5 Great Places to Picnic in Washington, D.C.

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Washington, D.C.

National Arboretum

A free living museum with azaleas, lilacs, trees, shrubs, and plants of a wide variety. This entire park is a carefully crafted celebration of nature and the ideal place for picnicking in Washington, D.C. You can enjoy a long walk through the various gardens, learn about the local plant life, stop in the museum or visit the tropical conservatory. The Grove of State Trees Picnic Area is a great spot for picnicking. You will be amazed by how many hidden gems there are to find in the National Arboretum whether they be wildflowers, tucked away pathways or gazebos, or a still pool in front of soaring Corinthian Columns more resemblant of Ancient Greece or Rome than the United States. 

The Bishop’s Garden

One of the best natural refuges in Washington, D.C. Just South of Washington National Cathedral is a garden that was private long ago but is now free and open to the public. The garden’s design was inspired by medieval walled gardens and features a gazebo, stone pathways, lush foliage, terraced landscaping, and small water features. You step into The Bishop’s Garden and out of the city – the Garden is its own private world with only the high steeples of the Cathedral in view as a reminder of the outside world. 

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Follow boardwalks over marshes and ponds and watch for frogs jumping across lily pads. Keep your eye out for cattails and lotuses in bloom or try to listen for birdsong through gardens. Very few cities have an Aquatic Garden to explore, and Kenilworth is truly something special. You can travel by canoe along the marsh, stop at a bench along the trails, or picnic near blooming lotus flowers. The entire park shows nature at its finest whether you’re on the boardwalk or the open fields of the larger Kenilworth Park.

West Potomac Park

Ready for a picnic with some of the most iconic landmarks and monuments in the United States in the background? Then, it’s time to head to West Potomac Park. The Rock Creek Trail takes you alongside the Potomac River past memorials to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Ericsson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Near the Ohio Drive bridge, on the Rock Creek Trail, you can stop beneath a flowering tree and look across the water to see the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument. The West Potomac Park is far less busy than the East Potomac side which makes it perfect for picnicking amid the famous monuments of Washington, D.C.

The Yards Park

A downtown park on the Anacostia River. The Yards Park has open lawns, a pool, a waterfall, and dancing fountains. At night, the lights surrounding the pool glow with different colors. During the day and evening the park is often used as a performance venue as it is near the heart of Downtown D.C. This is a fantastic, bustling city park with plenty of restaurants and shops nearby to grab some food before lounging in the park.

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5 Great Place to Have a Picnic Near Times Square (NYC)

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic near Times Square in New York City.

Central Park

The most famous New York City Park, by far, but for good reason, which is why Central Park makes this list. It is iconic. It is also extremely large and centrally located, making it ideal for picnics. There are several places in Central Park where you will run into more tourists and crowds. Bethesda Fountain is one of those places. Although it is gorgeous, it is hard to picnic near the fountain. The area surrounding the Zoo and Wollman Rink is also usually crowded. 

Sheep Meadow and The Great Lawn are famous picnic locations. They can be crowded but have amazing views of the Park and the NYC Skyline. It’s worth a shot to attempt a picnic here, and if you can find a spot for yourself the picnic will be perfect. You can also head to Arthur Ross Pinetum for a quieter spot with picnic tables or wander even further to the North Meadow or East Meadow (vast expanses perfect for picnics).

Bryant Park

Bryant Park is the closest park to Times Square. It is also a beloved, historic New York City Park. Bryant Park is home to the NY Public Library’s main branch (a stunningly beautiful building worth visiting). But behind the library is the reason this park makes the Top 5 list – 4 acres of open green space perfect for a picnic on the grass. However, if you don’t feel like taking a picnic blanket along, there are also plenty of small tables and chairs on the walkways at the edges of the park. No matter what picnicking mood you’re in, Bryant Park has you covered. And I always recommend stopping in the library first for some excellent reading material while you lounge in the sun.

Lorraine Hansberry Park

A few blocks West of Times Square is the charming, little park perfect for afternoon picnics with the kids. There is a large playground as well as basketball and handball courts. You can enjoy the shade under dozens of trees as well as the semi-privacy they provide. This park is not designed for picnic blankets and baskets, but there are benches and picnic tables everywhere. It is a fabulous spot for spending an afternoon at the park with the family and is rarely crowded.

Rockefeller Center/Plaza

Picnicking in Rockefeller Center/Plaza is an entirely unique experience. Stopping here for a bite to eat is not your typical picnic, because this is not a park with grassy lawns or picnic pavilions under large oak trees. Rockefeller Center is a bustling tourist attraction in NYC, but if you enjoy the excitement, then picnicking at one of the small tables in the Center or on a bench in the Plaza is a wonderful experience. And you never know if someone famous might walk by.

745 Plaza (Public Plaza)

A few blocks North of Times Square is this fabulous haven. This little nook was clearly designed to be enjoyed as a picnic spot. Tables and chairs fill this plaza where shade is provided by the nearby skyscrapers and the trees amid beds of flowers. Benches line the outside of the plaza for additional seating. It is typically easy to find a place to sit. Picnicking at 745 Plaza feels like enjoying a popular outdoor café but with more greenery and less crowds.

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5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Seattle, WA

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Seattle.

Gas Works Park

What I love about Gas Works Park is that it is located on the site of a former oil plant. What was once a factory is now a 20 acre city park on the edge of Lake Union, with dramatic and sweeping views of the city. The park itself is primarily an open lawn of rolling hills. Pathways wind through the park, up and down the hills. All of the open space is ideal for spreading out on a picnic blanket and enjoying the sun with the breeze coming off of the lake. Remains of the old Oil Refinery have been repurposed as a large, architectural art piece for the park and give the whole park a Steampunk vibe. It is an utterly unique and beautiful place.

Washington Park Arboretum

Enjoy 230 acres of pristine nature. There are gardens of nearly every variety – filled with Azaleas, Japanese Maples, and lush woodland trees. Take a bike ride or kayak along Duck Bay before stopping for lunch. I also highly recommend following Foster Point Trail, stopping to picnic wherever you feel, whether its alongside Duck Bay or at a park bench in a grove of trees. Washington Park Arboretum is a stunning, quiet, and restorative place to picnic.

Alki Beach Park

An historic park on the East side of Seattle. Picnic tables line the beach with views over Puget Sound. You can follow the walking trails all the way up and down the park or stop for a volleyball game on the water. There are also several restaurants in the area if you don’t feel like packing your own picnic lunch. Alki Beach Park makes for a perfect day on the water, relaxing on the beach, and is a true treasure of Seattle.

Seward Park

300 acres of wooded forest in East Seattle. The park covers the entire area of Bailey Peninsula that juts out onto Lake Washington. Seward Park is a phenomenal place to visit because it feels like a true haven, a world of wooded trails and lakeside beaches that look out on the city and mountains in the distance. You can picnic in the pavilions along the trails or stop at the lakeside for fishing, swimming, and eating.

Kerry Park

One of the small, neighborhood parks of Seattle. What Kerry Park lacks in space it makes up for with dramatic, panoramic views of Downtown Seattle. From the top of Kerry Park, you can see the Space Needle, Elliot Bay, and mountains in the distance. Many people opt for an evening picnic on the grassy space of Kerry Park so they can enjoy the sunset over Downtown Seattle.

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5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in San Francisco, CA

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Park

One of the best known parks in San Francisco, it is also one of the largest at over 1,000 acres. However, even though the park is extremely popular and can be crowded with visitors and locals, it is also a fabulous place for a picnic. Hellman Hollow (in the center of the park, just off John F Kennedy Drive) is a beautiful open field with picnic tables and trees of all varieties surrounding it. I also recommend Strawberry Hill, Stow Lake, and Mother’s Meadow if you’re looking to picnic in Golden Gate Park.

Fort Funston

A park spread across the 200-ft bluffs on the Gulf of the Farallones. Visitors to this park enjoy hang-gliding, hiking or horseback riding over the trails, and lounging on the beach. Picnicking on the top of the bluff (in the grassy areas or on the sand) is an unforgettable experience. The views of the ocean beyond and the coastline to the North and South are all you could want while enjoying a good meal.

Mission Dolores Park

A neighborhood hotspot with large expanses of green grass and some of the best views of the San Francisco skyline. There are tennis courts and a playground in the park as well, and a center oasis lined with palm trees and a picturesque bridge. But the best part of Dolores Park is how much space there is for picnicking on the rolling hills of the park.  

Bernal Heights Park

In a city famous for steep hills, it comes as no surprise that the best parks in the city are hillside parks. Walk to the top of Bernal Heights for overwhelming, panoramic views of San Francisco. A city park should feel like an escape into nature and Bernal Heights Park provides that by taking you high above the city. And at the top of the hill is my favorite part of the park – a tree swing hung from the largest tree overlooking the city. In between bites from your picnic basket, you can take a swing over the city.

Yerba Buena Gardens

Two blocks of city park in the cultural heart of San Francisco, Yerba Buena Gardens is a special place. The lawns are well cared for with a large waterfall at one end of the park and colorful gardens throughout it. Public art pieces are on display and rotated constantly. The East Garden is home to a cascading fountain perfect for a waterside picnic, while the shaded trees near the Reflection Garden make for a fantastic, peaceful picnic.

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5 Great Places to Picnic in Salt Lake City, UT

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Salt Lake City.

Sugar House Park

Sugar House Park is large, and it is green. You can follow the trail along Parleys Creek to the Lake for a wonderful nature walk, visit the playground, or play lawn games on the open grass of the park. But the best part is that almost wherever you go in Sugar House Park you are sure to see snowcapped mountains looming in the distance. The park is also home to a large number of picnic pavilions, like Hidden Grove Pavilion or Parleys Creek Pavilion. You can take your pick from these designated areas or spread a blanket on the meadow near the lake. 

Liberty Park

A landmark site in Salt Lake City, Liberty Park has everything you could want for a day outside. You can take a paddleboat on the lake, paddling alongside ducks and looking for fish. Take a walk through the Aviary and Botanic Gardens, play tennis, or go crazy on the playground. Liberty Park is also home to a Farmer’s Market. The best places for picnicking are beside the lake or just north of it.

Memory Grove Park

A different type of park to picnic in, because of its proximity to the Utah State Capitol Building. Memory Grove Park is a landscaped, scenic park with fountains and monuments to catch your eye. If you follow the Freedom Trail along City Creek you are sure to find several fantastic places to lay out your picnic blanket.

Red Butte Garden

A Garden made for exploration and enjoyment. As you walk among the incredible scenery you’ll stumble across hidden alcoves, benches, and picnic tables. You’ll definitely work up an appetite exploring the botanical gardens of Red Butte, but that makes it an even more perfect picnic location. At the North end of the Garden is a stunning amphitheater which frequently holds concerts for the city. Although there is an entrance fee to Red Butte, you’ll fall in love with the beauty and the thrill of finding all the secret pathways and alcoves (several of which are prime picnic spots).

Millcreek Canyon

This park offers picnic sites along a charming creek in a gorgeous canyon of the Wasatch Forest. You can choose to hike on one of the trails leading up the mountains, or picnic at the bottom with forest and stream views as well as epic mountain views. Millcreek makes the Top 5 Picnic Spots because it is usually a quiet park, not too busy, with great picnic areas. 

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5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Sacramento, CA

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Sacramento.

McKinley Park

A beloved Sacramento park. You can walk through the colorful Rose Garden, sit down with a book alongside Lake Kiesel, or go for a swim in the public pool before sitting down at a picnic table. Families and kids can also enjoy the playground, tennis courts, or basketball courts. All of these activities are part of the reason McKinley Park is so popular in Sacramento, and the reason is a great place for a day in the sun enjoying a great picnic.

California State Capitol Park

Located in front of the California State Capitol Building, this park is highly landscaped with plenty to see while walking through it. There are monuments and memorials along the paths and a Victorian-style Rose Garden and Pavilion. Flowering trees on the open meadows outside the Rose Garden make for excellent shade when picnicking. Any spot you pick in the park, whether It’s on a blanket in an open grassy field or on a park bench, you will have a great view of Downtown Sacramento.

Nimbus Flat Recreation Area

A riverside park along the American River. There are long bike and walking trails throughout the park and a beautiful view of the hills across the river. The Nimbus Dam is also in view of the park. Many visitors enjoy swimming, kayaking, and setting up lawn chairs or blankets on the beach along the river. The back parking lot also has a large open picnic area. Overall, the park is peaceful and the perfect place for a day on the water and a large, delicious picnic.

Ancil Hoffman Park

Just East of Sacramento is Ancil Hoffman Park, a Riverfront Preserve. Stop in at the Nature Center upon arrival for wonderful information on the local wildlife and plant life. Designated picnic sites with grills are available throughout the park. They are nestled under ancient oak trees that fill the whole park with a sense of beauty and peace. 

Discovery Park

A winding park that sits where the American River meets the Sacramento River. Like many of the other great parks in Sacramento, the river is a central focus and creates much of the charm of the park. An archery range can also be found in this park, for anyone looking for a unique outdoor activity. The 32-mile bike trail is the best part of Discovery Park. A bike ride followed by a picnic in the shade near the river is the best way to enjoy Discovery Park. 

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5 Great Place to Have a Picnic in Raleigh/Durham, NC

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Raleigh or Durham.

Raleigh Rose Garden

A beautiful, traditionally landscaped garden with a wide variety of roses. Stone pathways traipse through the garden, fountains provide elegant focal points in the center of the garden, and vine-wrapped pergolas make for some shade as you walk around. This garden is tranquil and not so overcrowded with flowers or landscaping that you feel overwhelmed by it. Pause for a picnic on the steps of the Louise “Scottie” Stephenson Amphitheatre which overlooks the garden.

JC Raulston Arboretum

Arboretums are usually phenomenal places to picnic because they are well-designed and full of greenery. This living museum has plant life from nearly every climate in the world, but the best parts are the benches and picnic tables scattered along the paths of the Arboretum. There are even plenty of fields for an open picnic where you can play catch with the frisbee or football.

Dorothea Dix Park

There is no other park so classically setup for picnics as Dorothea Dix Park. The majority of the park is a vast, open lawn with the occasional tree for shade. The space is perfect for picnics in the sun, with lawn games and more than enough room to spread out and enjoy oneself. In the summer, Dorothea Dix Park becomes extra special when the field of sunflowers blooms. 

William B. Umstead State Park

This park boasts over 5,000 acres of woodlands with three manmade fishing lakes. There is so much to explore that visiting the park can feel overwhelming but is hard to go wrong. Picnic Pavilions are located nearly everywhere, and benches can be found along the trails. The lakes have walking trails and open grass areas to stop, sit and eat. Or you can follow Sycamore Trail and choose to picnic on the large rocks along Sycamore Creek, watching the water rush by you.

Eno River State Park

Much like William Umstead Park, Eno River State Park is vast. It is filled with woodland trails, bridges, and many rocks over the river to climb on. Many people opt to canoe along Eno River, stopping for lunch when they find a landing site along the way. You can also picnic on the lawn near the historic Piper-Cox House. Be sure not to miss the suspension bridge (also known as the Eno River Pedestrian Bridge) for a fun start to your hike. 

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5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Queens, NY

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Queens, NY.

Astoria Park

An extremely beloved and popular park in Queens, NY. A good portion of its popularity as a park comes from its location on the East River – Astoria Park has views of both the East River and the famous NYC Skyline. It is perfect if you are looking for a picnic with a traditional NYC view. It is also one of the best designed parks in the city and excellent for a recreational day followed by a picnic. There are tennis courts, a swimming pool, a running track, playgrounds, and a skate park. South Hill is one of the best spots to spread a picnic blanket. You could also choose to eat lunch on a bench along the river watching the waves, the passersby, and the NYC Skyline.

Forest Park

Forest Park lives up to its name. It is large and full of wooded hiking trails and groves of trees that you can picnic under. It is also home to Seuffert Bandshell, a small pond, tennis courts, playgrounds, a Golf Course, and more. This park is lush and a true haven from the crowds of New York City. I recommend giving yourself plenty of time to wander through the park before deciding where to set up your picnic. 

Cunningham Park

This park is where you go to play and to eat. Cunningham Park has multiple, wonderful sports fields as well as several playgrounds and a dog park. It is fun for the whole family or your whole group of friends. There is a designated Picnic Area near the Tennis Courts, but I recommend taking a stroll along the trails first or heading to the lawn across the road from the Picnic Area. Cunningham makes the Top 5 because it is large, filled with activities, and full of gorgeous, open green spaces.

Hunter’s Point South Park

Take a walk along the riverfront promenade at Hunter’s Point South Park. You’ll see benches of many different styles, flower beds, docks that head out over the river, and flowering trees for shade. Next to the promenade is a wonderful, open green space for recreation and relaxation. This park is a fabulous choice for a late afternoon/early evening picnic, so you can watch the sun setting over the New York City Skyline. 

Gantry Plaza State Park

Just North of Hunter’s Point is this riverfront park. The park is made up of four piers with iconic views of the Manhattan Skyline. Over the years, the Long Island Sign has also become a staple feature of Gantry Plaza Park. This park has a wonderful urban feel to it and is designed primarily to connect you to the water and the views over the river. Picnic tables are available in front of the Rainbow Playground, or you can find a bench on the dock, or spread out on the open lawn that can be found on the largest of the four piers.

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5 Great Places to Picnic in Portland, OR

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Portland.

Tanner Springs Park

A fantastic, unique park in the Pearl District of Portland. The park is situated on former wetlands, and has boardwalks that take you over the water where you can see lotus flowers and lily pads and more. Across from these wetlands is an open grassy area with several trees and benches for picnicking. The park is smaller, but normally not too crowded. One of the most unique features of the park is the wall which runs along one side of it. The wall is made from railroad tracks and hand-painted glass. So, a visit to Tanner Springs Park for a picnic feels special – the artistry of both nature and humanity is on full display. 

Council Crest Park

Built in 1937, this hilltop park has become a beloved landmark in Portland. At the top of the hill, you are treated to panoramic views of the city and the snow capped mountain in the distance. On the way to the top, you’ll follow fun wooded trails with secret alcoves of benches. The top of the hill is the best place for picnicking, either on the open field or on a bench near the edge, overlooking everything.

Mt Tabor Park

Mt Tabor Park covers a large area East of Portland. It sits on an extinct volcano and is covered in a beautiful forest of towering pines. There are picnic pavilions in the groves of trees, like secret places tucked away. There are two large reservoirs if you prefer a lakeside picnic. The Mt Tabor Stairs (either North or South) are a fabulous attraction as well. If you can make the climb, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views. Mt Tabor East Picnic Area is another excellent place to stop because it sits above the city and has clear views of the mountains in the distance.

Washington Park 

One of the largest, most popular parks in Downtown Portland. Washington Park is home to the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, Rose Garden, and Japanese Garden as well as several other meadows and gardens. You will never be at a loss for scenery to marvel at or to picnic near. Some of the best places to picnic are near the playground, the Secret Garden, at the Stevens Pavilion Picnic Shelter near Hoyt Arboretum, or on the Big Meadow.

Laurelhurst Park

An absolutely stunning and rich oasis just East of Downtown Portland. You can charm the ducks on the pond or walk the trails sheltered by lush trees. The park is dog-friendly and has a playground, so it is the perfect getaway for the whole family.

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5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Phoenix, AZ

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Phoenix.

Granada Park

Puescana Lake and Pholx Lake cover a large portion of Granada Park. Settling yourself next to them for a picnic offers lovely water views with palm trees and mountains towering in the distance. There are several picnic facilities, a playground, and tennis courts at the park as well. The majority of Granada Park is open land with trees dotted throughout for shade, making nearly every portion of the park a great place to picnic.

Papago Park

One of the largest parks near Phoenix, home to the Phoenix Zoo and Botanical Garden as well as the famous Hole in the Rock Formation. Papago is perfect for hiking and picnicking. Hiking up to the Hole in the Rock Formation can be difficult with the rocks and elevation, but the trails are well-marked and the view at the top is incredible. There are also covered picnic tables near the zoo and the bottom of several hiking trails that offer fantastic views of the Rock Formations throughout the park.

Steele Indian School Park

A well landscaped park with a large pond at the center. The Circle of Life monument, surrounded by three historic buildings from the old Phoenix Indian School, is one of the must-see sights in this park. 24 interpretive columns depict the history of the school and a poem on the water cistern at the center explains the Native American design of the park. Its picnic facilities are beautiful, nestled under ramadas. Overall, the park is stunning and carefully designed, full of rich history and rich nature.  

South Mountain Park and Preserve

A 16,000 acre park with fabulous trails up and down the mountain. And, it you’re looking for stunning views and a mountain top picnic, but don’t want to walk the long trails, there is a drivable road to a lookout with city views. Some of the great places to stop for a picnic and a picture are Dobbins Lookout, Holbert Lookout, and Piedras Grandes Picnic Ground. 

North Mountain Park

The crowning jewels of this park are two summit peaks that offer dramatic views of the city and wild landscape of Arizona for as far as the eye can see. At the bottom of the mountain are picnic tables and along the trails there are several benches to stop for a rest or a bite to eat. Whether you’re at the bottom of the mountain or the summit, the scenery of this park cannot be missed. 

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