The best picnic spots in NYC

Pack blankets, bites and booze—but be careful with the latter, kids—for an alfresco feast in one of these great picnic spots

Make the most of summer in New York: pack a picnic basket and head for a picnic spot in one of the city's best parks. We've chosen our favorite grassy refuges in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Don't feel left out Manhattanites: We've scouted nine secluded spots for a Central Park picnic.

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Picnic spots in NYC

Astoria Park

Open-air dining enthusiasts can grab a seat on a bench along the East River between the Robert F. Kennedy and Hell Gate Bridges, or nab a more panoramic vantage point on the central Great Lawn. (There are also a few nice brown-bag-worthy patches alongside the Hell Gate—be warned, however, that they suffer slightly from the noise of train traffic overhead.)

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Flatiron Free

Clove Lakes Park

Those seeking a waterfront eat-and-nap shouldn’t overlook this beautiful space on Staten Island. And pit masters, take note: The shoreline BBQ area (near the southeast
corner of the lake) doesn’t require permits for parties of four or fewer. Nongrillers ought to venture to the daffodil-surrounded middle lawn by the field house or relax by one of the walkways beneath cherry trees.

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Staten Island Free

East River State Park

This seven-acre expanse (and hipster Eden) sits flush against the river, offering stunning—and previously fenced-off—views of Manhattan’s skyline. Aside from the barbecue platform and children’s playground, it’s a mostly wide-open lawn dotted with picnic tables, making it a perfect locale for setting up blankets and chowing down on burritos (or bagels or banh mi) from nearby eateries.

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Williamsburg Free

Governors Island

Critics' pick

After years of redevelopment, Governors Island is finally open to the public again. 30 new acres of parks include Hammock Grove, a space with 50 red lounge-ready slings; the Play Lawn, home to two natural-turf ball fields; and the art-filled Liggett Terrace. Look for more pastures, including the Hills area’s rolling slopes, in 2015.

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Governors Island Free

Prospect Park

Critics' pick

Brooklyn’s big oasis of greenery boasts some of the city’s finest shaded knolls. You can’t beat the finely manicured and tree-encircled Long Meadow, which never seems to run out of available slopes. (The Prospect Park Bandshell is a short stroll away, should you want to catch a Celebrate Brooklyn! show after your meal.) Looking for a last-minute snack? Every first and third Sunday through October (11am–5pm), stop by Grand Army Plaza’s Food Truck Rally, where you can pick up a slice from Eddie’s Pizza or dumplings from Rickshaw.

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Prospect Park Free

Van Cortlandt Park

There are basically two ways to approach a leisurely lunch at this massive (and more than 60 percent wooded) north Bronx site. You can vie for table and lawn space at the Allen Shandler Recreation Area, which is easy to access via public transportation, and close to grills, baseball fields and playgrounds. But if you’re craving a more off-the-beaten-path experience, disappear into the Northwest Forest’s 188 acres of massive oaks and wildflowers—or, just west of there, Croton Woods, a 158-acre area with gentle streams, plenty of quietude, and hummingbirds and red-tailed hawks. Just don’t let the birds snatch your sandwich.

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The Bronx Free