Photo via Pexels
While our tiny apartments and fire escapes may not always be the greatest spots to host a barbecue, the city’s parks provide some of the best places to dine on hamburgers and hot dogs this holiday. Ahead, 6sqft rounded up 15 of the best NYC parks to host outdoor barbecues, from old standby Prospect Park to less-known locales like Staten Island’s Clove Lakes Park.
1. Riverside Park
Designed in the 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted, Riverside Park overlooks the Hudson River and stretches four miles from 72nd Street to 158th Street and provides the perfect spot for leisure and relaxation. In addition to recreational activities like fishing at Pier 1, kayaking, canoeing, and sailing at the 79th Street Marina, the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway for walking and cycling, and a myriad of fields and playgrounds. For grilling, head up to the designated BBQ areas at West 145th Street (you’ll need to bring your own grill and equipment).
2. Randall’s Island Park
An island located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, Randall’s Island Park offers multiple grilling spots along its 480 acres of green space–the Sunken Meadow Waterfront between fields 27 and 30, the lawn area adjacent to the playground, the pedestrian pathway near the Bronx Shore section, the Harlem River Picnic Area and the Flagpole Lawns, located between Icahn Stadium and Golf Center. The island, which has hosted major music festivals like the Vans Warped Tour and Lollapalooza, also has many recreational activities to offer, including a golf center, nine acres of wetlands, 20 tennis courts, 60 sports fields, and miles of waterfront pedestrian and bike paths.
The Little Red Lighthouse found at Fort Washington, via Wikimedia
3. Fort Washington Park
For history buffs and grilling connoisseurs, head over to Fort Washington Park along the Hudson River. During the Revolutionary War, the park held a five-bastion fort for George Washington at the intersection of Fort Washington and 183rd Street, which was later seized by the British. But as the location of the city’s only lighthouse, the Little Red Lighthouse, and its views of the Jersey Palisades and the George Washington Bridge, this 160-acre park offers the perfect backdrop for your BBQ picnic. Set up shop anywhere north of West 158th Street.
4. Hunts Point Riverside Park
Like much of the South Bronx, Hunts Point Riverside Park has undergone some serious revitalization by the city, bringing more green and play spaces for local residents. Once an illegal dumping ground, this Bronx River waterfront park was the first to be built in the neighborhood in 60 years and now offers plenty of recreational activities like fishing and kayaking, as well as a spacious spot for grilling. Bring your barbecue crew to Lafayette Avenue and Edgewater Road where the river-themed park also has canoes and spray showers for kids to enjoy on those hot city days.
5. Ferry Point Park
Plan your next barbecue at the Bronx’s Ferry Point Park, a nearly 420-acre park located East of the Whitestone Bridge that boasts views of the East River, the Long Island Sound, and the Manhattan skyline. Get your grilling going at this Throggs Neck neighborhood park at both the north and south ends. Baseball fields, basketball courts, and a pedestrian trail will keep you busy before and after your BBQ festivities. Plus, the park offers a separate 20-acre waterfront parkland which includes a picnic area and tidal wetlands.
6. Queensbridge Park
If looking to host a BBQ with some of the most scenic views of the skyline in the entire city, head over to Long Island City’s Queensbridge Park. Named for the nearby Queensboro Bridge, it has a designated barbecue spot at Vernon Boulevard and 41st Street which offers plenty of picnic tables for any party. On top of the incredible views of Manhattan, the waterfront park features baseball fields, a soccer and football field, basketball and volleyball courts, a large playground, a wading pool, and a comfort station.
Photo Flushing Meadows Corona Park by Bobby Das via Flickr
7. Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Home to the Unisphere, the giant steel globe created for the 1964 World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the largest park in Queens and the second largest in the entire city. See a bit of the park’s history, as many structures from the 1939-40 World Fair survived, including the Meadow Lake boathouse and the New York City Building. In addition to the New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum, Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Citi Field, the park grounds offer fields, a zoo, boating lake, a skate park, and a $66 million aquatic and hockey center. And don’t forget about the barbecue. Turn the grill on at 111th Street and 55th Avenue or off Lake West and Lake East. While it may be far out in Queens via the 7 train or LIRR for those that live outside of the neighborhood, Flushing Meadows Corona Park becomes the perfect day-trip getaway without leaving NYC.
8. Rockaway Beach
If hoping to barbecue with the soothing sounds of crashing waves in the background, head over to Far Rockaway at O’Donohue Park. Located on the eastern tip of the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, the park, while not directly on the sand, was converted from a parking lot into a newly designed space with baseball fields, basketball court, exercise equipment, and picnic area, as well as views of the East Rockaway Inlet.
9. Prospect Park
Prospect Park, the mammoth-sized 585-acre Brooklyn oasis, offers hundreds of activities to do year-round. Since the 19th century, it’s served New Yorkers as one of the best picnicking destinations, currently offering 12 designated barbecue locations. With the park’s Smorgasburg market closed this year, make your own delicious food at park spots like the 10th Avenue Lawn, Bandshell South, Long Meadow North, and Lincoln Road. To discover all of the ways to keep busy before and after your barbecue, check out the Prospect Park Alliance’s website for an extensive to-do list and regulations.
10. Kaiser Park
Tucked away in the corner of Coney Island, Kaiser Park allows visitors to play sports, fish at its pier, barbecue, and relax, all steps from the beach. In addition to 20 grills, the park also has basketball and handball courts and baseball and soccer fields. Different bird species, like the red-winged blackbird, red-crested mergansers, and marsh hawks flock to this area.
11. Coffey Park
Located at the center of Red Hook, Coffey Park serves residents of the Brooklyn neighborhood as a civic and recreational space. The nearly nine-acre park has a spray shower, playground, swings, game tables, basketball and handball courts, and a baseball diamond. After a $2.3 million renovation in 2014, it received a brand new barbecue area with grills and picnic tables. Grill some hamburgers and hotdogs at Verona and Richard Streets and Verona and Dwight Streets.
12. Willowbrook Park
Part of the Greenbelt, the largest Parks sub-system, Willowbrook Park is considered one of Staten Island’s most popular destinations. Spanning 164 acres, with spacious areas for wildlife and recreational facilities, this park offers something to do for everyone. In addition to its notable Carousel for All Children, a handicap-accessible merry-go-round, there are also tennis courts, playgrounds, an archery range, and hiking spots. Find the park’s designated barbecue area at the Eaton Place Entrance of the park.
13. Clove Lakes Park
This 193-acre park on Staten Island’s North Shore in West Brighton is known for its flush natural history and ecological assets. Its three lakes, ponds, serpentine rocks, and a 300-year-old tulip tree, the borough’s oldest and largest living thing, make this park a nature lover’s paradise. In addition to all of the trails and bodies of water Cloves Lakes Park has, there are several baseball and soccer fields, a basketball court, football field, and an outdoor ice skating rink. Cozy barbecues can be held at the picnic area at Clove Road and Victory Boulevard.
14. Liberty State Park
While not actually in New York, Liberty State Park provides some of the most breathtaking views of the city. This Jersey City park sits on New York Harbor less than 2,000 feet from the Statue of Liberty. Once an abandoned and desolate site of debris, the reconstruction of Liberty State Park helped revitalize the North Jersey neighborhood. A two-mile promenade, Liberty Walk, connects the picnic area, the Interpretive Center, and the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. As the only spot in NJ with ferry service, the park also offers kayak tours, fishing, crabbing, and boat launches. Liberty State Park provides seven open-air group picnic areas that offer picnic tables and a grill at designated spots. Find more about the rules and regulations of barbecuing at Liberty State Park here.
15. Jones Beach State Park
Another getaway outside of the city, Jones Beach State Park can be found on an island located in Wantagh in Nassau County, just 20 miles from New York City. The 6.5 mile-long oceanfront park is known for its beaches and continues to be one of the most popular summer recreational areas in the metropolitan area, with nearly six million beachgoers each year. With an ocean-liner theme, visitors can enjoy a walk on the boardwalk, play miniature golf, shuffleboard or attend a concert at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater. Officially opening Memorial Day weekend, host your barbecue near the beach at the park’s fields 1, 6, and 10 in the designated grilling areas.
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- The Urban Lens: Peter Massini tours NYC’s public parks and sports fields from above
Editor’s note 6/30/20: This post was originally published on May 22, 2018, and has been updated.
Tags : Clove Lakes Park, Coffey Park, Ferry Point Park, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Fort Washington Park, Hunts Point Riverside Park, Jones Beach Park, july 4th, Kaiser Park, Liberty State Park, nyc parks, Prospect Park, Queensbridge Park, Randall's Island Park, Riverside Park, Rockaway Beach, Willowbrook Park