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Best Picnic Spots for Families in NYC, Long Island, and Westchester

Best Picnic Spots for Families in NYC, Long Island, and Westchester

Here are the best places to go on a picnic with your family in the New York metro area.


The warmer weather is on its way and families are ready to get outside and enjoy the fresh air! Luckily, there is no shortage of parks, playgrounds, beaches, and other outdoor spots across the New York metro area to enjoy a family picnic. So, pack up a lunch full of finger foods and head to one of these top spots—they're they best picnic spots in Westchester County, NYC, and Long Island.  

Manhattan
Brooklyn
Queens
Nassau
Suffolk
Westchester

Best Picnic Spots in Manhattan

1. Carl Schurz Park

East 86th Street and East End Avenue, Upper East Side

Carl Schurz Park may not be as large as other parks in NYC, but it compacts everything you need within its gates, making it one of the best picnic spots in NYC for locals and visitors alike! It’s located along the East River (running from East 84th to 90th streets) with scenic views as your family walks along the promenade. Enjoy beautiful views of the river, the lighthouse at the tip of Roosevelt Island, the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge), and Randall’s and Wards islands. Plus, you’re right next to Gracie Mansion, the 18th-century mansion where the Mayor resides. There are restrooms and a playground. For added fun, your family may love a ride on the NYC Ferry. The East 90th Street stop is at the top of the park. Your dog will also love the picnic trip as Carl Schurz Park is incredibly dog-friendly; your four-legged friend will adore the two dog parks within.

2. Great Hill, Central Park

Central Park, between west 102nd and 107th streets, Upper West Side

A picnic in Central Park should be on everyone’s bucket list, and there are countless spots to choose from, but we suggest Great Hill, a picturesque spot in the northern part of Central Park. It was originally designed by the park planners as a Carriage Concourse but now serves as one of the best picnic spots in NYC. It’s a large open meadow on a hilltop surrounded by stately trees, ideal for a picnic lunch while people-watching. It’s considered a quieter and more isolated area to enjoy a picnic in Central Park. There are picnic tables and a restroom and some hiking trails in the North Woods that you can enjoy as a family when finished with your meal.

 

3. Roosevelt Island

FDR Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is a beautiful spot to have a picnic and to spend the entire day as a family. You can easily walk along the waterfront of this 2 mile-long island with gorgeous views of Manhattan and Queens. Finding a picnic spot is easy as there are various little parks where you can sprawl out and eat at your leisure. A fun treat to do with children is to take the Roosevelt Island Tramway there from East 59th Street in Manhattan (you can use a MetroCard!). There are plenty of spots to grab food. There is also a playground and you’ll no doubt find an ice cream truck driving around on nice days. The southern tip has one of the best picnic spots in NYC, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. This small triangular park is lined with manicured breezy trees with views of Manhattan (you’ll have a perfect view of the United Nations) and Queens on either side. Fun fact: The island was once used to keep prisoners and quarantine contagious smallpox patients so you can find historical and educational landmarks as you walk around including the Renwick Ruin, a former smallpox hospital and the Octagon tower, the remnant of an insane asylum. On the northern tip you’ll find the 19th-century Blackwell Island lighthouse on a surrounding park with gorgeous views of NYC. This New England-feeling area is also a prime picnic location. For those that love waterfront promenades and history, this is the best picnic spot in NYC for you!

4. The Battery Oval

Battery Park, Lower Manhattan

A lush green circular outdoor area in Downtown Manhattan, the Battery is surrounded by the SeaGlass Carousel, 195,000 square feet of gardens that are open every day at no cost, and bike paths. The 2-acre lawn of the Battery Oval is a perfect place for a leisurely picnic if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of tourists and business-folk in the Financial District. Afterward, you can walk around Battery Park and meditate in the beauty of watching the sunset behind the Statue of Liberty. Other fun options in the area include seeing the nearby Charging Bull statue, taking selfies in front of The Oculus building, paying your respects at the 9/11 Memorial, taking the ferry to Governors Island, or going for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Battery (@thebatterynyc)

 

5. Riverside Park 

Along the Hudson River, from West 72nd to West 158th streets, Upper Manhattan

Riverside Park is 4 miles long, providing ample opportunity to find the best place for a picnic in NYC. You can picnic on one of the benches while enjoying a waterfront scene or by dropping your blanket down on the grass. Your little ones may enjoy watching the boats at the 110-slip public marina at 79th street, or one of the multiple playgrounds found in the area. Dinosaur Playground, at 97th street, is certainly unique with its dinosaur statues and it includes a spray shower which children always love in warm weather.

Best Picnic Spots in Brooklyn

1. Long Meadow, Prospect Park

Prospect Park West and 3rd Street, Park Slope 

Almost 1 mile of open green space greets you in the Long Meadow, a welcome spot for many family picnics and other outdoor parties or recreational activities. The Prospect Park Zoo is nearby as a fun excursion after lunch, as well as some trails to explore. Plus, the nearby Ravine is a trail that features some waterfalls! There are conveniently several public restrooms found throughout the park. Prospect Park is so large, you could pick a new picnic spot every day and have a wonderful experience, hence why this is one of the best picnic spots in NYC.

2. Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 2 Uplands 

Clark and Furman streets, Downtown Brooklyn 

One of the best—and newest!—picnic spots in NYC, Pier 2 provides gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline. This new park, completed in 2020, is a 6,300-square-foot lawn. Children will love the water play area made from salvaged pieces from the construction of Pier 3, and you’ll love the peaceful vibe among the nearly 1,300 trees and shrubs and the noise-reducing berm to suppress traffic noise. The park has seating made from granite from the Brooklyn Bridge, and active families will enjoy the nearby basketball courts, roller skating rink, and squash, shuffleboard and bocce courts. Pier 2 is open daily, 6am-8pm, but check the latest hours before heading over.

3. Brighton Beach 

Atlantic Ocean, from Ocean Parkway to Corbin Place, Coney Island

Picnics on the beach are a classic family activity, and Brighton Beach is one of the best picnic spots in NYC to partake in this pastime. This spot is a popular destination but may be less crowded than its famous neighbor, the Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk. There are myriad authentic ethnic restaurants that line Brighton Beach Avenue; they are especially known for their strong Russian and Eastern European communities and food, so you can grab your favorite grub before planting the beach towel. Enjoy a swim and walk the boardwalk all the way to Coney Island where your family will have a blast at the admirable amusement park. There are restrooms in the area if needed. Want to check it out before you go? Here is a live video of the boardwalk.

4. McCarren Park

776 Lorimer St., Williamsburg

This popular park, always bubbling with activity, is a favorite of Greenpoint and Williamsburg residents (it spans both neighborhoods) where many gather for games of soccer, basketball, tennis, baseball and the like, including bocce. The grounds also include a playground, an Olympic-sized swimming pool (currently closed due to the pandemic) and a running track. There are designated barbecuing areas if you want to grill a delicious family picnic and there is a restroom on premises.

 

5. McKinley Park

7th Avenue and 75th Street, Bay Ridge

This small Bay Ridge neighborhood hangout is a stereotypical all-American park with a turf ballfield with bleachers where little league games are often played, a tennis court, and a playground for children. There is a spacious lawn and this idyllic spot makes for one of the best picnic spots in NYC, plus it’s less crowded than some of the more popular parks in the borough. In the summer there is a free program called Arts in the Park, a free reading series for children. There are dog-friendly areas so you can bring the whole family, canine included.

Best Picnic Spots in Queens

1. Socrates Sculpture Park

32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City 

On the border of Long Island City and Astoria, you’ll find this 5-acre waterfront park, which will add some artistic flair to your family adventure, making it one of the best picnic spots in NYC for those that love arts and culture. There are outdoor sculptures and multimedia installations that are continuously updated, and the park also has some garden areas—all open year-round without an entry fee. There are also some beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline. Before going, you can look up their current workshops and family-friendly event schedule to tie in with your picnic. Leashed dogs are allowed and the park is fully accessible to handicap individuals and strollers.

2. Gantry Plaza State Park

4-09 47th Road, Long Island City

One of the best picnic spots in NYC can be found in Long Island City at Gantry Plaza State Park. This hip riverside spot has similar industrial vibes to the urban design of the Highline in Manhattan. There are four piers overlooking the water with views of the Empire State Building and the United Nations; the location also offers a playground, a café to grab lunch or coffee, and plenty of grassy area to set down your picnic basket. There is a fun spray pad area for children—swimsuits are required, and it’s only open when a lifeguard is on duty. For fishing hobbyists, there is a fishing pier with its own cleaning table, however grilling is not permitted in the park.



3. Ridgewood Reservoir

Highland Park, Jackie Robinson Parkway, Glendale

This sweeping 50+ acre reservoir in Highland Park, found on top of the Harbor Hill Moraine, was formed by a glacier and provides breathtaking views of the surrounding area, including the Rockaways, the Atlantic Ocean, Woodhaven, and cemeteries. There are grassy areas around the reservoir where you can hunker down for your picnic. You and your children will have fun spotting the collection of birds (the National Audubon Society has recorded more than 130 bird species) and wildlife that can be found roaming the diverse landscape of wetlands, fields and forest.

4. Cunningham Park

196-10 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows

Cunningham Park is one of the largest parks in Queens, and without a doubt one of the best picnic spots in NYC. It has everything you need for a perfect family picnic and outing, especially if you want to use one of the barbecue areas. For those aspiring to have an athletic day, there are basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts, cricket fields, bike lanes, bocce courts and volleyball nets. Your children will appreciate the splash areas and playground and you can walk off your meal on one of the hiking trails.

5. Forest Park 

Myrtle Avenue and Union Turnpike, Forest Hills

This bucolic park lives up to its name and you have vast opportunities to test out and find your favorite picnic spot in this more than 500 acre placid locale. Try sitting next to one of the various lakes or on a bench nestled in pine tree woods. The family can enjoy the hiking trails amongst the beautiful Oak trees, and there is also a private stable where you can rent horses. One of the city’s most challenging golf courses can be found on the grounds. There are also the typical park amenities such as softball, baseball, tennis and bocce. In the summer there are free concerts.  You and your children will have countless charming picnics as you continue to explore this sprawling park. Fun fact: The same landscape architect who designed Central Park and Prospect Park also designed Forest Park, but this idyllic spot is less well known and has fewer visitors—making it one of the perfect picnic spots in NYC!

Best Picnic Spots in Nassau County

1. North Hempstead Beach Park 

175 W. Shore Road, Port Washington

North Hempstead Beach Park boasts 34 acres of sandy beach where Nassau County residents can kayak, fish, and standup paddleboard. There is also a promenade where you can take a stroll along the waterfront, a fishing pier, basketball and shuffleboard courts, horseshoe pits, and a playground, as well as designated picnic areas with barbecues and shelter pavilions. Just keep in mind that permits are required for use of the fields and picnic area.

2. Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park and Coe Hall

1395 Planting Fields Road, Oyster Bay

With 409 acres of gorgeous grounds, Planting Fields offers families a nature’s bounty to explore before or after your picnic. During the spring and summer months you can find colorful gardens, plenty of greenery and greenhouses, and hands-on programs for children to enjoy. While there, be sure to take a tour inside the mansion.

3. Eisenhower Park

Merrick and Stewart avenues, East Meadow

While Eisenhower Park is located in the middle of a very busy part of Nassau county, once you’re in the park, you’ll quickly forget about all of the hustle and bustle. Located on 930 acres, there are a number of picnic areas, as well as athletic fields and courts, playgrounds, and a 2-mile fitness trail. There's even an 18-hole miniature-golf course, batting cages, and a spray park where kids can cool off on a hot summer day.

4. Old Westbury Gardens

71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury

There is no shortage of beautiful blooms at Old Westbury Gardens. In fact, the location is home to 200 acres of gardens, ponds and lakes. And don’t forget about the historic mansion which offers guided tours. There are designated areas for picnicking and a café. During the summer months, there is often live music and other activities going on around the venue.

Best Picnic Spots in Suffolk County

1. Indian Island County Park

Indian Point Road, Riverhead

This beautiful park is located at the tip of the Peconic River so families can picnic right at the water. There is also hiking, fishing, bird watching and even a camping site with restrooms and shower facilities if you decide to stay the night. Across the street is a small farm home where your little ones can frolic with peacocks, goats, and other animals.

2. Jones Beach State Park 

1 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh

There is a reason why Jones Beach is New York’s most visited state park. Families can use the designated picnic areas at Field 6 or the approved barbecue areas at Fields 5 or 10 before heading over to enjoy the sandy beach and beautiful ocean. There is also a boardwalk where you can buy some ice cream, take a bike ride, play miniature golf and shuffleboard, and listen to live music at the seashell. The Jones Beach Nature Center is open to visitors who want to learn about a variety of topics from endangered species to maritime habitats, and there is a new adventure course with zip lines, aerial adventures, and a 40-foot jump.

3. Heckscher State Park 

Heckscher Parkway Field 1, East Islip

The 1,600 acre of Heckscher State Park has shady picnic groves. Kids can play ball at one of the open fields, or everyone can take a walk or bike ride on the four miles of paved, multi-use trails. You just might spot some wildlife (think deer and birds) on your journey, and you can even spot Fire Island across the Great South Bay on a clear day.

4. Sunken Meadow State Park 

New York State Reference Rte 908K, Kings Park

It’s one of the most popular picnic spots on Long Island, thanks to its gorgeous views of the Long Island Sound. Its calm waters make it the perfect spot for swimming, kayaking and canoeing. There’s also a boardwalk, a golf course, ball fields and plenty of open fields.

5. Belmont Lake State Park

625 Belmont Ave., West Babylon

There are plenty of picnic spots throughout this park, which boasts various views of the lake, which offers trout fishing in the spring and bass fishing in the summer. Families can also enjoy an exercise trail, a playground, paddle boarding, pedal boating, and kayaking, biking. The 7.6 miles of trails throughout the park are available for hiking, walking, biking, and nature observation.

6. Crab Meadow Beach 

Waterside Avenue, Northport

Visitors can fish, kayak, and canoe at this beautiful beach, as well as enjoy a picnic and pavilion area, a playground for the kids, a boardwalk and a restaurant in case you don’t feel like packing any food.

Best Picnic Spots in Westchester

1. Kensico Dam Plaza

1 Bronx River Parkway Road, Valhalla

You’ll find plenty of glass to enjoy a picnic with a view at this spot that’s on the National Register of Historic places. The dam is 307 feet high and 1,843 feet long, forming the Kensico Reservoir. The county’s 9/11 memorial—an open structure called “The Rising”—is found at the intersection of pathways and viewpoints. Plus, the park has lighting so it’s open after dark.

2. Lasdon Park & Arboretum

2610 NY-35, Katonah

Picnic in designated areas in this secluded 234-acre arboretum. Manicured gardens showcase flower and plant shrubs from all over the world. Originally called Cobbling Rock Farm, the property was purchased by William and Mildred Lasdon in 1939. The Lasdon family imported many tree specimens to the estate. In 1986, Westchester County purchased the property.

3. Ward Pound Ridge Reservation

Reservation Road, Pound Ridge

At 4,700 acres, Ward Pound Ridge is the largest park in Westchester County. Picnic areas are along Reservation Road, which crosses the park east-west and parallels the Cross River. The southern part of the park offers a more secluded area. You’ll also find 41.9 miles of trails in the park.

4. Bronx River Parkway Reservation

2 Bronx River Parkway, Scarsdale

Westchester’s oldest park, the picturesque Bronx River Parkway Reservation is an 807-acre paved linear park adjunct to the Bronx River Parkway. It’s 13.2 miles in Westchester from the New York City line north to the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla. Picnic amid ponds, wooden footbridges, and hundreds of native tree and shrub varieties.

5. Croton Gorge Park

35 Yorktown Road, Croton-on Hudson

The 97-acre beautiful spot is at the base of the Croton Dam. Fun fact: The dam is said to be the third-largest hand-hewn stone structure in the world, behind the Great Wall of China and the Great Pyramids. Stand on a footbridge that lets you look down on the falls and the spillway that feeds them. It’s popular for picnicking as well as fishing and hiking.


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