The Best Way to Enjoy Central Park with Kids: Picnic Lunches

When I lived in CA, I used to pack a bag of food in the morning and head out for the whole day. When lunchtime came, my kids and I had a picnic. It wasn't anything special and it was anywhere. A park bench. On a blanket if I remembered to bring one. Or sometimes it was in my minivan if the weather was lousy. I felt like a show-off when I started packing plates, but it was so much easier to divide the food evenly between the three kids. Picnic lunch days felt like the norm in sunny California.

Then I moved and learned very quickly that picnics are a seasonal activity in NYC. The first winter I lived here, I felt out of whack and insanely jealous when my friends from SF posted their picnics on Facebook. On a cold January day in 2011, without thinking, I made a picnic lunch and tried to have the boys eat it in the stroller outside. They had one mitten on and one off. They used their bare hand to pick up food, but then their fingers got so cold and numb they started dropping the food on the sidewalk. Huge disaster.

At the risk of frost bite and starvation, I knew had to change our lunchtime habits during the winter. Either we started going home for lunch or I'd buy the kids sandwiches at a cafe. I couldn't wait for the temperature to rise so we could get back to picnic lunches again. I didn't realize I'd have to wait until May.

But it's here. Picnic season has officially started. Luckily, yesterday the boys had a half day of school so we could start the month right.

When Red Envelope asked me to select something from their online gift shop, I knew I had to have their Picnic Basket for Four (pictured). I couldn't resist the carafe, cheese board, and adorable mason jar sippers among other things. I even brought the bag on the cruise with me. It's perfect size to stuff a beach towel, a book, and some sunscreen. Another great Mother's Day gift idea. :)

Keep reading to see picnics of our past and some funny outtakes of our picnic yesterday . . .

September 24, 2009 in San Mateo
May 12, 2010 at Pine Lake in San Francisco
May 25th, 2010 at California Academy of Sciences (stole a table from their cafe)
June 15th, 2010 Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park
April 23, 2010 California Academy of Sciences (again.)
April 19th, 2010 San Francisco Zoo
June 10th, 2010 the north Dutch Windmill in Golden Gate Park
September 2, 2010 San Francisco Zoo (i think)
Lord knows why I took so many pictures of our picnics. So bizarre! But I'm glad I did :) Here's some more of our picnic lunch.
calling me a loser. fair. 
Owen's idea. Not really sure what it all means. 
oscar's face is making me feel like a creepy stalker.
when i'm sad, i ask Owen to make a goofy face to cheer me up. This is one of them (above). Always works.
oscar had to go potty. really bad.
Photo Sabotage Attempt #1: Stinking his tongue out.
Sabotage Attempt #2: Foot in the Face

Sabotage Attempt #3: Other foot in the face

Sabotage Attempt #4: Butt Face
but nothing stops me.
Owen kept waking up, eat some bread, and then fall back asleep again. this cycle repeated 3 times. 


  1. Oh this is such a wonderful idea, loving the photos Sharon, your kids are such cute little characters! My ideal number of children I would like to have when I grow up is Three. And your family makes me swoon and confirm the idea in my head even more :) Thanks for sharing! X

    1. haha thanks! my ideal number of children was always 2! haha

    2. Three isn't so bad if you spread them out a little. I'm seriously in awe of you Sharon, how did you make it through the terrible twos?!

    3. i'm still traumatized. haha while we were having our picnic, one of my friends with 2 month-old-twins and a toddler walked by. She was like, "Look at you! This is what I have to look forward to!" and i was like, "Ehh, yeah. It only took 5 years . . ." Poor thang! She's just beginning.

  2. Love this! That nap looks like pure relaxation. I find I take the most photos of my classroom during lunch time because they are so busy eating that it is one time I can actually take my camera out- might be why you have so many of picnics.

    1. that must be it!! i didn't think of that.

  3. I love the picture with Rob at the park bench, waiting to be served with the kids. (And sitting on the only blanket.) hahaa I miss you guys so much!

    1. haha i didn't even notice this. why the heck would we put a WHITE blanket there anyway? i blame Rob. haha

  4. Sharon--you definitely have inspired me to pack our own lunch more often. I'm drooling over that picnic set, but it is pricey. What is your true opinion of the quality? Especially the basket? Or do you have a source for just a basket?

    1. hey mary beth---they quality of the basket and supplies are top notch. you won't regret the splurge. however, if it's totally out of your price range, you can always piece together a lovely picnic basket kit yourself. :)

  5. Love a good picnic, such a good piece of advice to pack a lunch before leaving for the day.

  6. Picnics are the best. And taking a nap in the park, out in the sunshine, is even better! :-)


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