7 Best Picnic Spots in Central Park
If you're spending the day in New York, rather than have lunch at one of the too-pricey eateries, why not set up your picnic blanket and dine al fresco in one of the world's most famous parks?
There are plenty of places to picnic in Central Park on both the north and south sides. You can either bring in your own food from home or buy some take-out at one of the local cafes.
Where to Lay Out Your Blanket
So what are the top places where you can picnic? Let's take a look at seven of the top spots.
1. Great Lawn: The Great Lawn is 55-acres of wide open space, and it's at the geographical center of Central Park. Originally, the site was a reservoir, but in the 1930s it was filled in with excavation material from Rockefeller Center. Today, the Great Lawn is a great place to sit back for a while. It is located mid-park between 79th St. and 85th St.
2. Sheep Meadow: Sheep Meadow is a 15-acre pasture that used to be home to a flock of sheep until 1934. Today, it is a quiet place to relax and sunbathe or enjoy a bite to eat. You can find Sheep Meadow between W. 66th and W. 69th St. It is one of the park's eight designated "quiet zones," which means that you can't play any music while you are there (you must wear headphones), and you can't bring Fido either. In quiet zones, you are also not allowed to feed birds or other wildlife, so make sure to dispose of your crumbs rather than leaving them for the squirrels. If you don't want to bring your own picnic basket to Sheep Meadow, it is close to the Mineral Springs Pavilion, where you can buy food from Le Pain Quotidien restaurant.
3. Belvedere Castle: Belvedere Castle is located mid-park at 79th St., providing one of the best views of both the park and the city skyline. Set up your picnic blanket in some of the lawns near the castle for a romantic meal and a great photo op at the same time.
4. Great Hill: Great Hill is a perfect choice for picnicing in the heavily wooded, northern part of the park. Surrounded by elms, it is the only part of the park where you can enjoy your meal at a picnic table, and it also offers a public restroom. The area is located on the west side, between 103rd and 107th Streets. Enter at Central Park West and 106th St.
5. Bow Bridge: Bow Bridge is one of the most picturesque – and recognizable – areas of Central Park. It is the setting for a great number of movies such as "You've Got Mail" and is hailed as one of the most romantic spots in the city. The bridge links Cherry Hill (with many flowers) to the Ramble (woodlands). It's best to picnic on the gentle slopes of Cherry Hill overlooking the bridge. The bridge is located mid-park around 72nd St.
6. Strawberry Fields: Strawberry Fields is located on the west side of the park between W. 71st St. and W. 74th St. It is a living memorial to John Lennon, who lived near this area of Central Park. If you visit Strawberry Fields, make sure you keep your voice down! It is also one of the quiet zones.
7. Pool: The Pool in Central Park is not a swimming area, but rather a man-made lake that was created by damming up a natural stream in the park. It is located in the northwest area of the park between W. 100th and 103rd St. and provides an area of solitude in the hustle and bustle of the city.
Be Sure to Follow These Two Rules
You should be aware that before you lug out your hibachi and a six-pack of beer to Central Park, there are some rules you need to follow. First, alcohol is technically prohibited. Some of the eateries within the park do sell beer and wine on premises, but you must consume alcohol where you buy it. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring other drinks, though, so feel free to bring in a smoothie with your Sun Warrior protein powder or a Coca-Cola.
In addition, you are not allowed to grill or barbeque (or do any other activity that involves fire) in the park, so leave your burgers and kabobs at home. (Unless you bought them pre-cooked!)
Other than that, feel free to explore these areas of the park - as well as many others within its 843 acres. Happy picnicking!
— by Kathryn Sucich
Kathryn Sucich is a freelance writer who likes to unwind with her kids on a picnic blanket. She enjoys making meals for her and her kids – and dreams of owning a Blendtec blender to make it all easier!