Screw Work. Let’s Picnic.
A Guide to the 5 Best Summer Picnic Parks in NYC
Hurrah! It’s summer. Time to pack away your marshmallow coat and your boots. Goodbye hats and scarves and gloves. Hello shorts and sundresses and flip flops and Summer Fridays and “doctors appointments” on Tuesday afternoon. There is nothing quite like idling away a lazy afternoon, surrounded by greenery, reading and napping and stuffing your face with all the delicious things NYC has to offer. NYC is an amazing city always but, like most places, is best in the summer. Here are a few spots you can while away your lazy afternoons, with friends, Fido, or flying solo.
1. Central Park
Say what you want about this being an obvious choice but it’s an amazing park. It’s massive so you’ll be able to find whatever sort of picnic space your little heart desires. Want to relax while listening to little kids screaming with joy? Pick a spot near the Carousel (adults allowed.) Head toSheep Meadow if you want to camp out with fellow picnickers and make friends for a game of frisbee. If you’re picnicking with Fido in tow, head to the East Meadow, where in the evenings, dog lovers congregate for events. You’re just going a little early to scope it out. If you want an amazing scenic view of the park, head to Belvedere Castle, where you can get free maps ofCentral Park. You could head for a lunch picnic at the Great Lawn after spending your morning waiting in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets. Just bring a blanket, a book, and some snacks and it can be a day-long picnic, capped off by an amazing free show. No matter what kind of picnic experience you want, you’re almost guaranteed to find it at Central Park if you go to the right spot.
2. Astoria Park
Astoria Park is a bit of a trek from the N train (get off at Astoria Blvd or Astoria Ditmars) but the walk is pleasant and you’ll probably pass some amazing Greek restaurant or bakery on your way (stop to pick up some goodies and thank me later.) Very few parks can boast a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline, plenty of benches and green lawn to picnic on, and thin enough crowds that you can spread out your blanket and play a game of frisbee without bothering anyone nearby. You’ll likely see some joggers and dog walkers go by while you relax, further adding to your lazy, indulgent feeling. It’s my favorite park in the city and I don’t mind sharing it, mostly because I know so few of you will venture out of Manhattan to appreciate it.
3. Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is smack in the middle of the village so it’s full of college students, musicians, artists and all the weird awesomeness they bring. You can bring a proper picnic or just grab take out from any of the dozens of amazing restaurants nearby (try Dojo or Atlas or well…this is a separate listicle coming soon) and camp out on one of the large stone benches near the fountain. After you’ve eaten, if you’re feeling adventurous/hot, you can splash in the fountain or join one of the interactive performances that are usually going on near the fountain. If you prefer something a little quieter, more shade, or actual grass, walk towards any of the edges of the park and enjoy. No matter where you decide to relax, be sure to stop and appreciate a mural or a musical performance while you’re there. And if you’re feeling generous, you can tip the artist or give them a shoutout on Twitter or Instagram.
4. Battery Park
There is something special about watching all the serious bankers and lawyers and Wall Street workers streaming out of the offices in their suits to rush to the subway and home, while you’re lounging in the sun, enjoying a cupcake. Perhaps it’s a bratty move but being able to appreciate what you’re not doing that afternoon (i.e.working) makes the afternoon of relaxing and eating in the sunshine that much better. At Battery Park, you can not onlywatch the ebb and flow of Wall Street workers and busy tourists, rushing from one site to the next, but also the boats on the Hudson. Plenty of ferries and barges will sail by while you relax. Stick around until sunset and you’ll end up with several amazing photos, before you head to Stone Street to get your post-picnic drink on.
5. Brooklyn Bridge Park
You could hop the ferry and picnic the traditional way at Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is loads of fun. Or you could eat in Chinatown, have a leisurely stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge and relax in the park with your hard-earned ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. The latter is a perfect option for Summer Friday. After a few hours of tanning and/or napping at the park, it’ll be easy for you to continue your Friday night at any of the many awesome bars and restaurants in Williamsburg or Clinton Hill or Fort Greene (when did Brooklyn get this cool?) If you’d rather come and watch the sun set over lower Manhattan, Tuesdays are your ideal night to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park this summer, as every Tuesday in July & August, the park is showing a popular film. You can find the movie schedule hereand maybe I’ll see you there on July 21st. 🙂
2.5 miles long between 59th Street(Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North), and 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West.
19th St, Astoria, NY 11105
Washington Square Park
Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan
Located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in New York City, facing New York Harbor
Brooklyn Bridge Park
334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Also from Amna Shamim: the ten NYC restaurants she missed eating at while she was abroad.