Bonus: there are a few spots with pizza-by-the-slice nearby
With the last few weeks of summer out in front of us, now is the perfect time to plan a picnic with your crew. Of course, there are dozens of places to picnic in the city, but why not dine at one of the best? This list has the classics, new parks, and even under-the-radar picnic spots worth a look. While you’re outside, consider one of our fave urban hikes, bike rides with kids, or NYC playgrounds.
Best Picnic Spots in Manhattan
The Great Lawn in Central Park
Measuring 55 acres, it’s clear how this green expanse got its name. Lay down a blanket and enjoy your picnic, and be sure to bring a frisbee or ball as well for a relaxed game. Check out the turtles in the nearby pond then visit the Diana Ross playground or Ancient playground. If you need more to do (or need to escape the heat), the Metropolitan Museum of Art is right here.
Pro-tip: In a hurry and no time to pack your own lunch? Central Park offers a to-go package suitable for families and kids.
Mid-park between 79th Street and 85th Street
Great Hill in Central Park
Travel to the northern part of the park where it feels a bit less urban thanks to numerous great elm trees. The Great Hill is the tallest point in the park, and it’s also the only spot where picnic tables are available. Bonus: a bathroom is located nearby. Take a short hike to find the Loch and discover three waterfalls, or explore the North Woods to experience the Ravine and learn about history at the Blockhouse. If the tots need a place to climb, head over to the Tarr Family playground.
Between W. 103rd Street and W. 107th Street. Enter at W. 106th Street
Fort Tryon Park
This lush green oasis is next door to the Cloisters, home to The Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ 5,000 medieval artifacts.(FYI: admission is donation-based) Be sure to walk through Heather Garden to see what’s blooming.
99 Margaret Corbin Dr.
If you like to picnic in the hustle and bustle of it all, Bryant Park is a great choice. Steps from Times Square the main branch of the New York Public Library, it still provides a lovely oasis with its open lawn, ample shade along the perimeter, a carousel, and ongoing programming and free events, from yoga for all to storytime with Cali Co Cat. (And if you don’t feel like packing your own picnic, food vendors are here to help with that.) Bonus: there are well-kept public bathrooms here that boast live fresh flowers and a classical music soundtrack.
42nd and 6th Ave.
Stuyvesant Cove Park
Situated along the East River, Stuyvesant Cove Park is a peaceful oasis with native plantings, waterfront walkways, and ecological features. The park has only recently reopened following reconstruction and now features a natural setting and scenic water views, as well as several seating areas and picnic tables. It also serves as an educational space where you’ll often find discussions and events about key issues of our current world, as it relates to culture and food.
24-20 FDR Drive Service Rd. E.
Hudson River Park
The green lawn bowl between Pier 63 and 64 in Chelsea is huge—it’s the largest open space in Hudson River Park. Watch the bikers and runners breeze through and enjoy views of the Hudson River. In the summer, stop by Chelsea Waterside playground to cool off in the splash pad.
West 23rd Street and 12th Ave.
The Elevated Acre
Picnic in a hidden gem in the financial district. To access this secret spot, look for the elevator tucked between two office buildings. The SeaGlass Carousel is a short walk away, as is the National Museum of the American Indian. The museum is free and offers an interactive kid-friendly exhibit. Pro-tip: This is also a great place to use the bathroom if someone needs it.
55 Water St.
Carl Schurz Park
This little hidden gem is nestled along the East River in the Upper East Side. Stroll along the promenade or sit at one of the many benches to enjoy your meal while you take in the sights: gorgeous views of the river, the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse, and the Triborough Bridge. It’s also located near Gracie Mansion, the traditional residence of the Mayor. Grassy areas and a playground provide plenty of space for kids to run around while you relax.
East End Ave. to East River, E. 84 St. To E. 90 St.
Madison Square Park
Picnic in the center of the action in the Flatiron District’s Madison Square Park. The neighborhood is a Green Dining Destination, so you can grab lunch at a nearby participating location and know that you’re helping the environment while you enjoy it.
Little ones can climb and swing at the playground within the park, which also has a water feature, while the whole family will be entertained watching the happy dogs run around the recently renovated dog run. Got some LEGO builders and wizard enthusiasts? Schedule a reservation to visit the Harry Potter store or swing by the LEGO store.
Broadway, Madison Ave. bet. E. 23 St. and E. 26 St.
The High Line
You’re probably already familiar with the High Line, an elevated park built on an old railway track, stretching along Manhattan’s west side. And while the park has gained popularity leading to overcrowding in some areas, some sections—particularly in the northernmost part—are usually less crowded and make for a nice afternoon out. The park is a peaceful place to relax, complete with plants, an art installation, and seating areas perfect for settling down for a bit. It’s also a great spot to stop for a break before you head out to one of the nearby attractions, like Chelsea Market and the Whitney Museum.
Gansevoort St. to 34th St. on Manhattan’s West Side
Historic Pier 57 in Chelsea
Visit this nearly two-acre rooftop public park in Chelsea to find unobstructed views of lower Manhattan and nearby Little Island. Seating is available throughout the open space, and you can grab good eats to go at the food hall on the ground level. Bathrooms are located on the eastern end and, if you’re around during dusk, look for the circular light fixtures that illuminate at night.
Rooftop Park at Pier 57 (Entrance at south perimeter walkway. Look for the signs.)
Find a spot on the rolling hills of this diminutive public park in the Hudson for a tiny oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan life. Food is available to purchase on-site, and warm weather brings lots of events, performances, and art. Even if you don’t catch a performance, stop by the amphitheater in the evening for stunning sunset views out over the water.
Pier 55 in Hudson River Park, W. 13th St.
Accessible by a short $4 ferry ride from Manhattan (a fee that’s waived during some weekend hours), Governor’s Island provides a serene escape from the bustling city. The island features open green spaces, hammocks, and shady spots under old trees, making it an ideal location for a peaceful picnic while enjoying the views of the Statue of Liberty and the harbor.
There’s so much to do here, including slide hill’s massive three-story slide, an urban farm and grazing sheep, and even a real-life adventure playground for your school-aged kids to build using real tools and materials. Bring your own food or buy some from one of the food trucks serving the island.
Randall’s Island Park
Head on over to Randall’s Island Park where you can see views of the Harlem River and East River. There are picnic areas on either side, as well as 10 miles of paved road for families to run, walk, or bike. Bonus: These pathways are free from cars so it’s safe for your children to roam free! Check the calendar before visiting for various kid and family events, from farm exploration day to story time at the Urban Farm, and birding adventures.
20 Randalls Island Park
Best Picnic Spots in Brooklyn
Marine Park is one of Brooklyn’s largest parks and offers vast grassy fields, marshlands, and bird-watching opportunities. There are a few picnic benches, but be forewarned that this is a popular spot for birthday parties, and the benches are often taken (they’re first-come, first-serve). Despite this, the park is a fantastic picnicking spot, with plenty of benches and wide open fields to settle down in. Spend the day relaxing on a picnic blanket while the kids explore the playground on the north-western corner, or take a family hike through the marshland trail.
Playground 278 is located on Fillmore Ave. (at Stuart St.)
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Visit the Picnic Grove at The Empire Fulton Ferry if you’d like to sit at a picnic table. Grills are available here as well, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Otherwise, the park has plenty of green space around for you to set down your picnic blanket. And there’s plenty to do, too: Enjoy the views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, ride on Jane’s Carousel, throw some pebbles at Pebble Beach or play at the Main Street playground.
Main entrance is located at 1 Water St. (corner of Old Fulton and Water St.)
Marsha P. Johnson State Park
Formerly East River State Park, this seven-acre Williamsburg green space was renamed in 2020 for Johnson, a transgender woman of color who was a pioneer in the LBGTQ+ movement and a prominent figure in the Stonewall Riots. (Plaques in the park provide information on her contributions.) The park is known for its stellar views of Manhattan, and there’s a lawn for your blanket as well as benches for seating. Additionally, there’s a small beach, a playground, and a dog run. Saturday is a good day to go, because food truck heaven, AKA Smorgasburg is on-site with almost infinite options.
90 Kent St.
Nethermead in Prospect Park
While Prospect Park is a well-known destination, the Nethermead area, located away from the main attractions, offers a quieter space for picnics. The vast meadows, scenic pond, and surrounding trees create a serene setting for a relaxing family picnic. Be on the lookout for turtles, water birds like ducks and geese, and even the occasional hawk or eagle!
Closest entrance is at Ocean Ave. and Lincoln Rd.
Long Meadow in Prospect Park
This space is accurately named: At nearly a mile long along most of the park’s western side, this is the longest unbroken meadow in an urban U.S. park. As you can imagine, this makes it a popular spot or picnicking, flying kites, playing sports, and more. You might also catch an event here in the summer, like an open-air concert, an outdoor movie, or a fitness class.
Closest entrance is at Grand Army Plaza
Nellie’s Lawn in Prospect Park
Nellie’s Lawn is a great spot for families with smaller kids. Take some time at the Donald And Barbara Zucker Natural Exploration Area (perfect for energetic sprout), then take a 10-minute walk over to the Prospect Park Zoo or the carousel—which is one of the only wheelchair-accessible carousels in the nation.
31 East Dr.
Manhattan Beach Park
No, that’s not a typo: Manhattan Beach is a beach located in southern Brooklyn. Often overshadowed by the more popular Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach is a great spot for a beachside picnic day out. Families can take a dip in the beach, run around one of its impressive playgrounds, or use one of the public grills (which are first-come first-serve). Picnic tables are available for whole-family outings, as well as public restrooms.
Oriental Blvd. between Ocean Ave. and Mackenzie St.
Best Picnic Spots in Queens
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Though known for its iconic landmarks like the Unisphere and the Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park also offers vast open spaces for picnicking. The park’s meadows and nearby lakes provide a relaxing atmosphere for a family-friendly outing. There’s something for everyone here, from historic walks and scenic trails, to open sports fields and even an indoor pool at the rec center.
Grand Central Parkway and Van Wyck Expy.
Built on the site of an old hotel, this quiet neighborhood park has plenty to offer for picnicking families. The park has fields for rest and recreation, a small but scenic pond, and a lovely gazebo to explore—as well as a spacious playground for the little ones.
Cross Island Pkwy. bet. 33 Ave. and 35 Ave.
Upper Alley Pond Park
You can relax on the lawn or secure a picnic table here, and there are also BBQ grills for use if you feel like cooking. Meander through the easy walking trails and make a stop at Wildflower Meadow playground. FYI: kids ages 8 and up can register for a chance to climb for free on Sunday mornings during the summer at the Alley Pond Adventure Course.
Enter at Douglaston Parkway beneath Grand Central Parkway, Union Tpke, Oakland Gardens
Socrates Sculpture Park
This unique park combines art and nature, showcasing contemporary sculptures in an open-air setting. It’s a great place to relax and have some lunch, while taking in both the artworks on display and the picturesque views of the East RIver and Manhattan skyline. Note that while picnics are fine, large parties aren’t allowed here (no birthday party celebrations here!).
32-01 Vernon Blvd.
Queens Botanical Garden
While it’s not a public park, the Queens Botanical Garden charges a reasonable fee to enter a beautiful and artfully wild bit of nature. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the park (picnics are allowed, but coolers, grills, open fires, etc. aren’t), and make sure to time your visit with one of the garden’s many events, like storytimes, craft workshops, community volunteer days, and outdoor summer movie screenings. If you’re a member, check the calendar for members-only picnic evenings!
43-50 Main St.
Gantry Plaza State Park
Gantry Plaza State Park is known for its breathtaking views of the midtown Manhattan skyline across the East River. The park has beautifully designed green spaces and ample seating areas, so you can savor your meal while you look out at the city’s iconic skyscrapers. On hot days, kids can cool off in the misting fountain or at the splash pad in the colorful playground.
4-44 47th Road
Best Picnic Spots in Staten Island
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
This huge, free Staten Island institution has been around for over 180 years! Picnic spots are available in designated areas, in Cottage D, along Gazebo Road and by the Staten Island’s Children’s Museum in Building M. (Bathrooms are also available on-site). While you’re here, don’t miss the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, a stunning classical outdoor Chinese garden.
1000 Richmond Terr.
Wolf’s Pond Park and Beach
Wolf’s Pond Park and Beach is one of Staten Island’s largest parks. Here you can choose your adventure: explore the park, swim or sunbathe at the beach, look out for wildlife, or take the tots to the playground.
Holton Ave., Chisolm St., Luten Ave., Arbutus Ave. and Raritan Bay
Clove Lakes Park
Contrary to what you might think, Clove Lakes aren’t named for the plant, but rather for the Dutch world “kloven,” meaning cleft, in reference to the valley and brook between Emerson and Grymes Hills. This beautiful park has a rich natural history, and is currently home to the island’s oldest living resident: a 300-year-old tulip tree. You’ll also find some ancient inanimate things here, in the form of serpentine rocks, which were formed about 500 million years ago. Wow!
The park has everything you might want for a nice picnic out: easy trails for little adventurers, a pond, playground, rowboat rentals, picnic tables, and on-site bathrooms.
Forest Ave., Victory Blvd., bet. Clove Rd. and Brookside Ave., Royal Oak Rd.
Willowbrook Park offers beautiful green spaces, a small lake, and woodland trails for families looking to have a picnic surrounded by nature. The park also has many ways to stay active, including tennis courts, playgrounds, ballfields, and even an archery range! Plus, if a child in your family is differently-abled, check out the Carousel for All Children, a handicap-accessible carousel featuring hand-carved wooden local animals.
1 Eton Pl.
Best Picnic Spots in the Bronx
You must pay admission to enter Wave Hill, but it’s a beautiful place to visit. (Plus, it’s free on Thursdays). On weekends, the garden hosts free family art activities, nature walks, bird-watching, and more. The designated picnic area is adjacent to Glyndor Gallery and visitors may bring their own food. However, blankets and outside chairs are not allowed, except on special occasions like Mother’s Day.
4900 Independence Ave.
Standing on the site of an old amusement park by the same name, Starlight Park opened in 2013 and was redesigned and expanded in April of this year. The brand-new design features landscaping, more seating areas, two new playgrounds with splash pads, sports fields, and more. As part of the remodeling, two new bridges were built to connect the east and west sides of the river for better access to the new park and green spaces. When you finish exploring here, don’t miss out on the neighboring Concrete Plant Park, an urban wonderland for city explorers.
Sheridan Exwy. between E. 174 St., E. 172 St. and Jennings St.
Pelham Bay Park
Did you know this is NYC’s largest park? It has BBQ grills and designated picnic table areas, and you can picnic anywhere on Orchard Beach North or South lawn. Enjoy beautiful water views of the Hutchinson River, then head over to the Bronx Equestrian Center for a $5 pony or $10 horse ride (no reservation required). If your littles still have some energy, you can stop by the nearby playgrounds: Playground for All Children, and Sweetgum Playground.
Middletown Road & Stadium Ave.
Orchard Beach at Pelham Bay Park
Picnic in “The Riviera of New York”! Play in the sand, visit the Pelican Bay or Orchard beach playgrounds nearby, or get cooking on a grill. Plus: You’re just a bridge away from City Island where you can grab a fresh seafood meal to go.
On Long Island Sound in Pelham Bay Park