As long as the weather’s good, a picnic is always the right idea. It’s a wonderful—and inexpensive!—reminder that you can transform anywhere with a view into a temporary café on a blanket. It gives you a reason to explore as well as a chance to settle down and relax for an hour or two. We seem to be busier with each passing year, so any opportunity we have to take a moment and appreciate what the world has to offer is keen. Across the United States, there are endless spaces that invite a picnic, from local parks to national ones. So we thought we’d help narrow things down by finding the absolute best places to pack a picnic. Enjoy!
By: Jake Kilroy | Location: Glacier Point, Yosemite
Point Reyes National Seashore
Northern California’s dramatic and diverse coastline awaits! Whether you're beholding the curvy coast of Chimney Rock, overlooking Point Reyes Beach, or watching the Tule Elk roam at Tomales Point, there’s plenty to explore and no such thing as a bad picnic spot here. Afterward, put that food fuel to good use by wandering one of the many marine protected areas.click here for places to stay + things to do in the area
Yosemite Valley, California
If you want to feel like you're on another planet during your picnic, this is probably the spot. It's hard to believe we have the opportunity to sit down for a meal with such a view before us. Yosemite Valley is breathtaking and this particular view, with Half Dome and Yosemite Falls catching our attention, is sincerely one of the most mesmerizing spots in the country.
Your local tennis court!
You don’t need to live near a grand mountain range, a picturesque river, or a world-renowned park to have an unforgettable picnic. The best part of a picnic is that it turns just about anywhere into some place magical. As for one of our personal favorite moves, we suggest you pack a picnic to enjoy after a few games of tennis. It really hits the spot.
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park
An hour-long picnic here will feel like a week; that's how tranquil and relaxing it is. Settled on Casco Bay, this state park has more than 200 acres of gorgeous forest and rocky coastline. When you've had your fill of food, go for a hike or try birdwatching. The more you see of these protected lands, the merrier you’ll be.
Columbia River Gorge
Hood River, Oregon
This is one of the best examples of the Pacific Northwest’s powerful beauty and honestly is one of most epic spots imaginable for a picnic. Sit beneath the rich greens and blues of the Cascade Range and work up an appetite by hiking, biking, or watersports.
Mission Dolores Park
San Francisco, California
On a sunny day—not exactly a regular occurrence in The City By The Bay—you'll find plenty of fellow picnic-minded folk draped throughout the park. While there are courts for tennis and basketball, a soccer field, a kids’ playground, and a mini dog park, the epic attraction is of course the view. With the park's slopes, the grass works like an amphitheatre that offers an unobstructed view of downtown and the bay.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
Even when there's no concert at this spectacular outdoor venue, it still makes for one heck of a view. Just southwest of Denver, this unique, massive, and naturally formed space between huge vertical rocks provides an unforgettable sight of Red Rocks Park. It almost feels like a ride that doesn’t move. Just sit on one of the benches and enjoy the monumental landscape.
You get quite the view of Santa Monica Bay along with some pristine SoCal coastline here. The long bluff sticks out into the Pacific, ensuring that your picnic has a nice coastal breeze. You can later work off even the heaviest of picnics by rock climbing or strolling along the state beach (or Zuma Beach).
Hamilton Pool Preserve
Only a short drive out of Austin lands you at this wondrous protected natural habitat. Surrounded by woodland and accessible by a short hike, the jade pool features a rocky overhang that turns half of the popular watering hole into a grotto. With fern-swallowed cliffs and a mini waterfall of sorts, it's a hard spot to beat for a picnic.
Brooklyn, New York
The area known as DUMBO ("Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass") started evolving into a spirited neighborhood in last few decades of the 20th Century. In recent years, it’s become an especially charming community. Picnic by the water for one of the absolute best views of the New York skyline! If you’re still hungry afterward, you’ll find some quaint and delicious spots nearby.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Named for the colorful sandstone cliffs nearby, this picnic spot on the shore of Lake Superior is downright incredible. Its mix of naturally sculptured caves and arches make for a truly remarkable waterfront. You'll also find waterfalls, sand dunes, and plenty of thick forest to explore. A hike is definitely worth it, whether you do it to work up an appetite or burn off some picnic calories.
There are several reasons for Savannah being known as “The Hostess City of the South.” Its plethora of shady and cozy picnic spots is just one of them. Forsyth Park, Reynolds Square, Whitefield Square, and Wright Square are all lovely, shaded blocks surrounded by historic brick buildings. If you're aiming for a beach picnic, however, settle into the sand of Tybee Island and enjoy the coastline.
New York, New York
Even those who’ve never made it to the Big Apple have seen every angle of the most visited park in the country; thanks to countless movies and TV shows being shot at the iconic and festive park over the years. It will never stop being amazing to find hundreds of acres of refreshing foliage surrounded by the biggest, liveliest city in the world. It’s the most perfect oasis around.
At the end of the Alakai Swamp Trail, you'll find this jaw-dropping slice of high-up Heaven. Deep, enchanting shades of green cover the dynamic mountains that fill the vista all the way to the ocean. There may be no greener spot for a picnic. It will take your breath away.
Dig your toes into white sand and settle in for one of the most peaceful picnics you'll ever have. With a view of the rich blue waters of Western Lake or small turquoise waves lapping in from the Gulf of Mexico, it’s hard not to breathe easier here. The surrounding coastal dune lakes are much more rare than you think and you have the chance to claim them for an afternoon picnic.
It's likely that transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau had at least one picnic a day after he built his cabin here. How could he not? Each view of Walden Pond looks like a postcard. The best part is, after waiting 45 post-picnic minutes, you can go for a lovely summertime swim. Boating and hiking are also good to go!
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
In a city as strollable as Washington, DC, any park can feel like a stop-over. This one is really something to see though. With its magnificent fountain at the center and a varied plethora of sculptures to behold throughout, this park-meets-outdoor-art-gallery is an exceptional reason to pack a picnic and get out of the house.
Having a picnic on the banks of Blackfoot River is like snacking on a movie set. In fact, this is the river featured in the film A River Runs Through It. It’s not hard to see why with tall, green trees surround clear, flowing water with the sky bouncing off it. Plus, what’s better than having a picnic in the wild with your feet in cool river water on a summer’s day?
Crater Lake National Park
The Beaver State's only national park is pretty dang epic. For starters, you'll find the gorgeous blue lake in the leftovers of a destroyed volcano. Even though everywhere you turn in the park is a picture-perfect spot for a picnic, the park has a few official picnic areas—Annie Falls, Goodbye Creek, Lodgepole, Ponderosa Pine, and Lightning Spring, to name a few.
Beloved for rafting, tubing, and canoeing, the river runs right through spectacular Texas Hill Country. From Kerr County to the Gulf of Mexico, you have some supremely scenic spots for a picnic on these banks. Head’s up, though, there may be a number of people with a similar idea. It’s hard to beat Guadalupe River in the summer.
Coopers Rock State Forest
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia
While you can enjoy a picnic here on a break from hiking or rock climbing, the overlooks are undeniably where it's at. Whether you sit down to snack at Main Overlook or Raven Rock Overlook, you can see miles and miles of stunning landscape. It’s green and sparkling in the spring and summer, but it pops with fiery colors in fall.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Exploring the colorful insides of the Earth is a pretty exciting way to spend a day. Here, even the most casual of visitors can behold the majesty that lurks beneath the woodland surface. It’s nothing too strenuous and it makes for one of the most memorable activities around. The fact that it can be topped off with a picnic is sublime!