We present some of the best places to feast al fresco in New York State. From a riverbank overlooking whitewater rapids to spacious, landscaped parks, get outside and discover New York State’s most picnic-perfect places! All travelers in New York State are encouraged to PLAY SMART, PLAY SAFE, PLAY LOCAL when visiting public lands and parks. Be sure to recreate safely, responsibly, and locally this summer and protect yourself and others when enjoying the outdoors. Remember to stay as local as possible and keep six feet apart from others not in your party and wear a mask or face covering. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions are open and available. Be advised that New York has a travel advisory in effect, which requires travelers from non-contiguous states to quarantine for 10 days upon entering New York State. Travelers may undergo COVID testing to test out. For more details, see the guidelines for the travel advisory here. Most attractions are operating with capacity restrictions and require advance ticketing or reservations, so plan before you go.
Hudson River Gorge (Adirondacks)
Beaverbrook Outfitters’ Hudson River whitewater-rafting trips offer a thrilling experience where every detail is taken care of—from wetsuits to a well-timed lunch on the riverbank. Spend the day rafting on the rapids, swimming in the river, and generally having a blast in the Adirondacks. Pause for lunch along the river, where guides will set up a feast to fuel your muscles and get you ready to tackle the last section of whitewater. Wrap up the day with a hearty dinner back at Beaverbook’s basecamp. Please note that Beaverbrook Outfitter is scheduled to resume whitewater rafting trips June 27 but with restrictions and protocols due to COVID-19.
Buttermilk Falls in Long Lake (Adirondacks)
A favorite stop among Hamilton County’s waterfalls, Buttermilk Falls offers a scenic and sensory experience. The falls are a short hike from the road and feature picnic tables, a lean-to, and rocky outcroppings offering a variety of places to spread your picnic blanket. Need supplies? Hit up Adirondack Growl and Grub in Long Lake for an array of sandwiches and salads available to go or to consume in the beer garden.
Heckscher State Park Beach (Long Island)
Before visiting the 1,600-acre Heckscher State Park Beach on the south shore of Long Island, pick up some homemade sandwiches and salads from Pines Pantry (currently accepting online orders only). Then hit the beach and bask in the sunshine or enjoy the park's shady groves. Kids can play sports in the large open fields, or burn all those calories on the four miles of paved trails. Several of the park’s features are accessible to all, including pavilions, swimming beach, and fishing areas.
Wagner Vineyards (Finger Lakes)
Wagner Vineyards in the Finger Lakes is now open for visitors who make advanced tasting reservations. On-site Ginny Lee Cafe is open for lunch daily for lunch from 11 am-4 pm with limited seating on its patio and indoors. The Wagner Valley Brewing Co. is also open and serving its craft beers.
Letchworth State Park (Greater Niagara)
Surrounded by the magnificence of Letchworth State Park, Glen Iris Inn overlooks Middle Falls on the Genesee River, providing a view that is sweeping, romantic, and inspiring. During the summer, the inn offers bagged lunches for the public that come with bottled water, a sandwich or wrap, chips, and a dessert.
Orange County Arboretum (Hudson Valley)
Thomas Bull Memorial Park’s Orange County Arboretum in Hamptonburgh offers 35 acres of wooded areas and gardens for picnics. Free and open to the public from dawn until dusk, the arboretum also hosts events for all ages, including beekeeping workshops and fairy tea parties for kids, and features raised gardens and plenty of benches for enjoying the splendor. Pick up provisions from Iron Café in nearby Montgomery, explore the park, and find your picnic spot.
Historic Catskill Point (Catskills)
Situated at the intersection of Catskill Creek and the Hudson River in the town of Catskill, the Historic Catskill Point is a picturesque park offering views of the Hudson River. This is where the Hudson River School style of painting got its start—and it’s easy to see why. Throw a blanket down on the manicured lawn and watch the river roll away as you feast on delicious food prepared by Circle W Market (pictured) on Main Street.
Lake Erie State Park (Chautauqua-Allegheny)
High bluffs, a scenic shoreline, and sandy beach areas make this park ideal for enjoying the best of summer in New York State. It’s also a great place for a picnic, offering dedicated areas with shelters, as well as playgrounds for kids, hiking trails, and swimming. Whether you're there for a day or if you're planning to pitch a tent and make a weekend of it, Lake Erie State Park is a picnicker’s paradise. Pick up salads and wraps from Aloe Vera's Eatery in nearby Fredonia.
John Boyd Thacher State Park (Capital-Saratoga)
Thacher State Park, is situated along the Helderberg Escarpment, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world. While the park's famed hiking trails are open with limitations and social distancing protocols, some amenities are closed. The park has numerous picnic areas with nine reservable shelters, so grab a lunch to go from Jake Moon Restaurant and Cafe and enjoy one of the Capital-Saratoga region's true outdoor gems with a picnic at Thacher.
Westcott Beach State Park (Thousand Islands-Seaway)
Spanning 318 acres at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, Westcott Beach State Park offers the best of the beach and the forest, with many places to picnic. A long, white sand beach offers swimming and plenty of places to build sandcastles, and the boat launches make it a great spot for canoeing and kayaking on Lake Ontario. The park also has a playground, multiple picnic areas, and hiking trails. Grab supplies from McDermott’s Midtown Deli in nearby Adams and hit the beach!
Chittenango Falls State Park (Central NY)
Situated by Cazenovia Lake, Chittenango Falls State Park offers a stunning setting for a picnic. A 167-foot waterfall cascades over ancient bedrock and walking trails wind from the top of the falls to the bottom. Grab a wrap, salad, or sandwich from the Pewter Spoon Café in Cazenovia—which offers gluten-free and vegan options—and find a spot to bliss out.
Prospect Park (New York City)
Credit: Courtesy of NYC & Co
Prospect Park is an oasis of scenic beauty in Brooklyn. The sprawling 585-acre park offers numerous places to picnic all summer long, as well as a jam-packed summer events calendar. Enjoy free summer movie screenings on the Long Meadow every Wednesday from July 17 to August 1, lawn games, and free summer concerts at the bandshell. Grab supplies from Prospect Provisions’ menu of artisanal sandwiches.