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Where to Picnic in New York: Seven Scenic Spots Near NYC

Whether sitting under a cherry blossom tree in Brooklyn, in a sculpture garden facing the Manhattan skyline, or perched overlooking the Hudson River on a historical site, from April through October, consider eating alfresco at one of these picturesque places.

Here is a list of seven beautiful picnic spots in and around New York City for that next romantic date or rendezvous with friends.

Tarrytown | Riverfront Park | Hudson Valley
The Tarrytown waterfront—be it on a bench or on the rocks—is the perfect picnic spot for a lazy Sunday when you’ve got the urge to get out of the city. A quick, scenic ride on the Metro North leaves you right by the riverfront park, which offers stunning views of the Hudson River, Palisades, and Tappan Zee Bridge.
Picnic Tip:
Tarrytown’s Main Street is only a few minutes walk from the train station. Mint Premium Foods (18 Main Street; 914.703.6511) stocks specialty foods, including a fabulous cheese selection, from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. If you forget to bring that bottle of Sancerre or Pinot Noir, River View Wine and Spirits (34 Main Street; 914.631.9439) is just a few doors down.
How to get there:
Metro North out of Grand Central Station. Trains run frequently between Manhattan and Tarrytown, and fares run between $8 and $12 round-trip.

Governors Island | Picnic
The aptly named Picnic Point on Governors Island is the city picnicker’s dream come true. If you love the idea of a picnic but panic at the thought of what may be crawling underneath you, then this is the spot for you. Picnic Point’s eight acres are spotted with picnic benches, swings, and hammocks for relaxing after a leisurely meal.
Picnic Tip:
In 2009, Picnic Point became the host of a three-acre sustainable farm run by the non-profit organization Added Value. On weekends, you can tour the grounds of the Added Value farm and see how organic fruits and vegetables are grown, or stop by the Farm Stand for fresh produce and flowers.
How to get there:
Governors Island is accessible via the free ferry from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. While visitors are invited to bring their bikes to Governors Island Friday through Sunday, Bike and Roll runs a Free Fridays program throughout the summer months from either of the company’s two locations on the island. Adult and children’s bikes are free every Friday for up to one hour, between the hours of 10:00am and 3:30pm.

John Paul Jones Park | Bay Ridge, Brooklyn |
Also known as Fort Hamilton Park and Cannonball Park, the John Paul Jones Park is located at the very end of Bay Ridge, overlooking the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Hudson River. The park is home to a relic of Civil War weaponry, the Rodman guns. (A little piece of trivia: the gun weighed 58 tons and fired shots weighing 1,080 pounds.) If you’d like to take in stunning views of the New York Harbor along with your picnic-friendly snacks, bring your bike with you. Right across the street from the park is an entrance to the Shore Parkway, a bicycle and pedestrian path that hugs that south Brooklyn shoreline for some 13 miles.
How to get there:
R train to 95th Street

Fort Greene Park | Fort Greene, Brooklyn |
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the 19th century landscape designer of Central Park fame, Fort Greene Park is a welcome slice of greenery in one of Brooklyn’s hipper neighborhoods. It may not be as large and rolling as Prospect Park, but it has a rich history—Fort Greene Park was constructed on the site of a Revolutionary War fort—and you can catch an impressive view of downtown Brooklyn from any of its hills. If you’re feeling invigorated post-picnic, race your friends up the granite staircase leading to the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument.
How to get there:
R/N/Q/B/D train to Dekalb Avenue

Socrates Sculpture Garden | 32-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway | Queens | 718.956.1819 |
You’ll feel like a true New Yorker snacking on cheese and crackers amidst an outdoor art display by up-and-coming artists. Once an illegal dumping ground and riverside landfill, the Socrates Sculpture Garden has been transformed into a garden and unique exhibition space that encourages interaction between the visitors, artists, and their work.
Picnic Tips:
Coordinate your picnic with one of the Garden’s weekend workshops, fitness classes, or outdoor screenings (weather permitting). Visit the website for specific details on upcoming events; park and event admission are free.
How to get there:
N/W train to Broadway; F train to Queensbridge-21st Street

Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center | Bronx | 718.549.3200 |
Wave Hill boasts a 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades in the Bronx. Strolling the grounds of Wave Hill you’ll find much more than your ordinary flower garden. A wooded trail wraps around the outer edges of the park, where second-growth forest and meadow are being rehabilitated through integration with native plants. There is also a garden pool topped by picturesque water lilies and lotus plants, your own slice of Monet’s Giverny gardens in the Bronx. Admission is $8 for adults.
Picnic Tip:
If you’re planning a weekend picnic, Wave Hill offers free garden and Conservatory tours from their visitor’s center on Sundays at 2pm.
How to get there:
1 train to West 242nd Street; Metro North out of Grand Central Station. Trains run frequently between Manhattan and Riverdale, and fares run between $5 and $7 round-trip.

Boscobel House and Gardens | 1601 Route 9D, Garrison, NY | 845.265.3638 |
Home to summer’s Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Boscobel mansion dates back to 1808 and is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and breathtaking views of the Hudson River. Bring chairs, booze, a blanket, nibbles, and a camera, and pay just $9 to enjoy the grounds—and a unique quick escape from the city.
How to get there:
Take the 10-cent trolley from Cold Spring–which is accessible from Grand Central Station via the Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line to Cold Spring Station—where it leaves frequently from the Visitor’s Center.

Photo: Courtesy of Lee Gillen |  Written by Caitlin O’Connell

Summer Energy Conservation

In April 2007, Mayor Bloomberg released PlaNYC 2030, the long-term sustainability plan for the City of New York. Within the Plan, the City committed to lead by example by reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from City operations 30% by 2017. Subsequently, in July 2008 Mayor Bloomberg released the Long-Term Plan to Reduce Energy Consumption and Green House Gas Emissions by Municipal Buildings and Operations (The Long-Term Plan), which outlined the steps the City should take to reach its ambitious goal. You may visit the City’s Energy Management website to learn more about the comprehensive efforts the City is taking to reduce energy use.

As part of the City’s overall energy conservation efforts, the Department of Education (DOE), in partnership with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services Division of Energy Management (DCAS DEM) is implementing energy efficiency programs in existing school buildings. Program areas include: energy benchmarking, building audits and retrofits, improved operations and maintenance, Peak Load Management, metering and monitoring imitative, summer kitchen energy conservation and renewable energy. Each of these programs is described in more detail below.

Building Energy Benchmarking

DOE benchmarked its buildings’ energy consumption using the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Principals, teachers, parents and students are encouraged to review DOE’s benchmarking data by creating a free account and sending their username to In the e-mail, please indicate the name and address of the school’s data you would like to access.

Building Audit and Retrofit Program

DCAS DEM uses the benchmarking data to prioritize schools that will receive energy audits on an annual basis. Energy audits assess current building performance and find cost effective energy conservation measures (ECMs) that will improve the energy efficiency of the building(s) and reduce the City’s annual energy costs.

Operations & Maintenance Initiative

The Long-Term Plan estimated that improved operations and maintenance (O&M) of existing municipal buildings could reduce 195,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and millions of dollars in energy costs. Since schools comprise 40% of the City’s total municipal building square footage, DOE was one of two agencies to participate in a year-long O&M pilot program at 10 schools. The program will be expanded citywide over the next few years. One of the program’s goals is to educate building users about the simple steps they can take to conserve energy, both in the cold winter months and in the warmer summer months. Click on the following links to find winter and summer energy-savings tips Winter Energy-Saving Tips and Summer Energy-Saving Tips. School custodian engineers and building managers can get additional tips from US Department of Energy Operating and Maintaining Energy Smart Schools Online Training program.

Peak Load Management Program

DOE participates in the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Peak Load Management Program (PLM), designed to help NYPA avoid electrical system overload and prevent power outages during very hot summer days. Currently, 18 school buildings participate in the program.

Summer Kitchen Energy Conservation

In 2009, DOE’s Division of School Food introduced the Summer Kitchen Energy Conservation pilot program in 57 schools citywide. The program was designed to unplug (if feasible) school cafeteria refrigerators and freezers during summer break. As a result, DOE and the City reduced energy use by 100,000 kilowatt-hours and saved thousands of dollars in electrical bills. This summer, DOE will expand the program to all schools that are closed for the summer.

Renewable Energy

DOE is exploring renewable energy opportunities with DCAS DEM and the New York Power Authority.

Energy Efficiency in New School Buildings

DOE is also committed to reducing energy usage in new school buildings. The School Construction Authority (SCA) implements all major capital improvements and new construction for DOE. As part of the City’s Local Law 86 SCA developed the NYC Green School Guide.


In addition to energy initiatives at school buildings, DOE encourages students and school community involvement in energy conservation initiatives through school participation in Green School Alliance and other non-profit programs.

Green Schools Alliance Programs

As a charter member of the Green Schools Alliance (GSA) ( ), DOE encourages student, teacher, and principal participation in sustainability initiatives, including energy conservation, through the following GSA programs:
Green Cup Challenge
Green Schools Resource Fair
One Million Acts of Green
Student Climate and Conservation Congress (SC3)

Junior Energy

Junior Energy’s mission is to work in classrooms and schools to help children discover how they can positively impact the planet by engaging their parents, family, friends and neighbors in small, simple actions.

Alliance for Climate Education

Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) delivers in-person, science-based, multimedia presentations on climate change designed for high school age students that inspire all school community to go green. This no cost 45 minute presentation also addresses certain New York science standards from the Living Environment: Core Curriculum. For more information, visit the ACE website.

The Next 50 Years’ Big Sustainable Design Project

Improving Transportation Through New Media

While cities and citizens have used new media tools and strategies to provide information and help improve a variety of public services such education and crime, the issue that most often seems to exhibit the most interest and experimentation is transportation. One reason is for this is probably that data about transportation systems – be it bus and train schedules, traffic counts, or pedestrian and bicycle accidents – is often readily available and is (at least potentially) less controversial to release. Another reason is likely that the transportation system is so ubiquitous in cities, and directly impacts the vast majority of residents on a daily basis, that there is a naturally broad constituency interested in its operation and improvement. And as transportation as a professional discipline has always been interested in technology, the two go hand in hand.

To explore the issue further, EMBARQ, the sustainable transportation arm of the World Resources Institute, organized a panel discussion and roundtable at its headquarters in Washington, D.C this past Tuesday. Part of a week-long citywide festival focused on technology and innovation, the event brought together citizen activists and representatives from government agencies and non-profits to discuss open data, online citizen engagement and collaboration – while looking at the nation’s capital as a case study.

While the local city government has been at the forefront of releasing its municipal data for the public and developers to utilize, most of the region’s transportation falls under the jurisdiction of WMATA, the regional transit agency. Even so, Bryan Sivak, the city’s CTO, presented some of the latest transportation oriented projects – including an API for real-time location data for the city’s small fleet of circulator buses, the utilization of QR codes on buses and shelters to assist both passengers and transit managers, and plans for location-based social networking games aimed at promoting a community among riders.

In the same spirit, Lance Schine, the newly hired Director of Innovation for the DC Department of Transportation announced the agency’s launch of a crowdsourcing application to help planners locate stations for the city’s growing bikesharing network. To help spread the word (and reach citizens that may not have access to the Web at home), the department partnered with the city’s libraries to display notices at branch computer workstations (along with the library’s main website).

Aside from government initiatives, the panel included a presentation from David Alpert of the Greater Greater Washington blog, which has served as a powerful example of how online citizen activism can influence policy. In addition, Justin Jouvenal, a Web editor with the Washington Post, highlighted its effort to integrate SeeClickFix reporting into its locally focused online section, and engage the public in reporting issues.

Outside of D.C., Nick Grossman, Director of Civic Works for OpenPlans, highlighted efforts to develop an open source trip planner in partnership with Portland’s TriMet and a number of other agencies, and an upcoming collaboration with New York’s Department of Transportation to pilot online civic engagement and planning tools. Related to this effort, he stressed the importance of focusing on content and processes, and less on technology – adding that many suitable tools already exist, and just need to be deployed in the appropriate context.

Certainly, as our society has become increasingly urbanized, the importance of transportation policy and planning has grown dramatically. Facilitating the efficient movement of people and goods within and between cities and regions is essential for economic growth. At the same time, transportation systems require large investments and can have significant negative impacts on humans and the environment. Maximizing the benefits derived from enhanced mobility while minimizing its costs and externalities is the fundamental challenge facing modern day transportation policymakers and planners.

While transportation policy and planning has historically been the domain of a small group of technical experts, there has been growing recognition that increased participation from a much wider range of stakeholders has the potential to improve the quality of transportation plans and projects. The last round of federal transportation funding designated money for research into online engagement strategies and the piloting of a number of projects, and hopefully the next federal transportation bill will support this further. Given the need to develop more sustainable urban transportation systems, and the significant interest for public involvement, transportation agencies have ample opportunity to adopt new media tools and strategies to communicate and collaborate with citizens.

Source: NextAmericaCity

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