Glittering skyscrapers, glamorous people, fast-paced business and even faster-paced nightlife swirling by in a flash of color and lights – this is probably the most well-known and fantasized image of New York City. As much as I love the bustle of the big city with the laughter, dancing and social connections that can be made in a few hours out on the town, the calmer, more relaxing areas of New York also absolutely deserve to be appreciated.
Summertime is a season of terrace brunches and weekend trips to the beach, and it is also a time for peaceful gatherings in one of my favorite places in the city: Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Just like the rest of Manhattan, Central Park is somehow sprawling and endless despite its physical boundaries. Within its four square miles, it contains several bodies of water, numerous baseball fields, fountains, a carousel, a boathouse, and many, many patches of grass upon which New Yorkers and tourists alike congregate to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. Sheep Meadow is arguably the most popular “patch” of grass to be found.
Located on the west side of the park, between, approximately 63rd and 68th Streets, Sheep Meadow is my favorite spot for picnics and game days, some dry and others accompanied by sangria. (Actually, most of my picnics with friends are accompanied by sangria, but that’s not the only reason we have so much fun at Sheep Meadow!)
We kicked off this summer on Memorial Day with a small gathering that included a few games and a few drinks. The weather was perfect – hot, but with a light breeze. We chose a spot near the edge of the meadow so we could opt to move into the shade of the trees if we felt our tans were becoming too lobster-like, and that afternoon was quite possibly one of the best so far this summer. The city sounds of taxis honking, construction crews drilling, buses unloading passengers and people yelling into their cell phones all fade away as you lay on the grass and gaze up at the blue sky. You can almost forget that you are lounging in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world!
The only afternoon at the park that could possibly trump that relaxing Memorial Day is the yearly event put together by my dear friend (who is, if this is possible, more of a social butterfly than I am) in Sheep Meadow that is of truly epic proportions. This, as we have come to call it, is the Summer Social Extravaganza. He invites all of the fabulous people he knows (which is quite a few), and then all of those people invite all of the fabulous people they know. As you can imagine, it becomes one huge, fantastic mish-mash of friends-of-friends meeting friends and making connections that would otherwise never have happened. It is truly one of the most beautiful events that could occur on such a gorgeous, sun-filled summer day.
So the next time you’re in New York during the fairer seasons, you must make a trip to Central Park and spend at least two hours lazing about on your blankets spread on the green, green grass, watching the world go by. You’ll see lovers sharing their first kiss, wizened golden retrievers shuffling after soccer balls, friends tossing a frisbee and a fair amount of beautifully sun-kissed skin. (Occasionally there are a few who are not so beautifully sun-kissed – but we give them credit for trying.) And for those of you who live in New York – summer’s almost over! Get to Sheep Meadow and soak up the sun while you still can.