Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer in NYC: one of your last chances to get outside, catch some sun, and hit the barbecue before your annual mandatory apple picking appointments begin. But your chances of having access to a private outdoor space of any kind are slim -- let alone one big enough to safely hold even the smallest model of that most hallowed of summertime culinary devices, the charcoal grill. The good news? Hidden in plain sight among the more than 30,000 acres of land managed by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation are a wealth of areas for grilling that are free and open to the public, many of which already have grills on premises. The trick is finding the right one for you.
We’ve rounded up 12 of the best parks for grilling in Gotham -- but before you go, prepare! Grilling locations in public parks are popular as soon as the temperatures rise, and grow even more crowded on weekends and holidays. Arrive early to secure a spot. If you’re thinking of inviting a crowd of 20+ people, don’t forget to get a permit. Make sure to bring enough charcoal, lighter fluid, and kindling for everything you plan to cook, as the city doesn’t provide gas grills. (No wonder vaunted propane salesman Hank Hill is horrified by his place of birth.) Safely clean your grill -- that would be without a grill brush -- before using it. You never know what some freelance chef may have left behind the night before. And always properly dispose of your spent charcoal: extinguish all embers and put it in the grilling area’s approved bins.
Booze and barbecue are a classic combination, but the consumption of alcohol is, like smoking, prohibited in city parks, no matter how good a cigar and single malt Scotch with that skirt steak sounds. And while we’re not encouraging you to find a workaround, know that public drinking in Manhattan was decriminalized in 2016. You can still get a ticket, so sip smartly, and don’t cause a scene.
You’ve seen the smoke, now feel the fire. Here are 12 of the best places to get your grill on in NYC.