Washington Square Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:Waverly Place and MacDougal Street, Manhattan, NY
Hours:All hours daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Southwest of fountain
Water/Snacks: Water fountains in playground; vendors in and around park

USGS Brooklyn

Washington Square Park is home to a legendary fountain in which children can play.

Relaxing in Washington Square Park.
Photo by: iStock

Washington Square Park has two architectural landmarks: a great arch and an enormous fountain. While the former is the park’s most prominent feature and can be seen from blocks away, it is the latter that draws children from all over the city during summer. Unlike most decorative fountains the world over, this one actually permits waders and bathers to climb in.

Located on the park’s northern edge, the Washington Square Arch was designed by Stanford White, the legendary nineteenth-century American Renaissance architect. The arch was supposed to be temporary, made of plaster and wood and erected in 1889 over nearby Fifth Avenue in celebration of the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration. The arch proved so popular that White was commissioned to design a permanent version for the park— which was already home to the fountain, created in 1872.

After arriving on the corner of MacDougal Street and Waverly Place, enter the park by heading south under the arch. Proceed past the fountain, then follow the path at the park’s southern edge (along West Fourth Street) counterclockwise. The path will lead you back up to the northern edge of the park, where a popular playground is located. Continue your counterclockwise spin, now heading west across the top of the park. You will eventually turn south, and in this area you will find bathrooms and a dog run.

Park goers typically include a wide range of musicians, chess players, and street performers, as well as groups of students from nearby New York University who use the park as a place to study and socialize outdoors. The park is particularly good for parents with strollers, as all the paths are well paved.

Remember: Biking is not allowed inside the park.

Plan B:

Tompkins Square Park (Trip 27), which has several good playgrounds, is located nearby. Walk eight blocks east on West Fourth Street, then three blocks north on Avenue E.


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