Upicnic | An Insider's Guide to the Best Central Park Picnic Spots

An Insider's Guide to the Best Central Park Picnic Spots

BY MARTA
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9/20/2016

New York is a grand, glorious city – certainly a world-wide destination for traveling and shopping, and one of the top places to experience American history and visit landmarks.

Of all the attractions around New York City, a visit to Central Park is clearly an experience that can’t be missed. The scenery makes for great pictures for the Insta, but the park is also one of the top places for New Yorkers to find some refuge from the hustle and bustle of skyscrapers.

Central Park attracts about 40 million visitors every year – of which, about 11 million are tourists and visitors (numbers are not made up, I swear – check out the 2011 survey by the Central Park Conservancy).

Consider that number for a second. 40 million people from New York & surrounding areas, plus visitors from the rest of the US and the world walk, stroll, prance, bike, and picnic all over Central Park every year – it’s a miracle there’s any grass left.

There isn’t a clear cut answer as to why Central Park is so loved by New Yorkers and tourists alike. You could argue that it is too picturesque and close to midtown to not be the most famous park in New York. You could also argue that it’s because it’s the biggest park of Manhattan, and that has been the setting of countless movies, TV series, and iconic photographs. You could even make a case for the major concerts, plays, and sporting events that call it home every year. But the truth is, Central Park is the heart of New York City, and we can’t imagine a Gotham that ever existed without it.

By the Conservancy’s estimates, roughly 36% of visitors – or 13 million – go to the park to engage in that glorious passive recreation activity called “relaxing & socializing”, and well, you guessed it, picnicking falls right under this category.

In all fairness, the Conservancy does not define “picnic”, so there is a slight chance the category might include those amateur picnickers who eat a hot dog sitting on the grass and call it a picnic – let’s just all collectively rejoice we are enlightened picnickers and don’t fall into the sad group of mediocre park-goers.

But I digress. So where in Central Park are all these people going to have picnics? Well, if you are familiar with the Best Picnic Spots section of our blog, you are a true, in-the-know master; if, however, you’re not all caught up with your reading list, here below are the top, most mind-blowing spots you should head to for an absolutely unforgettable picnic experience.

Sheep Meadow

The quintessential Central Park lawn where you’ve most likely played catch with your little siblings, tanned during the summer or enjoyed a good ol’ nap-a-thon in the middle of a hectic work week. Sheep Meadow happens to be the largest lawn in Central park, running from West 66th to 69th street.

Strawberry Fields

Dedicated as a memorial to John Lennon, and located between W 71st and 74th streets, Strawberry Fields evokes our most thoughtful selves with its peaceful nature. The Imagine mosaic in Strawberry Fields is one of the most iconic and well-known spots in Central Park. What you might not know, is that Strawberry Fields is also one of the best lawns to relax and kick-back for a picnic.

Cedar Hill

If you had a NYC childhood, you'll remeber Cedar hill as the best spot ever to go sledding after a powdery snowstorm. Tucked away alongside the Upper East Side of Central Park lies Cedar Hill, the east-facing slope meadow, stretching from 76th street to 79th street, the Cedar Hill region of the park is best known for its amazing picnic capabilities in the summer, as well as its hilly structure, welcoming to snowy days for New Yorkers searching for the best sledding spot.

Cherry Hill

Cherry Hill is one of our favorite picnic spots in Central Park for romantic dates, anniversaries, and magical special occasions. Plus, it's really fun to watch people attempt to row their boats and hysterically fail. Located in the middle of the park on 72nd Street and near the Lake, Cherry Hill is known for its abundance of cherry trees (go figure), as well as azaleas and forsythias, creating an aesthetically pleasing sight.

Great Lawn and Turtle Pond

Every New Yorker knows the Great Lawn is a preferred location for major musical happenings in Summer and Fall, and the place to be for the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic annual concerts.

East Meadow

It’s no secret that New York City’s urban landscape has made us believe that by living in the city, we’ve signed away all opportunities of being “one with nature.” This is where we’re wrong. Located right off 5th avenue, East Meadow serves as the Upper East Side’s quiet picnic haven.

The Ramble

Unlike the other picnic locations, the Ramble is no stranger to "rough" terrain, home to hiking trails, pedestrian bridges and the infamous ramble rock and chess rock. The Ramble's most unique quality is that it was man-made! Between its canopies to its fountain, designers toiled long hours over the construction of one of the park's first locations.

Great Hill

Central Park’s hidden gems don’t lie within walking distance from midtown. Rather, they’re nestled away uptown, in the quieter, less populated areas. Between W 103rd and W 107th streets is Great Hill. Between its scenic properties and classic New York City history, the Great Hill oval and its surrounding areas are enchanting.

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