NYC: Hecksher Playground in Central Park

Spring break hit last week for us in Washington, DC and while a full vacation wasn’t on the menu, we did take a long weekend to New York City, something we’ve been meaning to do for a long time.  And we did all sorts of New York kinds of things, like see sky scrapers and go to museums and eat hot dogs and all that.  But first up, Central Park.  Because you have to love that one of the largest cities in the world, still protects one of the largest urban parks in the world in its dead center.Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!

You know who else loved that? The kids.  Of course.  We drove to NYC, leaving DC in the wee hours of morning, and literally 5 minutes after we checked into the hotel, the kids were asking about the park they heard so much about.  Luckily it was literally right around the corner from our hotel and we were off.Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!

We actually walked nearly the entire length of the park that evening but spent the bulk of our time at the Hecksher Playground, one of the main playgrounds in the space (although there are many – the Central Park website has a good list).  The thing about this playground is that it is so decidedly “unamerican” in its play surfaces.  There are a few swings and a few slides, but by far and away the majority of the play surfaces are either rocks (big rocks!) or concrete – neither of which you see these days much around here anymore since everything is usually a softer surface with softer landings underfoot.  I’m pretty laid back parent but there were a few surfaces that made me watch a little more closely than I usually do, and there were definitely a few bloody lips making their way around that playground.  The playground tends to attract older kids  – tweens and teens – that have a bit more grasp of terrain and do pretty funky freestyle walking tricks (see that first photo at the top of the post? she definitely got ideas), so this is one where keep an eye out helps.  That being said, the kids had a blast and our daughter especially loved that the surfaces were a little more rough.  She’s been doing a lot of rock climbing lately and she enjoyed putting some of her skills to use on some of the larger climbing hills.Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!

On this chilly, on again off again rainy day, the concrete and rocks gave it a gray feel, but spring was blooming all around us (and giving us a second go at cherry blossom season since they were just peaking in NYC!).  Also, it doesn’t show well in the pictures here but once summer hits, a lot of these surfaces are also actually splash pads so I imagine thing are a lot more colorful then.

Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!Play space and green space in the middle of New York City's Central Park!

The kids ran the park down until their hearts’ content and even asked to come back the following morning (which we did, taking the opportunity to meet friends this time around), and around the park are a few places for snacks and coffee, making it kind of a winner all around and a big highlight of the kids first trip to NYC!

Six Forgotten Giants…

We’re hoping a visit to Copenhagen is in the cards for this summer and I’m working every possible angle to make it happen for us.  It’s been fun to keep up with news of the city and make lists of favorites to revisit but also new things to explore, like Thomas Dambo’s Six Forgotten Giants sculpture series that just went up around various hidden corners in the outskirts of town.Teddy Friendly, From Thomas Dambo's Six Forgotten Giants, a treasure hunt for six forest sculptures around Copenhagen.

The video below gives a great overview and I don’t want to give too much away but I find the whole concept fascinating. Thomas Dambo is a sculptural and installation artist that uses scrap wood and often works in “hidden” locations, which means that in order to see his work, you have to do a little work yourself. The Six Giants website has treasure maps to all of the Giants, and each is written with a backstory as to the why and how of he or she was built, often times incorporating not just a nature statement but a social or cultural one too. I’m sure many a forest school has been out looking for these troll-like installations and we will most certainly be tracking them down ourselves!

Video and Image via Thomas Dambo.

Washington DC’s Cherry Blossoms!

She requested the outing herself, to go see the cherry blossoms.  On the weekend…during the peak of DC’s season…which is something that after 15 years of off-again, on-again DC residency, I generally try to specifically not do, because there are usually one million other people doing it.  But tot asks, nicely, and tot receives, and away we went to explore the blooms as a family.Washington DC Cherry Blossoms-3

The DC cherry blossoms are beautiful – truly.  But this was a tough year to see them, with a storm that blew through a few days before the peak bloom, taking off about half the blossoms.  Also, a storm of our own was brewing a bit amongst our tots, both of the fighting a cold, so between that and the crowds, part of it felt not the best.  Washington DC Cherry Blossoms-2 Washington DC Cherry Blossoms-1

It didn’t turn out to be the greatest day for taking a lot of pictures.  But even with sniffles and what eventually turned into fevers and tears, there was still time for beauty and laughs and ice cream on the lawn while listening to fun music that was part of the festival…Even with the million people, we would do it again.  It’s not Copenhagen, but it is DC, and it’s home for now.Washington DC Cherry Blossoms-4

P.S. By the way, all those millions of visitors that we get? It’s awesome for DC but not always so awesome for the cherry blossoms themselves – this is a great article on the impact of this kind of volume and how to be a mindful cherry blossom visitor!