What are the ingredients of a perfect New York City afternoon? A picnic basket, a blanket - and Central Park.
But with 843 acres of beautiful landscapes to choose from, it can be tough to decide just where to spread your picnic blanket. So we asked the experts – the people who are in the Park taking care of it each day – to share their picks for best picnic spot in Central Park.
From hidden nooks to iconic landscapes, our Conservancy staff give you their tips on the most scenic places to bring your picnic provisions or brown bag lunch. Just remember: help us keep the Park clean and green! Properly dispose of your trash, or carry out your items when you leave the Park.
West Side from 100th to 103rd Streets
My favorite spot in the Park for a picnic would have to be the 100th Street Pool. It's a not-so-hidden gem of a landscape on the west side of the Park – and one that doesn't get nearly the attention it should.
In the summer, sitting under one of the enormous weeping willows there makes you feel so far away from the hustle and bustle of the City. When the limbs sway in the breeze, you feel a good 10 degrees cooler than the thermometer reads. Hearing the running water from the waterfall is a great way to put you right into relaxation mode. Just bring your favorite blanket to lay out on the lawn and you are set for a sensational Central Park picnic.
- Lindsay Okarmus
West Side between 75th and 76th Streets
There are so many good places to choose from, but my favorite is Hernshead. It has a little bit of everything the Park has to offer – a water body, a geological formation, beautiful ironwork, informal gardens and a view of the Ramble.
From the rock outcrop, you have a scenic view of the Lake where the Midtown skyline towers above the trees and reflects in the water below. You're also surrounded by lovely aquatic, wetland and shade gardens. If you're up for a brisk autumn picnic, the fall foliage here is excellent in late October and early November.
- Matt D'amico
West Side from 66th to 69th Streets
Sheep Meadow is probably the most popular place to picnic in New York City, and for good reason. The lush, green pasture is beautiful – and perfect for people-watching. I like to bring the picnic mat I purchased nearby at the Dairy Visitor Center and Gift Shop. Grab some Turkish tacos and palm sugar ice cream from the gourmet food trucks stationed at the terrace, and you have the recipe for a perfect Park picnic.
Senior Visitor Services Representative
Great Lawn (southeastern edge)
Mid-Park from 79th to 85th Street
One of my favorite places to picnic in the Park is along the southeastern edge of the Great Lawn. I usually bring a blanket and sit beneath the branches of its grove of canopy trees. The dappled lawn is the perfect place to get lost in a book or gather with a few friends and enjoy the afternoon.
This particular area is far enough away from the Great Lawn's boisterous activity that you can peacefully lounge and enjoy a relaxing lunch, yet still feel the energy of this iconic section of the Park. I can’t think of a more perfect place for a lovely afternoon picnic.
- Rebecca Stern
Director of External Affairs
Mid-Park from 97th to 102nd Streets
North Meadow is a great place to lay a picnic blanket. I like to find a shady spot under a tree and take in the lush views of the landscape with the western skyline above.
And to me, the baseball and softball fields at North Meadow offer a scenic landscape in their own way. It's so enjoyable to just relax with some good food and some good company, and watch a couple of teams play ball on a lazy afternoon.
- Aaron Miller
Director of Volunteer Services
East Side from 106th to 110th Street
The Harlem Meer is one of the best spots in the Park for a picnic. Away from the crowds at the northern end of the Park, you'll be treated to a beautiful view and shady spots to relax. The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center is steps away if you need visitor information or other amenities. After your picnic there's plenty to explore in the northeast corner of the Park. Try catch-and-release fishing, enjoy the view looking south from historic Fort Clinton and Nutter's Battery or visit nearby Conservatory Garden — the Park's only formal garden.
- Doug Blonsky
President, Central Park Conservancy