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7 Spots for a Central Park Picnic

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Central Park is one of New York City’s treasures and you can make your visit even more memorable by having a picnic there!

Here are our 7 favorite picnic spots in Central Park. Bon Appétit!


Map of Central Park Picnic Spots and Nearby Food Shops

Click on the map to expand

1. Sheep Meadow 

This expansive grassy meadow is named for its former use - as an actual sheep meadow from 1864 until 1934!

Self-guided Central Park Tour

Hanging out in the Sheep Meadow is one of the very best things to do in the summer in NYC. Loads of New Yorkers go there to have picnics.

Do as the locals do. Bring a blanket and food and relax in this beautiful location.


2. The Great Lawn

This huge lawn is one of the most famous in America!

Over the years it has been a perfect spot for large concerts including Simon and Garfunkel in 1982. 

Great Lawn Picnic

They subsequently released their first live album named “The Concert in Central Park”.

Why not download the album to your smartphone or other device and listen to it during your picnic?


3. Belvedere Castle

Picnicking at Central Park's Belvedere Castle is like being transported into a fairy tale.

The castle was built in 1865 in the Romanesque and Gothic styles.

Belvedere Castle Picnic

It’s a perfect picnic area in Central Park as it is one of the most picturesque.

It’s also nice for couples looking for a romantic setting.


4. Bow Bridge

This bridge is one of the most recognizable structures in the park as well as one of the best spots for photographs of Central Park

Bow Bridge in Central Park

Just south of the bridge is Cherry Hill, a pretty location for a picnic with Cherry Blossom trees when in season.


5. The Ramble

North of Bow Bridge is The Ramble, a wooded area that was man-made to resemble a wholly natural landscape.

It resembles a forest with wildflowers, small waterfalls, and an array of birds not seen in other parts of NYC.

Rambles Picnic Spot

The best place in The Ramble to stake out your picnic spot is next to the Lake.

You’ll have a wonderful view of the Beresford Building in the distance.


6. Strawberry Fields

Just north of the mosaic memorial to John Lennon are small grassy areas off the main path.

On hot sunny days, you can find shade under the trees. 

Strawberry Fields NYC

It’s generally a quieter spot in Central Park and a good place for a peaceful picnic. Read more about Strawberry Fields.


7. Arthur Ross Pinetum

Just north of the Great Lawn, the pinetum is one of the few designated Central Park picnic areas with tables.

Pinetum Picnic Area

Surrounded by 17 different species of evergreens, you will feel less like you are in Central Park and more like you are having your picnic in the Catskill Mountains!


Where To Get Your Central Park Picnic Food

Upper West Side

Zabars

Located at 2245 Broadway (at 80th Street) This New York institution since 1934 has pre-made sandwiches, panini, salads, desserts, and great bagels and lox!

You can even pre-order and pick it up so you can start your picnic in Central Park right away! 

Whole Foods at Columbus Circle

Located at 10 Columbus Circle. Just next to Central Park’s southwest entrance at 59th Street.

Premade sandwiches, salads, soups, and a great food bar where you can choose from dozens of pre-made foods, both warm and cold.

Le Pain Quotidien

Located at 1800 Broadway and Columbus Circle.

Sandwiches, soups, quiche, and more. Pre-order for quick pick-up and onto your picnic!

There is also a location inside Central Park near the Sheep Meadow.

LENWICH 

Huge sandwiches including some New York classics like Pastrami on Rye. Make your own salads, soups, and more.

Two locations: 302 Columbus Avenue at W. 74th Street and 469 Columbus Ave. and W. 83rd St.


Upper East Side 

Butterfield Market

Just one block from the park, Butterfield serves up gourmet sandwiches, quiches, salads, and much more.

Located at 1150 Madison Ave and the corner of 85th St.

William Poll

Serving the neighborhood since 1921, this small gourmet store makes classic sandwiches like Ham and Swiss on Rye.

They also have tea sandwiches for a fancy picnic!

If you want a fabulous New York experience, check out William Poll. Located at 1051 Lexington Ave. at 75th St.

Liberty Bagels

Just one block from the southeast entrance to Central Park. Great bagels and a wide variety of cream cheeses, sandwich meats, and anything that goes well with a bagel, they have it.

They also have rainbow bagels! Located at 16 E. 58th St. at 5th Ave.

LENWICH (see description above). Located at 1332 3rd Ave at East 76th. 


Things To Do In Central Park

If you are looking for things to do before or after your picnic, see our in-depth post on Things to Do in Central Park.

Central Park is so big that we recommend that you do not try to conquer it in one day.

Instead, visit different sections of the park at other times.

For a guided experience in this very big park, you might like to join us on one of our pay-what-you-like Central Park Walking Tours.

We offer tours of both the Lower Section of the park and the Middle Section.


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About The Author

Courtney

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: November 22nd, 2022
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