The only thing better than picnicking in the park? Picking up a delicious meal en route or carefully orchestrating your delivery so it meets you and your crew in the great outdoors. Read on to get the scoop on some of our favorite places to unwind with a meal in Central Park – with info from the the Central Park Team.
Arthur Ross Pinetum
This oasis of pine trees just north of the Great Lawn is perfect for larger gatherings of all ages. Grab some breakfast, salad or a sandwich from nearby Cafe 82 to complete the getaway. There’s two designated picnic areas, one each directly east and west of the Great Lawn ball fields. Both are nicely manicured with several picnic tables and 17 different species of evergreens!
Recommended Merchant: Cafe 82
This modest slope with a gorgeous view of the Lake is quite possibly the most romantic picnic spot in Central Park. Check out Hunter Deli for sandwiches and deli faves on the way. Highly recommended for lovebirds, the grass contains visitors quietly reading, canoodling or just gazing out at the water as rowboats carrying passengers glide (or splash) past.
Recommended Merchant: Hunter Deli
Set up on this east-side lawn and enjoy a gelato from Anita Gelato. Try out the serene north end rather than the south end. When you’re done, zip across the street to the Central Park Zoo (near the Pond) and watch the sea lions and penguins eat their lunch.
Recommended Merchant: Anita Gelato
Settle in with a treat and a drink from My NY Bakery Cafe. This is a great family picnic spot, and you’ll probably notice kids pouring out of the adjacent playground or playing on the meadow’s distinctive rock formations. But there are plenty of benches and nice, shady spots.
Recommended Merchant: My NY Bakery Cafe
Central Park Organic Deli & Grocery has your park snacks covered if you’re headed to Great Hill. Located in the heavily wooded northern end of the park, this is a favorite picnic spot of Central Park insiders, and for good reason. Not only is it one of the quieter, more isolated meadows in the park, but it offers picnic tables, a public restroom(!) and plenty of space to toss a Frisbee around.
Recommended Merchant: Central Park Organic Deli & Grocery
The park’s central lawn is typically its most crowded. Sunbathers can often be seen spilling into the eight ball fields in the center—even when there are summer-league baseball and softball games going on. Avoid getting a fly ball in your eggs, omelette, or breakfast from Lexington Candy Shop Luncheonette and pick a spot around the perimeter, where you can eat and people-watch.
Recommended Merchant: Lexington Candy Shop Luncheonette
Set up your picnic from local favorite Columbus Gourmet Food at this vast, flat expanse of grass and you’ll encounter sunbathers, shirtless Frisbee throwers, kite flyers and families. The meadow is one of the most frequented spots in the park, but you can find solace in the shaded areas around the edges, or under the large tree in the northwest corner.
Recommended Merchant: Columbus Gourmet Food
Just north of the Imagine mosaic, there’s a secluded lawn lined with trees. Grab a burger or some salads from Viand Cafe and settle in. You’re unlikely to be bothered by more than a few, if any, fellow picnickers, so just relax and listen to the chirping birds while you dine.
Recommended Merchant: Viand Cafe
Belvedere Castle is our pick for any couple who wants to have a romantic picnic. Tuck into a delicious pizza or some sweets from Hi-Life Restaurant and unwind. Located in the middle of Central park at 79th street, find a nice patch of grass and snap selfies in front of the iconic fortress.
Recommended Merchant: Hi-Life Restaurant
Pick up a salad, a custom drink, or an unmissable breakfast from Dear Mama – East Harlem and head to this corner of the park. A path lined with benches and various lawns along the Meer’s edge provide numerous spots for relaxing, picnicking, and sunbathing. Take in the shoreline vegetation, wildlife, and views of the rocky bluffs to the south – an area known as the Fort Landscape.
Recommended Merchant: Dear Mama – East Harlem
The Pond is just steps from the bustle of Fifth Avenue but set below the level of the street. Descend into a landscape that provides an abrupt and immediate escape with something sweet from Lili’s Bake Shop. The skyline adds to the scenic drama of this section of the Park, with striking skyscrapers towering over the Park’s rocks, trees, and hills.
Recommended Merchant: Lili’s Bake Shop
With benches lining both sides, the walkway is bustling with activity. Settle in with a panini, some udon noodles, or a smoothie from DeliSSimo Deli Don’t miss frequent appearances from street performers, portrait painters, and artists.
Recommended Merchant: DeliSSimo Deli