Family Saturday

Family Saturday: Discover Domino Park and Other Williamsburg Wonders

We’ve got your weekend adventure planned. Pack snacks.

Photo by Patty Onderko

If you haven’t yet been to Domino Park, the six-acre revitalized waterfront area in front of the old Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, good. It’s always wise to wait a bit after opening day to explore new urban spaces; the greenery has grown in a little, the Tacocina taco stand from Union Square Hospitality Group has ironed out its service quirks; and if any of the new playground equipment were bone breakers, we would know about it by now.

Domino Park
Thankfully, the Williamsburg pump track loans helmets for free (BMX bike rental is $5 an hour). / Photo by Patty Onderko

A Sweet Playground 
Head to the park on the earlyish side (you can usually find parking on Kent Avenue if you’re not taking public transportation) and visit the playground first. It’s a work of art. Modeled after the sugar-processing mechanics from the refinery, your kids can climb through the Sugarcane Cabin and slide down the Sugarcube Centrifuge. The architects packed a lot of play into a small space, and kids ages 3 to 10 could easily spend an hour or more exploring it all. (My kids—being newly minted 11-year-olds—did not want to admit to having fun there, but still managed to climb the structures for a good 20 minutes.)

Domino Park
The Williamsburg Bridge in the background is a nice touch. / Photo by Patty Onderko

A Dip in the Water
Once hot and sweaty, walk a minute over to the fountain, where babes in swim diapers and teenagers in sopping-wet tees alike try to guess which of the 88 jets will erupt next. If you didn’t bring a change of clothes, you can cool off instead on the Fog Bridge, a square window to the river below surrounded by misters. Don’t worry, the mist is sourced from the city’s water supply, not the East River. (This was a source of much debate the day we visited.)

Tacos at the “Beach”
There’s a beach volleyball plot for the millennials, with a sign warning that the sand is not for general play, but no one was stopping the toddlers with tiny shovels and sandy tushes at the edges of the court. When you’re ready for lunch or early dinner, get in the Tacocina line to order. (There’s always a line, but it goes fairly fast.) Then enjoy your pork and mango tacos; sip Micheladas or Modelos; take in the Manhattan skyline; and congratulate yourself on being a part of Brooklyn’s golden age for families.

Domino Park
Brooklynites in the mist. / Photo by Patty Onderko

5 More Fun Things to Do While You’re There

  1. Directly across from Domino Park, you’ll see a sweet BMX pump track in the shadow of the old sugar refinery. Both serious trick riders and toddlers on trikes ride loops here, which seems (and frankly is) dangerous. Which means your kids will love it. The track is right next to the model of urban farming, North Brooklyn Farms, where you’ll be inspired to snap Instagram pics and start a gardening hobby.
  2. Book a trapeze class at Streb Lab for Action Mechanics, which is about three blocks past the northernmost tip of Domino Park. It holds several “fly” classes on Saturdays.
  3. If your kids have line-waiting stamina (mine do not), sample all the treats at Smorgasburg, held every Saturday at East River State Park, just seven blocks up from Domino Park. The churro ice cream sandwiches from Dulcinea should score you major parent points.
  4. For a more straightforward dessert experience, you really must sample the inventive, small-batch ice creams at OddFellows Ice Cream Co. at least once. Its scoops are the real deal.
  5. See a film at the nearby Nitehawk Cinemas. If you must watch another animated children’s movie, it helps to be able to have a cocktail while doing so.

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