Space for 'Rents: Gotham staycation suggestions—Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governor's Island
[Fellow familyites: Here's the first in what will hopefully be an ongoing series of posts with advice and opinions on parental matters. Not that I'm an authority or anything, but has that ever stopped a blogger from advising or opining? Rhetorical question.]
Given the economy, it's just not practical getting away for more than one family vacation a year. (Ours is going to be in France! More on that later.) So finding free kid-friendly fun — ideally within bicycle distance of our Park Slope pad — is at a premium during the long, hot summer. Over the past week, we checked out two new New York City parks that didn't just meet the bill —they frankly blew our minds.
The first and closest is the still-in-development Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is coming into focus on the waterfront in Downtown Brooklyn near Brooklyn Heights. They're unveiling the park pier by pier, with just a few of the planned attractions ready for public consumption to date — but even those are already awesome: A playground that's an exercise in geometrical concepts, with three of the biggest and coolest slides we've seen (certainly cooler than anything else in a city playground), and a water park that includes all kinds of sprinklers, water flumes, pumping stations and splash ponds — aqua bliss, for anyone under the age of 12 (and, you know, a few of us who are over, though you have to have an under-12 kid to get in). Here's a quick video tour:
Still to come — a tidal splash pool that'll allow swimming and clambering on rocks, presumably in river water so your hygiene mileage may vary, and a sand beach that will offer an urban alternative to driving out to Jones, South, or Coney Island / Brighton, etc.
The other curiously awesome new municipal outdoor leisure facility (park doesn't quite do it justice): The brand-new Governors Island. Now, you might not think GI is particularly accessible, as it's, you know, an island. But free ferries from both Manhattan and Brooklyn make biking to the waterlocked destination a breeze. And once you get there, it's gorgeous — with lovely paths around and through the island interior, a bike rental service that offers cruisers, tandems and quadricicles, a beach (courtesy of the Water Taxi Beach people, though as a result it's somewhat infested with beer-pong types), some beautiful public art — and unbeatable views. Plus, there's currently an incredibly cool free minigolf course, with each hole a sculpture created by an emerging artist in the FIGMENT arts program. It's up and available through October.
Bottom line: If you're stuck in the city for the hot months, you could do worse — and in fact, would be hard pressed to do better — than these two bold and beautiful new city institutions. They're so awesome, in fact, that my wife was moved to incredulously wonder: "They're slashing school budgets and laying off teachers, but they have the budget for this?"
Uh. Point well taken. Enjoy 'em while you can.