Little Island opened last summer and was so popular that they were scheduling timed entries. Things have settled down a bit so it’s much easier to simply pop by, which I highly recommend. Not only are you able to run around like you would in any public park, you can take advantage of stunning views of both the city and the river. And that’s because this isn’t just any public park. This island oasis has winding pathways that curve up and around so you can actually achieve some elevation – it’s much more than just one large rectangle of greenspace. Small art installations punctuate the walkways so kids can tap some musical pipes or spin a hypnotic wheel. Basically, if you’ve got a kid who needs a little extra distraction, this is an ideal park.
If I could use one word to describe this place, it would be “lush.” While the nearby highline is industrial and urban, this park is practically bursting with greenery and flowers. It was happy and everything was bright, from the umbrellas to the grass itself. It also all felt clean and new. This is as far from a gritty city park as you could get.
There’s not a ton of cover, but you’ll find some tables and huge umbrellas by the two snack trucks. Speaking of snack trucks, the food and beverage situation is much better than I anticipated. I spied a lobster roll and a vegan banh mi, along with other snacks. The beer and wine selection is also top notch. That said, if you don’t feel like eating there (we needed to get a dose of air conditioning), the park is right across from Chelsea Market and City Winery so you’ve got plenty of options.
In my mind, a park is a place to chill with perhaps one big concert happening per season. Not here. In addition to events in the ampitheater (like the upcoming music and dance festival), there’s spoken word performances, drag bingo, sing-a-longs, and more. We’ll definitely have to plan some outings, especially since many events are free.
I love that this park is meant for exploration. It was hot, but we made sure to go all the way to the tippy top to get the best views from the lookout point and enjoyed stopping along the way to check out the flowers or chill on a bench. Wednesday through Sunday includes some light arts and crafts programming and everyone (children especiallky) are encouraged to engage with the art. We watched several people mosey up to the piano and play a little something and when somebody started doing a song from Hamilton, we sang along.
We spent about an hour walking around and sipping on a cocktail before deeming it too hot for Finn. While I love going to just about any park for a picnic, I really enjoyed the more immersive experience at Little Island. I also really enjoyed walking around a real life version of the feeling islands from Inside Out – it’s like I was living in a cartoon.