Picnics in the park in Manhattan and Brooklyn

People picnic and relax near the Great Lawn

People picnic and relax near the Great Lawn in New York's Central Park. (April 18, 2009) (Credit: AP Photo)

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As summer wends its way along, there's nothing better than an alfresco meal, whether it's lunch or dinner. Here, we've picked five great spots for an urban picnic - and some suggestions for what to pack.

1. CENTRAL PARK 

Find a shady spot along the edges of the Sheep Meadow; after you eat, you can toss around a Frisbee. For a classic New York picnic, stop by Barney Greengrass for a couple of overstuffed sandwiches: lox and cream cheese on a bagel, maybe, or a corned beef and chicken liver triple-decker. For dessert, consider a black and white cookie or a slice of old-fashioned New York cheesecake. (Sandwiches and desserts for two, about $35; 541 Amsterdam Ave.; 212-724-4707, barneygreengrass.com)

2. THE HIGH LINE 

Manhattan's newest park is elevated and a great place to picnic, with spectacular views all around (nycgovparks.org/parks/highline). Pick up lunch at Amy's Bread in the Chelsea Market. Nosh on organic peanut butter and strawberry preserves or roast turkey with cranberry sauce. For a hit of sugar, there are cupcakes and giant chocolate chip cookies. (Sandwiches, $3.50-$7.35; cupcakes and cookies, $2.50; 75 Ninth Ave.; 212-462-4338, amysbread.com)

3. MADISON SQUARE PARK 

No, we're not sentencing you to an eons-long wait in line at Shake Shack. Instead, stop by Baoguette for a splendid bánh mì, the paté-smeared Vietnamese sandwich. ($5; 61 Lexington Ave.; 212-532-1133, baoguette.com). For a little cross-cultural influence, you might want to get in line after all, for a Shake Shack root beer float or frozen custard. ($5-$7; Madison Square Park; 212-889-6600, shakeshack.com)

4. LOUIS VALENTINO JR. PARK

It's easy to forget the city rests on a mini-archipelago; but out here, the tip of Red Hook, things maritime are obvious. In nautical surroundings, pick up a lobster roll at Red Hook Lobster Pound ($15 apiece, closed Mondays and Tuesdays; 284 Van Brunt St., 646-326-7650, redhooklobsterpound.com). Dessert? head to Baked for a mini apple tart or lemon meringue pie. ($4-$5, available weekends; 359 Van Brunt St.; 718-222-0345, bakednyc.com)

5. PROSPECT PARK

Our favorite picnic place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park is by the side of the Lullwater, near the old boathouse. Stop by Blue Apron Foods for fixings of a French-style picnic: crusty baguette to slather with cheese and a selection of charcuterie. ($25 and under for two; 814 Union St.; 718-230-3180). Then try Almondine bakery for éclairs and other French pastry. ($3.75 apiece for éclairs; 442 Ninth St.; 718-832-4607, almondinebakery.com)

6. BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK

Sure, the trees are a bit runty, but Pier 1 is open, and you can't beat the river view. Where would we stop for lunch? How about some fish and chips, mate? Atlantic Chip Shop is the local Brit/Irish expat hang, and the battered cod with chips makes a fine take-away meal. Don't forget the fried Mars bars for dessert. (Fish and chips, $12; Mars bars, $3.50; 129 Atlantic Ave.; 718-855-7775, chipshopnyc.com)

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