If you've read my 23 Things to do This Summer post, then you probably know that every Thursday during the summertime, Battery Park City offers free Preschool Art on the lawn by the Rockefeller Playground. Large tarps are laid out on the ground complete with art supplies and teachers and artists on hand to help out. Battery Park City is one of the first destinations on our list when the weather warms up. I have been bringing Curious G since she was just a few months old because it provides vast lawns for playing and relaxing, expansive waterfront promenades for strolling, and endless river views for days. We always wind up walking back uptown along Hudson River Park, with some key stops, which has become a summertime tradition for us.
This Thursday morning, we took the 4 train to the Fulton stop and arrived in the shadow of the Oculus and One World Trade Center immediately after exiting the station. My father worked on the 89th floor in One World Trade Center in the 80’s and 90’s so I have fond memories of visiting him there. Now, it is a beaming tower that reflects the sky, and I find it stunning; it is an extremely bittersweet beacon of downtown Manhattan for so many people. As we walked from the subway station, the looming skyscraper, currently set against the murals created by grafitti artists and commissioned by Silverstein Properties greeted us. Actually, the whole scene just slapped us in our faces screaming, "LOOK AT ME!"It was a momentous vision of light, color, and an architectural Goliath. As we continued on towards our destination, a debate nagged in my mind between whether or not to stop to take more photos.
This week's Preschool Art project was a fabric collage. Curious G grabbed the opportunity to use “kid scissors” right off the bat, chopped up some felt, then glued a yarn bow onto her shirt (which is actually a dress she wore when she was a baby #makeitwork). Preschool open plays are hosted on the lawn during the weekday mornings as well, so play equipment was available on the lawn for open use. Curious G made a round around the lawn on a red hippity hop ball, then dove into the large padded rolling barrel. Between wiping glue off little fingers and making sure that my child did not hop away, I admired the riverfront vistas.
Rockefeller Park Playground features very bouncy (the bounciest!) padded floors, lots of nets and ladders to climb, multiple sand pits, and a water feature complete with fountains and elephants that squirt water from their trunks. However, Curious G's absolute favorite part is the old fashioned merry go round that's powered by foot pedals and energetic parents. The playground is surrounded by sprawling lawns, basketball courts, and a fish and duck pond. There are plenty of benches and picnic tables around the perimeter of the playground. An added bonus is that it's also just a block away from Teardrop Park with one of the longest slides in the city. The Irish Hunger Memorial, which is a "metaphor for the Great Irish Famine and a reminder that hunger today is often the result of lack of access to land" per the website, is about a block away. A stroll through the memorial conjures "a rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage, stone walls, fallow potato fields and the flora on the north Connacht wetlands". Another point that I must mention is that there are clean accessible bathrooms throughout the park, as well as ramps for strollers.
After working up an appetite on the playground, we headed to Brookfield Place to grab lunch. The options are endless. More detailed descriptions of some of the restaurant options can be found in my Yum and Yummer post. As a side note, there’s also a Le Pain Quotidien right across from the playground as another option. Walking up to Brookfield Place is always such a rousing experience with the sparkling water in the marina, the hulking glass entrance to the atrium filled with towering palm trees, the bustling lunch and dinner crowds at PJ Clarke’s, and the stirring outdoor art installations. Our first stop was in Babesta to check on their Natives Jeffersons stock. While Curious G is fine with her trusty Old Navy jelly sandals and Igor fishermans sandals for the summer, I need to get her into some slip on shoes to shave off the five minutes its takes for her to buckle her sandals every time we need to go somewhere. Alas, we were a few hours too early before their new shipment came in, so we headed to the Hudson Eats food court on the second floor, but the lines were too long. Normally, we like to order from Mighty Quinn's Barbecue, Black Seed Bagel, Umame Burger, and Dig Inn. The choices are all quite delicious. The lines for the various counters downstairs in Le District were also overwhelming, so we headed outside and got salads and juices from Tartinery because there was no line. Luckily, we scored a table under an umbrella, because the alternative was baking in an Adirondack chair under the high noon sun. (Side note: Seamore's will be opening a Brookfield Place location on Vesey Street this summer. Yay for fish tacos as ANOTHER option when in Battery Park City. Seamore's will be joining Parm, Del Frisco's, Beaubourg, and PJ Clarke's as a full restaurant attached to the mall)
After lunch, we strolled down towards Pier A to take in some more beautiful views. When we reached Wagner Park, Curious G immediately took off running to play on the grass. On the way, we passed by the beach volleyball court, some boats docked in the marina, a few other restaurants, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. At the other end of the lawn, Gigino was quite busy. Looking at the diners sipping wine and enjoying their plates of pasta brought me back to my last semester at NYU when I lived in Battery Park City and imagined that I would eventually return there to live when I had a family to raise. It seems like just a few years ago that I sat on that lawn as a 22 year old watching the diners at Gigino. But, reeling myself back to reality I realized that that was actually about two decades ago and there goes my child picking the picture perfect rhododendrons. If we had continued south to the tip of the Battery, we would have taken a ride on the Seaglass Carousel, which is a magical experience for only $5 a ticket.
FYI, there are always fun events at Brookfield Place for kids throughout the year. We have attended Halloween parties, magic shows, puppet shows, and ice skated. There is always some form of public art on display. We love the beautiful Luminaries light display they showcase during the holidays and have made it a tradition to see them every December. We even caught a free performance of The Nutcracker (abridged one-hour version) two years ago. My father used to take my family here when I was a child, so it’s all super nostalgic to me. I do realize that this post is now oozing with nostalgia.
As we rounded the bend, departing Battery Park City, and made our way onto the pedestrian path in Hudson River Park, the sun reflected its rays upon the shimmering water as docked boats gently bobbed about. We always stop at Pier 25 to play in the splash pad, climb the rock wall, and run through the playground. Pier 25 also features an 18-hole miniature golf course, sand volleyball courts, and a snack bar. Grand Banks, an oyster bar and seafood restaurant built on a ship is docked at Pier 25, and there is Blue Marble Ice Cream Scoop Shop right across the pedestrian path.
Continuing on in Hudson River park, we passed skate parks, kayak rentals, tennis courts, dog runs, the trapeze school made famous by Sex and the City, Wafels and Dinges, Pier 45, and another fun playground on Pier 51. Fun concerts for kids and other events are held throughout the summer in Hudson River Park. If you are a jogger, take a jog along this path at dusk. I used to do it all the time in college and it was the most beautiful jogging experience ever.
We crossed the West Side Highway on Jane Street and walked to the Meatpacking District to check on The Pint Shop, but there was still a line out the door. Strike two! (Strike one took place on the day that we dropped in at the Children's Museum of the Arts and went gallery hopping in Chelsea with a stop at the High Line) Then, we struck out again when we walked up to 23rd Street and discovered that Chelsea Waterside Play Area was under construction. As a consolation, we walked a couple of blocks to Clement Clarke Moore Playground . Curious G had a ball, got to play with someone's pet turtle, and learned some new playground tricks from a very precocious 5 year old who told me that she doesn't have any younger siblings but she "loves kids".