In such a busy urban jungle, who wouldn’t want to hunt down the best picnic spots in NYC? Maybe the flash-flooding that’s currently overtaking the entire Northeast isn’t exactly conducive to picnics in the park. But, as the summer progresses, the cravings for fresh air, PB&J and a killer game of Frisbee will return to us all.
Although we’re not sure you’re allowed to play Frisbee in Times Square or outside of “The New York Times” building, there are plenty of perfect picnic spots in NYC, if you’re willing to go a bit off the beaten path. Read on for our roundup of the best picnic spots in NYC.
What’s more central than picnics in Central Park?
Okay, so maybe Central Park picnics aren’t exactly off the beaten path. In fact, Central Park has many beaten paths. Still, there are a few lesser-explored nooks and crannies within this rectangular verdant oasis in the center of the city that never sleeps. The best picnic spots in Central Park offer more variety than you think.
For instance, have you ever considered picnicking on a boat? Central Park has its own lake for rowboating and gondola rides. Rent a rowboat for US$20 an hour, and pack a cooler with your favorite sandwiches and drinks to enjoy while out on the water. And, of course, you can always spread a blanket out on the Great Lawn or Sheep Meadow. But if you’re looking for something a bit more secluded, why not take a seat in Strawberry Fields. As one of the park’s designated quiet zones, sharing a meal in this area lends for an excuse of whispered anecdotes and muffled giggles.
Or, if you want to enjoy a picnic with your partner that you don’t have to prepare yourself, then you can book a romantic picnic for two right in the park. Packages for these Central Park picnics start at US$200, but they include food, drinks and different extras depending on what kind of meal you’re looking to have. Other more affordable and family-oriented picnic packages are also available for purchase.
Park yourselves in these parks
Perhaps because it’s uptown in Hudson Heights, Manhattan, or maybe because it’s just not Central Park, Fort Tryon Park is criminally overlooked. It’s undoubtedly one of the best picnic spots in NYC. It’s got acres of lawns, pathways and even New York City’s largest public garden. It’s worth the trip north to enjoy the view of the GW Bridge, the Hudson River and New Jersey’s picturesque cliffs while snacking on fruit salad and basking in the sun with people you love.
Another less common outdoor spot for a picnic is Hamilton Grange in the Bronx. The former estate of founding father Alexander Hamilton, this NYC picnic spot is rife with history (and controversy). This summer, the grounds and the rose garden are reopening. So pack a sandwich from your favorite bodega and set off to learn the history of this figure without dropping a hundred dollars to see his Broadway show back in Manhattan.
For those who love art (and those pretending to on a first date) there’s Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, Queens. Right on the East River, this picturesque (and free) consolidation of culture and nature is a unique picnic site. You can enjoy the view of the compelling sculptures surrounding you, or gaze out at the East Side of Manhattan, which is truly a spectacle of art in and of itself.
Get yourself out west
New York and New Jersey have a special relationship. New Jerseyans are often traversing into the city to work, eat and explore, and New Yorkers make their way into Jersey for shopping trips and beach days. But our list of the best picnic spots in NYC isn’t solely limited to inside the city limits. Maybe it’s time to step ever so slightly out of New York City proper and set up camp for a picnic on the border of New Jersey when you need a break from the city.
Take the Path out from downtown into Hoboken for an awesome day in this mid-size city with its iconic piers and Sinatra history. Gaze at Manhattan’s West Side after laying a blanket down underneath the trees at Pier A Park, which is just past the station once you enter this city. You can even pick up food beforehand from Mamoun’s.
Feel like getting out of urbanity altogether? Take the GW Bridge just into Jersey to get to the Fort Lee Historic Park. Fort Lee was a crucial patriot stronghold during the Revolutionary War and has authentic reconstructions of Revolution-era buildings. Sitting outside to enjoy a meal, you can see both the Palisades and Manhattan, with the GW Bridge in the forefront of your view.
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