Let’s face it: you’re probably itching to break out of your apartment this summer and take advantage of the great outdoors (yes, even in New York City). With 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities across the five boroughs, the city has plenty of places for you to stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air. One of the best ways to enjoy the city’s parks is with a picnic, a favorite summer pastime of many New Yorkers. Here are a few tips for planning the perfect New York City picnic this summer.
Pick the Perfect Spot
Every New York City park has its own personality with some offering more room to spread out a picnic blanket than others. Greenwich Village’s own Washington Square Park has plenty of open lawn space in the warmer months for small group gatherings. The best picnic spot will ideally feature some shade and enough space to keep your distance from other picnic parties. If people are meeting you for a meal, be sure to drop a pin with your location so that members of your party can easily find you, particularly on busier days.
All you really need for a picnic is a blanket and some food – much more than that will weigh you down on the walk over and require a lot of clean up at the end of the day. Keep things simple: leave the lawn chairs at home and if you’re bringing food from home only pack enough to feed everyone in your party. Your future self and your fellow park-goers will thank you.
Check the Weather
The weather can change at the drop of a hat in New York City and summer is known to bring occasional thunderstorms. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast or your favorite weather app to see if a raincheck is necessary. This will also help you determine what kind of food to pack or buy. No one wants a heavy, spicy meal in the middle of a heat wave.
Keep Safety in Mind
With the ongoing pandemic, there are a few things to keep in mind to keep yourself and your fellow parkgoers safe and healthy. Be sure to wear a mask when you’re not eating or drinking, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often and maintain six feet of distance from people outside of your party. If you’re dining with people outside of your household, have them bring their own blanket, plates, utensils and food so that you’re not sharing too many items. While outdoor activities pose less risk of transmission, it’s still important to keep safety precautions in mind in public.
One great way to picnic while supporting small businesses is to order takeout from local restaurants. No need to plan an elaborate spread – just order what you want from your favorite spot! La Panineria’s sandwiches make for the perfect portable picnic snack while Ono Bowls superfood concoctions are a great way to cool off on a hot day. Looking for a more DIY approach? Head to gourmet market Agata & Valentina for the best cheeses, salads and prepared foods. Find out more about the Village’s many eateries on our website.
Make it Fun with Activities
Your picnic doesn’t have to end once you’re finished eating! Keep the party going with a portable game or activity. Frisbee is a classic summer park activity and only involves one piece of equipment. Playing cards are also a versatile and portable addition to your picnic basket. Or just enjoy the sunshine and the company of others!
Have a Clean-Up Plan
If you expect to have a lot of trash after your picnic, be sure to pack trash bags to make clean up easier. Disposable plates, napkins and utensils will also cut down on the number of items you’ll need to bring home and are generally considered a healthier option in this pandemic. Remember: enjoy the space but leave no trace. Clean up after yourself and keep our parks beautiful!