Where to Barbecue in NYC Parks: 13 Family-Friendly Spots
It is officially summer in the city, and there’s no better way to kick off the season than by having a barbecue. While most New Yorkers don’t have the outdoor space (or grill, for that matter) to host a cookout at home, there are plenty of parks that offer beautiful picnic areas and public grills to gather around with family and friends. And thankfully for those traveling with little ones, many of these parks are near our favorite playgrounds.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite locations in the five boroughs where you can plan a cookout. If a day of sun and fun hasn't tuckered everyone out, stick around after dark to check out these FREE outdoor movies in NYC.
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Best Manhattan Parks Where You Can Barbecue
1. Riverside Park – Upper West Side
Riverside Park spans four miles of the waterfront from 72nd Street to 158th Street and offers various family-friendly activities, including playgrounds, kayaking, sailing, and fishing. For barbecuing, head to the park’s designated grill area at 145th Street in the park's lower level. You’ll need to BYOG (bring your own grill) to cook your meal while taking in the fabulous waterfront views.
2. Fort Washington Park – Washington Heights
Located on the Hudson River between 155th Street and Dyckman Street, this park is home to the city’s only lighthouse, adorably named the Little Red Lighthouse. The designated grill area starts at 158th Street and extends north from there; the views of the New Jersey Palisades and George Washington Bridge are stunning. You'll find grills and picnic tables scattered here and there along the path, though plan to arrive early in the day to stake one out! Take advantage of the park’s tennis courts, basketball courts, and destination playground.
3. Morningside Park – Harlem
This community park has multiple playgrounds and a flower and tree-laden walkway that leads to a breathtaking waterfall. On weekends, there's a farmers market and many games being played in the park’s baseball fields. The barbecue area is at Morningside Avenue and 121st Street.
RELATED: 10 Waterfront Playgrounds in NYC
Enjoy picnics and barbecuing on Randall's Island. Photo courtesy of Randall's Island Park
4. Randall’s Island Park – Randall’s Island
The park encompasses the majority of Randall’s Island, located in the middle of the East River between the South Bronx and Astoria, Queens. Here you'll find Icahn Stadium, an IAAF-certified track and field facility, a golf center, a 20-court tennis center, and more than 60 playing fields, many of which are used for kids’ leagues. There are several barbecue areas in the park, including the Sunken Meadow Waterfront, Harlem River Picnic Area, and Flagpole Lawns.
Best Brooklyn Parks Where You Can Barbecue
5. Brooklyn Bridge Park – Dumbo
With its sweeping views of downtown Manhattan, this wonderful waterfront park has lots of cool playgrounds, a waterfront walkway, and the historic Jane’s Carousel, among many other attractions. Arrive at the Pier 5 barbecue area early to snag a grill and a picnic table—this area is hugely popular. After you're settled, take the kids down to Pier 6 for four different playground experiences, including the refreshing Water Lab.
6. Prospect Park – Park Slope
Prospect Park offers several barbecue areas, but the one near the Picnic House is my favorite. For starters, there are public restrooms in the Picnic House, which is key if you plan on spending a few hours out with small kids. It's also is conveniently located in the middle of the park, making it a good option for meet-ups. There's plenty of grassy space to throw down blankets, and there are picnic tables if you want to keep your food off the ground. The Third Street Playground is a short walk away.
7. McCarren Park – Greenpoint
This 35-acre park has something for everyone. Cool off in the McCarren Park Pool, kick around a soccer ball on the field, play a game of bocce, or chase the little ones around the playground. Across from the soccer and softball fields, set up at the park’s barbecue area to take a break from play.
8. Manhattan Beach Park – Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach, located on Brooklyn’s southern tip, is a waterfront oasis with playgrounds on either end and handball courts, volleyball courts, and basketball courts. Families can barbecue at two locations: northeast of the promenade or at Oriental Boulevard and Hastings Street.
Best Queens Parks for a Cookout
9. Queensbridge Park – Long Island City
Two words: the views! Situated on the waterfront, this Long Island City park has sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, adding an extra special touch to your next gathering. The park’s barbecue spot is at Vernon Boulevard and 41st Street, and there are lots of picnic tables so you can enjoy your meal in comfort. Take some time to check out the playground, cool off in the wading pool, or kick a ball around on the park’s soccer fields.
10. O’Donohue Park – Rockaway Beach
There’s nothing like a day at the beach, and Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk is one of our very favorite summertime destinations. Enjoy the sand and the surf, as well as numerous playgrounds, basketball courts, volleyball courts, handball courts, and baseball fields. When it’s time for a lunch break, head over to O’Donohue Park at Seagirt Boulevard, between Beach 15 and Beach 17 Streets.
11. Alley Pond Park – Bayside
This park has numerous natural elements, including freshwater and saltwater wetlands and meadows. There is also the city’s first public high ropes adventure course and handball courts, nature centers, hiking trails, fishing, and playgrounds. The park has two barbecue locations: One at Winchester Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway and one at Springfield Boulevard and 76 Avenue.
Hunts Point Riverside Park has been transformed into a waterfront oasis where you can barbecue.
Best Bronx and Staten Island Parks Where You Can Barbecue
12. Hunts Point Riverside Park – Hunts Point, the Bronx
Once an illegal dumping ground, this area has been revitalized and is now a pristine waterfront playscape. Come here to take advantage of one of the city's prettiest waterways and go kayaking, canoeing, or fishing. Hit the grills at Lafayette Avenue and Edgewater Road, where you'll find the park’s large barbecue area.
13. Clove Lakes Park – North Shore, Staten Island
This 193-acre park is home to the island’s oldest living thing—a 107-foot tall tulip tree that’s at least 300 hundred years old. The park is a protected Forever Wild site because of its many lakes, ponds, and serpentine rocks. Spend time enjoying the park’s natural beauty or visit its playgrounds, a football field, soccer field, and basketball court. The barbeque area is at Clove Road and Victory Boulevard.
NYC Parks Barbecue Rules
- All barbecues must be held in designated areas only
- Use of propane grills is prohibited.
- Take care not to barbecue near trees, roots, or buildings; all barbecues must be at least 10-feet away from any structures.
- When you're done, extinguish your coals with water and dispose of them only in red barrels designated for coals.
- Barbecues must be in contained structures at least 3-feet off the ground. No campfires are permitted.
- Find a complete list of designated barbecue areas on the Parks Department website.