Parks of Lower Manhattan: Washington Square Park

West 4th St & McDougal St., Greenwich Village

By Gianna Abruzzo, Creator, Our Play Patches April 18, 2022

Worth a Trip!  Hanging out in Washington Square Park is always entertaining. The playgrounds are not the focus of this iconic New York City destination in Lower Manhattan, but they add to the experience.

Of the play options, the most exciting is the Play Hills near the southwest corner. There are steep, turf-covered hills covered with rope nets – wide and low for scampering on all fours, and long (24 rungs!) and high (6 feet off the ground in the middle!) monkey bars. This area will entertain older kids for a while, and it’s also a space for younger kids to run around and roll down the hills. The turf is also a spot for taking a break on the clean, green lawn.

There are also two standard playgrounds here with no particular theme or unique features. East of the Arch, the larger playground includes all the important elements: three separate structures at different heights for climbing and sliding, spray showers on concrete (including sweet, old spitting turtles), lots of sand, and swings (four big-kid, two baby, and a universal swing). A few minutes’ walk through the Park there is a tiny toddler playground with spring riders, a small play structure with a ramp and mini slide, four baby swings, and a bronze cat (can you find it?).

What’s More?  The Park’s main attractions are the historical 73-foot high Washington Arch, flanked by statues of the first President at War and at Peace, and the central Fountain that shoots water 45 feet high and offers a nice spray with a breeze. As you crisscross the Park (which is a rectangle that spans 4 blocks by 2 blocks) to visit the play areas, you will likely pause – to join the crowds around the musicians, performers, or protestors; to take photos in front of the iconic structures; or to watch an intense game of chess.  

The Washington Square Park Conservancy works with the Parks Department to maintain the nearly-150-year old park and provides many free public programs. Upcoming programs in April include Arts & Crafts for kids and a parade for Dachshund dogs. There are frequent historical tours and many volunteer opportunities. Extend your adventure in Greenwich Village to two other playgrounds a few of blocks away: Mercer Playground, and one of our favorite small playgrounds, Minetta Playground.

Snack Time/Coffee Break?  Around the Park there are many shady benches and within the main playground a few picnic tables, as well. For a fun treat? A couple blocks south of the park is DO café for edible cookie dough or La Neworkina for Mexican ice pops and ice cream. Along West 3rd St, south of the Park, there are several quick-eat options. For coffee: Oren’s Coffee is closest to the main playground near the northeast corner; Third Rail is a block away from the Play Hills in the southwest corner; and Starbucks is a fallback on the southeast corner.  

Visibility/Safety:  The playgrounds have good sight lines between structures and only one gate, which stays closed. The ground is mostly concrete with rubberized mats under the play structures. The Play Hills is an open space with steep hills and high monkey bars, so parents may want to be more vigilant here. 

Bathroom Emergency?  There is a newly renovated comfort station (with changing table), which is well-maintained, located nearest the Play Hills.

Features: Baby swings, big-kid swings, universal access swing, monkey bars, slides, special climbing features, water sprays, sandpit, nearby snacks.

Gianna Abruzzo is a Brooklyn-born adventurer with nearly ten years of experience exploring playgrounds – in Lower Manhattan, around NYC, and in eleven more countries – with her three daughters. Gianna seeks to share a sense of community and pride in the places we play. Follow her on Instagram

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