If you haven’t been to Battery Park in a while, it’s worth taking a trip. Personally, I hadn’t been to Manhattan’s financial district since just before 9/11. A few years later, my daughter’s nursery school class took a field trip to Battery Park, but even then, I didn’t travel far beyond the part we visited.
In the past seven years, a lot has changed. Battery Park is now part of a larger group of parks that spread all along the Hudson River. The conglomerate of parks is called Hudson River Park and spans from Battery Place to West 59th Street.
On previous visits, Battery Park itself was the only park that was child friendly. Now, there are several smaller parks within the larger group, each with its own personality complete with sculpture, climbing walkways, rock walls, miniature golf, a small turf field for soccer, a beach volleyball court, a skateboard arena, and chairs for sunbathing.
A walk along the path provides plenty of activities for kids, and they are mostly free within the park. Like a smaller, less crowded version of Central Park, there are open fields for frisbee, a basketball court, a backboard for tennis, and various small walking parks spread throughout the neighborhood streets.
As day trips with kids go, there are two other things that are extremely important: food and bathrooms.
Food first. The financial district is loaded with portable food stations from local restaurants offering Mexican to hot dogs. This outdoor eating area overlooks the harbor dock at Two World Financial Center. A few blocks east from there is the Shake Shack on Laight Street. This is where we ate. They offer organic, grass-fed burgers and all-beef hot dogs with a wide variety of beverages ranging from lemonade to soda to craft beers and wine. Here was may favorite part: There is a sign at the register asking patrons to please make the staff aware of any peanut allergies.
The only peanut item on the menu is a peanut butter milkshake. While Shake Shack uses best practices to avoid cross contamination (there is a blender dedicated to the peanut butter milkshakes) they cannot make any guarantees when it comes to making other flavored milk shakes. As a result, we opted for chocolate milk instead, and my EpiPen stayed in my purse. Overall, this is a low key restaurant with plenty of families, so no worries about offending diners because of loud and excited kids.
Next, bathrooms. I’ll be honest here. I avoid places like Central Park and events like watching the Thanksgiving Day parade because I know my kids are going to need a bathroom. This always causes an “emergency” situation, and even once a bathroom is found, there is no guarantee as to its cleanliness. Along Hudson River Park, around Harrison Street, there is a kiosk that lends knock hockey sticks for table hockey, ping pong paddles and balls, books and other toys to park visitors. Across the street (in the Hudson Park Conservancy building) there is a public restroom. This is one of the cleanest and nicest public restrooms I have ever been to. It was fresh-smelling, well lit, and spacious.
Another “freebie” of visiting Hudson River park is that art exists throughout the park. There are bronze sculptures, buildings, and playground pieces for children to view, explore, and even climb on. Previously, my primary exposure to outdoor park art was in Central Park and the Alice In Wonderland sculpture series. The pieces for admiration here are even more interactive and include a life-sized trail of pennies leading to a sculpture, and a set of bronzed chess pieces.
A day trip visit to Battery Park City definitely provides entertainment for both parents and children. With plenty of interactive activities and a beautiful view of the river, it makes the perfect day trip during the Verona public schools short winter break.