New York

The Best Picnic Spots in NYC

Massimo Salesi/Shutterstock
Massimo Salesi/Shutterstock
Massimo Salesi/Shutterstock

Good weather days are precious commodities in NYC — a rare delight that even more rarely falls on a leisurely day off. When they happen, New Yorkers are quick to drop everything, head out, and dine outdoors. And while sitting al fresco at your favorite brunch spot always satisfies, the best way to spend a nice day is to grab a blanket and a basket of your favorite handy meals and finger foods and stake a claim to your own tiny bit of the city’s green space.

And now, those days are finally upon us. Here is everything you need to know before you go to NYC’s best picnic spots, where to pick up provisions nearby, and what to do when you get there.

Seton Park

Spuyten DuyvilIf lazy Sundays are regularly on your radar, you’ll want to add this option to the lineup: the Riverdale Y hosts a weekly Sunday Market, where you can stock up on farm fresh goodies (and might even find a handmade blanket) before heading to the park. Though it’s just over 10 acres, Seton Park feels like it’s sprawling; it’s wide and flat enough to feel like a meadow, but also woodsy enough to feel like a forest.

New York Botanical Garden
New York Botanical Garden
New York Botanical Garden

New York Botanical Garden

FordhamThe best way to make a day of a trip to the slightly spendy NYBG is to come prepared. Plan your visit for a Wednesday, when admission to the garden grounds is free (although certain sections of the garden still require a fee), pack a lunch (keep in mind you can only picnic in the lush, green designated pavilion — also the only space on the grounds where you’re encouraged to walk/lay/play in the grass), stroll through the azalea garden, lilac collection, and tree peonies, and voila: you’ve just set yourself up for one of the most luxuriously inexpensive outdoor dining experiences New York City has to offer.

Spiroview Inc/Shutterstock
Spiroview Inc/Shutterstock
Spiroview Inc/Shutterstock

Riverside Park

Upper West SideThis is your best alternative to Central Park, which fills up fast during prime picnic time. Riverside is narrow and incredibly long, so you can make many returns and have a different experience each time: set up camp between 116th and 124th streets, and you’ll have easy access to the bird sanctuary; further south, off 70th Street, you can wander down Pier 1. Bring an empty basket with you and pile it high with a spread from Zabar’s on your way to the park.

Silver Lake Park

Silver LakeFair warning: this spot is not easily accessible by public transit. But if you’re able to make the multi-leg trek, you’ll be delighted — Silver Lake’s landscape is gorgeous and the reservoir at the center gives the park some serious oasis vibes. Pick up a couple sandwiches from Marie’s Gourmet and enter through the southern end of the park, work up an appetite with a long walk on one of the park’s many tree-lined trails until you find the lake, then park, bask and eat.

Courtesy of the New York Marble Cemetery
Courtesy of the New York Marble Cemetery
Courtesy of the New York Marble Cemetery

New York Marble Cemetery

East VillageNearly 200 years old and now run by volunteers, the New York Marble Cemetery is only open for a few hours on one weekend day per month from April through October. It’s also a bonafide graveyard, but shake off the heebie jeebies, consult your calendar, and plan a visit. The marble graves, wrought iron and stone perimeters, and aromatic, colorful landscaping fulfill the city’s “urban jungle” reputation. Not only is it breathtaking in beauty and tranquility, it’s the city’s first non-sectarian cemetery open to the public, making this East Village haunt a standing relic of NYC’s longstanding communal and democratic — yet hidden and hard-to-access — history. Plus, if you’ve got an extra $350,000 lying around, you could make it your forever home.

Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, President, CEO, and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation
Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, President, CEO, and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation
Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, President, CEO, and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Ford Foundation Atrium

MidtownThis NYC landmark is your best bet for a rainy day picnic — it’s centrally located, and most importantly, fully enclosed. It’s also worth a visit even when the weather is splendid — flora splashed on an urban background creates a green oasis enveloped by skyscrapers on every side. Grab all the rations you need at Grand Central Market on your way in.

Wolfe’s Pond Park & Beach

Prince’s BayA stones throw from the Prince’s Bay SIR station, you’ll find one of the city’s most diverse outdoor landscapes at Wolfe’s Pond. Here you can visit the beach, hiking trails and a wildlife preserve all in one visit. Hit up Domenico’s for a hero before you enter the park’s grounds, and enjoy your lunch while you do a little bird watching. Once you’ve had your fill, wander through the wooded wetlands and trek the trails before heading home. Best part: much of Wolfe’s Pond is dog-friendly, so bring your pooch.

Julian Macrone
Julian Macrone
Julian Macrone

Fort Greene Park

Fort GreeneThere’s something just dreamy about Fort Greene Park. It lives on a hill (part of the reason it once housed an actual fort) that overlooks a tree-lined neighborhood of cozy brownstones Victorian mansions on one side, and the bustling energy of downtown Brooklyn on the other. It feels secluded, but retains metropolitan benefits — you have lots of options for picnic bites. Peck’s is best for its thoughtfully curated appetizing selections.

Owl’s Head Park

Bay RidgeWatching the blue sky give way to a burnt orange sunset from the rolling hills of Owl’s Head will make you appreciate the grandeur of New York City like you never have before. The combination of the harbor and skyline views and the serene surroundings can put even the most jaded among us at ease. Plus, the Narrows Botanical Gardens, where you can catch a weekly movie night during the summer, is just a couple skips away. Pier 69 is your best option for grub between the park and garden.

Socrates Sculpture Park
Socrates Sculpture Park
Socrates Sculpture Park

Socrates Sculpture Park

Long Island CityWhat began in the 1980s as an endeavor to reclaim a degraded public space for local artists has since become one of NYC’s most welcomed outdoor landscapes, as much an art museum as it is a park. New exhibits are rotated in every few months, and it’s open every single day of the year. Take the N train to Broadway and stop at Omonia Cafe for a wrap or pastry to enjoy while you admire the city skyline.

Elmhurst Park

ElmhurstWhat was once an industrial eyesore opened as six acre Elmhurst Park in 2011. It’s now a particularly family-oriented picnic venue: there are several, state-of-the-art playgrounds onsite, in addition to over 600 trees and grassy lawns. And because it’s so new, it feels really clean (even/especially the bathroom). Pack a lunch for a day at Elmhurst, since the closest picnic-worthy provisions nearby come from Patacon Pisao, which is delicious, but a good 15 minute walk from the park.Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.

Victoria Marin is a Thrillist contributor.

New York

Scavenge for Peeps Cookies and More Fun Treats in NYC This Easter

The best Easter desserts in NYC this spring include Easter Bunny Churros and Carrot Cake Macarons.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

As spring makes its way through New York City, not only do we get to enjoy beautiful weather, stunning cherry blossoms, and cool activities priced at $Free.99, but it’s also the perfect time for some limited-edition desserts.

With Easter fast approaching, bakeries are filling their shops with tons of chocolate eggs, carrot cake-flavoured everything and all types of flavours that offer both nostalgia and innovation within the city’s dessert landscape. After you’ve picked up a cake from the city’s best new bakeries, from Easter Bunny Churros to Carrot Cake Macarons, here are 8 Easter desserts to try in NYC right now.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

Throughout April
Various locations
There’s great news for devotees of Magnolia Bakery’s Classic Banana Pudding: For Easter, the spot is mixing up the iconic dessert’s vanilla pudding with some carrot cake. The Carrot Cake Pudding is filled with freshly grated carrots, coconuts, pineapples, raisins, and walnuts. And if both bananas and carrots aren’t your thing, they’ll be offering their Classic Vanilla Cupcakes in pastel colours with a Cadbury chocolate egg hidden inside.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

Funny Face Bakery

Through Easter Sunday
NoHo and Seaport
Known for their celebrity face and meme-worthy decorated cookies, fans of Funny Face Bakery know that a new fun design is always just around the corner. For Easter, they’ve created the adorable Hoppy Easter decorated cookie that resembles a classic box of marshmallow Peeps. Along with that, they also have the return of their fan-favourite Caramel Pretzel Chip cookie flavour, plus a set of three mini-decorated cookies perfect for gifting.

The Doughnut Project

Friday, April 7 through Easter Sunday
West Village
With the ever-changing flavours at The Doughnut Project, it’s super easy to miss out on trying out a new debut. But this Easter weekend, there will be two new flavours available. One is of course, a carrot cake doughnut topped with a cream cheese glaze, and the other is known as the Doughnut Nest-a French cruller “nest” with a cream-filled doughnut hole “egg” in the centre.

Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour

The Fragile Flour

Wednesday, April 5 through Easter Sunday
East Village
For stellar vegan desserts this holiday, head to The Fragile Flour, a plant-based bakery and dessert wine bar. They’re known for going all out for each holiday with a variety of new pastry options that you can pair perfectly with a glass of wine. This Easter, they’ll have a whole dessert menu that’s both delicious and gorgeous for posting on IG. The menu includes Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies, a Lemon Cake (whole or by the slice), some festive cupcakes, and specialty macarons.

Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Through mid April
Midtown
For a luxurious take on Easter chocolates, browse the selections available at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. You can even pick the Easter Signature Chef’s Selection for a special box curated by award-winning chefs. For something other than chocolate, choose between the Carrot Cake Macarons or the cake flavored Easter Marshmallow Trio, both of which are almost too cute to eat.

La Churreria

Throughout April
Nolita
This churro-centric spot is putting the cutest Easter spin on their crispy cinnamon churros by twisting them up into bunnies and bunny ears. At Churreria, choose from a Bunny Churro Lollipop topped with your choice of chocolate or dulce de leche and sprinkles, or the bunny ear churros in the Ube and Matcha ice cream sundae or the Ube Milkshake, both of which are made with ice cream from il laboratorio del gelato.

Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci

Lafayette

Throughout April
NoHo
You’ve surely seen this croissant tons of times while scrolling through IG or TikTok, whether it’s the Pain au Chocolat one or the latest of the month. Known as Supr√™mes, these filled croissants went viral and continue to live up to the hype each time a new flavour comes out. April’s flavour-sour cherry amaretto with a Luxardo custard and toasted almonds. While you’ll have to be super early and wait in line during one of their three drops of the day to get a taste, we promise you it’ll be worth it.

Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain

Levain

Seasonal
Various locations
We all know the iconic cookies from Levain-they’re gigantic, perfectly crispy and chewy, and well worth the long lines. For spring, the shop is launching a new flavour: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip. Filled with gooey caramel chips, fresh shredded coconut, and melty dark chocolate, it’s one you’ve got to try while it’s still around. To further celebrate the new season, all of Levain’s storefronts will be decked out in spring floral displays, serving as the perfect backdrop for pictures.

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Alaina Cintron is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Her work can also be found in Westchester Magazine, Girls’ Life, and Spoon University. When she’s not at her desk typing away, you can find her exploring a local coffee shop or baking a new recipe.

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