As I drove up to Gantry Plaza State Park, I was still wondering ‘What exactly is a gantry?’ My question was quickly answered! Framing the city from a wooden boardwalk are the two hulking black gantries, which lend the park its name. Standing on this main plaza reminded me one of the great things Queens offers that Manhattan never will—views of the Manhattan skyline!
Gantry Plaza sidles right up to the East River, and the aesthetic is a study in contrasts. Nestled in industrial LIC the park offers natural, forested coves and large stone blocks forming seats, within the backdrop of the steel and metal gantries. The much-vaunted misting wall (which I had imagined to be heavenly in the heat of July and August) left something to be desired, as the mist was a bit too ethereal to provide much relief from the heat. But that was perhaps the only aspect of the park I wouldn’t speak highly of.
Near the playground area, I spotted the hammocks, which I had been daydreaming about. My partner was squeamish about lying down in a well-worn public hammock, but I would never pass up a hammock, especially one with a view of Manhattan. My daughter and I snuggled up and rocked for a while, and I’d highly recommend this leisurely activity!
But let’s get down to business: this playground is very very cool! The ground is covered in soft foamy material to cushion any falls, and exhibited a brightly colored design. Baby Girl was interested in the textures and colors of this playground, and I was thrilled that, for once, there was actually something for my non-walking infant to do. We usually find playgrounds somewhat boring, since she can’t really climb, slide, or even fit in most of the infant swings yet. This was a great departure. She could fit into the little spinning cups, which were low to the ground, and I spun her around ‘til she was dizzy! I actually fit into said cups as well, and for some reason, she cooed and giggled to see me spinning around. I later climbed up the giant red spider web of ropes (sans baby) and she enjoyed watching me shimmy up high above her as well! In some ways, this park may have been super fun for baby just because it was super fun for mama (who enjoys playing like a 10-year-old!) I can only imagine how great this park would be for children who are able to move and jump. But even for baby, there were several knobs, ropes, and other items she could touch, move, and become entranced by, which makes this park a winner in my book!
There are still some portions of the park that are being developed, so once they are complete, I imagine there will be even more places to explore and play. But even as it is, I would highly recommend a visit to Gantry Plaza State Park. You can reach the park either by car, or by subway, so it’s accessible to all. Maybe we’ll see you there someday soon!