Best Picnic Spots for Families in NYC, Long Island, and Westchester
Here are the best places to go on a picnic with your family in the New York metro area.
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One of the best picnic spots in NYC can be found in Long Island City at Gantry Plaza State Park. This hip riverside spot has similar industrial vibes to the urban design of the Highline in Manhattan. There are four piers overlooking the water with views of the Empire State Building and the United Nations; the location also offers a playground, a café to grab lunch or coffee, and plenty of grassy area to set down your picnic basket. There is a fun spray pad area for children—swimsuits are required, and it’s only open when a lifeguard is on duty. For fishing hobbyists, there is a fishing pier with its own cleaning table, however grilling is not permitted in the park.
This sweeping 50+ acre reservoir in Highland Park, found on top of the Harbor Hill Moraine, was formed by a glacier and provides breathtaking views of the surrounding area, including the Rockaways, the Atlantic Ocean, Woodhaven, and cemeteries. There are grassy areas around the reservoir where you can hunker down for your picnic. You and your children will have fun spotting the collection of birds (the National Audubon Society has recorded more than 130 bird species) and wildlife that can be found roaming the diverse landscape of wetlands, fields and forest.
Cunningham Park is one of the largest parks in Queens, and without a doubt one of the best picnic spots in NYC. It has everything you need for a perfect family picnic and outing, especially if you want to use one of the barbecue areas. For those aspiring to have an athletic day, there are basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts, cricket fields, bike lanes, bocce courts and volleyball nets. Your children will appreciate the splash areas and playground and you can walk off your meal on one of the hiking trails.
5. Forest Park
This bucolic park lives up to its name and you have vast opportunities to test out and find your favorite picnic spot in this more than 500 acre placid locale. Try sitting next to one of the various lakes or on a bench nestled in pine tree woods. The family can enjoy the hiking trails amongst the beautiful Oak trees, and there is also a private stable where you can rent horses. One of the city’s most challenging golf courses can be found on the grounds. There are also the typical park amenities such as softball, baseball, tennis and bocce. In the summer there are free concerts. You and your children will have countless charming picnics as you continue to explore this sprawling park. Fun fact: The same landscape architect who designed Central Park and Prospect Park also designed Forest Park, but this idyllic spot is less well known and has fewer visitors—making it one of the perfect picnic spots in NYC!
North Hempstead Beach Park boasts 34 acres of sandy beach where Nassau County residents can kayak, fish, and standup paddleboard. There is also a promenade where you can take a stroll along the waterfront, a fishing pier, basketball and shuffleboard courts, horseshoe pits, and a playground, as well as designated picnic areas with barbecues and shelter pavilions. Just keep in mind that permits are required for use of the fields and picnic area.
With 409 acres of gorgeous grounds, Planting Fields offers families a nature’s bounty to explore before or after your picnic. During the spring and summer months you can find colorful gardens, plenty of greenery and greenhouses, and hands-on programs for children to enjoy. While there, be sure to take a tour inside the mansion.
While Eisenhower Park is located in the middle of a very busy part of Nassau county, once you’re in the park, you’ll quickly forget about all of the hustle and bustle. Located on 930 acres, there are a number of picnic areas, as well as athletic fields and courts, playgrounds, and a 2-mile fitness trail. There's even an 18-hole miniature-golf course, batting cages, and a spray park where kids can cool off on a hot summer day.
There is no shortage of beautiful blooms at Old Westbury Gardens. In fact, the location is home to 200 acres of gardens, ponds and lakes. And don’t forget about the historic mansion which offers guided tours. There are designated areas for picnicking and a café. During the summer months, there is often live music and other activities going on around the venue.
This beautiful park is located at the tip of the Peconic River so families can picnic right at the water. There is also hiking, fishing, bird watching and even a camping site with restrooms and shower facilities if you decide to stay the night. Across the street is a small farm home where your little ones can frolic with peacocks, goats, and other animals.
There is a reason why Jones Beach is New York’s most visited state park. Families can use the designated picnic areas at Field 6 or the approved barbecue areas at Fields 5 or 10 before heading over to enjoy the sandy beach and beautiful ocean. There is also a boardwalk where you can buy some ice cream, take a bike ride, play miniature golf and shuffleboard, and listen to live music at the seashell. The Jones Beach Nature Center is open to visitors who want to learn about a variety of topics from endangered species to maritime habitats, and there is a new adventure course with zip lines, aerial adventures, and a 40-foot jump.
The 1,600 acre of Heckscher State Park has shady picnic groves. Kids can play ball at one of the open fields, or everyone can take a walk or bike ride on the four miles of paved, multi-use trails. You just might spot some wildlife (think deer and birds) on your journey, and you can even spot Fire Island across the Great South Bay on a clear day.
It’s one of the most popular picnic spots on Long Island, thanks to its gorgeous views of the Long Island Sound. Its calm waters make it the perfect spot for swimming, kayaking and canoeing. There’s also a boardwalk, a golf course, ball fields and plenty of open fields.
There are plenty of picnic spots throughout this park, which boasts various views of the lake, which offers trout fishing in the spring and bass fishing in the summer. Families can also enjoy an exercise trail, a playground, paddle boarding, pedal boating, and kayaking, biking. The 7.6 miles of trails throughout the park are available for hiking, walking, biking, and nature observation.
Visitors can fish, kayak, and canoe at this beautiful beach, as well as enjoy a picnic and pavilion area, a playground for the kids, a boardwalk and a restaurant in case you don’t feel like packing any food.
You’ll find plenty of glass to enjoy a picnic with a view at this spot that’s on the National Register of Historic places. The dam is 307 feet high and 1,843 feet long, forming the Kensico Reservoir. The county’s 9/11 memorial—an open structure called “The Rising”—is found at the intersection of pathways and viewpoints. Plus, the park has lighting so it’s open after dark.
Picnic in designated areas in this secluded 234-acre arboretum. Manicured gardens showcase flower and plant shrubs from all over the world. Originally called Cobbling Rock Farm, the property was purchased by William and Mildred Lasdon in 1939. The Lasdon family imported many tree specimens to the estate. In 1986, Westchester County purchased the property.
At 4,700 acres, Ward Pound Ridge is the largest park in Westchester County. Picnic areas are along Reservation Road, which crosses the park east-west and parallels the Cross River. The southern part of the park offers a more secluded area. You’ll also find 41.9 miles of trails in the park.
Westchester’s oldest park, the picturesque Bronx River Parkway Reservation is an 807-acre paved linear park adjunct to the Bronx River Parkway. It’s 13.2 miles in Westchester from the New York City line north to the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla. Picnic amid ponds, wooden footbridges, and hundreds of native tree and shrub varieties.
The 97-acre beautiful spot is at the base of the Croton Dam. Fun fact: The dam is said to be the third-largest hand-hewn stone structure in the world, behind the Great Wall of China and the Great Pyramids. Stand on a footbridge that lets you look down on the falls and the spillway that feeds them. It’s popular for picnicking as well as fishing and hiking.