Find the right location
Just like real estate, location is key when looking for a good place to picnic. A few favorite spots include Brooklyn Bridge Park, Wagner Park, McCarren Park, and Planeview Park. Wherever you decide to go, however, make sure you research out any specifics you might need for your visit. For instance, will you need barbecue space? Do you need a playground or recreation space for kids? Is the park dog-friendly? The NYC Parks Department should give you a pretty good sense about the amenities available.
Choose food that will hold up
Whether you pick a location nearby or plan to make it a day trip, not all food is ideal for sitting out in the park. Avoiding items that require a certain temperature for health reasons should always be at the top of the list. Instead of whipping up a potato salad with mayonnaise, which has a tendency to go rancid when left out, try a version made with olive oil instead. As sliced fruit tends to brown, bring whole pieces instead like apples, watermelon, and bananas. Leave big, leafy salads at home, since they tend to become soggy and wilted, and instead try an assortment of pickled vegetables or using a strong, substantial green, such as kale. For sandwiches, the staple of all picnics, bring condiments with you rather than slathering them on at home so that the bread stays nice and fresh.
Pack it up
Getting to your picnic destination, depending on where you choose to go, can involve either a decent walk or a trip on public transportation. If this is the case, you are going to want to travel as light as possible. Finger foods are your friend when it means that you can leave the plates and utensils at home, leaving just the edible essentials in a sturdy tote bag or backpack. Make sure you also make a list of easily forgettable items, like corkscrews/bottle openers, bug spray, or napkins, so that you don’t leave home without the little things that really do count.
When in doubt, choose delivery
Yep, it does still count as a picnic if you didn’t make and pack the food yourself. Check out your local deli or grocery store for sandwiches and salads or find a location that has great nearby food vendors or takeout options. Another great service now offered for pickup in the Lower East Side is packaged from Perfect Picnic. (They do also have a delivery service for their picnic packages, but that is only within the Manhattan area, if you have the urge to picnic there.) Pricing ranges anywhere from the American Picnic at $14 to the Family of Four Picnic at $175. For an even more special outing, you can choose from one of their themed, butler service picnics, starting at $325.
While the weather’s still nice, get out of your Gowanus apartment and into the plethora of outdoor spaces that your borough and the entire city have to offer.