I didn’t get in enough park time over the summer. I was on the go too much to wander over to the park and meander down paths or sit in the grass. I had a picnic at one point, but it was a planned get-together with friends, not a spontaneous decision to get out and enjoy the summer weather.
And let’s be real — I’m not the biggest fan of real summer weather. Sitting in the park when it’s 85+ degrees out is only tolerable in the shade, and let’s forget taking a walk. So the best time to enjoy Prospect Park (and really? the best time of year, period) is fall. Not too hot, not too cold, and before long the leaves will be changing color.
This past weekend I spent most of Saturday and Sunday afternoon in Prospect Park. One of my best friends came into town with her boyfriend for the weekend and on Saturday morning she suggested the park as our meeting place. She’d been there once before but her boyfriend hadn’t, so we met in Grand Army Plaza (crucial stop: the farmers’ market there has apple cider and cider donuts) and then spent the next few hours wandering around the park. We walked along open spaces and wooded paths, stopped at the LeFrak Center to use the skating rink’s bathrooms, and then made our way down to the lake. Eventually we left the park and went for a late lunch at a diner.
The thing about visiting a park with a friend is that you have plenty of time to talk and catch up — walking and talking is pretty easy — and you also have an endless source of conversation starters in everything you see around you. I love showing off Prospect Park to people who don’t know New York very well. I like to describe it as being like Central Park, only without tourists. I love Central Park, but to me Prospect Park feels more like the kind of park I grew up with in the suburbs. Kids play baseball, families barbecue, couples lie on blankets in the grass. No one is carrying a map or a guidebook.
I went back to the park on Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t stay inside on such a beautiful day, so I spent a while outside by myself, “reading” and people-watching, and then spent another hour and half catching up with friends who came to join me. It was just chilly enough by the end of the afternoon that I wished I’d brought a coat, but not chilly enough that I couldn’t enjoy the conversation. I don’t know how many more weekends we’ll have this fall where long walks or chats in the park sounds like a good idea, so I’m glad I got the time in over the weekend.
If you’re looking for some time outside this weekend, head to Prospect Park — or check out Open House New York. I stumbled on OHNY accidentally a few years back and found out that it’s a weekend where all kinds of interesting places around the city open their doors to visitors. Hamilton Grange is one of them, for you Hamilton fans!
How have you all been spending your fall weekends so far?