Top 10 Picnic Spots for You and a Friend


Polina Buchak

Coney Island makes for a great and unconventional picnic site and offers classic and cinematic New York views.

Fernanda Amis, Contributing Writer

As November slithers to a close, the leaves are decaying and the light is fading quickly. Nevertheless, there may still be one last chance to savor the sun. What better way to salute the warmth than with an amicable picnic or romantic rendezvous somewhere breathtaking? Enclosed is a brief list containing my top 10 spots to celebrate the last hurrah of the season:

10. Washington Square Park is naturally the first spot that comes to mind, for it is convenient, compact and adequately lush. Essentially, it will do in a pinch, but if you are willing to venture beyond the confines of the campus, read on.

9. Tompkins Square Park is still relatively near campus and offers a change of scene. All sorts of eclectic individuals frequent this park, and my favorite Tompkins activity is assessing the compatibility of people and their dogs. It may be too late to sit on the grass, but you can instead go coo at the dogs playing and watch in amazement as the timelessly-dressed skaters do their thing in the southeast section of the square.

8. Sure, you know Central Park, but do you know the secret sanctuaries that lie within? Beneath the foliage lie clearings with waterfalls, furtive fountains and serene kissing spots, among other things. I can’t tell you where they are, because Central Park has a bit of a Narnia situation where you can’t find your way back to a place you discover — which is part of the fun. Have your own journey; just be wary of the sunset and remember that the Great Lawn closes for the winter months.

7. Don’t forget about Prospect Park. Like Central Park, it is sprawling and uncharted. It is up to you to unearth it, and you will undoubtedly find a beautiful little pocket of grass beside a pond to spread out your blanket and have a sandwich.

6. Coney Island has no greenery to offer — it’s true — but boy is it cinematic. Picture the beginning of Annie Hall: young Alvy lives right next to the Coney Island Cyclone and muses that the jitters of the roller coaster were what caused him to be anxious. You grew up with this movie (or at least your parents did), and now you get to have a picnic right on set, just as Woody Allen’s new film Wonder Wheel reaches theaters. The rides might be closed for the season, but you can still at least snarf down a Nathan’s famous hot dog.

5. Elizabeth Street Garden is a charming little spot in the heart of Nolita. Adorned with sculptures, flowers and benches, it is the perfect place to sip a soothing holiday beverage and read Jane Austen.

4. They don’t call it Far Rockaway for nothing, but the extensive subway journey will give you ample time to ponder life, do homework and/or people watch. Get off at Beach 105 Street Seaside and slink down to the shore — stopping at Stop & Shop for rations, Carvel for ice cream and Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee. Follow the sound of the ocean down main street and you will find a perfect beach with white sand and teal waves.

3. Green-Wood Cemetery provides a mystical escape from the city. Green-Wood is the resting place of the likes of Leonard Bernstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and provides miles of greenery and graves to explore. If this spot sounds intriguing to you, this is a fabulous way to test your love and compatibility with another person. Wouldn’t it be incredible if you asked someone out on a date, suggesting the cemetery, and they were delighted by the venue choice? You would know you’d found true love.

2. If you are ever looking to escape the all-consuming whir of Manhattan, then Red Hook is the place for you. It is a quiet, industrial neighborhood on the water’s edge in Brooklyn. Because it is so difficult to get to by public transport, it remains relatively unscathed by tourists. It is beautifully desolate, and it is a lovely place to go for a walk or take a ferry to (Ikea does a free water taxi shuttle to Red Hook from the Financial District). It is the perfect place to gaze at the Statue of Liberty, delight in the fact that New York is your home and dine at Hometown Bar-B-Que followed by Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies — whether it be a first date, a fifth-year anniversary, a get together with friends or a solo bike tour. If the neighborhood and the water aren’t your cup of tea, go for IKEA’s Swedish meatballs.

1. Brooklyn Bridge Park, without a doubt, boasts the greatest vantage point of New York City as we dreamed of it. Grab lunch from nearby Shake Shack or Julianna’s Pizza and choose from one of several scenic pastures. Then meander through the park, maybe go roller skating at the pier roller rink, play soccer or volleyball at the neighboring pier fields and sandpits or treat yourself to a delicious dessert at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and hop on the ferry to Williamsburg for some afternoon shopping.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 20 print edition. Email Fernanda Amis at [email protected].