A Picture-Perfect Picnic in New York City
A picture-perfect picnic requires a minimum of two things: stellar food and a kick-ass location. Add in music, public art, renowned architecture, water features, the river, gardens and novelty and suddenly the simple picnic is elevated to a grand adventure. Here are three options – with two variations each – for getting out to eat al fresco, socialize and explore local neighborhoods
If you’re staying at: The Chatwal Hotel
130 W. 44th
Option 1: Ready-to-Go – Contact Juan Espinal, The Chatwal’s Concierge Specialist ([email protected]) who will arrange a picnic basket for as many guests as you like, perfectly matching your tastes with its contents. Carry the basket to the popular, but always delightful, Bryant Park (just a short walk away), choose a table, bench or stretch of green grass and enjoy. This is an excellent option as a surprise for someone special without having to focus on the organizational details.
Option 2: Do-It-Yourself – Grand Central Terminal offers an almost bottomless list of dining and shopping options. But you don’t want to sit inside on such a beautiful day, do you? Head to Grand Central Market where you’ll begin to (hopelessly) try to narrow down your choices from among the stalls of exquisite fruits, vegetables, prepared dishes and those desserts. Before you head out for second part of the adventure, don’t forget to look up: Check out the creative (and massive) overhead chandelier by artist Donald Lipski.
Cool Music for Warm Days and Midtown Concerts are two series of free, public concerts promoted by the Grand Central Partnership.
Cool Music concerts are held on Tuesdays and Thursday from May through August. They embrace all genres of music and are hosted from 12:30 to 1:30pm in the plaza of Rudin Management at 345 Park Avenue at East 51st Street.
The Midtown Concerts focus on beautiful early music and are hosted in the nearby Chapel of St. Bart’s Church, 325 Park Avenue at East 51st Street from 1:15 to 2:00pm on Thursdays in May and June.
If you’re staying at: The Quin
101 W. 57th (at 6th)
Option 1: Ready-to-Go – The Wayfarer, an American grill at The Quin hotel, can rustle up a classic and delicious picnic meal which can include mint lemonade, chilled soup, organic chicken-club sandwiches, cheese and crackers, fruit and spreads, and chocolate biscotti with cold-brew coffee. Order 48 hours in advance and all the goodies will be carefully packed in an insulated basket with cutlery, thermoses and even a cutting board (because they think of everything!).
Lead your partner-in-crime to Paley Park, a nearby pocket park carved out of, and set into, 53rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenue. The park has a marvellous water feature – a curtain of falling water – that manages to dampen all but the most persistent urban noises. It’s one of the city’s finest examples of intimate public space.
Option 2: Do-It-Yourself – Chef David Burke’s “Burke in a Box” spans the entire 59th Street length of Bloomingdale’s and is just minutes walk from the aerial tram stop that whisks visitors to Roosevelt Island every few minutes. One half of the space is coffee bar and the the other his signature eat-in/take-out concept.
Grab lunch and head for the Roosevelt Island tram station at E. 59th Street and 2nd Avenue where you’ll drop a whole $1.25 to catch the best views in the city. Head down island past the ruins of the former mental hospital to Four Freedoms Park. On a cool day, snuggle up next to the stone walls to capture the radiant heat and the river-level views of Manhattan and Queens. Take advantage of the riverside trees and breeze in the summer heat.
If you’re staying at: The Surrey
20 East. 76th Street
Option 1: Ready-to-Go: If you’re staying at The Surrey you are likely to have already been drawn into the world of French chef Daniel Boulud and his Café Boulud, an important stop on New York’s trail of fine dining. Epicerie Boulud (three locations) is the go-to place for can’t miss takeout and pantry staples as well some of the city’s most exquisite picnic options. Check out the menus online then ask your concierge to arrange lunch.
While there are a zillion places to picnic in Central Park, you are aiming for one particular spot. Cross into Central Park at 72nd and head towards Bethesda Terrace. Regardless of the weather, you’re looking for the Minton tilework installation, the vaulted ceilings – they look and feel like a secret cave/cathedral – tucked below street level on the lower terrace. Curl up into one of the wall niches to enjoy the spectacular views, people-watching opportunities, and frequent appearances by talented street performers. It’s one of the most beautiful spaces in New York City.
Option 2: Do-It-Yourself: How would you like to have lunch at the Mayor’s house?
Take the new 2nd Avenue Subway Line (Q) to 86th street, head up to 88th and take a right towards the East River. Gracie Mansion is home to Mayor DeBlasio and his family. The house is available for tours on Tuesdays only and must be booked in advance. Before the tour, pick up some astounding take-out from The Mansion Restaurant at 1634 York Avenue, which has been owned and operated by the Philips family since 1945. Picnic in Carl Schurz Park, which surrounds Gracie Mansion, along the bank of the East River.