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Best Family Picnic Spots in Central Park

by Holly Riddle

Oct 9, 2019

Whowell7 | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

If you’re traveling to New York City with the family and have a little extra leisure time in your itinerary, why not plan a picnic in Central Park? It’s the perfect opportunity to have a little downtime in a park that can easily keep you running, running, running to see the next big thing it offers. Plus, it’s a great way to experience the city like a local; you certainly won’t be alone in spreading out a blanket on one of the many grassy lawns anytime the weather is nice and enjoying a meal and some fun.


Of course, Central Park is huge, so where can you go to have the best picnic experience?


Sheep Meadow

The key with Sheep Meadow, arguably one of the most popular spots to picnic in the park, is to arrive early in the morning. If not, you’ll find the lawn gets pretty crowded. Named for its historic resident flock of sheep, the meadow is relatively flat and, since it’s a designated quiet zone, you won’t have to listen to someone else’s musical tastes. The meadow is also dog-free, an attractive plus for some families. There are several eateries within the park nearby, in case you don’t bring your own food along with you. If you can’t find a suitable spot in Sheep Meadow when you arrive, there are several grassy lawns across from it that aren’t usually as crowded, but these are dog-friendly and not considered quiet zones.


Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Fields is another quiet zone in the park, but this one is not quite so crowded. It is easily accessible, though, just a short walk from West 71st Street. The area is designated as a memorial to John Lennon, who lived nearby while in New York City.


Tourists visit Strawberry Fields in Central Park. Photo: Hansenn | Dreamstime.com


East Green

If your Central Park plans with the family include a trip to the Central Park Zoo, you’ll likely find the nearby East Green a suitable picnic spot. The south end of the green is also home to a playground, so the kids can burn off some energy before or after lunch.


Great Hill

If you prefer a bit of isolation, go to the northern side of the park, where Great Hill offers a lot of shade, quiet and wide-open spaces. Plus, Great Hill is a great spot to do a bit of hiking and get a little lost in nature without ever leaving the big city. Benefits beyond the privacy include a public restroom — something that, be warned, can be a bit difficult to find in Central Park, especially in the event of a child’s emergency — and picnic tables.


Pro tip: If you don’t want to put together your own picnic spread by stopping at one of the many nearby markets steps from the park, you can order a pre-made picnic spread from a park-approved vendor here.


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