Francis Lewis Park
June 5, 2014

Pristine Waterfront Park on the Edge of Queens

Picture this: an expansive, top-notch playground suitable for children of all ages, great green lawns, and dedicated bocce courts, all fronted by stunning views of the East River and the Whitestone Bridge. That's what you'll find at Francis Lewis Park in Queens, and you have to trust us because our camera malfunctioned and we lost the photos!
 
Like most New Yorkers, our experience of this massive city is mostly limited to the geography of our everyday lives. We commute to work, bring the kids back and forth to school, shop, hit the local playgrounds, come home, go to bed, get up the next day and do it all over again. That is why it is nice to have the opportunity to visit friends who live in more distant reaches of the five boroughs. 
 
A few Sundays ago we were guests at a late afternoon dinner party in the neighborhood of the Whitestone Bridge in Queens. The bridge stretches over the East River, connecting the Queens to the Bronx. We got there from Manhattan by express bus, a trip that, since it was on a weekend, was much quicker than one would think given the distance you travel. As the urban landscape rolled by outside the window we were, as so often before, struck by how much ground you can cover and still not have left the city.
 
Francis Lewis Park
 
As is so often the case, the journey became part of the destination. Something about having seen how far we had gone made the park seem just a bit more exotic. The view of the bridge itself is nothing if not breathtaking, making for a fantastic backdrop to the park itself. At just of 9 acres in size, Francis Lewis Park is relatively small by city park standards. However the windy paths leading down to the wide view of the water make it seem much larger. 
 
The park also offers lots to do for kids of all ages. It was a bit too cold for a picnic on the day of our visit, but no doubt it is a popular spot in spring and summer. The playgrounds immediately caught Halina’s eye and the basketball court immediately made us regret we had forgotten to bring Riley’s ball. We would also suggest refreshing your memory—assuming you have ever done it—of how to play bocce ball, because the park also happens to sport one of the few remaining courts left in the city. There are also handball courts and, if you’re there when it is a hot, a spray shower for cooling off. 
 
Along the East River
 
Walking down to the shore of the East River we discovered a sandy beach, which Halina—being a beach lover—delighted in. Even if you would probably not want to go swimming, the sand still provides a maritime atmosphere. Strolling back up towards the bench line pathways we could easily see how one could spend many a sunny afternoon here during the summertime. One drawback is that though the Whitestone Bridge used to feature pedestrian walkways, these were removed decades ago to make more room for automobiles. Someday though we would also love to explore the Bronx side, where you can find Ferry Point Park, which sounds like a delightful counterpart to its neighbor in Queens. 
 

 

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