Swindler Cove Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:3703 Harlem River Drive, Manhattan, NY
Hours:8 A.M. to 6 P.M. daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Riley-Levin Children’s Garden
Water/Snacks: Water fountains at Riley-Levin Children’s Garden

USGS Central Park

A hidden gem in northeast Manhattan, Swindler Cove Park is free of bustle and is a great place to spend a few mellow hours with a picnic.

The boathouse at Swindler Cove Park.
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

The New York Restoration Project calls Swindler Cove Park the “crown jewel” of its efforts, and it’s right. What began as a project to clean an illegal dumping site has now become a 5-acre oasis along the Harlem River. The park is beautifully restored, tranquil, and meticulously landscaped. It features one of only two saltwater marshes in Manhattan. (Inwood Hill Park, Trip 9, has the other.)

The park runs along the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway—a cycling and walking route that nearly circumvents the island—and can be traversed along gravel footpaths. Boats, including the Circle Line tour, ply the Harlem River close by, and a lucky family may even spot a seal sunning itself on the dock of the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse. The boathouse is the site of the annual Peter Jay Sharp Head of the Harlem Regatta. The regatta, held every September, attracts rowers from local colleges and high schools, and spectators from all over.

The Riley-Levin Children’s Garden on the western edge of Swindler Cove Park has planting beds maintained by local school groups. The park also features picnic tables, restrooms, and a reflecting pool.

The Sherman Creek Nature Trail is a delightful path small children will love. No vigorous hikes are to be found here, but the trail leads to five outdoor animal “estates” designed to attract a range of birds and other wildlife. It is also part of the restoration project along the natural shoreline, and will ultimately connect Swindler Cove to an on-site nature center. Remember: The park does not have a playground, so pack a sketch pad and crayons and have your kids draw what they see on this nature walk through a diversity of landscapes.

Plan B:

For a serious uphill hike on a paved path, cross the Hudson River Parkway to visit Highbridge Park (Trip 12).

Where to Eat Nearby:

Follow Dyckman Street to find shops and restaurants.


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