Summer Fun

How to Picnic Like a Pro in NYC

’Tis the season for outdoor eatin’!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

You can do better than a tub of hummus and some baby carrots. To make the most of your picnic, take a walk through some of our favorite parks with a basketful of our preferred eats from nearby gems.

Picnic in Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens

Socrates is a quintessential New York City park—it’s big and hosts tons of community-organized events, and it has plenty of edgy eye candy to admire. The park is often bustling with people when it’s warm out—and with complimentary yoga sessions, kayaking, and cultural performances, it’s no wonder. The view of the Manhattan skyline might also be one of our favorite sights in all of New York City.

Fill your picnic basket at:

Astoria Bier + Cheese
It’s not a picnic without cheese and charcuterie. Astoria’s wide selection of meats and cheeses is insane, but if you prefer your curds grilled and stuffed between two slices, you have to get the Mr. Crispy, made with rosemary ham and Gruyére. It always hits the spot. 35-11 Ditmars Boulevard

New York City Bagel and Coffee House
Don’t limit your picnics to lunch; grab an enormous breakfast bagel from this urban-chic establishment. Yes, it has a solid variety of bagels to choose from, but the cream cheese selection is on another level, with flavors ranging from plain to wasabi to bacon scallion. So you really shouldn’t limit yourself to one bagel either. 29-08 23rd Avenue

Picnic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn

This gigantic park, the largest in Brooklyn, has oh-so-many spots that are perfect for an outdoor meal—or existential contemplation, if that suits your fancy. My favorite place to eat during the summertime is the strip of Long Meadow right behind the Prospect Park Bandshell. The open space makes way for a breeze that will refresh you even on the stickiest of summer nights. Plus, you can’t beat the free tunes coming from BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn (which opens on June 4 with a concert from none other than Patti LaBelle!).

Fill your picnic basket at:

We don’t normally associate picnics with Vietnamese food but, oh, we should. Toasty banh mi, refreshing rice paper–wrapped summer rolls, and bubble tea are the ultimate basket fillers in our opinion. 350 Seventh Avenue, Park Slope

Ladybird Bakery
No picnic is complete without dessert. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a double-crust apple pie or pecan tart from Park Slope local-favorite Ladybird. 1112 Eighth Avenue, South Slope

Picnic in Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan

This park is like Central Park’s calmer and prettier younger sister. Nestled at the top of Manhattan, it boasts beautiful gardens, pathways, and the Cloisters. The best part about picnicking here? Eating a selection of these appetizing Inwood options while taking in dramatic views of the Hudson River and Palisades.

Fill your picnic basket at:

Choc NYC
Stop in to get the caramelized croissant, red velvet raspberry cupcake, or apple streusel bar…or surrender to your sweet tooth and get all three. 4996 Broadway (between West 211th and 212th Streets)

Broadyke Meat Market
You must order the sublime homemade roast beef sandwich at this outstanding meat shop. If you’re in the mood for something to feed an entire tribe, its meatball and eggplant parm sandwiches aren’t bad either. Nope, not bad at all. 4767 Broadway (between Dyckman and Cumming Streets)

Picnic in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

If you’re planning on having an outdoor meal in New York City’s third largest park, venture to Gun Hill Meadow, accessible via West Gunhill Road and Jerome Avenue. It’s a peaceful area with plenty of flora and (sometimes) hummingbirds. There, you can laze on a blanket with your food and Moleskine notebook. Pro picnic tip: After you nosh, go play some golf on Van Cortlandt’s 16-hole course (the first municipal course in the country!).

Fill your picnic basket at:

Mon Amour Coffee & Wine Bar
Stop into this charming shop prepicnic to grab a coffee and a quick bite to go. Rumor has it that the prosciutto arugula flatbread is too good to miss. 234 West 238th Street

Tilila (or La Casita Azul)
Spice up your picnic with Dominican food from this neighborhood favorite. Order some Riki Taki sliders (made with ground beef and topped with a grilled tomato), bring them to the park, and take a bite: You’ll soon be transported to the beaches of Punta Cana. 3648 Bailey Avenue

Garden Gourmet Market
Not sure what you’re in the mood for but want lots of options to choose from? Go to Garden Gourmet—it has an amazing selection of…everything. Vegetables of all kinds? Check. Organic cookies and Oreos? Check. Artisanal hummus and Sabra? Check. Tip: Spoil your taste buds with one of its feta-based dips. 5665 Broadway

Picnic in Willowbrook Park, Staten Island

After I took my driving test in Staten Island several years ago, I went to Willowbrook Park, one of the most popular outdoor spots on the island, for a celebratory picnic. I popped a squat near the Carousel for All Children (which conveniently opens for the season on May 4), enjoyed the best Sicilian sandwich I have ever had (to this day) from Enzo & Tino’s Bake Shop, then drove to Snug Harbor’s Chinese Scholar’s Garden to plot out my future road trips. You wouldn’t be wrong if you did the same.

Fill your picnic basket at:

Enzo & Tino’s Bake Shop, 1949 Richmond Avenue
I repeat: The Sicilian Best, which is served on toasted French bread with prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella, roasted red papers, baby arugula, and roasted garlic mayo, will ruin every other Italian-style sandwich you might encounter in your lifetime. And the sweet treats? Well, it has a Straw-Brie grilled cheese on the menu. If that doesn’t win you over, then I don’t know what will.

Picnic provisions in parks! Find more alliteration (and delicious places to eat) on our mobile app.