10 Places to Picnic in the U.S.

by Jennifer Fauci

10 Places to Picnic in the U.S.

by Jennifer Fauci

One of the best ways to get to know a place is through its public green spaces. Next time you’re traveling, pack a picnic, and enjoy it. Here are our picks for the best places to picnic in the U.S. this summer.

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Family picnic / iStock / viewapart
Central Park
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Central Park (New York, New York)

Lay out your blanket on the 55-acre Great Lawn in Central Park. A popular spot for morning yoga, frisbee, and sun worshiping for Manhattanites who can't get to the beach, the Great Lawn is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic. You won’t exactly be alone in this city oasis and will have to practice social distancing, so choose your picnic spot wisely. If you want peace and quiet, head over to East Green on the East side entrance of the park. This area is one of eight designated quiet zones, so relax and set up your picnic under the magnolia trees. If you're with the kids, pick a spot by the Westside entrance near Sheep Meadow. It's the perfect family-friendly spot, near playgrounds, ball fields, the carousel, and the zoo. Cherry Hill, in the center of the park, boasts a beautiful view of the lake and is a popular spot for lovebirds.

Read more: How To Plan the Perfect Picnic in Central Park
 

Lay out your blanket on the 55-acre Great Lawn in Central Park. A popular spot for morning yoga, frisbee, and sun worshiping for Manhattanites who can't get to the beach, the Great Lawn is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic. You won’t exactly be alone in this city oasis and will have to practice social distancing, so choose your picnic spot wisely. If you want peace and quiet, head over to East Green on the East side entrance of the park. This area is one of eight designated quiet zones, so relax and set up your picnic under the magnolia trees. If you're with the kids, pick a spot by the Westside entrance near Sheep Meadow. It's the perfect family-friendly spot, near playgrounds, ball fields, the carousel, and the zoo. Cherry Hill, in the center of the park, boasts a beautiful view of the lake and is a popular spot for lovebirds.

 

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
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Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater (Morrison, Colorado)

For the avid hiker and nature lover, pack your picnic for the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, just outside of Denver. With hiking and biking trails as far as the eye can see, this rust-colored, rocky vista offers stunning views of the city from all angles. Start your day with a morning hike, break for lunch, and then enjoy a nighttime concert at the amphitheater. Enjoy your lunch at the group picnic shelter off Tunnel Road, which has a snack bar and restroom facilities. Should you plan your picnic for a clear evening, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the starry sky. 

Read more: 8 of the World's Darkest Places for Stargazing
 

For the avid hiker and nature lover, pack your picnic for the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, just outside of Denver. With hiking and biking trails as far as the eye can see, this rust-colored, rocky vista offers stunning views of the city from all angles. Start your day with a morning hike, break for lunch, and then enjoy a nighttime concert at the amphitheater. Enjoy your lunch at the group picnic shelter off Tunnel Road, which has a snack bar and restroom facilities. Should you plan your picnic for a clear evening, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the starry sky. 

 

Mount Bonnell
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Mount Bonnell (Austin, Texas)

With wide-open views of the Colorado River, 360 Bridge, and downtown Austin, Mount Bonnell is a great spot for your picnic adventure. To reach the top, you’ll need to climb a steep staircase, but if you can't make it all the way to the top, fear not. Scattered along the walk are picnic tables and places to sit, but you'll have to look for them, as these spots are secluded. Even though it’s a popular spot for tourists, Mount Bonnell still offers plenty of privacy and quiet, so relax and enjoy your own little slice of mountain heaven in the city.

Read more: The Sweet Spot: Austin, Texas
 

With wide-open views of the Colorado River, 360 Bridge, and downtown Austin, Mount Bonnell is a great spot for your picnic adventure. To reach the top, you’ll need to climb a steep staircase, but if you can't make it all the way to the top, fear not. Scattered along the walk are picnic tables and places to sit, but you'll have to look for them, as these spots are secluded. Even though it’s a popular spot for tourists, Mount Bonnell still offers plenty of privacy and quiet, so relax and enjoy your own little slice of mountain heaven in the city.

Walden Pond
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Walden Pond (Concord, Massachusetts)

Walden Pond was once home to American poet and author Henry David Thoreau. It was here that he wrote Walden, the book that inspired the early environmentalist movement. Only 25 minutes from Boston, Walden Pond is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic under the trees. If you’re not bringing a picnic from home, you can grab snacks and supplies in town. The pond is ideal for reading, writing, or simply relaxing, though you may encounter some furry visitors like squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits, as well as blackbirds, chickadees, and red-tailed hawks, to name a few. In an effort to conserve its beauty and history, the park prohibits dogs, bicycles, flotation devices, alcoholic beverages, and grills.

Read more: 10 Quick Breaks From Major US Cities
 

Walden Pond was once home to American poet and author Henry David Thoreau. It was here that he wrote Walden, the book that inspired the early environmentalist movement. Only 25 minutes from Boston, Walden Pond is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic under the trees. If you’re not bringing a picnic from home, you can grab snacks and supplies in town. The pond is ideal for reading, writing, or simply relaxing, though you may encounter some furry visitors like squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits, as well as blackbirds, chickadees, and red-tailed hawks, to name a few. In an effort to conserve its beauty and history, the park prohibits dogs, bicycles, flotation devices, alcoholic beverages, and grills.

Crater Lake
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Crater Lake National Park (Southern Oregon)

Snow-capped in the winter and green in the summer, the mountains of Crater Lake National Park only enhance the splendor of the lake itself. With a depth of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US. The park's breathtaking panoramic views of trees and mountains make Crater Lake the perfect picnic spot. Hiking, fishing, swimming, and camping are popular summer activities for visitors, as well as boat tours and park ranger talks. Have your picnic lakeside at the bottom of the mountain, or climb to the top and gaze out over the park. With year-round scenic beauty, Crater Lake is a must-see for any nature lover.

Read more: 10 Overlooked National Parks
 

Snow-capped in the winter and green in the summer, the mountains of Crater Lake National Park only enhance the splendor of the lake itself. With a depth of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US. The park's breathtaking panoramic views of trees and mountains make Crater Lake the perfect picnic spot. Hiking, fishing, swimming, and camping are popular summer activities for visitors, as well as boat tours and park ranger talks. Have your picnic lakeside at the bottom of the mountain, or climb to the top and gaze out over the park. With year-round scenic beauty, Crater Lake is a must-see for any nature lover.

 

Golden Gate Park
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Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, California)

Golden Gate Park is one of California's largest urban green spaces. Picnic across Mallard Lake at Elk Glen picnic area or the Pioneer Log Cabin picnic area. Elk Glen is a quiet, shady retreat surrounded by the park's beautiful flowers and plants. You can reserve one of the four picnic tables on the grounds in advance, especially if you plan to grill as there are two BBQ stations located nearby. Although on the quieter side, the grassy grounds are the perfect spot to play kickball, volleyball, frisbee, or just go for a stroll. If you prefer a more rustic picnic, camp out at the Pioneer Log Cabin. Complete with tall trees and a redwood log cabin, these grounds are great for family gatherings. After lunch, explore the Conservatory of Flowers and learn about the brightly colored flora that will peak all of your senses. Admission to the Conservatory is $3-$9 and free for children ages 4 and younger. With dozens of gardens, lakes, meadows, and groves throughout the park, it's easy to lose track of time on a beautiful day.

Read more: What to See and Do in San Francisco
 

Golden Gate Park is one of California's largest urban green spaces. Picnic across Mallard Lake at Elk Glen picnic area or the Pioneer Log Cabin picnic area. Elk Glen is a quiet, shady retreat surrounded by the park's beautiful flowers and plants. You can reserve one of the four picnic tables on the grounds in advance, especially if you plan to grill as there are two BBQ stations located nearby. Although on the quieter side, the grassy grounds are the perfect spot to play kickball, volleyball, frisbee, or just go for a stroll. If you prefer a more rustic picnic, camp out at the Pioneer Log Cabin. Complete with tall trees and a redwood log cabin, these grounds are great for family gatherings. After lunch, explore the Conservatory of Flowers and learn about the brightly colored flora that will peak all of your senses. Admission to the Conservatory is $3-$9 and free for children ages 4 and younger. With dozens of gardens, lakes, meadows, and groves throughout the park, it's easy to lose track of time on a beautiful day.

Laguna Beach, California
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Crystal Cove State Park (Laguna Beach, California)

In the mood for a little romance? Swap your basket for a cooler and enjoy a beach picnic while you watch the sunset. Access the beach at Crystal Cove State Park via Reef Point, Pelican Point, or Los Trancos. Discover tide pools, sandy coves, or just take a stroll along the beach. Bring your snorkeling gear if you want to explore a 1,140-acre underwater park, specially created within the boundaries of the park. This unique feature offers snorkelers an extensive view of diverse marine life, natural to the area. Biking, hiking, swimming, and scuba diving are among other activities to do here as well. 

Read more: Gorgeous State Parks That Are Crowded National Park Alternatives
 

In the mood for a little romance? Swap your basket for a cooler and enjoy a beach picnic while you watch the sunset. Access the beach at Crystal Cove State Park via Reef Point, Pelican Point, or Los Trancos. Discover tide pools, sandy coves, or just take a stroll along the beach. Bring your snorkeling gear if you want to explore a 1,140-acre underwater park, specially created within the boundaries of the park. This unique feature offers snorkelers an extensive view of diverse marine life, natural to the area. Biking, hiking, swimming, and scuba diving are among other activities to do here as well. 

Folly Beach
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Folly Beach, South Carolina

Just 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, South Carolina's southern charm extends to the shores. Don't forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful sunsets. While you can eat anywhere on the beach, picnic shelters are available and offer tables, chairs, and grills for your convenience. Watch the pier turn to a dark silhouette against a pink and orange sky, then head down to the pier later in the evening for events and activities.

Read more: A Charleston Weekend on a Budget

Just 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, South Carolina's southern charm extends to the shores. Don't forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful sunsets. While you can eat anywhere on the beach, picnic shelters are available and offer tables, chairs, and grills for your convenience. Watch the pier turn to a dark silhouette against a pink and orange sky, then head down to the pier later in the evening for events and activities.

Ram Island Lighthouse
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Ram Island Lighthouse (Boothbay Harbor, Maine)

Said to be the "heart of New England," Maine’s craggy coastline offers no shortage of incredible sightseeing. For a picnic, however, Ram Island Lighthouse in Boothbay Harbor is the perfect spot for lighthouse lovers. Enjoy the boat ride to the lighthouse and choose your spot. Explore the island and search for beach glass, shells, or visit rams, the island's main inhabitants. Stay until sunset to watch the lighthouse in action.

Read more: Easy New England Escape: Rockland, Maine
 

Said to be the "heart of New England," Maine’s craggy coastline offers no shortage of incredible sightseeing. For a picnic, however, Ram Island Lighthouse in Boothbay Harbor is the perfect spot for lighthouse lovers. Enjoy the boat ride to the lighthouse and choose your spot. Explore the island and search for beach glass, shells, or visit rams, the island's main inhabitants. Stay until sunset to watch the lighthouse in action.

 

Bedell Cellars
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Bedell Cellars (Cutchogue, Long Island)

Visit Bedell Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island to picnic among the vineyards and apple orchards. For $100 per person, guests are welcome to enjoy a tasting and a tour of the vineyards and surrounding property. A renovated barn serves as the tasting room for whites, reds, roses, and other wines. Vineyards have become increasingly popular wedding venues, so be sure to call ahead before you plan your excursion, as the winery may be closed.

Read more: 5 Places You Never Thought to Go Wine Tasting
 

Visit Bedell Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island to picnic among the vineyards and apple orchards. For $100 per person, guests are welcome to enjoy a tasting and a tour of the vineyards and surrounding property. A renovated barn serves as the tasting room for whites, reds, roses, and other wines. Vineyards have become increasingly popular wedding venues, so be sure to call ahead before you plan your excursion, as the winery may be closed.

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