New York has it all — sports, arts, theater, museums, shopping. It also happens to be a great place for a picnic.
With more than 1,700 parks and views of greenways, waterways and skylines, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from all over the city. If you’re looking to unwind from the hustle and bustle for a while, a picnic is just the ticket.
And what better way to enjoy it than by sinking your teeth into a delicious sandwich? Here are some of the top picnic spots, along with our sandwich and post-picnic beer suggestions, in each of the five boroughs.
Located in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park encompasses more than 1.3 square miles, which means there a lot of great spots for a picnic. One particular area to check out is East Green, situated right near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The TimeOut team suggests going to the north end, which tends to be the most peaceful section (as compared to the noisier, playground-filled south end) and is surrounded by lush trees. There, you can lay out a blanket on the grass, chill out for a while and watch life go by.
Our sandwich recommendation: Try the Pinocchio from Alidoro, which includes prosciutto, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, sweet roasted peppers and olive paste. It’s a beast of a sandwich that will definitely fill you up. Rebecca Fishbein writes at Gothamist that it’s truly a masterpiece — it can last you for two meals and is nothing short of a national treasure.
If you’re unfamiliar with Alidoro, it’s one of the city’s premier Italian speciality sandwich shops and was even rated the No. 1 sandwich shop in NYC by Zagat. Although there are three locations in Manhattan, you’ll probably want to go to the one in Midtown because it’s just a stone’s throw from East Green.
Where to grab a beer afterward: As for brews, why not head downtown and grab a Radeberger Pilsner from Death Avenue Brewing Company? It comes from an old Czech Republic recipe and includes the finest ingredients, with mild floral notes and a very crisp taste that will complement the prosciutto perfectly.
At 526 acres, Prospect Park isn’t lacking for space. With plenty of trees and greenery, this is a great place to kick back and soak up some sun.
When it comes to picnicking, head for Great Lawn, which The L Magazine says is considered to potentially be the largest stretch of continuous meadow of any park in the United States. There you can find a bit of serenity and recharge your batteries.
Our sandwich recommendation: Brooklyn doesn’t lack for amazing eats. You can find epic cuisine from practically anywhere in the world. But it’s hard to beat the Godfather from The Original John’s Deli, located at 2033 Stillwell Avenue. Grab it to go and hop on the Q up to the park.
This sandwich has it all. There’s ham cappy, soppressata, hot capocollo, mortadella, prosciutto, provolone and more. Opened back in 1968, John’s is an old-school throwback with style, and the sandwich won’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a place with some history and substance, this is your place.
Where to grab a beer afterward: Try Threes Brewing at 333 Douglas Street at the northern edge of Gowanus, a ten minute walk from Grand Army Plaza.
Threes Brewing values quality above all else and pours fresh beer daily. One of the main features of their bar is its state-of-the-art, 24-line draft system, which serves a continually updated selection of amazing beer.
Ask any local where to find a great chill-out spot in the Bronx, and they’ll say Orchard Beach. There, you’ll find an abundance of greenery that’s situated along a 115-acre, horseshoe-shaped beach.
Lounge around while enjoying your meal, and you may even want to take a dip in the water later on. Orchard Beach is absolutely perfect during the summer months for swimming.
Eddie Small points out at DNAinfo that it was created back in the 1930s and is nicknamed the “Riviera of New York.” It’s also clean, safe and family friendly. There are two formal picnic areas, or you can just lay down a blanket wherever you like.
Our sandwich recommendation: What could be better than a classic pastrami on rye from Loeser’s Kosher Deli, on 214 West 231st Street? This place is truly an institution that’s been around for over 50 years.
Chris Crowley writes at First We Feast that Loeser’s is the city’s oldest continuously operated Kosher deli and will truly give you a window into the Bronx’s past. This place values tradition and is a must for great pastrami that’s tender and spicy without any pretension.
Where to grab a beer afterward: We recommend the Bronx Banner Ale from The Bronx Brewery. This is a golden, Kolsch-inspired ale that’s brewed with Belgian pilsner, American wheat malts and classic Bavarian hops for a smooth, balanced taste.
Astoria Park is one of the premier places for a picnic in Queens. It offers fantastic views of Manhattan, and you also have the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridge looming overhead to add to the ambiance.
Sprawl out on the large expanse of grass to take in the sights and sounds right next to the East River. You can also go swimming during the warmer months in the insanely huge Astoria Pool, which is a mammoth 54,450 square feet, making it the largest swimming pool in NYC.
Our sandwich recommendation: You’ll be sorry if you don’t try The Bomb from Sal, Kris & Charlie’s Deli on 33-12 23rd Avenue in Astoria. This thing is truly a behemoth and can easily feed two people.
It has the works — salami, ham, turkey, pepperoni, mortadella, American, Swiss and provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion — the list goes on. Adam Kuban explains at Serious Eats that The Bomb is as long and thick as the arms of the burly, working-class patrons who frequent this place. So, be sure that you show up hungry.
Where to grab a beer afterward: Try the Bone Orchard Vanilla Porter from Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, which features Madagascar vanilla beans for a robust taste that’s totally unique. This brewery actually creates nano-scale batches and is ideal if you value authenticity a close attention to detail.
Owner Rich Castagna actually operates Bridge and Tunnel Brewery as a one-man operation and takes great pride in delivering top quality brews.
If you’re a nature seeker, you can get your fill at Staten Island. With more than 170 parks and 12,300 acres, it’s appropriately called “The Greenest Borough” in New York.
There are playgrounds, fields, forests and even ice skating in the winter. But when it’s picnicking you seek, perhaps the best choice is Silver Lake Park, which is located on the north east corner. There, you’ve got plenty of room to mellow out and relax. It’s especially nice during the spring, when the tulip trees are in full bloom.
Our sandwich recommendation: What better way to enjoy the scenery than feasting on the Nicky Special Hero from Defonte’s? It’s got everything your heart could desire — ham, capicola, salami, provolone, fried eggplant, marinated mushrooms and more.
One Zagat reviewer says that Defonte’s is so good that he considers them “the kings of sandwiches.”
Where to grab a beer afterward: If you’re looking to wash it down with a great brew, try The Flagship Brewing Company’s Metropolitan Lager. It features toasted Vienna and rye malt for a full-bodied taste that’s balanced and sure to please.
If you’ve got some extra time on your hands, you may want to schedule a brewery tour, where you can see what it’s like behind the scenes and have your fill of tasting some of Flagship’s delectable brews.
Picnicking in Style All Over the City
Despite being the largest city in America, New York has a large number of parks that are teeming with nature and are perfect for taking a breather from city life. This combined with the close proximity of scrumptious sandwiches and tasty brews make it an absolute haven for picnicking.
Whether you live in NYC or are just visiting, you can always find the perfect trio of park, sandwich and beer in all five of the city’s boroughs.