As the once insufferably-hot city days of early and mid-summer cool into the more temperate ones of late summer and early autumn, many city-dwellers are finding themselves outdoors to soak up those final few moments of golden sunlight. And what better way to spend the perfect open-air afternoon in NYC than picnicking? The true nonpareil of good-weather activities. Full of both hidden and well-known spots of greenery dotted amidst concrete and steel structures, NYC is any picnicker’s wonderland for the socially-distanced fun of the season. From the classic elegance of Central Park to the unique escapism of Governor’s Island, here are our picks for some of the most picturesque spots in NYC (according to Instagram). So put on your cutest warm weather outfit, pack a basket full of bread and other goodies, and read on to find the perfect spot to lay out your blanket.
Photo via @jlinhh
While this iconic NYC park is hardly unknown, there’s a reason it continues to stand as a hotspot for filming and picture locations to this very day. The sheer size alone makes the park ideal for keeping socially distanced from other parties with its myriad of picnic spot choices. Likewise, its varied landscape— from pastures, to hills, to wooded areas— makes every spot the perfect unique background for pictures! If you enjoy (or miss) being in the center of the action, the Great Lawn (located between 79th St. and 85th St.) is the spot for you. Found at the geographical center of the park, this lawn is typically the most populated spot in the park and thus surrounds you with the energy of people in the outdoors. For a less high-energy choice, try one of the park’s designated quiet zones such as Strawberry Fields. Located right by the mosaic memorial to John Lennon, this spot is perfect for a more relaxing and low-key picnic. Lastly, for an even more secluded spot, visit Central Park’s “secret garden” at the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, one of the woodland areas of the park right near East 62nd Street. With hiking pathways and hidden nooks, this spot is one of NYC’s best kept secrets to feeling fully immersed in nature.
Photo via @theskincareavenger
With its greenery located right against the shoreline of the East River, Astoria Park offers an unparalleled view of midtown Manhattan’s cityscape for your next picnic outing. Take to the benches along the perimeter of the park for a picnic set-up with a view along the water, or head to the central lawn of the park to take in a sweeping view of the area’s many beauties.
Photo via @savoreachbite
Bryant Park is located right along 5th Ave and 40th Street, making it one of midtown’s best patches of green to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Typically home to many public performances (including Shakespeare, dance, and music festivals) the park offers a sizable central lawn surrounded by trees and tables as picnic options. And, with the light that reflects off of the nearby skyscrapers at golden hour, the inner-city picnic possibilities are endless!
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photo via @glamazondiaries
The Brooklyn Bridge Park remains one of NYC’s better-known gems for city-dweller’s daily dose of green. Located along the East River waterfront, this 85-acre park extends 1.3 miles starting at the Manhattan Bridge and continuing through the piers. Choose to picnic on one of the many benches on the waterfront or scout a spot on the grass to enjoy some good wine, good bread, and good company. With the Manhattan skyline and grand bridge in view, this spot makes for some very dynamic pictures that juxtapose natural against industrial.
Photo via @tommye__
If you really feel the urge to escape from the city but lack the resources to travel anywhere too far, Governor’s Island is a 172-acre oasis that is only a short ferry ride away from NYC! This island can be accessed by ferry at both the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan and at Red Hook/Atlantic Basin in Brooklyn. The designated picnic section of the island (appropriately named Picnic Point) finds many hammocks, lounge chairs, and covered areas for your outdoor adventure. The energy of Governor’s Island is truly calming, transporting you to a world of peaceful respite, with views of the Statue of Liberty making the location all the more picturesque.