New York

Host Your Own Sizzling Bbq in These NYC Parks

Etienne Frossard/Brooklyn Bridge Park
Etienne Frossard/Brooklyn Bridge Park
Etienne Frossard/Brooklyn Bridge Park

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer in NYC: one of your last chances to get outside, catch some sun, and hit the barbecue before your annual mandatory apple picking appointments begin. But your chances of having access to a private outdoor space of any kind are slim — let alone one big enough to safely hold even the smallest model of that most hallowed of summertime culinary devices, the charcoal grill. The good news? Hidden in plain sight among the more than 30,000 acres of land managed by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation are a wealth of areas for grilling that are free and open to the public, many of which already have grills on premises. The trick is finding the right one for you.

We’ve rounded up 12 of the best parks for grilling in Gotham — but before you go, prepare! Grilling locations in public parks are popular as soon as the temperatures rise, and grow even more crowded on weekends and holidays. Arrive early to secure a spot. If you’re thinking of inviting a crowd of 20+ people, don’t forget to get a permit. Make sure to bring enough charcoal, lighter fluid, and kindling for everything you plan to cook, as the city doesn’t provide gas grills. (No wonder vaunted propane salesman Hank Hill is horrified by his place of birth.) Safely clean your grill — that would be without a grill brush — before using it. You never know what some freelance chef may have left behind the night before. And always properly dispose of your spent charcoal: extinguish all embers and put it in the grilling area’s approved bins.

Booze and barbecue are a classic combination, but the consumption of alcohol is, like smoking, prohibited in city parks, no matter how good a cigar and single malt Scotch with that skirt steak sounds. And while we’re not encouraging you to find a workaround, know that public drinking in Manhattan was decriminalized in 2016. You can still get a ticket, so sip smartly, and don’t cause a scene.

You’ve seen the smoke, now feel the fire. Here are 12 of the best places to get your grill on in NYC.

BROOKLYN

NYC Parks/Daniel Avila
NYC Parks/Daniel Avila
NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

Coffey Park

Red Hook
Best for scenic seaside splendor

Here’s the thing with Red Hook: it’s hard to get to, and everything there rules. This bayside neighborhood boasts cobblestone streets, a badass maritime and mafia history, the most authentic key lime pie in the city, a waterside eatery that describes itself as a “tri-level seafood shack,” a killer distillery, plus the best bar in Brooklyn (please don’t go there) and the best barbecue in Brooklyn. And if you hit up Coffey Park, which underwent a $2.3 million renovation just five years ago, you’ll be right smack in the center of all of it. Plus, you can save some cash on that barbecue by grilling those ribs yourself at the barbecue pit areas at Verona and Richard Streets and Verona and Dwight Streets. Win-win-win-win-win.

Etienne Frossard/Brooklyn Bridge Park
Etienne Frossard/Brooklyn Bridge Park
Etienne Frossard/Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Heights
Best for skyline fetishists

There’s nothing like the sound of sizzling patties and veggies on a hot grill as the sun sinks behind the Manhattan skyline and the lights on the one of the oldest roadway bridges in the US shine clean through the summer night. Brooklyn Bridge Park, settled on the shoreline of the East River between Governor’s Island and the Brooklyn Bridge and just across the water from the southernmost tip of Manhattan, has some of the best views of the city. The grills themselves are on Pier 5. A Key Foods on the corner of Montague and Hicks Streets means there’s no need to lug a bunch of supplies much farther than a few blocks; a wine and liquor store sits even closer. BBP is a modern study in gleaming concrete, so what little shade there is will come from umbrellas, not trees. Be prepared to catch some rays.
 

Prospect Park
Prospect Park
Prospect Park

Prospect Park

South Slope
Best for hedging your bets and catching some sets

There are, to paraphrase the inimitable Soulja Boy, approximately thirty thousand hundred million places to grill in Brooklyn’s second-largest public park. It gets crowded, not only because of its central location, but because both the park and the surrounding areas have an abundance things to do and see, including the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. (So, should you get rained out or pushed out by the teeming masses, you’ll have a backup plan.) Get there early and snag a grill by the bandshell, where you’re likely to catch some free music in the evenings from BRIC without having to wait in any lines. There are plenty of places to grab cooking supplies in the area, too, since Park Slope’s well-peopled Seventh Avenue is just a few blocks away.

THE BRONX

June Marie Sobrito/Shutterstock
June Marie Sobrito/Shutterstock
June Marie Sobrito/Shutterstock

Pelham Bay Park

Pelham Bay
Best for feeling like you’re camping

At a whopping 2,765 acres, this is the largest park in the city by a mile (and a half). Its size and amenities (golf courses, nature trails, a lagoon, a National Historic Landmark in the Bartow-Pell Mansion, and of course, grills) will make you feel like you’ve skipped town. Two of four grilling areas are right by Orchard Beach, which looks out to the east on Pelham Bay proper, just north of City Island on Orchard Beach — one on the North Lawn, and one on the South. They’re deep into the park, so shop ahead of time. There is a parking lot right by the beach, making those grilling areas fairly easy to access by car, and the closest subway line is walking distance from the park, but not the beach, so plan accordingly.

Van Cortlandt Park
Van Cortlandt Park
Van Cortlandt Park

Van Cortlandt Park

Kingsbridge Heights
Best for fishing freaks

While smaller than Pelham Bay, Van Cortlandt is still the city’s third-largest park, with big benefits. One of the two grilling areas here is nestled cozily near the park’s public pool, which makes for a perfect pairing on a hot day. (It’s a short walk from 238th Street stop on the 1 train, which is just two blocks north of a Stop & Shop, so you won’t have to lug supplies all the way from home to make for a successful cookout.) And while you can’t grill ‘em up, visitors can catch and release fish from the shores of Van Cortlandt Lake — the Bronx’s largest body of freshwater. A scratch-made carrot cake from nearby Lloyd’s will hit the sweet spot.

MANHATTAN

Pavel Elias/Shutterstock.com
Pavel Elias/Shutterstock.com
Pavel Elias/Shutterstock.com

Fort Washington Park

Hudson Heights
Best for history buffs

Occupying a stretch along the Hudson River on the west side of most of Washington Heights and Hudson Heights (and nestled just under the dreaded George Washington Bridge), this park boasts its share of history. The former site of the Revolutionary War fort that gave the park its name, this was one of twin structures built to keep the British from heading north along the Hudson River. It’s got a historic lighthouse, is just south of another historical landmark in Inspiration Point, and is connected to Fort Tryon Park, home to the Met Cloisters. Its designated barbecuing area is just north of 158th Street and just south of a “Nature Discovery Area” that has a zip-line course for kids. There’s a Foodtown a few blocks northeast of the grills on the corner of 160th and Broadway.

Randall's Island Park
Randall’s Island Park
Randall’s Island Park

Randall’s Island Park

Randall’s Island
Best for all-encompassing outdoor family fun

Randall’s Island — just east of Manhattan, and technically part of the borough — has six grilling areas, four of which are water-adjacent. But your best bet is to nab a spot in the Flagpole Lawns, central to golf, tennis, an urban farm, and Icahn Stadium, which hosts sporting events throughout the year. The island also hosts music festivals, so if you time your barbecue right, you could luck into some free tunes. A blessing or a curse, Randall’s Island Park is not the easiest to access. The M35 bus is your second-best best; a car is your first. Make sure you pick up groceries in advance.

QUEENS

Eric Pasqualli/Shutterstock
Eric Pasqualli/Shutterstock
Eric Pasqualli/Shutterstock

Queensbridge Park

Long Island City
Best for hip-hop historians (and amateur landscape photographers)

There are few views of the Manhattan skyline as stunning as the view from Queensbridge Park in Long Island City, which is nestled under the wing of the Queensboro Bridge. The nearby public housing development, Queensbridge Houses, is legendary among hip-hop heads: Nas, Mobb Deep, Marley Marl, and a handful of other East Coast rap heavyweights all grew up there. And the area will never forget it: Queensbridge Park often plays host to spectacular rap shows during the summer months — including Mobb Deep a few years back. It also has — you guessed it — a barbecue area with picnic tables and a handful of amenities including volleyball courts and a wading pool for those trying to beat the heat and grill the meats (or veggies). The park is currently under renovation, with construction on a new field house slated to wrap up this October.

tartan/shutterstock
tartan/shutterstock
tartan/shutterstock

Alley Pond Park

Oakland Gardens
Best for thrills with your grills

Underappreciated Alley Pond is the ninth-largest park in the city, putting it only five spots (albeit a good 250 acres or so) behind its better-known borough neighbor, Flushing Meadows Corona Park. That’s partially because it’s pretty far off the beaten path, making it stealthy-nice real estate for big barbecues. Two large grilling areas offer plenty of space for setting up shop, and it’s a lot easier to find grills here than in the much-ballyhooed Flushing Meadows. Another huge draw is the park’s adventure course, which boasts with both low- and high-ropes challenges for adrenaline junkies and dabblers. (Just make sure you go before filling your belly with what have you.)

Flickr/Shinya Suzuki
Flickr/Shinya Suzuki
Flickr/Shinya Suzuki

Beach 17 Playground

Far Rockaway
Best for beach bums

Make a perfect Rockaway Beach day even better with your own curated barbecue menu. The grilling area is near plenty of parking, a short walk away from the boardwalk, and one of those white sand beaches Long Island — yes, that includes Queens — is famous for. It’s the premier summer spot for sizzling steaks, shrimp, and squash alike. Shop Fair and Compare Foods supermarkets are a few blocks away, across Seagirt Boulevard on 20th Street.

STATEN ISLAND

NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney
NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney
NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney

Clove Lakes Park

Sunnyside
Best for the nature lover

Hark, wild child! Clove Lakes Park is where it’s at. Grills are confined to the picnic area at Clove Road and Victory Boulevard, and the greater area is unbeatable. It’s got multiple lakes and ponds, lots of lovely serpentinite structures for geology nerds, and loads of animal life you’ll scarcely find elsewhere in the city, including largemouth bass, red-tailed hawks, snapping turtles, and cottontail rabbits. Perhaps the biggest draw is the park’s near-120-foot tulip tree, Staten Island’s largest, and likely oldest, living thing. And if that’s not enough to keep you occupied . . . well, the Staten Island Zoo is just around the corner.

NYC Parks/Daniel Avila
NYC Parks/Daniel Avila
NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

Wolfe’s Pond Park

Prince’s Bay
Best for seaside romance

Wolfe’s Pond Park’s barbecuing area is near its heart, where Hylan Boulevard cuts the park neatly in two. On the north side you’ll find a wooded area with two small ponds that’s much less trafficked than the southern part of the park, and perfect for some clandestine smooching. The real action is south of Hylan. In addition to the titular Wolfe’s Pond, it’s got walking paths, sprawling fields, and a beach overlooking Raritan Bay — so when you aren’t staring into your sweetheart’s eyes, you’ll be staring at the lovely seaside together. Well, what are you waiting for, you cuties? Go do it! Go fall in love! Over burgers!Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.

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.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

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.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.