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How to Have a Picnic in Central Park in New York City

When the winter is saying goodbye and temperatures begin to rise, the season that I love starts: the picnic season! Here in New York, this practice is very, very common and I confess I love it! Few simple things in life are as great as sitting in a park to relax, read a book, and eat delicious foods. And I always recommend this kind of thing to anyone visiting the city during the warm weather period. Besides yummy, it’s a very local thing. I never wrote much about it, so today I decided to gather some information and essential tips for those who want to have a picnic but do not even know where to start! Do not forget to check out the guide on how to explore Central Park!

Places: New York is full of parks and, having green space left, the New Yorker is already lying down and marking territory. Central Park is undoubtedly the most famous place – and also with a huge picnic area available. Other parks like Washington Square Park and Bryant Park are also nice- but be aware that the lawn of the second is often closed due to events. Returning to Central Park, it is worth highlighting the main areas – although you will see people in every corner of it. Just keep an eye out and see if there is no sign stating any restrictions to the area. The best spots for picnics are the Great Lawn, the Sheep Meadow (my favorite), North Meadow, the area near the Bow Bridge and the area near the Belvedere Castle.

Pic: Michele Cadari

Food – What to bring to eat? Well, the variety of food depends on the taste of each person, but in general, it is great to bring foods that are easy to share. I always carry fruits (strawberries and blueberries) and chips. I also like to buy hummus and/or guacamole. Cupcakes are also a great choice, as they are individual portions, as well as nuts and almonds. I also carry sparkling water. But, that’s me, huh? You can picnic your way, according to your taste and your hunger. But where to buy these foods? There are plenty of options: you can buy at a supermarket, at drugstores or even at the street, with the vendors. The great places for the best snack options are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. To bring food, I suggest eco bags – and you will find them here everywhere!

And to sit? To sit, you can improvise a lot! Beach towels are great. But if you want to buy a traditional picnic blanket you will find it in stores like Bath & Beyond and Target. If you have more time, you can also buy from Amazon. You can also look at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s.

Balloons – I have already promoted a few meetings with readers here in New York and when the weather permits, I like to make a picnic myself (you can see how I love it, right?). As the areas of Central Park are giants, I always mark a point of reference and I like to bring balloons to demarcate the area. It turns out that everyone wants to take a picture with the balloons. So I thought it would be nice to include this tip. The cheapest place to buy balloons is Dollar Tree – it costs $ 1 each – but the locations in New York are in places that may not be as convenient for everyone. Other stores to buy balloons are Party City and Village Party Store.

Other tips – do not forget to take a big bag or a garbage bag to collect everything after – I do not even have to say that each one is responsible for your trash, right? Another super important thing: it’s quite common for people to bring alcohol to the parks, but people hide the beverages. It is illegal to drink alcohol in public places in NYC. In March 2016, it was announced that the police would not arrest anyone else, but they could still issue a summon.


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