Ring in spring with the perfect picnic

National Picnic Day is this Saturday. Our guide will help you curate that Instagram-worthy charcuterie board, or at least arrange your Sidestein snacks.

Roksaneh Salartash, Contributing Writer

As the cherry blossoms bloom and the days grow longer, NYU students are flocking to Washington Square Park to enjoy the warmer weather. There’s nothing better than celebrating springtime in the city with a picnic accompanied by good music and food. Even in New York City, there are still plenty of picnic spots, like your rooftop or a nearby park. National Picnic Day is on April 23, and we’re going to give you the tools to celebrate the occasion the right way.

The basics

A white tote bag with black decorations, sunscreen, a disposable camera, black glasses with yellow lenses, and an open book on top of a pink checkered picnic blanket.
Must-have picnic essentials include a tote bag, sunscreen and a camera. (Staff Photo by Camila Ceballos)

A good tote bag is an easy, fashionable way to carry all of your picnic essentials. A sturdy picnic blanket is a must — preferably one big enough to accommodate you and your friends. Even if you are picnicking alone, you’ll want plenty of room to lie down and fully relax. A waterproof blanket is the best to avoid mud and grass stains from any April showers.

Another necessity for your tote bag is a camera to capture the moment. Try upgrading your phone camera by attaching a fisheye lens, or bring a disposable camera or old-school camcorder. Tisch first-year and photography major Luiz Simione uses photographs to document warm afternoons with friends.

“I always like to carry my camera around with me, especially when I’m with my friends on a nice day,” Simione said. “I mainly take photos on film and get them developed when the roll is finished. Once I get my film photos back, it is cool to look back on the memories I captured on my camera.”

Last but not least, sunscreen is an essential that most people forget when they’re not at the beach. As the days get hotter and the UV index rises, it’s important to protect yourself with sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat — the last thing you want is a painful burn or an awkward farmer’s tan.

The food

On top of a pink checkered picnic blanket is a white tote bag with black decorations and a gold scarf with pink stars. On top of the tote bag is a round pink music speaker.
For a perfect picnic, choose your favorite sweet and savory snacks. (Staff Photo by Roshni Raj)

Snacks and drinks are essential to enjoying food with the sounds of nature. For an upscale-looking, Instagram-worthy array, take a trip to Trader Joe’s. Get small meats, cheeses and crackers for a cute charcuterie board. To try a delicious TikTok trend, bring a pastel cake and some wine glasses for dessert. Pick up a cake from any grocery store — or bake it yourself — then simply scoop yourself a slice using the wine glass and enjoy. This is a fun choice, especially for a birthday or a post-finals celebration.

If you want to put your remaining Dining Dollars to good use, you can also head over to Sidestein and get family-size bags of pretzels and potato chips to share.

“If you are picnicking at Washington Square Park, there are a bunch of surrounding places to get food,” Stern first-year Ernie Padilla said. “My go-to picks are a pizza from Pizza Mercato or fruit from Heavenly Market.” 

Since you’re going to be in the park, I recommend avoiding messy snacks— so maybe leave the spaghetti and sloppy Joes in your apartment.

The music

On top of a green checkered picnic blanket is a box with crackers, fruit, and a charcuterie board with items like cheese, crackers and dips.
Bringing a speaker and playing some music will elevate your picnic plans. (Staff Photo by Camila Ceballos)

When packing a tote bag for a picnic day, few consider the importance of bringing a speaker. I’ll warn you that speakers are technically prohibited at Washington Square Park, so use them at your own peril. A good speaker can be just as vital as the picnic blanket itself. Stern first-year Nicole Aceves, a self-proclaimed picnic DJ, says music adds a nice touch and can even attract new friends to your picnic setup. 

“I’d say ‘Lovers Rock’ by TV Girl is the perfect song for your picnic playlist,” Aceves said. “Music really sets the mood and aesthetic for a picnic, it just dictates the vibe.” 

If you want to make friends at your picnic, playing music is a great way to do so. Oftentimes, when my friends and I are singing along to the music, people come over to our setup and join in. So before you have your picnic, make sure you prepare a playlist that feels like a sunny spring day. If you would like some inspiration to get started, check out my go-to playlist.

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Whether you are planning for National Picnic Day or awaiting the next sunny day above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you now have all the tools for a perfect picnic. So grab your materials, pick the perfect spot to people-watch and enjoy your relaxing spring day!

Contact Roksaneh Salartash at [email protected].