Some people live for the sights and sounds of summer — the visual grandeur of the beach, the crack of fireworks on the Fourth of July – but others have a one-track sense for the smell of the grill.
America is one diverse country, but perhaps our most unifying activity is heating up some meat (or veggies!) outdoors in the company of family and friends.
Whether you’re a grilling novice who could use a hand with that spatula, or you’re a pro who wants to try someplace different, we’ve gathered a diverse list of grilling ideas and destinations from parks to a cooking school to a cruise ship. You’ll want to tie on your apron at any of these grilling spots:
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5 (Photo: Flickr/Robyn Lee)
Brooklyn Bridge Park — New York, New York
Did you know that for all the natural and cultural bliss Central Park has to offer, grilling is not allowed? Here’s an alternative that’s tough to beat in New York: head to Pier 5, where you can cook on hibachi-style grills right by the water, eat from umbrella-covered picnic tables, and take in the sweet view of the Lower Manhattan skyline. What you lose in greenery, you gain in scenery.
(Courtesy: Lawn Club Grill)
The Lawn Club Grill on Celebrity Cruises
If you insist on being surrounded by ocean when you grill, this is for you. Aboard two Celebrity cruise ships that cover Europe and the Caribbean — the Celebrity Silhouette and the Celebrity Reflection —you can play grill master for your table while being assisted by the chef. The experience happens outdoors, so if you burn anything, the other passengers won’t hate you for the smell. The Silhouette departs from Rome and Venice; the Reflection from Miami and Rome.
Related: The Tastiest Cruises for Foodies
Cherokee Park (Photo: Flickr/Zepfanman.com)
Cherokee Park — Louisville, Kentucky
A green oasis right next to downtown, Cherokee Park is the Central Park of Louisville, and indeed it was designed by the same person: Frederick Law Olmsted. A 2.4-mile scenic loop is the centerpiece, there’s plenty of shade for hot days, and if you want to burn off some of those burgers, you have many choices, including hiking, mountain biking, and tennis.
Viking Cooking School (Photo: Harrahsresort.com)
Viking Cooking School — Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City
They’re offering a Fourth of July Celebration class, even though the classes aren’t technically on the Fourth. Nevertheless, on July 20 and Aug. 10 you can sign up for a three-hour kitchen class that includes instructions on barbecuing ribs and grilling pizza – all on Viking equipment, of course. The cost is $90 per class. If you can’t make either of those but are planning a trip to Atlantic City, check out the school’s calendar for another opportunity.
Oleta River State Park — Miami, Florida
With kayaking, rafting, and beach frolicking among the many activities just a stone’s throw away from South Beach’s temptations, Florida’s largest urban park isn’t really considered a grilling place. But who cares? Grills are available, the scenery is legit, and if your fishing skills are good enough, you can catch all the food you need on the spot. The park also has cabins for rent if you’re too pooped to go home.
Mill Creek Ranch Resort (Photo: Courtesy of Mill Creek Ranch Resort)
Mill Creek Ranch Resort and RV Park — Canton, Texas
If you feel like packing up the RV with the family and getting away from it all, this is your kind of place. Located an hour’s drive from Dallas, Mill Creek offers paddleboating, bike-riding, catch-and-release fishing, and plenty of grilling. You can either rent the cabana for a smaller affair, or grill in the pavilion for a Texas-sized reunion. Food aside, a big attraction nearby is the First Monday Trade Day, one of the biggest flea markets in North Texas. It happens Thursday through Sunday before the first Monday of each month. Also, for the non-RV inclined, there are cottages available at the resort.
Pan Pacific Park (Photo: Flickr/Cal America)
Pan Pacific Park — Los Angeles, California
Once you’re done strutting your stuff around the high-end shops of The Grove and picking up your produce at the adjacent Farmer’s Market, walk over to this 28-acre urban retreat and heat up some barbecue. Pan Pacific is packed with dogs and kids, making it an ideal family spot. Bonus activities include a lap pool, running path, and baseball and soccer fields.
Montrose Beach (Flickr/Signal the Police)
Montrose Beach — Chicago, Illinois
Outdoor grilling in Chicago, much like the tri-tip that comes with it, has a shelf life. So before the frigid winds put out those fires, you can enjoy some quality beach time on Lake Shore Drive near the Uptown district. The one drawback at Montrose Beach that will keep this a family-only option for many is that alcohol and smoking are forbidden (this Reddit thread suggests you can get away with booze though). Still, dogs are welcome on the north end, and kayak rentals are available. Also here is the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, where over 300 species of bird have been recorded among the 15 acres.