Sometimes, Mama is a genius. My two boys, ages 5 and 7, and I had a plan to meet up with their dad after work in Manhattan. Dad loves to share music with his boys, and he thought it would be a great idea for us to meet him in a parking lot in lower Manhattan to see the legendary John Doe (of the band X) perform a free concert. I was skeptical of this plan, but for the sake of family harmony I agreed to it. This is not the “Mama is a genius” part of the story — or maybe it is?
So what to do with the children before the concert? Given that we would be on the west side of town, I looked into Hudson River Park, the string of piers and bike paths along the river that I’ve often driven by. And there was my answer! Pier 25 my Barista Kids friends, located in Tribeca at North Moore Street, just across the West Side Highway. And bonus points — there is a traffic light/crosswalk at the corner so you don’t have to dodge speeding taxis to get there.
The playground at Pier 25 was named the second best playground in New York City by Time Out NY Kids (surpassed only by Pier 6 in Brooklyn), and I’m not surprised. The play area includes a massive spider web (think of the one at Edgemont Park on steroids) and other funky climbing structures, plus some more mellow equipment for very little kids, including bucket swings. When the kids have worked up a sweat, they can cool off in a whimsical water park area. Hungry? There’s a snack bar. But you might want to save your appetite for Tribeca landmark Bubby’s, an easy stroll from the park.
But folks, the fun doesn’t end with the playground and water park. Pier 25 stretches one thousand feet into the Hudson – the longest pier in the park – and it is filled with activity. Next to the playground is a beautifully landscaped 18-hole mini-golf course, complete with a waterfall and cave. Past the mini-golf are beach volleyball courts. Beyond the volleyball courts is an artificial lawn for free play and picnicking. Lastly, beyond the lawn is a wooden deck with lovely lounge chairs where you can watch the river go by. After you rest up, head over for free tours of the historic lightship Lilac and the tug Pegasus, which are docked next to the pier.
Needless to say, we had an awesome time in the park – sometimes Mama is a genius! As for Dad’s plan . . . the concert was very loud and the kids couldn’t see the legendary John Doe unless we picked them up. We didn’t last long, heading soon to Bubby’s for family dinner and pie for dessert.
Dad did, however, make it possible for me to find Pier 25, so maybe he’s a genius too…sometimes!
Everything is free at Pier 25, except for mini-golf, which was inexpensive ($4 for a child’s game (13 and under) / $5 for an adult’s game. Note: They only accept cash.
The Pier is easily accessible via the Holland Tunnel. We lucked out with street parking on N. Moore, but you may find yourself at a muni-meter or garage.
Revenue from the snack bar and mini-golf support the non-profit organization Manhattan Youth, which provides after-school and community activities for kids in lower Manhattan.
The Hudson River Park website is very well designed, so you can easily find out what you can do at every pier.
We visited the park on a weekday at about 3 pm. It was busy but not insanely crowded. I imagine that it could be insanely crowded at peak hours on the weekend.
Random Access Memory, or perhaps TMI
It took me at least half an hour at the park to remember that I had been to this place before. Thirteen years ago, my then boyfriend (now the abovementioned husband/dad) took me to his favorite spot – a desolate pier that held nothing but sand volleyball court and a ramshackle two level deck with dirty plastic Adirondack chairs. Here, he pondered the mighty Hudson in solitude. How romantic! And how much the city has changed since then.