Posts Tagged ‘picnic’

Kissena Park

May 10, 2013

Out of all the parks in Queens, Kissena Park is probably my favorite. I don’t think too many people know about it, and I’m including Queens residents in this count as well. It’s also hard to get to by public transportation, so that definitely factors into the equation. The park lays claim to a huge lake with ducks and turtles aplenty taking advantage of the water. There are wide expanses of lawn for a picnic or an afternoon siesta. For the sports-minded, there are also tennis courts, basketball courts, and even a golf course next door. The park in general seems to be more carefully maintained than other Queens parks. I wonder why?  It’s a shame Flushing Meadow Park couldn’t be this nice.

Kissena Park

Kissena Park

Kissena Park

Kissena Park

Kissena Park

The best way to get to Kissena Park is by car. It’s located in what I call “deep Flushing” – far enough away from the Main St # 7 subway station that you will need to catch the Q17 bus after you arrive by subway. The bus ride takes about 20 minutes down Kissena Boulevard. Dogs and bikes are welcome in the park. I suggest you bring a picnic blanket, grab some take-out at any number of Chinese restaurants in Main St, and have a picnic here!

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Randall’s Island

June 15, 2012

Randall’s Island is a formidable chunk of land in the East River wedged between Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx.  It was opened up as a park in the 1930’s by Franklin Roosevelt.  Since then, it has undergone many uses, the most current being a recreational area for a variety of sports. The concentration of sports fields in this park is unbelievable – well over 50! Name a sport and the park can probably accommodate your team. There is also a golf center, a tennis center, and a track and field stadium.  Not to be remiss, bikers, joggers, and casual walkers get plenty of pavement along the shoreline. Fishermen can also be found lined up along the shore looking for a good catch.

The park recently hosted an arts and music exhibition called Flow.12, featuring the works of five artists. The pieces are site-specific and will be around all summer. This one, called Meters To The Center, is by Laura Kaufman.

Randall's Island

This island is by no means the next Governors Island, but it does have expansive views of Manhattan, large fields of grass and trees for picnicking, and the  East river rushing by on either side.

Randall's Island

Randall's Island

We shared a brief moment with this little fella.

Randall's Island

For those of you who like bridges, the southern part of the island has not one, not two, but three vying for your attention!  This is the footbridge that connects to Manhattan on 103rd Street.

Randall's Island

Here is the Triboro Bridge (you will need to torture this diehard NYer before she uses the new name!)
Randall's Island

…and in the distance you get a view of the Hell’s Gate Bridge.
Randall's Island

There are many ways to get to the island.  From Manhattan, you can walk or bike across on the newly opened footbridge at 103rd St.  If you prefer public transportation, you can hop on the M35 bus at the NW corner of 125th Street and Lexington Ave.  Folks from the Bronx can use the pedestrian ramp at Cypress Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, which deposits you at the northern end of the island. The ramp in Queens is at Hoyt Avenue and 28th Street, adjacent to the Astoria Boulevard N/W station.  It deposits you mid-island. By car, access is off the Triboro Bridge. Be aware that there is a $6.25 toll to enter the island.

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum and Gardens

May 26, 2012

If you are a fan of Wave Hill in the Bronx, you will want to visit this mansion on the other side of the borough.  Similar to Wave Hill, you will find yourself at an estate surrounded by beautiful greenery and a coastline nearby.  The grounds are not as extensive at Bartow-Pell, but there is plenty of space for a nice picnic and you can enjoy the grounds for free.

Bartow-Pell Mansion

Bartow-Pell Mansion

Bartow-Pell Mansion

I highly recommend the guided tour of the mansion that takes place every 15 minutes past the hour from 12:15 to 3:15.  You really get a feel for how the upper crust lived in the 1800’s.   This mansion was built in 1790, and back in the day, its neighbors were other mansions.  All the other mansions were destroyed in the late 1800’s to make way for Pelham Bay Park, but the city kept this one and rented it out for several decades before turning it into a museum.

Bartow-Pell Mansion

Bartow-Pell Mansion

Bartow-Pell Mansion

Bartow-Pell Mansion

To the side of the mansion is the two-story carriage house that also contains a basement and its own cistern.
Bartow-Pell Mansion

Ideally, you will want to drive here, because the alternative is a subway ride and then a bus. Directions for car and public transportation can be found here.  The mansion is open on Wed, Sat, and Sun from 12pm to 4pm.  Some special events take place on these and other days.  There are trails nearby that will take you to the bay, but beware of poison ivy and bring insect repellent.

The High Line, Section 2

July 3, 2011

Section 2 of the High Line opened with much fanfare about a month ago.  It adds 10 blocks of new green space to the tracks, stretching from 20th to 30th St.  Here are some of the views headed north.

These wooden steps were featured in a great musical ad campaign for the new section before it opened. It got me pretty psyched, actually. Here is the video.
High Line, Section 2

This is the much-touted picnic lawn that is unique to Section 2. Wedged between buildings on either side, it doesn’t offer much in the way of views.  I wouldn’t call it a destination picnic spot, but if you happen to be in the area, it is a comfy resting place for people-watching. The only reason why it is empty is because it is off-limits for now.
High Line, Section 2

Overall, the walkways mimicked the old section. Take a careful look at the plants along the way – some of them are quite striking.  It’s odd to know that many were native to the city before any of us were born.  There are some that I have never seen before.
High Line, Section 2

High Line, Section 2

High Line, Section 2

The elevated walkover in the middle of this new section is another unique feature to this section. This is not the best depiction of it, but you can see that there are plants growing below you. Eventually, some of them will provide shade.
High Line, Section 2

There is a viewing station of the cross-town traffic at 26th St.  If I had to choose between this station and the one in Section 1, I would park myself in the other one.  This one feels more cramped.
High Line, Section 2

If you are thirsty from all that walking, fear not.  The new beer garden at the end of the line, aptly named The Lot, will probably satisfy everyone.  Just be warned that the line to get in can be long.  I opted instead to check out a nearby attraction called Rainbow City. The eye-popping wonder of a park is here temporarily to celebrate the opening of the new section.  It is closing this weekend, so if you would like to watch adults and kids grapple with massive balloons and have a go at it yourself, check it out before it closes on July 5th!
High Line, Section 2

High Line, Section 2

Section 2 starts at 20th St and 10th Ave and ends at 30th St. There are also access points at 23rd, 26th, and 28th St.  The entire park is open from 7am to 11pm. No dogs or bikes are allowed.

Riverside Park

June 26, 2011

Riverside Park is the quiet cousin to the crowded and boisterous Central Park.  Frederick Law Olmstead developed both parks, but considering the vastly different locations, they provide vastly different experiences.  Hugging the coast on the Upper Westside, the park stretches from 72nd St to 158th St, outshining Central Park in length, if not width.

The park lays claim to beautiful river views that can be seen from several vantage points.  There are technically three levels to the park, but I can only distinguish two.  There is a lower level with walkways and bike paths right next to the river.  Considering there are few trees at that level, it is wise to wear a hat.  Besides the river views, the lower level offers envious views of people’s boats docked at the marina.  I wonder if people ever take them out to fish along the Hudson.  Is it safe to fish in the Hudson?

Riverside Park

The upper level contains the more wooded and landscaped areas you would expect from Olmstead.  Here is a view of the upper level with glimpses of the river.  Looks very much like Central Park, doesn’t it?
Riverside Park

The upper level also contains lawn space and benches along the sides – perfect for quiet reading or picnics.  There were so few people around on a beautiful weekend afternoon that I had to wonder if this park is on people’s radars.
Riverside Park

One landmark of note when you reach the upper 80’s is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.   It was built in the 1920’s to honor the New Yorkers who died in the Civil War.  It is reached via stairs, and the view of the park from up there is not quite as spectacular as the view of the monument itself up close.
Riverside Park

The more famous monument in the park, Grant’s Tomb, is much further uptown in the 120’s. If you are up for a very long, leisurely stroll, it is very possible to walk from 72nd St to 125th St (there are breaks in the park for traffic at 96th St and 125th St). Just wear good walking shoes!

To get to the bottom starting point of the park, take the 1, 2, or 3 to 72nd St and walk west to the river.  The park is good for biking, dog-walking, and jogging. There are also many sports facilities and playgrounds sprinkled throughout the park.

Elmhurst Park

June 19, 2011

Guest writer Rich Wong highlights one of the newest parks in Queens!

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Do you remember the Elmhurst gas tanks?

From the Long Island Expressway in Elmhurst, you could see the two giant tanks looming next to the highway.  They were sort of landmarks for many residents and travelers.  “When you see the two gas tanks, go another mile and you are there.”  The tanks were down into the ground when they were full and up when they were empty.

The tanks became obsolete and unused for many years.  They finally razed the 270-foot-diameter tanks in 1996, and the land was rumored for development as a future Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Walmart.  Thankfully, it is now a park!  KeySpan, the owner of the property, sold the land to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for $1.

After an extensive soil replacement project and approval by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the park development proceeded.  During phase-1 of the project, the park was prepared with trees and grass and was kept closed for a year.  In phase-2, the park was re-landscaped with the final design, which included a playground, water park, and walk paths.

This sculptured park incorporates the use of artificial hills to obscure the view and noise of the Long Island Expressway and give the illusion of a bigger park. When you enter from the Grand Avenue entrance, you barely see or hear the trucks rumbling by.

Elmhurst Park

Elmhurst Park

The architects did a wonderful job with three unique play areas for the neighborhood children.  The walk paths are curvy and meander through the whole park.  You will not find a straight (boring) path.

Elmhurst Park

Elmhurst Park

Elmhurst Park

I am just a tiny bit disappointed that we did not get a Walmart in Elmhurst, but the sculptured park serves me and my neighborhood just fine!

Elmhurst Park is bounded by Grand Avenue and 57th Avenue, 74th Street and 80th Street.  There is a single west entrance and two east entrances with ample parking.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

September 24, 2010

There’s a new kid in town and its name is Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1. I’m excited that they’re revitalizing the west coastline of Brooklyn in the same way that they’ve developed Hudson River Park. Judging by the first pier that they’ve finished, Pier 1, it looks to be very similar in style to Hudson River Park, except there’s more elevation in this one. There’s also a fine view of downtown Manhattan. The park at Pier 6 is being created as we speak, but only the children’s playground is there, and I didn’t want to take pics of that, so the pics below are only of Pier 1. It was a cloudy day too, so they’re not the best pics. However, they should give you an idea of what’s in store for you.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

This is the view from the stone steps.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

There’s a nice expanse of lawn. They hold movie screenings here.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

This is a marshy area between Pier 1 and Pier 2.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

Next to the marshes is a kayak docking area. We saw a number of colorful kayaks come in.
Brooklyn Bridge Park

I think the best way to get to Brooklyn Bridge Park is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. It’s a one-mile walk on the bridge itself and probably only half a mile more from there. If you want to get directly there by subway, you can take the A/C to High Street, the 2/3 to Clark Street, or the F to York Street.

Wave Hill

July 2, 2010

Unlike other public gardens in the city, Wave Hill can boast of having housed a good share of famous people since the late 1800’s.  Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and Arturo Toscanini once lived at Wave Hill House on separate occasions.  Thomas Huxley and Charles Darwin also came here to explore its natural beauty.  It doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that this place is perfect for relaxation and contemplation, with sweeping views of the Palisades and the Hudson River.  Over the years, the grounds were built up and reshaped to take advantage of the scenery. Today, it’s a stunning testament to centuries-old preservation.

You will want to explore several sights here.  As you enter, you will come upon the pergola overlook ahead of you. This area in particular is very popular for weddings.

Wave Hill

This is the view looking back at the pergola.  It’s pretty, but the better view is in the other direction.  There are many lawn chairs you can plop yourself down on.
Wave Hill

Wave Hill House is to your right down a short path.  Sometimes they host concerts inside, plus art and gardening workshops.
Wave Hill

If you’re feeling in need of cooling down, you may want to tackle one of the shady trails to the north of the House. They’re a bit rough in some places, so be careful with your footing.   If you persevere, you will be rewarded with a nice woodland gazebo.

Wave Hill

Moving south back towards the entrance, you will find several greenhouses.  This one, called Alpine House, looked intriguing with its large bonsai-like tree.

Wave Hill

Right outside the greenhouse is a varied collection of cacti that grow right on and between the rocks.

Wave Hill

Wave Hill

My favorite spot in this whole garden, however, is the aquatic garden bordered by shady pergolas on three sides.

Wave Hill

Wave Hill

Wave Hill

On the day I was there, I was lucky enough to find a big fat frog sitting on a lily pad and taking advantage of the shade.

Wave Hill

Wave Hill is located at West 249th Street and Independence Avenue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.  You can take the Metro-North to Riverdale Station or the A or 1 train to West 242nd St.  A free shuttle provides a pick up at both places.  Click here for the shuttle schedule and for directions by car.  The garden is open Tuesdays through Sundays and stays open from 9:00 to 5:30 during the warmer months and from 9:00 to 4:30 during the colder months.   Admission is $8 for adults, but the fee is waived if you go on Tuesdays or Saturdays before noon.

Prospect Park

June 25, 2010

If Central Park and Prospect Park were to compete for most beautiful, Prospect Park would win hands down.  There’s something about the layout here that’s dreamy.  Is it the lacy trees that drape onto the ponds?  The undulating hills at every open lawn?   You can loose yourself in this park and emerge a changed person.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

The park is perfect for picnics and BBQs.  You can set up your grills at designated spots throughout the park.  The area near the picnic house seems to be very popular and has parking close by.  There are events that take place throughout the year, many for kids.   Click here for the calendar.   There is also a skating rink, an Audobon Center, a ballfield, tennis center, and zoo.  For the more adventurous, horseback riding is available.  Click here for an interactive map of the park.  You can get to the park using various trains:  F train at 7th Ave. station, 15th St./Prospect Park station and Fort Hamilton Parkway station; 2 or 3 train at Grand Army Plaza station; Q train at Parkside Ave. station and Prospect Park station; S train at Prospect Park station; and the B train at Prospect Park station.  For driving directions, click here.

Hudson River Parks

June 18, 2010

I’m so happy that the city is able to turn unused space into newly minted parks. The Hudson River Parks along the west side of the island is just one great example. Many of the abandoned piers are now green space for lounging and picnicking. While the parks are still a work in progress in some places, there are plenty of existing ones to choose from, stretching from West Houston St all the way to West 56th St. The following are two personal favorites of mine – Pier 45 off of West 10th St and Pier 63 off of West 23rd St.

Pier 45 has a long stretch of lawn and is dotted by trees.  There’s a tent space at the end of it for events.

Hudson River Parks

Hudson River Parks

Because this pier juts out pretty far into the water, you get a good view of the Manhattan skyline from here. It’s even more beautiful at sunset.

Hudson River Parks

If you choose to walk uptown towards Pier 63, you will pass some interesting relics. You also might glimpse some ducks or geese.

Hudson River Parks

Hudson River Parks

Located next to Chelsea Piers, Pier 63 has both an outdoor cafe setting with lots of flowers and bushes and a large lawn that’s perfect for a picnic.  The trade-off is that it doesn’t stretch out into the water compared to the other piers, so the view isn’t quite as impressive.

Hudson River Parks

Hudson River Parks

Since the parks are right along the Hudson, you will want to take the A, C, or E if you’re aiming for one of the parks above 14th St. Take the 1 if you’re headed to a park below 14th St. To see all the parks that are finished and those that are still in progress, click here.  There are a ton of free concerts, movies, and other events that take place at the parks during the summer.  For a list of current events, click here.