One of the best hidden playgrounds in Fort Greene is the South Oxford Playground at the Atlantic Commons. This amazing space has a large astro turf field, a nicely paved loop around the astroturf for new cyclists and scooter fans, a playground with good climbing elements, tennis courts and a unique water feature: amber cattails that give off rain showers. It feel like a little bit of suburbia. The park is off the beaten path, but the trek is well worth it. It’s never crowded, and there’s plenty of safe places for little ones and big kids to explore. After a visit there, you might like to stop at favorite sandwich shop, Greene Grape Provisions for the outstanding Greene Grape sandwich. Then head to Greenlight Bookstore for a Saturday or Sunday 11 am storytime or just to browse the tightly edited collection of books. Their children’s section has a nice area for sitting and reading and is very family-friendly.
I’ve logged a lot of hours at the popular Underwood Park playground in Clinton Hill, but it can get so crowded and rambunctious particularly after school. However, it does have one of the best water features for kids. There is a large recessed area that has sprinkles around the perimeter. Sometimes a kid will block the drain and the large tiled area becomes a regular wading pool. It’s a blast on a very hot summer day. There are also plenty of swings, and gyms for both early walkers and crawlers to big kids. There are some shady areas of the park and that suits all of us just right on these 90 degree days. A major annoyance at this playground: the freelancing vendors who come with helium balloons, crusty face paint and icies. It means you have to tell your kids “no” at least 3 times. Remain steadfast for you can spend your money wisely elsewhere: you must continue down Lafayette Avenue for a few blocks to Choice Market for a delicious sandwich and pastry or pick up their roasted chicken for dinner. Details: Lafayette Ave between Waverly and Washington Aves.
Right around the corner on Greene between Waverly and Washington is the much less trafficked Greene Playground (at PS11). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there with my son and we had the place virtually to ourselves! It’s got a toddler area and a big kid side – but when no one else is there, I am happy to let my little guy explore the big kid equipment. There’s nothing else exceptional about it other than it’s so underused and shady all the time. There is something to say about that!
And finally -perhaps one of the largest, and most underused playground of the neighborhood – is the Fort Greene Playground in Fort Greene Park (on the Myrtle side at St. Edwards St). It’s down the hill from the densely populated grassy hill at the monument in Fort Greene Park. And, when I say “down the hill”, I really mean it.You must walk down 3 long flights of stairs to get to this playground if you approach it from this direction. It is much easier to come from the Myrtle Ave entrance. This massive playground has an area with baby equipment, 8 little kid swings, a sprinkler feature and a fort-shaped, multi-level amazing play structure that is great for all ages. This playground has lots of shade, which is wonderful on those scorchers.
What’s your favorite playground in Fort Greene / Clinton Hill? I’m always looking for new ones to explore!
Betsy Good lives in Ft. Greene and has a blog, Mommy For the Win, where she shares with parents what she has learned on her journey as a first time mom. Follow Betsy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mrsbetsygood