Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pier 51 Play Area: A Waterworks Treasure on the Hudson River and Perfect Picnic Spot

Seen in the Pier 51 Play Area in Hudson River Park.  I love this park, too!

The singular goal for today, which we knew would be a hot one, was to be in water and have a picnic in a pretty setting, all without having to make too much effort.  We achieved our goal by going to the Pier 51 Play Area in Hudson River Park in Manhattan.  It felt like we took a day trip somewhere because we had pretty views of the Hudson River all afternoon, from the playground and where we had our picnic nearby.

I'd highly recommend an afternoon at Pier 51 to families who live in New York or are just visiting.  This is exactly the kind of thing I'd want to know about if I were visiting NYC because you need a break from the sightseeing and it's fun to just enjoy a city as if you live there.  The awesome Hudson River Park hasn't even been around that long, so I know a lot of New Yorkers who have yet to really explore it.

So, here's the breakdown of how to get to the pier, what the facilities are like and what's to love about the Pier 51 Play Area.  Plus, I took tons of detailed pics.

Yes!  Love elevators from the platform to the street!  This is at the W. 4th station.

There are two subway stations in Manhattan that are both within a 10-minute walk of the playground and both stations have elevators that go all the way to the street.  We took the F train from Park Slope and transferred to the E at the West 4th Street station across the platform, because we wanted to go by the Apple store on 14th Street.  On the way back to Brooklyn from the playground, we walked to the West 4th Street station and took the F from there.

 Here's what you'll see at the Pier 51 Play Area:

-3 separate playground structures (ages 2 to 5, ages 5 to 12 and one that's basically a big spiral ramp for all ages)

-Water mister wall, a tall water fountain, a couple of water spigots, a little stream that flows through from one side of the playground to the other with bubbling water, etc.  Loved that there were water areas suitable for different ages.

-One small shaded bench area that's about 10% of the entire playground.  The same parents were camped out the whole time we were at the playground, so don't count on shade if you go.

We spent about 45 minutes here splashing about.  It was crowded, but it didn't feel as crowded as the pictures looked.  Greyson, who's 23 months, had a blast exploring the space.  I loved that I could dunk my feet in the little stream of cold water, be on the Hudson River, see the Statue of Liberty and see the World Trade Center building going up.  We were right on the West Side Highway, but didn't feel like it at all.

Lovely area to walk and be on the water.  Right next to the playground!
The Statue of Liberty can be seen from the playground. 

Another plus is that right next to the playground are bathrooms and water fountains.  I noticed that the woman's bathroom has a changing table.  Nice.

After the playground, we walked a few hundred feet down the esplanade (with the above comfort station on our left) and found a quiet nook for a picnic.  The grassy area right by the bathrooms was super crowded, but if you keep walking down, you can find less busy areas of pristine lawn.

View of New Jersey from the esplanade

We had our picnic on the perfect picnic blanket for grass and sand, read the paper, enjoyed our view of the Hudson River, and pleaded with Greyson to sit still for just one minute.  It was a perfect afternoon.

After our picnic, we walked through the West Village to the West 4th St. subway station.  I wanted to pick up something at MAC Cosmetics, and it was a nice 10-minute walk over to the F train.  It was surprisingly quiet for a Sunday afternoon.

Here's what you might see in the West Village, besides the cute shops and restaurants.  A gourmet ice cream truck, a dog in a stroller, a family dressed like they just left the beach on Nantucket, and a woman drinking coconut water like she's on the beach.

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