Grilling in the city: Our picks for where to have a waterside barbecue

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Cookouts aren't just the stuff of suburban dreams, but most New Yorkers aren't gifted with private outdoor space. So what's a barbecue fiend to do? Round up friends, snag a grill, and carve out your own party space in a city park; even better, find one along the water. Read on for our picks for the best barbecue spots and how to get there. Note: This being NYC, hundreds of people will likely have the same idea as you, so it pays to do a little planning ahead.

Walking Geek

The Bronx: Orchard Beach

Pelham Bay Park is the city’s biggest greenspace, and within its nearly 3,000 acres, you’ll have the opportunity to try everything from bocce to horseback riding. Especially appealing during the summer months is Orchard Beach, a mile-long stretch of sand that hugs the Long Island Sound and where you can play volleyball, hear live music through a summer concert series, and dance during weekly Salsa Sundays.

You’ll also find picnic areas on the north and south lawns abutting the beach, which include grills—but the Friends of Pelham Bay Park site notes that they are limited in number and get nabbed quickly, so show up early to reserve your cookout spot. To get there by public transportation, take the 6 train to Pelham Bay and then transfer to a Bx12 bus; by car, take exit 8B from I-95, and note that parking is $7 on weekdays and $9 on weekends.

Brooklyn: Manhattan Beach Park

Most folks head to Prospect Park to try to snag one of its coveted grills, but for something off the beaten path—that is, for anyone who doesn’t live in south Brooklyn—Manhattan Beach Park is a solid option. The park, to the east of Coney Island, offers secluded, low-key swimming and sunbathing alongside the Atlantic. There’s a boardwalk, lanes for cycling, and plenty of impressive waterfront homes: In fact, the neighborhood is one of the priciest in the borough, according to the New York Daily News.

You’ll also find two barbecue areas nearby: One is northeast of the boardwalk, and the other is on Oriental Boulevard and Hastings Street, in a small park just beyond the sand. To get here, take the B or Q to Sheepshead Bay, and then transfer to the B1 bus. By car, take exit 8 from the Belt Parkway. Note that the beach is free, but parking in the neighborhood can be a challenge to find; you can also pay $6 on weekdays or $20 on weekends to park in beach lots.


Manhattan: Fort Washington Park

You won’t find any real beaches in Manhattan, sadly, but you can still cook up a few burgers alongside the water. One particularly idyllic option is Fort Washington Park, a 160-acre Washington Heights green space on the banks of the Hudson River. Here, you can take in dramatic views of the George Washington Bridge and the Palisades, as well as play baseball, basketball, or tennis. The park’s hills are beloved by runners, and NYC history buffs will want to check out a landmark just under the bridge: the Little Red Lighthouse, which was used to guide ships in the 1800s, and is the star of a children’s book of the same name. You’ll find a barbecue spot at 158th Street, where you can stretch out on the grass, grill, and contemplate the Jersey burbs.

Shinya Suzuki

Queens: O’Donohue Park

These days, the Rockaways are on fire, and along with the Queens beach community’s surge in popularity, the number of eateries in the area has exploded. But if you’re more of a DIY type—and don’t want to share space with busloads of Brooklynites—head to O’Donohue Park. The beachfront green area is all the way in Far Rockaway, so it’s more of a journey for non-locals, but it also offers a calmer setting. There’s a barbecue area in the park, on Seagirt Boulevard between Beach 15 and Beach 17 Streets, and after you grill you can take a dip, or hit the skateboarding area or basketball court. You’ll also find the start of a public promenade, which stretches west, almost all the way to Jacob Riis Park. To get there, take the A to Beach 36 Street, and transfer to the Q22 bus, or by car, take the Nassau Expressway to Seagirt Boulevard.

Shannon McGee

Staten Island: Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

The largest of the waterfront areas featured here can be found in Staten Island, where the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach stretches for two and a half miles along the Atlantic. The area is particularly kid-friendly, thanks to its playgrounds, sprinklers, and small amusement park called Fantasy Shore; the beach also hosts an outdoor movie series, dance nights, kayaking, and canoeing. You can grill in the park just behind the beach, between Lincoln Avenue and Midland Avenue. Catch the Staten Island Ferry, and then transfer to the S51 bus, or by car, take the Bay Street exit from I-278. 


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