges for parents to watch and read without actually helicopter-ing over their kids in the water? I think I spotted the papered-up Polarn O. Pyret store to open on our way there, as if the park itself wasn’t a big enough draw!

  38. Dont you love new discoveries. Re your last post, its all about the Adelaide Hills for me in South australia. Lots of room to run around in. We have a house for sale if you are interested!! Not quite as exciting as New York though…

  39. This is amazing! Next time I’m in New York I’m totally going to look for this, even if I don’t have my daughter with me!

  40. Wow, this is beautiful! Secret gardens/playgrounds are always lovely, though

  41. what a great find!

  42. that slide!!!! i love it!!!!!!!!!!

  43. What a wonderful find! Don’t you just love it when you stumble upon a hidden gem like that?

    And I can’t wait to read up on your guide, will be writing down your recommendations for our next visit!

  44. Yes! I’m from Portugal, a beautiful country in Europe. I want to visit NYC a long time ago, this post make me want to go even more! Tomorow I will be were to see where are the best places to sleep (please, make them cheap).

    xoxoxo, Battle. :)

  45. fun secrets like this are always the best thing. that slide looks like SOOOOO much fun..

    I agree with meredith above, i think this is a little sign that NYC is your home and yall should stay there. i mean NYC did make the top 100 list for what its worth. :)

  46. Meredith C says...

    Maybe this is the universe telling you that you should stay in NYC to raise Toby :)

  47. fabulous timing for your nyc series, i’m visiting from london next week. i’ve been several times before, but so excited. i <3 NY ;)

  48. That park looks unbelievable! Wow, what a find!

  49. Going down the slide was as much fun as it looks!

  50. That is such a fantastic find, Joanna:) I want to slide down on that slide right now! It looks super fun! Kisses.

  51. totally a great find ! who knew something so green could be hidden in all the steel and concrete !

  52. Anonymous says...

    What a great find! It looks amazing.