Brunching hotspots come and go. But New Yorkers will always always be fond of a picnic blanket thrown on a little spade of grass. No waiting time. No reservations.
Where to: Empire Fulton-Ferry State Park, a wide and grassy knoll level with the East River. Sunbathers are in the foreground, Manhattan island is in the background, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are over your head, and ice cream sandwiches -- from nearby Jacques Torres -- are in your picnic basket. The family-run Forager’s Market can pack up an artisanal/organic/locally sourced meat-and-cheese plate and fresh-squeezed juices for your rendezvous on the lawn. There’s a little more foot-traffic these days, but also free wifi, making it a great place for a twilight picnic and laptop movie.
Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, East River, between New Dock and Washington Streets.
Jacques Torres, 66 Water Street, between Main and Dock Streets (718-875-9772).
Forager’s Market, 56 Adams Street, at Front Street (718-801-8400).
Where to: Riverside Park, a bucolic stretch of green (canopy of trees, tidy gardens, mint-condition asphalt) sandwiched between the Hudson River and Riverside Drive. The din of traffic is replaced by a sea breeze from 72nd to 158th Streets, so it’s great to travel on two wheels. A small path from the bike lane now leads directly to Fairway, so you can duck in for provisions before stopping by Grant’s Tomb (122nd Street) or the northern lawn (147th-152nd Streets). The latter is a strategic move: Post picnic and nap, you can stroll the nearby Little Red Lighthouse in Fort Washington Park.
Riverside Park, from 72nd-155th Streets, between Hudson River and Riverside Drive.
Fairway Market, 2328 Twelfth Avenue, between 122nd and 123rd Streets (212-234-3883).
Little Red Lighthouse, 178th Street, at the Hudson River.
Where to: Take your picnic up a notch by settling onto The High Line. The second section of the elevated promenade (West 20th-30th Streets) debuted in early June, and the crowds are surprisingly thin in the mornings and late evenings. Catch some early rays at the Diller-Von Furstenberg Sundeck & Water Feature, or corral your group in the window of the Tenth Avenue Square. The offerings at Chelsea Market can turn your picnic into a full-blown party, but sometimes all you need are a few slices of Artichoke Pizza and a striking bird's-eye view of Meatpacking hoopla.
The High Line, from Gansevoort to West 30th Street, along Tenth and Twelfth Avenues.
Chelsea Market, 460 West 16th Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.
Artichoke Pizza, 114 Tenth Avenue, at 17th Street (212-792-9200).
Where to: Gowanus Grove, for a un-conventional picnic on the Superfund canal. The surroundings are a bit of an industrial ghost town, but on Sunday afternoons, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, picnic tables and a dance floor appear under leafy trees on an empty lot. The Mister Sunday crew runs the place, and make lunching and lazing easy with a bar selling Six Points (in a can), homemade sangria, and Counter Culture cold brew ice coffee. Montreal-inspired Mile End Delicatessen, and Red Hook Ball Fields vendor Country Boy set up shop on the lot to sling lamb burgers and tacos, respectively. Babies and doggies encouraged.
Mister Sunday at Gowanus Grove, 400 Carroll Street, between Bond and Nevins Streets, Gowanus.
Mile End Delicatessen, 97a Hoyt Street, between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street (718-852-7510).
Where to: Picnic Point is just what it sounds like -- and the ultimate picnic excursion (it involves a ferry!) leads you to eight acres of open space at the southwest tip of Governors Island. Best to bring a bike or land early to get one on the island for the day. Before you cross the Hudson, pack your basket with hearty salads and sandwiches from Fresco by Scotto On the Go. Once at the point, claim hammocks, picnic benches, and Adirondak chairs as your own. Then gussy up your lunch with local produce and flowers at the Point's sustainable farm and farm stand (run by non-profit Added Value).
Picnic Point, Governors Island, accessible via the free ferry from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. Bring your bike, or rent one on the island.
Fresco by Scotto on the Go, 114 Pearl Street, at Hanover Square (212-635-5000).