What better way to introduce kids to the beauty of dining alfresco than with a picnic. There are plenty of hot spots across Long Island that offer an ideal picnic experience, including green meadows, beaches, grills to use, and plenty of open spaces. Here are some great spots to kick off your shoes and enjoy the great outdoors.
For more great outdoors experiences with kids, visit our guide to Long Island's best family beaches or our guide to LI's best parks and playgrounds. And don't forget our list of 25 things to do with kids this summer or 100 things to do with kids on Long Island before they grow up.
In the meantime, bon appetit !
Gerry Pond Park — Roslyn
36 Main Street
With picturesque views and a serene atmosphere, Gerry Pond Park provides the perfect setting for a picnic day. While there is not a designated picnic area inside the park, it is spacious and has many places within to enjoy, and benches are available for seating. A popular attraction is the large pond surrounded by trees that provide shade on a hot day. The pond is also popular with the ducks who call Gerry Pond home, and are even known to join in on visitor’s lunches.
Eisenhower Park — East Meadow
Merrick and Stewart Avenues
Smack in the middle of Nassau County, Eisenhower Park features a 930-acre open space that not only has different picnic areas, but also is host to an array of activities to keep the whole family engaged, including athletic fields and courts, playgrounds, fitness trails, and more. There's also an 18-hole miniature golf course that is sure to captivate and engage children. Nassau County residents can obtain a Leisure Pass for less expensive access.
North Hempstead Beach Park — Port Washington
175 West Shore Road
Formerly known as Bar Beach and Hempstead Harbor Parks, this location has 34 acres of sandy beach and recreational activities. In addition to picnic areas with barbecues and shelter pavilions, there is also a fishing pier, boat ramp, bathhouse, concession area, and playground. There are also sports fields for basketball, softball, soccer, and more.
Jones Beach State Park — Wantagh
1 Ocean Parkway
Jones Beach, New York's most visited state park, is a popular destination for families all summer. Why not cap off a fun day at the beach with a picnic or barbeque? Visitors have the option of using the picnic areas at Field 6 or heading over to the approved barbeque area at Fields 5 or 10 to grill up some burgers and hot dogs. Afterward, enjoy a stroll on the boardwalk. Bathrooms are easily accessible for picnic-goers.
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Kick off your shoes and dance at Old Westbury Gardens' Picnic Pops series. Photo by Alyssa Romano/courtesy of the gardens.
Old Westbury Gardens — Old Westbury
71 Old Westbury Road
Old Westbury Gardens invites you to bring a picnic basket, a blanket and your dancing feet as it hosts Picnic Pops on Wednesday nights from July 2 to August 2. Bands and orchestras perform on the lawn inside the gardens as you enjoy your picnic. Gates open at 6pm, dance lessons begin at 6:30pm, and concerts start at 7. General admission is $12, but you can buy a Picnic Pop Car Pass, which admits you and everyone inside your car into all the concerts in the series for $75.
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A picnicking trip to Planting Fields Arboretum offers nature at its most beautiful. Photo courtesy of the park.
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park and Coe Hall — Oyster Bay
1395 Planting Fields Road
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park is 409 acres of nature’s beauty at its best. With grounds that are well kept and vast, it is an ideal picnic destination. With greenhouses, educational programs, several gardens with a variety of flowers, and hands-on programs for children, it is a great day-trip option. Be sure to take a tour inside the mansion, and if you forget your picnic basket stop by the park’s Periwinkles Cafe for a bite to eat.
Belmont Lake State Park — North Babylon
Southern State Parkway, exit 38
With more than 400 acres of natural Long Island scenery, Belmont Lake State Park makes a great picnic spot. This park has designated picnic areas as well as pavilions available for use. Belmont also has a variety of activities to get you up and moving after you’ve filled up on your picnic lunch. An exercise trail, playground, paddle boating, row boating, biking, and walking trail are all accessible in the park. The park also provides grills for use.
Crab Meadow Beach — Northport
220 Waterside Avenue
In addition to a beautiful beach and big playground (with a jungle gym, see-saws, slides, and swings), there is also a picnic and pavilion area, along with grills to use. Visitors to this Town of Huntington facility can fish, kayak, and canoe if the mood strikes.
Heckscher State Park — East Islip
Heckscher State Parkway, Field 1
The 1,600 acres of Heckscher State Park on the south shore of Long Island are used for a number of outdoor activities. The park's shady picnic groves are especially popular. Kids can play sports in one of the large open fields, as well as enjoy 4 miles of paved trails. There are amazing views of Great South Bay with Fire Island in the distance, and you just might spot some whitetail deer, a variety of birds, and other wildlife. Grills and concessions are available. Three of the park pavilions are available by permit only. Dogs are even permitted in certain areas.
Sunken Meadow State Park — Kings Park
Route 25A and Sunken Meadow Parkway
Located on Long Island Sound, this park has a range of topography, including glacial bluffs, tidal flats, salt marshes, and a brackish creek. There are also large picnic areas and pavilions available for visitors to enjoy. The calm water is perfect for a swim (or kayaking and canoeing), and families can enjoy a stroll on the boardwalk.
The East End
Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard — Calverton
2114 Sound Avenue
What's more picturesque than a picnic at an East End vineyard? Baiting Hollow offers plenty of picnic space, a chance for mom and dad to share some relaxing time, and a one-of-a-kind horse rescue facility. After the picnic, kids can interact with former racehorses and working horses whose rescues have been funded by proceeds from wine sales.
Indian Island County Park — Riverhead
Cross River Drive, Route 105
Where can you picnic with the peacocks? At Indian Island County Park, a Suffolk County facility. With more than 275 aces of land, this park is adjacent to a small farm where you can see peacocks, goats, and a host of other animals. Located within the park are picnic tables and grills. Campsites are available with trailer and tent sites. The park is located at the mouth of the Peconic River, which provides a beautiful waterfront picnicking experience.
Martha Clara Vineyard — Riverhead
6025 Sound Avenue
Martha Clara has a well-deserved reputation as the North Fork's most family-friendly winery. Owned by the Entenmann family of bakery fame, it features a petting zoo, horse-and-carriage rides, and plenty of picnic space. Mom and dad can share a glass while kids enjoy vineyard walks, educational tours and more.
The Great Lawn — Westhampton Beach
165 Mill Road
Sometimes simple is better. Enter the Great Lawn of Westhampton Beach. With nearly 6 acres of open grass to enjoy, the Great Lawn is a ideal place to take in the views as you partake in a picnic lunch. Sprawling lawns and huge trees provide a comfortable cushion for picnickers, and trees provide ample shade.
Wildwood State Park — Wading River
North Wading River Road
You get the best of both worlds picnicking at Wildwood State Park. With more than 600 acres of land and a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound, visitors can enjoy lunch by the water or picnic within the park. Picnic table areas are shaded from the sun, and there is a playground for children, and even showers. There is also a campsite. Visitors should note that construction of new amenities is underway in the campsite area. Fishing and hiking are also worth exploring while on your picnicking adventures.
Top photo: Enjoy outdoor sounds while picnicking during Old Westbury Gardens' Picnic Pops evenings. Photo by Eric J. Kunz/courtesy of the gardens.