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 recreate safely, responsibly, and locally when enjoying the outdoors​.  

Originally Published: 07/11/2019

Hudson River Gorge (Adirondacks)

Six people wearing orange and red life vests and blue helmets and paddling in white waters in a purple raft as a part of ADK White Water Rafting
Credit: @beaverbrookoutfitters on Instagram

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. 

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? Order groceries or a ready-made meal from ADK Trading Post in Long Lake. Choose from an array of gourmet sandwiches, soups, and paninis. They even offer lobster rolls between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day. Available for takeout only.

Heckscher State Park Beach (Long Island)

Heckscher State Park Beach

Before visiting the 1,600-acre Heckscher State Park on the south shore of Long Island, pick up some homemade sandwiches and salads from Grilli’s Gourmet Deli & Catering 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

Wagner Vineyards in the Finger Lakes is open for walk-ins and visitors who make advanced tasting reservations. On-site Ginny Lee Cafe reopens for summer everyday from 11am-4pm with seating on its patio (weather permitting) and indoors. The Wagner Valley Brewing Co. is also open and serving its craft beers.

Letchworth State Park (Greater Niagara) 

Letchworth State Park, Castile - Photo by NYS ESD

Surrounded by the magnificence of Letchworth State Park, Glen Iris Inn, open May 1, 2024-November 3, 2024, 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 a sandwich or wrap, an apple and a bottle of spring water.

Orange County Arboretum (Hudson Valley)

Orange County Arboretum

Thomas Bull Memorial Park’s Orange County Arboretum in Montgomery offers 35 acres of wooded areas and gardens for picnics. Grab a bite to go from Noble Coffee Roasters with lunch options that include a veggie panini, chipotle turkey BLT, coffee, and delicious pastries and other baked goods. 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.

Historic Catskill Point (Catskills)

Historic Catskill Point

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 on Main Street.

Lake Erie State Park (Chautauqua-Allegheny)

High bluffs overlooking Lake Erie from the Lake Erie State Park

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 tacos, sandwiches, or burgers from Fred's in nearby Fredonia.

John Boyd Thacher State Park (Capital-Saratoga)

Orange, red, and yellow leaves decorate a mountainside

Thacher State Park, is situated along the Helderberg Escarpment, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world. The park is open year-round with amenities such as volleyball courts, playgrounds, ball fields, and an additional 25 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking. The park has numerous picnic areas with nine reservable shelters (available May-October), so grab a lunch to go from Emma Cleary’s 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)

Westcott Beach

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 The Sandwich Bar in nearby Sackets Harbor and hit the beach!

Chittenango Falls State Park (Central NY)

Chittenango Falls State Park

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)

Prospect Park meadow
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 summer events calendar. Grab supplies from Pasta Louise and get fresh sandwiches, pasta, and ice cream to go!

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