The best way to celebrate summer is by having a picnic. The act of eating outside drenched in sunlight, surrounded by grass, birds, bees, and tall trees, is a way to say, thank you to yourself for surviving those cold winter months spent inside eating hot food. Finally, in the summer sun you can dice up some fruit and veggies, pack a cooler full of icy beverages and treats, and relax outside on a lawn chair or blanket while soaking up that sweet, sweet vitamin D with your family or friends.
While you can picnic most anywhere, you should definitely picnic someplace scenic if you want to have the most memorable summertime meal. By scouring tons of park reviews and polling friends and colleagues through word of mouth, we have compiled a list of the best place to picnic in every state.
Some are in mountains, some are by lakes, and some are smack dab in the middle of cities. Whether you’re trekking miles to get there with a fancy picnic basket or just walking a few blocks down the street with a sack lunch in hand, you won’t go wrong having an outdoor meal this summer at any of the best places to picnic in every state.
Lunch amongst the over 12,000 different kinds of stunning flowers and plants in Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens. This 67.5-acre outdoor space is free to enter, so you can drop a little cash picking up some tasty bites from any one of Alabama’s best places to eat and drink.
At Aialik Bay, you can picnic while looking at massive glaciers! Take a day cruise or go sea kayaking into the glacial caves for a sight you will never forget. Later, picnic on their campgrounds or rent a cabin for a weekend of Alaskan summer fun.
Dine with a view of one of the seven natural wonders of the world at Grand Canyon National Park. Take in the breathtaking views of Arizona’s rocky red, orange, and sherbet landscape while you enjoy a meal at any of the park’s myriad picnic areas. Be sure to picnic in spring or summer, as the Grand Canyon can get very cold later in the year.
After picnicking in the gorgeous 2,500 acres of wilderness at Devil’s Den State Park, cool off in some natural waterfalls or adventure by horseback through 64 miles of hiking trails. Love nature but not too much? The park offers a public pool, a playground, and a café should you choose not to BYOP — “bring your own picnic.”
This hilly park is best known for its view of the Victorian homes featured in the opening credits of Full House, but a quick walk to the top of the hill offers a stunning view of all the various neighborhoods in San Francisco, clear across the bay to Oakland. There are even tons of amazing places to pick up snacks, lunch, and dinner nearby — after all, San Francisco is one of the cities with the best food and drink in California.
City Park is to Denver as Central Park is to New York. This huge park offers free dancing water shows on summer evenings, making it the perfect spot to bring a picnic dinner from any of the best places for food and drink in Colorado and sit back and watch the show as the sun sets.
Luncheon outside on Eolia, the elegant summer mansion of the Harkness family (whom the park was named for). Post-picnic, take a mansion tour, walk through lush gardens, or even go fishing in the Long Island Sound.
The quaint town of Milton offers an equally quaint locale to picnic. There is a pretty river, places to swim, man-made waterfalls, and even gazebos should you require more shade. Didn’t pack a lunch? There are ever-present food trucks, some of which made our list of the 101 best food trucks in America.
You don’t have to get wet at this water park. Tampa’s Water Works Park has a stunning view of the water with tons of opportunity to see dolphins and manatees. Plus, a band shell with local performers provides the excellent background music you didn’t realize your picnic meal was missing.
One of the first completed parks along Atlanta’s old railroad corridor, the BeltLine, is also perfectly placed near Ponce City Market — one of the best spots for food and drink in Georgia. That means your picnic will be as delicious as your surroundings.
It’s hard to find the best spot to picnic in Hawaii, because everywhere in Hawaii seems like an excellent spot to just park it and enjoy some food and drink with the sound of the ocean. But Moanalua Gardens is the best. It’s home to two canopied monkey-pod trees and a very spiritual Bodhi tree that has become a destination for tourists and locals alike. Add an extra element of zen and relaxation to your picnic moment by visiting this spot.
Not too far outside of Boise’s main drag is Lucky Peak State Park. The natural beauty is best enjoyed on a warm day — especially its lakes, which offer boat rentals. The Idaho park also provides grills, picnic tables, outdoor showers, and bikes.
It’s hard to a find a more picturesque summer spot to enjoy a picnic in Chicago. Less crowded than Millennium Park and cooler than Lincoln Park, this lake-side hang offers space to dangle your legs over the water, picnic tables, benches, large expanses of grass, and even a café. Observe boats going by while you soak up the summer sun and hopefully enjoy one of the best hot dogs in America.
This 94-acre park includes one of the city’s best playgrounds and 3.5 miles of walking and hiking trails, as well as some spooky ruins. Grab a basket, some sandwiches, and a large blanket, and enjoy!
Not named for that Papa John, John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is dotted with 28 eye-catching sculptures by known artists like Willem de Kooning and Louise Bourgeois all donated by the husband-and-wife duo. If the name makes you hungry, bring pizza from one of the 101 best places to get pizza.
Have a picnic with the whole family at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, and play afterwards in the petting zoo, fish in the pond, or go on a pony ride. There is even a general store modeled after early 1900s Kansas shops that sells souvenirs and candy.
Part family learning experience, part golf course, and full awesome, this Kentucky park is home to Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood cabin and features furniture that he actually made — so be sure to check that out as you digest your picnic lunch. If you’re tired of cool history, you can go play some golf on the putting green.
There are tons of magical places to picnic in New Orleans, some of which are moss-canopied and spooky and some of which are right in the sunshine. Crescent Park is right on the Mississippi River and offers a stellar view of downtown that is best enjoyed while stuffing your face with all the best food and drink Louisiana has to offer — most of which is in New Orleans.
Humpback, finback, and minke whales have been known to make appearances in Quoddy Channel, the body of water visible from any clifftop in the state park, making it an ideal place to picnic and whale watch at the same time. There is also the postcard-perfect West Quoddy Head Light — a lighthouse ideal for photos — on park grounds.
Not only is Patterson Park Baltimore’s oldest park, it also houses over 170 species of birds, making it ideal for birders. The park also offers a ton of things to do post-picnic like swimming, ice-skating, birth watching, and a landmark called the Pagoda from which you can look out of for a stunning view of downtown.
The best part about Smolak Farms is that you can reserve a picnic program that comes with food straight from the farm, beverages, and a picnic blanket. Visitors are also able to pick their own fruit while dining alfresco at this Massachusetts spot.
According to multiple reviewers from TripAdvisor, the water is warmer in Silver Lake than it is in Lake Michigan. This nice little beach-y getaway will make you feel transported from the Midwest to somewhere warm and tropical like Hawaii. Luckily, the park also offers grills so you can grill up fish, hot dogs, chicken, burgers, or whatever you want.
Summer in the Midwest is so gorgeous, it will make you want to live there all year-round. Especially, if you’re visiting Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. This lush green expanse is home to a waterfall, tons of space to hike and bike, and even a few play areas with slides and swings.
This is the perfect picnic spot to take the art fan in your life. The Sculpture Garden at Delta State University has a rotating exhibition of pieces along with a permanent collection that you can gaze upon while munching on sandwiches, pasta salads, and other picnic-fare.
In Missouri, there are tons of opportunities to see art without having to pay for tickets. One of those opportunities is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. You can also enjoy a picnic on the grounds at the museum’s Hall Sculpture Park, which houses an enormous 18-foot shuttlecock.
Surround yourself in a lush natural landscape by picnicking in Palisade Falls. Covered in forest and wildflowers, this Montana naturescape is also home to an 80-foot waterfall. Pack up your picnic basket and hike less than a mile to experience it in all its glory.
Picnic in the wilderness at Niobrara State Park. This Nebraskan park offers cabins and RV camping for longer stays, but if you’re just going for a summer afternoon you can check out the horseback trails, hiking, fishing, and buffalo cookouts that last all summer long.
If you’re looking for a break from the Vegas Strip, head to Overton, Nevada, for Valley of Fire State Park. Enjoy stunning red rocks and sun-baked canyons reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, while eating a picnic lunch from any of the best places for food and drink in Nevada.
Diana’s Baths are a must-see for their natural beauty. Families can explore the rocky falls, ledges, and wading pools that gather in this naturally occurring cool-bath. Plus, pups are welcome! Don’t forget to bring a bunch of towels to dry off along with your picnic supplies!
The best spot to picnic in New Jersey is right in Paramus. Of course, you can lounge and lunch in one of the park’s designated picnic areas, but you can also bring your dog to the dog park, ride the carousel or the real live ponies, play ball in the ball park, or even go to the zoo.
Do it right in New Mexico and have your picnic with a view of the watermelon-colored Sandia Mountains at the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area. After munching on watermelon while you gaze at the pink-hued mountains, go for a hike amongst the juniper trees!
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of New York City by settling down for a picnic in Central Park. Not only is Central Park one of the only places in the city with tons of open space, it’s also home to Belvedere Castle, Wollman Rink, Bow Bridge, Shakespeare Gardens, and many other gorgeous things to look at while you feast on a picnic lunch from any of the best places for food and drink in New York.
Prepare to take a little adventure before you settle in for a picnic on Bear Island. This little island is accessible only by boat, and is a haven for those who love to fish, swim, kayak, or canoe. If you’re less sporty and just want to be surrounded by pretty waves, Bear Island is an excellent place to bring a picnic to enjoy while you gaze out at the water.
Picnic five miles from the Canadian border at Icelandic State Park. This stunning natural area is full of restored historic buildings, a riverside sanctuary for plants and birds, and a pioneer heritage center. We recommend going in warm weather so you can picnic outside unencumbered by things like snow and rain.
If you’re thinking about picnicking in the CLE, definitely check out Edgewater Beach. It’s best enjoyed with a takeaway from any of the best places for food and drink in Ohio, while you take in its gorgeous views of the city and its big outdoor screen for movie nights in the park all summer long.
There is no better way to picnic than surrounded by flowers. The Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City will surround you in lush and diverse plants and flowers while you enjoy your meal. The garden also offers horticultural classes for the curious!
At the foot of St. John’s Bridge rests Cathedral Park. The grassy area on the Willamette River was said to have been camped on by explorers Lewis and Clark, if that’s not enough, it’s a favorite of the Portland Picnic Society, which organizes regular outdoor picnics around Portland.
One of the best green spaces in Philly is Fairmount Park. Declared an Important Birding Area by the Audubon Society, the park hosts various little birdies that will sing sweetly to you as you enjoy your picnic of dishes from some of the best places for food and drink in Pennsylvania.
This 435-acre park has more than 100 acres of ponds that you can choose to sit by on your picnic in gorgeous Providence. Plus it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, so it has been protected and maintained to be beautiful.
Have a summer picnic in White Point Garden. The Castle Pickney provides a lovely backdrop while you dine outdoors on the best food and drink South Carolina has to offer.
The best way to see the real beauty of South Dakota is by visiting Black Hills national Forest. The gorgeous and enormous protected area is also home to the Strawberry Picnic Ground on Strawberry Hill, which offers picnic tables, charcoal grills, a fire ring, and a scenic pond.
In between the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center is Nashville’s Walk of Fame Park. It’s the absolute best spot to picnic if you want to enjoy some of Nashville’s best sandwiches and burgers surrounded by music history.
There are a plethora of things to do in Texas’ Zilker Park. The stunning park is home to Barton Springs Pool, a refreshing algae-filled spring where park guests enjoy beating back the hot, hot, heat by paddling through its chilly waters. Dry off on any of Zilker Park’s grassy knolls and tan, or enjoy a picnic meal before heading over to the Zilker Botanical Garden for an eyeful of flowers. Don’t feel like bringing a meal? The park is occasionally home to some of the best food trucks in America.
Make sure the pronghorns, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and free-roaming herds of bison don’t gobble up your picnic lunch at Antelope Island State Park. Not only is it on the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, it’s also surrounded by stunning nature that can be enjoyed on foot or by horseback. Grab some food from one of the best places to eat and drink in Utah and try not to share with any bison!
Have a picnic where past presents walked and probably dined. Hildene is the summer home of Abraham Lincoln’s eldest son Robert Todd Lincoln, and it’s open to the public for picnicking in their gorgeous gardens. Guests can even tour the family home furnished with the original furniture.
This historic waterfront is pet-friendly, so your pup can accompany you while you picnic at the Daingerfield Island playgrounds or explore plants and trees on the Mount Vernon Trail. Enjoy your picnic with some of the best food and drink in Virginia on one of their many picnic benches.
Designed in the style of an Italian garden, Meridian Hill Park features a 13-basin cascading fountain, a Joan of Arc statue (the only equestrian statue of a woman in Washington, D.C.) and a James Buchanan Memorial. Plus, it’s right in the city so you can run out and grab some of the best food and drink in Washington, D.C., and enjoy it in the park.
Come picnic at the largest lake in West Virginia. Complete with four picnic shelters, 60 miles of shorelines, stunning cliffs, and lush forests, Summersville Lake is the summer picnic spot of your dreams. Plus, the area is known for its clear waters and warm temps, making you feel far away from busy city heat!
This spot in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is called “Picnic Point” for a reason. This Lake Mendota peninsula is the absolute perfect spot for families looking to have the most picturesque picnic possible with tons of lush plants, blue lake water, and fire pits. Meals can be enjoyed on any of the many benches accessible to guests, or guests can spread out on a big blanket and enjoy the weather.
This scenic Wyoming spot is known as an excellent place to fish, picnic, and hike. Located in the center of Saratoga’s Medicine Bow Forest, you’re sure to see natural delights like bears, birds, streams, lakes, and sweeping views of the area.
Surrounding yourself with nature is one of the 50 things you need to do this summer!
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