In New York, we’ve collected our favorite 10 spots for picnics in nature -- beautiful parks and preserves teeming with natural life. So grab a blanket and friends, pack a basket and dig in!
Before heading out to a park or preserve near you, think about ways you can green your picnic . Packing local eco-friendly foods, composting/recycling trash, and ditching the napkin are simple tips to ensure your green picnic.
IN NEW YORK CITY
Where to Picnic – Gather at the Pier 5 Picnic Peninsula where visitors can cook on Hibachi-style grill tops, eat a fresh meal on salvaged wood tables, and relax on the waterfront.
Nature to See - Brooklyn Bridge Park has implemented sustainability principles and conservation efforts, from the construction of the park to its ongoing maintenance. The park’s re-use of materials, planting of native vegetation, and reintroduction of coastal wetlands will make this picnic experience great and green.
Where to Picnic – Picnic tables are available outside of the Visitor Contact Station, where all visitors must obtain free walking permits before hiking the trails.
Nature to See – The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeast and one of the best places in New York City to observe migrating birds. This 8,000-acre wetland estuary hosts more than 325 species of birds, 50 species of butterflies and 100 species of finfish.
Where to Picnic – Picnic grounds and barbecue areas at this popular park are available at the Eaton Place Entrance.
Nature to See– Willowbrook Park includes a large tract of lowland forest where tuliptrees, sweetgum, and red maples stand. Hikers can explore its woods on six major hiking trails, while many species of birds take advantage of the area around the park’s five-acre lake to nest and eat.
Where to Picnic - In Midpark between 84th and 86th street, find yourself in an oasis of pine trees perfect for large gatherings of all ages. Several designated areas of picnic areas and a mix of playgrounds give this section of the park the perfect combination of play and peacefulness.
Nature to See – The four-acre landscape features seventeen different species of evergreens including the eastern white pine and red cedar. Many of these trees serve as a stop-over for migrating birds.
Where to Picnic – New York City’s largest park offers two areas to picnic, grill and lounge on the Orchard Beach.
Nature to See – Pelham Bay Park encompasses nearly 3,000 acres of forest, marshland and rocky coastline that is home to more than 400 species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds. The spring season makes a perfect time to view migrating birds and the annual courtship flight of the American woodcock.
AROUND NEW YORK STATE
Lay your picnic blanket down along the beautiful shoreline of this Conservancy preserve. The delicate sand dunes, wetlands, bays and coves that stretch along the coast support rare plants, serve as breeding grounds for long-distance migratory birds, and a nursery for spawning fish and amphibians.
Take a break from the series of trails along the Conservancy’s Frenchman’s Bluff Preserve and enjoy a meal over a bird’s eye view of the Chemung River. The open meadows, wildlife ponds, shale cliff and talus slopes have much to offer for the nature lover.
Enjoy a picnic lunch in a naturalist's paradise and a view-hiker's dream. This Conservancy preserve is famous for its mysterious and craggy interior with rocky outcrops and dark hemlock forests that are breeding grounds for frogs and salamanders.
Featuring more than four miles of trails and an audio tour (accessible with a smartphone), Butler is a great spot for a hiking/picnic combo. And bring your binoculars because this is a birding hotspot.
Indulge both your taste buds and senses with a picnic lunch with views of the Peconic Estuary. Mashomack is a 2,039-acre wildlife preserve featuring freshwater marshes, fields, woodlands, and creeks that serves as a home to ospreys, piping plover, least tern and rare plants.