Sure, a picnic can include a large checkered blanket and a woven basket full of food. But sometimes, a picnic is also a bag full of snacks from the nearest bodega eaten on a park bench.

 

In a city that takes great initiative to preserve and expand green space – hey, we all need to escape the concrete jungle from time to time – there are countless places to unwind. The obvious picnic spots, like Central Park and Prospect Park, are already accounted for. Instead, we’ve compiled a short list of New York’s off-the-beaten-path parks to explore – from one of the city’s tiniest to some of its most unexpected.

Sutton Place Park (midtown east)

East River views, red brick and a whimsical
East River views, red brick and a whimsical wild boar statue make Sutton Place Park one of Manhattan's best kept secrets. Named for shipping merchant Effingham B. Sutton, the park sits under the Queensboro Bridge between East 56th and East 57th streets, not far from the United Nations headquarters. Grab a to-go coffee and take a leisurely seat on a bench. (Credit: Bryan Smith)

Septuagesimo Uno (Upper West Side)

Technically a park, but physically more of a
Technically a park, but physically more of a lush alleyway, Septuagesimo Uno (which means "71" in Latin) is one of the city's smallest parks. The Upper West Side "pocket park" - on 71st Street between West End and Amsterdam avenues - is nestled between two townhouses and provides ample opportunity to get lost in a book (or even just a few thoughts). (Credit: Yana Paskova)

Concrete Plant Park (Hunts Point, Bronx)

Just over seven acres of parkland in the
Just over seven acres of parkland in the South Bronx has something other city parks tend not to: abandoned industrial structures. The site was once home to a concrete plant that was abandoned in 1987. Fast forward to 2009 after the city stabilized the assortment of structures, and Concrete Plant Park opened for business, drawing people to its rather uncanny appearance. At the Bronx River between Westchester Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard. (Credit: Emilio Guerra)

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Old Stone House & Washington Park (Park Slope, Brooklyn)

Grab snacks from any of the many Park
Grab snacks from any of the many Park Slope vendors in the vicinity of Old Stone House and lay claim to a bench in the park that surrounds the historic building. The structure, in Washington Park at 336 Third St., is a reconstruction of the Vechte-Cortelyou House, which served an important role in the Revolutionary War, but was destroyed in 1897. The house itself is open for visits on select hours during the week. (Credit: Polly Higgins)

Forest Park (Forest Hills, Queens)

Forest Park is the third largest in Queens
Forest Park is the third largest in Queens and has something for everyone. For picnicking, there is wide-open space after wide-open space, and after you're sated there are copious options for recreation (see: golfing, soccer fields, hiking trails, and more). Known for its hilly terrain, Forest Park, at Park Lane South between Brooklyn-Queens County Line and Park Lane, transports parkgoers to a more rural setting.   (Credit: Meghan Giannotta)

Clove Lakes Park (Staten Island)

Clove Lakes Park is an ecologically diverse park
Clove Lakes Park is an ecologically diverse park in Staten Island that's at the forefront of conservation efforts and home to a number of fish and bird species. Aside from enticing nature lovers, the park is particularly known for its many picnic areas (complete with barbecues) to choose from, in addition to boating in the lakes themselves. At Victory Boulevard between Clove and Royal Oak roads. (Credit: Emilio Guerra)

Narrows Botanical Gardens (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn)

If you can ignore the hum of cars
If you can ignore the hum of cars on the nearby Belt Parkway, then the Narrows Botanical Gardens in Bay Ridge may prove to be strangely enjoyable picnic spot. The all-volunteer project was started in 1995 and features a butterfly garden, two rose gardens, and even a space for turtles. With stunning views of New York Harbor, there's a lot to take in.   (Credit: Narrows Botanical Gardens )