Upicnic | Why Riverside Park Is one of the Best Spots in New York City

Why Riverside Park Is one of the Best Spots in New York City

BY MARTA
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8/2/2016

Ready to relax big time? A steady, gentle summer breeze caresses Riverside Park at all times, making it one of the best picnic destinations in Manhattan. The park starts on 72nd street and extends for 4 miles along the majestic Hudson River, stretching all the way up to 158th street.

Sure, you might not want to go take a swim in the Hudson, but it’s so much fun watching people braving these germaphobe-nightmare waters with their jet skis, and admiring the sailboats gliding by.

Fun fact: Riverside Park is one of only eight officially designated scenic landmarks in the City of New York. And for a good reason – not only were the landscapes planned by Frederick Law Olmsted & Calvert Vaux (yeah, the same guys that brought you Central Park and Prospect Park), but it also features endless possibilities for relaxing, playing, and generally enjoying life in NYC.

So what’s so great about Riverside Park? It has everything you need, and none of New York’s stress.

Picnic Spots: the entire park offers endless opportunities to go picnic thanks to the many grassy, shaded lawns spread throughout. There aren’t very many spots to hold big crowds – which makes the park perfect for more private and secluded picnics. It is also far away from common tourists trails, keeping this park one of few true New Yorkers destinations.

Bike Lanes: the entire park is one long bike lane, without a single car, making Riverside Park a biker & skater paradise. Many sections have been recently renovated, and are wide enough to allow for bikers, skaters, runners, and casual pedestrians to co-exist rather comfortably. It even features an amazing skate park at 109th street!

Dog Runs: Riverside Park boasts 5 different dog runs, making it an ideal destination to take a walk with fido. Locations are pretty spread out: two dog runs on 72nd street (one on the upper level, and one on the lower level), 87th street, 105th street, and 142nd street.

Alcohol: as in all NYC parks, alcohol consumption is a big no-no, but luckily Riverside Park has a number of cafés where  you can stop for a casual drink while taking in the “New Jersey skyline” (yes, those air quotes are meant to convey sarcasm).  From South to North: Pier1 Café at 72nd street, O’Neals West Boat Basin Café at 79th street (with great views of the marina!), and Ellington in the Park at 106th street.

Playgrounds: with no cars in sight and plenty of shade, Riverside Park is the ideal destination for family picnics and fun days out for kids of all ages. We suggest you bring a change of clothes and plenty of towels, because it will be hard to keep the little ones from the many water play areas! Riverside Park features 14 different playgrounds, you can find them all here.

Quiet Areas: not that Riverside Park ever gets super hectic, but there are a few special areas reserved for extra peace, which also means that there can be no radios, no team sports and unfortunately also no dogs. These areas are, from South to North: Linda’s Lawn (between 64th and 66th on the lower level), South Lawn (between 73rd and 75th on the upper level), North Lawn (between 80th and 82nd), and Sakura Park (East of the General Grant Memorial between 122nd and 124th).

Recreational Areas: Riverside is host to so many basketball courts, tennis courts, running tracks, volleyball and soccer fields and even free kayaking on the Husdon! This Manhattan gem really has something for everyone – you can check out this full map for exact locations of sports facilities, restrooms and other points of interest.

Piers: from Pier1 at its Southern end, all the way to West Harlem Piers at 125th street, Riverside Park features a few piers where New Yorkers can fish, or just sit and enjoy river views. Many more piers are available at Riverside Park South, all the way to the famous Chelsea Piers. Pier 1 is especially trafficked because of its café, but each pier has a unique design and personality.

Summer on the Hudson: check out the full list of amazing summer activities on the Hudson River organized by the Parks Department in a number of Riverside Park’s locations and piers. They have everything from dance lessons, to pilates, to karaoke, to yoga and even tai chi!

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