Summer’s not over yet! Take advantage of the warm weather into the fall by having a cookout in one of the city’s many parks. By Jessica Allen.
Brooklyn Bridge Park runs along the East River in Brooklyn, moving from the Manhattan Bridge, under the Brooklyn Bridge and over to Atlantic Avenue. Here you can run around with your dogs, play with your kids, chomp on ice cream from Ample Hills, ride your bike, or just hang out in the grass and admire the park’s amazing views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. Several hibachi-style grills are first-come, first-used alongside the picnic peninsula at Pier 5 (there are plenty of picnic tables and umbrellas too). Some rules apply, including no grilling after 10 pm and no groups larger than 20.
As you might guess from the name, East River Park follows the edge of Manhattan along the East River, from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side up to 12th Street in the East Village. All told, the park boasts some 57 acres of green space, playing fields, playgrounds, public art, views of Brooklyn — and even a fully-functioning amphitheater that regularly hosts performances. As is the case with a lot of city parks, you can only BBQ in designated areas and you might need a special permit, depending on the size of your party.
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Parts of Forest Park, in Queens, were formed some 20,000 years ago, when the so-called Wisconsin Glacier moved through. Today the huge park contains the borough’s largest continuous oak forest as well as hills, dales, a pine grove, horse-riding paths, handball and tennis courts, and a golf course that spans 110 acres. After you take a ride or two on the beloved carousel or the Woodhaven Express (a classic tiny train with an engine and caboose), or do some birdwatching, you can have a cookout at one of the designated areas (no grilling out under the trees!)
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Brooklyn’s prettiest park rivals Central Park, for sure. For starters, the two equally-beautiful parks share designers (Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux) and features — among them, a huge meadow, ideal for picnicking and relaxing, ball fields, horseback riding trails, playgrounds, and a small zoo. Unlike Central Park, Prospect Park still retains a small private cemetery (final resting place of Montgomery Clift, along with 2,000 or so other souls). On a happier note, you can cook out at one of the several designated areas with your own (small) grill, no permit required.
The park on Randall’s Island is one of the city’s greatest green successes: the island in the East River had fallen into disuse when an alliance of concerned citizens and city officials began working to restore it. Today it boasts a ton of really great sports facilities, including a track and field stadium and golf center, as well as nine acres of restored wetlands and views of the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. When you’re done exploring and/or sporting, have yourself a grill out at one of the designated areas, then hang out and watch the world go by.