Some times even the best laid out plans just never seem to come to fruition, no matter how hard you try. But then there are other times when the failure in those plans lead to little surprises that make for the best adventures.
On this particular Saturday, the plan was to head out to visit the New York Hall of Science. I had been wanting to visit for the longest time, and this lazy, cold Saturday seemed to be perfect for it.
We packed up into the family car and headed off towards Grand Central Prkwy, sure that we would find it without the need of our handy-dandy GPS. We saw the signs, made the loops, and end up in Flushing, smack in the middle of the congested Main St. of Chinatown. Though I started feeling a bit reminiscent of my years in college as we tried to make our way through the chaotic streets and back towards the parkway, my husband was feeling more exasperated and giving up on the idea.
The kids were starting to get a bit restless in the car, so we decided to give it one more go, this time with the GPS before giving up completely. Again, we saw the signs, made the loop, before the GPS indicated that we had reached their destination.
We looked around and saw no museum. I knew it had been almost 18 years since I had last been here, but did not remember this part of it. We saw a playground across the street so decided to give up on the museum and let the kids run around and play instead.
I was a bit disappointed, until I entered the playground. The frequency with which we visit playgrounds in the city has led to my feeling a bit jaded about the whole experience. The usual bells and whistles seen in many of the playgrounds, though fun for the kids, have become sort of standard norm to me.
But this playground, even on this gray, cold afternoon, made us all stop at the gate once we entered to take in it’s magnitude. It’s called the Playground for All Children and it is huge. Unbeknownest to us, we had just entered one of the few playgrounds in New York City made with the sole purpose of catering to children with disabilities or limited mobility. Of all the playgrounds I had seen as of late, this one takes the cake.
Besides the size, it is welcoming and colorful. The three boys immediately ran in and started playing and chasing each other around all the various slopes and ramps.
It has a huge basketball court, with ample seating. There are several picnic tables throughout for families to comfortably seat in shade and away from the hot summer sun.
The park has a play section made up of a school bus, fire truck, and also a school house, with desks and seats and a chalk board, as well as a fire station, and a house, complete with flower boxes. The boys loved going in and out of the houses and bus and truck. They even had a little make-believe session of “teacher and class”, with the oldest playing teacher while the little ones quietly listened.
There is a large, round shape area, also wheelchair accessible, where sprinklers are turned on in the summer. When I saw this, I envisioned tons of children playing and running around on those hot summer days.
The boys and their dad spent a nice time in this area skipping over the stones where, in the summer, water runs around as it makes its way down the stream path they are placed on.
The other wonderful thing about this playground is that it has several areas where the kids can play music. From percussion, to xylophones, to big plastic tubes cut in different lengths that they can lift and drop to make different sounds and tones. They are all accessible to both the tall and short. The youngest and I had a great time playing music on the bell pads that require being either jumped on or stepped on to sound.
The kids also enjoyed the “body length” swings, and were able to spent a long time laughing as they were swung back and forth by their parents.
The playground overlooks the huge and super fun Flushing Meadows Park and is in the view of Terrace on The Park.
We must’ve spent close to two hours playing and running around in this empty, but beautiful playground. The kids had laughed more here then they probably would’ve at their intended destination.
Once we were all in the car, we continued up the street and turned the corner, and there it was, to our right, the museum we had set out to visit all along, no more than a block away.
My husband and I looked at each other and laughed. Then we looked at our boys in the back seats, with their wind-disheveled hair, cold-kissed red cheeks, smiling, and exhausted.
Yup, it’s those little surprises that make for the best adventures.