The last few weeks of summer are upon us, and with it comes the desire to squeeze every last bit of fun out of the warm weather before the snow descends upon us once again. Winter is coming, my friends, so let’s have a picnic while we can.
And why not, NYC certainly has no shortage of amazing spots to sit on a blanket and nosh on some treats. But in case you’re at a loss for where to go, we’ve gathered a few of our favorite places to picnic at here.
So grab a quilt, some wine (but don’t tell!), and a big ol’ loaf of french bread and have yourself a relaxing weekend. Oh, and maybe bring a friend or two, as well.
Right across the East River sits the Brooklyn Bridge Park, a great spot for the young, the old, tourists, locals, even pooches. The park boasts several great open spaces, and designated picnic areas –complete with hibachi grills! However, the hands-down most exciting spot is the Fulton Ferry picnic grove.
Enjoy amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge, set your summertime snacks out on one of the picnic tables, and be sure to take a ride on Jane’s Carousel. That’s right, a carousel. An old-timey, metal pony-filled, music-playing carousel. If that doesn’t make your day, you don’t deserve to have a picnic!
FYI, dogs are allowed, though only in designated dog-runs and on-leash on the pathways and promenade; additionally, alcohol and grilling are only allowed in the designated picnic areas.
Fort Tryon Park is Manhattan’s hidden gem –an enormous hidden gem. On that is filled with running paths, endless gardens, two dog parks, views of the water, and even a museum.
If you’re a fan of art, a history buff, or both, then Fort Tryon is your kind of place. Check out the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art housing over 5,000 medieval artifacts.
After wandering the reconstructed monastery (complete with it’s own gardens), enjoy a picnic on the lawn next to the museum. Little known fact –the museum is donation based, so this makes for a fun, unique, wallet-friendly date. Wink wink.
Of course, Prospect Park is a go-to summer destination if you’re in Brooklyn. Not only is it beautiful, historic, and well situated, there are over a dozen designated grilling areas –so you can fire up that grill of yours and cook up some tasty bbq.
However, if you’re not really in the mood for cooking and more in the mood for just straight up eating, head to the Grand Army Plaza end of the park. There are endless food options, but a go-t0 goodie is Bkln Larder. They boast gourmet sandwiches, meats, cheeses, artisan breads, pastries, and even gelato. It’s just about everything you could want in a picnic meal under one roof, and just a few blocks away from the park.
No NYC picnic list would be complete without Central Park. This huge expanse of green space is certainly not lacking in perfect spots to spread out a blanket and relax. Choose from gems like the great lawn, with it’s 55 acres of open space, the famously picturesque Bow Bridge, or Sheep Meadow –one of the park’s dedicated “quiet zones.”
However, in my humble opinion, Great Hill is hard to beat. Located on the West side between 103rd and 107th, Great Hill has picnic tables, as well as plenty of green grass. Plus, it’s surrounded by trees, to give you that wood-sy, get-away-from-it-all vibe.
Best of all, there’s a public restroom. Never underestimate the value of a nearby bathroom after a few glasses of wine – wait, there’s no alcohol allowed in Central Park – so I mean “juice”, it’s totally juice in that thermos. And enough “juice” will definitely make you need a restroom break.
Let’s not forget our neighbors to the east –Queens is chock full of great picnic spots, too! And one of the best is Astoria Park.
Located between Shore Blvd and 19th St., the park boasts great waterfront views. Not only that, but there’s playgrounds, picnic tables, even a pool. Oh, and don’t forget, free wifi! Grab a spot on the lawn by the water, in front of the Hell Gate Bridge –we swear, it’s not as scary as it sounds.
What are your favorite picnic spots and why? Let us know in the comments below!
Lauren is a New York based actor/singer/writer. She is a graduate of the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University as well as the College of the Holy Cross. She’s a fan of beer, pasta, and academic establishments with unnecessarily long titles. Find her on stage, or online– she’s there often.