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Outdoor grilling
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Park barbecues: Where to grill in NYC this summer

Gather your friends and fire up the grill in one of these park barbecue areas.

By Bao Ong and Time Out contributors
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Lounging in Prospect Park with friends while sharing a picnic spread is not an uncommon sight on any given summer weekend. But this year’s events have a put damper on hanging out anywhere—outdoors or indoors—with social distancing in mind and a ban on park barbecues (it wasn’t even an option over Memorial Day weekend). But earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he’s allowing New Yorkers to grill in the city’s parks over the Fourth of July weekend. Here’s where to get your grill on.

RECOMMENDED: Get outdoors in NYC

Grilling 101

1. All parks prohibit open fires, ground fires and propane.
2. Keep grills at least ten feet away from trees and overhead branches.
3. Parties of 20 or more in city parks must obtain a special-events permit for $25 (processing takes approximately one month) (Manhattan: 212-408-0226; Brooklyn: 718-965-8912; Queens: 718-393-7272; nyceventpermits.nyc.gov/parks).
4. Dispose of coals in the marked drums, or extinguish with water and wrap in foil before putting in a nearby Dumpster.

For permits and other information, call 212-408-0226 or visit nycgovparks.org

Riverside Park
Courtesy: Riverside Park Conservancy

Riverside Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Upper West Side

One of Manhattan’s more scenic areas, this four-mile stretch of waterfront has perhaps the city’s most idyllic grilling hangout. Cookouts are permitted anywhere north of West 145th Street, affording you and your friends plenty of room to spread out. And you’ll need your pals to help lug the equipment; it’s BYOG (bring your own grill).

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Prospect Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Prospect Park

On any given weekend, you'll often find barbecues dotting the southeast corner of Brooklyn's largest park. The festive atmosphere is perfect for a holiday weekend grilling adventure.

East River Park

Attractions Kips Bay

The handful of grills and picnic tables at this barbecue spot are in high demand, and for good reason. The park provides panoramic views of Brooklyn and a riverfront promenade perfect for walking off those calories. Don’t just show up and expect to nab a spot, however: You need a permit no matter the group size, so be sure to book your party early. Enter at FDR Dr and E 10th St

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Morningside Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Morningside Heights

Past the masonry wall and down the stairs lies a tucked-away world of winding, flower-lined pathways that you would normally encounter in a storybook. Since you'll have to BYOG (bring your own grill) to this party, you might want to delegate the sausages to someone else.

Thomas Jefferson Park

Sports and fitness Lenox Hill

It's only a few blocks long, but they've packed this park with features: It has a swimming pool, a large playgrounds, full recreation center and picnic area to boot. Again, you need to provide your own grill (though there are some on site) so bring a few friends to help you carry it all. If there are enough of you, you might even work your meal off with a soccer game afterward.

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Inwood Hill Park
Photograph: Sophia Wallace

Inwood Hill Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Inwood

There’s a unique reward for trekking to the northernmost corner of Manhattan, where you’ll find enormous trees in the island’s last virgin forest. Much of the park has never been developed; due to its comparatively remote location, the land remained rural up until its 1916 purchase by the Parks Department, who decided to leave Inwood as natural as possible. As a result, the area remains very similar to the way the island was 500 years ago.

Highbridge Park
Photograph: NYCMTB Bicycle Geography

Highbridge Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Washington Heights

This park gets its name from the city's oldest standing bridge. It features a historic water tower, waterside views and a pool.

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Fort Washington Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Morningside Heights

Measuring almost 160 acres, this green space is home to the Little Red Lighthouse, the star of a popular children's book (not to mention Manhattan's only lighthouse). Children also frequent the park's baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts and playground.

NYCDPR, Daniel Avila

Randall's Island Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Randall's Island

Located on the East River between East Harlem, the South Bronx and Astoria, Queens, this park offers waterfront views of the East River along its western shoreline, which also features bicycle and pedestrian trails.

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For permits and other information, call 718-965-8912 or visit nycgovparks.org

Prospect Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Prospect Park

With seven grilling areas spread over 585 acres, this Brooklyn hot spot is the borough’s undisputed barbecue mecca. We like the shaded area just north of the Picnic House: The building offers restrooms and soft-drink vending machines, and it’s a short walk if you need to grab extra treats from the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket (Sat 8am–4pm). Though patrons are welcome to bring their own barbecues, four grills and 12 picnic tables are available first-come, first-served. If you’re rolling 20 or more deep, you’ll need a permit from the Prospect Park Alliance. • (718-965-8951, prospectpark.org)

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Fort Greene Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Fort Greene

Shady walks overlook the grassy lawns, and thick-trunked trees populate this former site of a Revolutionary War fort. If you're feeling active, there are basketball and tennis courts available; otherwise BYOG.

Manhattan Beach Park

Attractions Beaches Manhattan Beach

Tote your own grill to this beach on Brooklyn’s southern shore, where you can work up an appetite bodysurfing in the North Atlantic before retiring to one of two designated areas. Skip the concrete expanse attached to the northeast parking lot and head for the esplanade that stretches from the beach’s eastern edge all the way to Hastings Street (between the beach and the athletic courts). There are plenty of picnic tables, and with borough residents packing the beach during summer weekends, something interesting is always being cooked nearby.

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Red Hook Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Red Hook

This neighborhood park is known for its large public swimming pool and many food vendors, who serve traditional Latin fare in the ball field between Clinton and Court Streets. But if you're set on grilling your own meat, then bring your own grill, stake out a spot in the recreation area on the other side of the park, and fire 'er up.

Coffey Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Red Hook

Super kid-friendly, this 8.27-acre park has a spray shower, play equipment with safety surfacing, swings for children, benches, game tables, picnic tables, basketball courts, handball courts, an asphalt baseball diamond with a backstop, two flagpoles with yardarms, bathrooms, hippopotamus animal art and crocodile-shaped benches.

For permits and other information, call 718-393-7272 or visit nycgovparks.org

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Queens

Queens’ largest green space has so much to offer that the two barbecue areas, located on either side of picturesque Meadow Lake, can often be overlooked. Both zones boast grills and lots of space, but we advise sticking to the east side, which lies slightly farther from the nearby expressways. Consider pregaming there during the US Open, held at the park’s USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, or before Mets games at neighboring Citi Field.

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Alley Pond Park, Queens Village

Attractions Parks and gardens Queens

Brimming with wetlands and meadows, the picturesque park reveals glimmers of sunshine through a canopy of trees. Its small, mostly blacktop barbecue area has only three grills, so get there early to claim a flame, or at least a place in line for one.

Forest Park, Woodhaven

Sports and fitness Queens

This is the largest continuous oak forest in Queens, slightly marred by two roads that run through an otherwise all-natural backdrop. You should be okay if you just face away from the traffic and get all Iron Chef on the five grills available.

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Baisley Pond Park

Sports and fitness Queens

Sprawling across more than 100 acres, this park is home to eateries, fitness equipment, athletic fields, tennis courts, bicycle paths, spray showers, running tracks, dog runs, barbecuing areas and restrooms.

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Cunningham Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Queens

Among the largest parks in Queens, Cunningham frequently hosts family-friendly events. Its facilities include playgrounds, bicycling greenways, basketball courts, baseball fields, bocce courts, dog runs, tennis courts and more.

Highland Park

Located between Brooklyn and Queens, Highland Park offers excellent views of the surrounding neighborhoods, cemeteries and the Atlantic Ocean.

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Queensbridge Park

Things to do Long Island City

This park, named after the nearby Queensboro Bridge, hosts the occasional dance performance.

For permits and other information, call 718-430-1890 or visit nycgovparks.org

Pelham Bay Park, Pelham Bay

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

It'll take just a moment of gazing at the Long Island Sound in a reclined position to adjust your manic urban self to the stillness of the city's largest park. Unfortunately, you're not the only one with that idea. Arrive at 10am to lay claim to one of the 20 grills in the north picnic area or ten in the south.

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Crotona Park

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

Every summer, this slice of Bronx open space reverts back to the early glory days of hip-hop: The Crotona Park Jams feature such iconic names as Grand Wizard Theodore and Kool DJ Red Alert.

Van Cortlandt Park

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

The 1,000-acre green space is the fourth largest park in the city and offers live concerts, horseback riding, an outdoor pool, hiking and cross-country trails, a historic house museum and two public golf courses.

Wolfe's Pond Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Staten Island

Find refuge at the beach or wildlife preserve, or get in touch with your inner child on a tire swing. The barbecue site is well stocked with ten grills, but if there's a wait you could always hit the sand on the beach before you start the cook-up.

Clove Lakes Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Staten Island

This is an impossibly authentic country experience that's just a ferry ride away from Manhattan. But it's a hike to get there, especially when lugging raw meat and your 54-quart Coleman cooler. At least you don't need to haul a grill too; there are six to choose from.

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