Domino Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Domino Park Playground viewed from the river Entrance to Domino Park House at Domino Park Playground Climbing the stair ramp at Domino Park playground

We found our new destination for summer fun yesterday in the newly-opened Domino Park in Williamsburg Brooklyn and we haven’t stopped raving about it since. With an excellent playground, a fountain for splashing, plenty of green space for relaxing and play, and even a casual spot for tacos and other Mexican fare, the park should be on your agenda whether you’re visiting New York for the first time or a local who lives a neighborhood or borough away. With the opening of the park in early June, this section of the Williamsburg waterfront became accessible to the public for the first time in over 160 years, and the smartly-planned park’s mix of open space, recreation opportunities, and historical references in the form of artifacts and inspiration is already proving to be an enormous draw. Occupying the site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery, the park features elements from the factory itself that have been preserved and repurposed as decoration and as materials used in the construction of different features.

Inside the playhouse at Domino Park playground Top of the playhouse at Domino Park playground Playground for younger children at Domino Park Inside the Domino Park playground

We started our visit with a quick run along the Elevated Walkway, which features beautiful, unobstructed, views of the New York skyline, before quickly making our way to the playground down below. New York doesn’t lack for excellent playgrounds, but the one created at Domino Park feels new, fresh, and exciting. Its sugar refinery theme is carried through the three main elements in a playful way that evokes the operations of the old refinery: children will find a Sugar Cane Cabin, the Sweetwater Silo, and the Sugar Cube Centrifuge, all with familiar elements (slides, monkey bars, climbing portions) constructed in an industrial style. Though different portions of the playground were designed for children aged 2-5 and 5-12, my four-year-old had no problem navigating the entire complex of ramps, catwalks, slides, tunnels, and ladders. She loved the spiral climbing cage in the silo, with thick rubber steps that bounced underfoot as they led up to a giant tubular metal slide (you should have heard the happy shrieks as children flew down it!). I loved the nods to the site’s history: a color palette drawn from the factory’s signage, wood taken from the factory’s floor, and cast replicas of original factory wheels.

Tacocina at Domino Park lunch at Tacocina in Domino Park seating area at Tacocina in Domino Park Cheese taco at Tacocina

After the playground we took a quick break for lunch at the park’s on-site restaurant, Tacocina. The casual Mexican fare (tacos, chips, Mexican drinks) seemed perfect for the setting, and the cheery eating area, with its striped umbrellas and colorful chairs, made for the perfect spot to get out of the sun and rest a bit before moving along to the central and southern portions of the park. I’m sure Tacocina is busier on nights and weekends, but our early weekday lunch was quiet and relaxed. The cheese taco was a big hit with my daughter and it’s not difficult to see why: with cheese in and wrapped around a tortilla, then griddled to crunchy, salty, melty perfection, it hit all the notes of an excellent grilled cheese sandwich. Balancing it out were the raw vegetable picados with carrot crema – the jicama, carrots, radish, and Peruvian pickled peppers perfect for a hot day.

Sprinklers at Domino Park Sprinklers at Domino Park looking forward the Williamsburg Bridge Close up of sprinklers at Domino Park View of sprinklers at Domino Park

Our final stop before heading home was the fountain, located at the center of the park directly in front of the landmarked refinery building. A large number of New York’s parks and playgrounds feature some sort of water element for summer play, but I’m hard-pressed to think of many as much fun as this one, with eighty-eight individually-programmable water jets delighting the crowd of children that had gathered. The jets turned off, and then back on again, and alternated between gentle burbling and full-force blasts, surprise and joy evident in the screams that filled the air as children dashed in an out of sprays of water of varying heights. At night the fountain is illuminated, but even without colored lights it’s a tremendously popular gathering spot. The steps between it and the old refinery (again, made of wood reclaimed from the refinery) offer the perfect vantage point for taking in the whole scene. My daughter would easily have stayed in the fountain all afternoon, especially after a kind stranger offered her a cup to collect and pour water. But we had a ferry to catch, and a little brother, just awake from his nap, waiting for us at the carousel. I’ll remember a bucket next time.

A few additional details:

  • You can find entrances to the park along Kent Avenue at South 5th Street, South 3rd Street, and Grand Avenue. The park is open from 6am-1am each day, with the playground portion open from dawn to dusk.
  • The park is accessible by public transportation:
    • The J, M, or Z subway lines to Marcy Avenue, or the L to Bedford Avenue
    • The NYC Ferry’s East River route to either the North or South Williamsburg stops
    • A number of bus stops are close to the park, including the B24, B32, B39, B44, B62, Q54 and Q59
  • Parking is available at 325 Kent Avenue.
  • For now, restrooms are located in a trailer at the south end of the park, near Kent Avenue and South 4th Street.
  • If you’re not in the mood for tacos, we love Pies-n-Thighs, a Southern restaurant with excellent fried chicken, pies, and doughnuts located at 166 S. 4th Street (at the corner of Driggs Avenue). Also nearby at 175 Kent Avenue (between North 4th and North 3rd Streets) is Oddfellows, for ice cream and sorbet with inventive flavors.


Comments (1)

Lara in London
August 14, 2018

This park is really so very special! What a wonderful time we had all three generations of us! And we may have even gone in those sprinklers twice 🙂 (once in daylight and once just when the illuminated lights went on for nighttime!) So super fun!

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