The best place to have a picnic in New York City’s Central Park is Sheep Meadow.
I’ll show you why this is the best spot in Central Park for a picnic, and I’ll tell you exactly where you can get the best seats with a mix of sunshine and shade.
Sheep Meadow in Central Park is a better spot than The Ramble, Strawberry Fields, or even the Great Lawn. The primary reasons for this are: more green space, better quality grass, easier bathroom access (very important!), and better subway or taxi pickup and drop-off locations. Keep reading to see my full list of tips and tricks for having the best possible picnic.
Fun fact: It is NOT called Sheeps Meadow or Sheep’s Meadow. The name is singular: Sheep Meadow. Yes, there were actual sheep that used the meadow in the early 1900s. More history on Wikipedia.
Location of Sheep Meadow
Sheep Meadow is located closest to the West 67th Street entrance to Central Park. In Google Maps, you can put in “Tavern on the Green” for the closest taxi drop-off spot.
This picture from the Central Park Conservancy shows Sheep Meadow from the air. I’ve added arrows pointing to the best picnic spot:
It’s an outdated image (note the modern skyline, or lack thereof!) but the park is exactly the same.
Why you should listen to my Central Park advice
I’ve lived in New York City for 12 years and hosted dozens of picnics for my friends in Central Park. I’ve even hosted hundreds of cocktail parties in NYC, and wrote a famous book about that, but that’s another story.
Here’s a recent picture of me hosting a picnic in Sheep Meadow:
I have hosted dozens of picnics in Central Park. Birthday parties, lunch gatherings, even a book club meeting. I’ve even filmed videos about picnics on my YouTube channel.
Because I have hosted dozens and dozens of picnics in Central Park, I think you should take my advice: Have your picnic in Sheep Meadow.
Why This Is The Best Picnic Location in Central Park
There are other spots that you can picnic in Manhattan, such as The Ramble, Strawberry Fields, or even the Great Lawn. But they are nowhere near as good as Sheep Meadow. Here’s why.
The best grass
The grass in Sheep Meadow is constantly protected and maintained. It is among the softest ground in Central Park. The area in my map, with the red arrows, that spot beneath the trees on the far East side of Sheep Meadow may be shaded better, but it results in a very dirty, rocky ground. The grass where I have indicated with the red arrows is a lush, fluffy base perfect for picnics.
Prime people watching
From this prime spot, you have nearly a perfect 180 degree view of the theater that becomes Sheep Meadow. See people playing frisbee, throwing footballs, sunbathing, and more.
Consistent shade throughout the day
Perhaps the most important aspect of a picnic is how much shade you will have at different times of the day. A good picnic spot in Central Park will allow you and your friends or family the option for both sun and shade.
This is an important element of any picnic: Where and how can I use the bathroom?
Thankfully you have two options in Sheep Meadow: you can use the public toilets by Tavern on the Green, or the public bathrooms at the nearby café. Both are good although the lines at Tavern on the Green are much shorter (as of August 2022).
Hours of Operation
Sheep Meadow is open from 11:00AM to dusk every day.
The following are not officially permitted on Sheep Meadow:
- Dogs, bicycles, skateboards, and musical instruments
- Organized recreation or spots such as ultimate frisbee or football
- Vending of goods, food, or beverages
Where is Sheep Meadow?
Sheep Meadow is located on the west side of Central Park.
The closest cross street is West 67th Street and Central Park West.
If you’re in a taxi and need a specific location, you could say: “Tavern On the Green, near West 67th Street and Central Park West.”
Directions to Meet
Here is exactly where I like to host my picnics in Central Park. This is the image that I send my friends to help them find my picnic in Central Park. It shows approximately where to look for me, as well as the bathrooms, café, and entrance locations.
Edited image to help guests find us, with my own captions.
Update August 2022: My preferred bathrooms are now at Tavern On the Green. The lines here are shorter than at the café on the map.
Picnic in Sheep Meadow (August 2022)
This is a picture that I took in August 2022 when I attended my friend Sydney’s picnic in Sheep Meadow:
Park Image from June 2019
I took this picture at a picnic in June 2019. It is taken near West Drive in Central Park looking towards Sheep Meadow.
Sheep Meadow, with the recent skyline additions along Central Park South
Picnic Ingredients: Bring This Stuff
Here’s a list of things to bring to your picnic in Sheep Meadow.
First, watch this video that I made:
Now be sure to pack these things:
- Good friends
- Suntan lotion
- Cowboy hat
- Seltzer water
- Watermelon or other fresh fruits
Restoration of Sheep Meadow
In 1979, the Sheep Meadow, like the rest of Central Park, was in a chronic state of decay following decades of neglect and mismanagement by a fiscally challenged New York City. After a year of restoration, the meadow was green and healthy, and as well-maintained as it is today. That groundbreaking transformation – and the beginning of the unprecedented revitalization and management of Central Park – was in large part due to four visionaries who called on private citizens to help save it. Together they founded the Central Park Conservancy, the first public-private partnership for an urban park, which is now replicated throughout the world.
Today, Conservancy members – private individuals, foundations, and corporations – fund the staff that manages and maintains the Park’s landscapes and structures, contributing 75 percent of the Park’s annual operating budget.
The names of those four leaders are Richard Gilder, activist, philanthropist, and founding Trustee: Betsy Barlow Rogers, urban planner, first Central Park Administrator and president of the Central Park Conservancy. Gordon Davis, former NYC Parks Commissioner appointed by Major Edward I. Koch and Bill Beinecke, first Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy.
I made this page to help people have a great picnic with family or friends. There’s nothing for sale here and no sponsored links. I’m a member of the Central Park Conservancy’s Young Members group (called Greensward Circle) and I really do love Central Park.
If you found this helpful, or if you have any corrections or suggestions, leave me a comment below or send me an email.