Lay down your blanket and pop a basket open: it’s time for a picnic. With stunning natural beauty as your backdrop and Mother Earth as your table, picnics are an easy, casual way to enjoy the outdoors. America is full of inspiring parks where you can leisurely loll away the afternoon. Use these destination picnic ideas to plan the perfect afternoon of al fresco eating with the ones you love.
- Point Dume in Malibu, California – Just around the corner from Los Angeles you’ll find one of the most magnificent beaches in the world. Don’t you dare eat at the picnic tables by the parking lot – instead, bring a shade canopy or umbrella and dine on the immaculate white sand beach to the sound of crashing waves.
- Golden Gardens in Seattle, Washington – A late afternoon or early evening picnic is best for this glorious waterfront park, which features a stunning western vista of the Olympic Mountains. Watch the sun drop past the snow-capped peaks, and bring marshmallows to roast in the fire pits.
- Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts – Thoreau’s favorite hangout is still a tranquil escape today, and just a half-hour drive from Boston. Spend the afternoon nibbling on simple New England fare, bring along a poetry book to read, and “breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
- La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California – You might want to bring padded seats to this picnic spot, one of the most spectacular strips of the California coastline. Snack on fresh fruit salad and fish tacos as you watch the surfers ride the waves, watch for migrating whales, and savor inspiring views of the craggy, cliff-laden coastline.
- Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City – NYC is packed with great places for picnic ideas, but this iconic setting takes the crowd. Stretch out in a grassy field with a view of the celebrated bridge and the Manhattan skyline. You’ll find plenty of trendy artisan food shops nearby to pack up your picnic basket.
- Mount Battie in Camden Maine – Load a backpack full of picnic treats and sandwiches, and embark on the easy one-hour hike to the top of the mountain – or simply hop in the car and drive up. From your picnic blanket, you’ll be able to see panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, including the three harbors of Camden, Rockport and Rockland.
- Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country – Float to your perfect picnic spot on this beloved river, a slow-rolling beauty just south of Austin that is known for tubing. Sheer limestone cliffs and scattered trees provide shade – but you’ll probably need some ice-cold beer to cool off just in case. Plan ahead and rent an extra tube to float your picnic basket and cooler.
- Eldorado Canyon State Park in Denver, Colorado – Weekdays are the best time for a picnic in this inspiring setting, which features breathtaking views of the canyon. Find places for picnic ideas along the banks of South Boulder Creek, and visit the interpretive center before you pack it up and go home.
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Photo by Noble Savage