May 10, 2024 | Allison Robertson

The Best Picnic Destinations in All 50 States

What's better than a picnic in the park?

There’s nothing a mother loves more than a quiet, relaxing afternoon in the sun—well, except maybe her children.

If you’re looking for something to do with Mom this Mother’s Day, consider taking her for an afternoon picnic in a quiet park.

We’ve compiled a list of the best picnic spots in each state to give you some ideas.

family and view split image

Alabama: Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Immerse yourself in nature without leaving the big city. Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a lush, 67.5-acre park that is home to 12,000 different types of plants, more than 30 gardens, miles of walking paths, and other attractions.

Admission is free, and the gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk.

Pack a picnic lunch or grab a meal to go at The Gardens Café—located inside the garden gates.

image of birmingham botanical gardensRoger Kidd, Wikimedia Commons

Alaska: Wonder Lake Campground, Denali National Park

Hours away from Alaska’s major cities is Denali National Park and Preserve which boasts more than 6 million acres of glaciers, snowy crags, forest and tundra.

Pack a picnic and go for a hike, or pop in to Wonder Lake Campground and use one of their two cooking stations that offer a walk-in, bear-proof pantry and six covered picnic tables.

image from Wonder Lake, Denali National ParkSteve FUNG, Flickr

Arizona: Desert View Drive, Grand Canyon

Arizona has a plethora of scenic spots that are perfect for picnics, but Grand Canyon National Park tops the list.

If you want to avoid the crowds, pack a lunch and take a drive along Desert View Drive. It takes you 25 miles along the Canyon’s South Rim out to Desert View Watchtower. Enjoy the views and pull-offs along the way.

image of Desert View DriveTim Anderson, Flickr

Arkansas: Devil’s Den State Park

Devil’s Den is tucked deep inside Lee Creek Valley int eh Ozark’s Boston Mountains, and aside from several designated picnic spots, it offers 2,500-acres of wilderness that are popular for horseback riding, hiking, and kayaking.

Keep an eye out for Lee Creek’s stunning natural waterfalls.

image Devil's Den State ParkAR Nature Gal, Flickr

California: Point Dume State Beach

If you’re in California, pack a picnic and head to the rugged cliffs and golden sand at Point Dume Beach in Malibu.

On clear days, visitors are treated to a fantastic view of the entire Santa Monica Bay, the inland Santa Monica Mountains, and the distant Catalina Island.

image of Point Dume State BeachShinya Suzuki, Flickr

Colorado: The Maroon Bells, Elk Mountains

Located just 10 miles west of Aspen are two craggy peaks in the Elk Mountains that stand more than 14,000 feet over an alpine lake, known as the Maroon Bells.

This serene spot is said to be the most-photographed location in all of Colorado.

There’s a public picnic area, or sneak off the path and make your own spot. There’s no shortage of views in the Elk Mountains.

Landscape photography of The Maroon Bells, Elk MountainsLauri Sten, Flickr

Connecticut: Hammonasset Beach State Park

Hammonasset Beach State Park was named one of the best picnic spots in all of New England by Yankee magazine—and for good reason.

This two-mile stretch of beachfront park sits on a small chunk of land in the Long Island Sound, and is a prime location for watching the sun set.

There are public picnic areas with grills, public restrooms and concession stands.

image of Hammonasset Beach State Park at SunsetKarl Thomas Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Delaware: Alapocas Run State Park

Alapocas Run State Park is a great spot for those who are looking for relaxation with a side of adventure.

Aside from picnic areas with grills, the park includes a rock-climbing area, easy hiking trails, three sports fields, an inclusive playground, and the Blue Ball Barn which houses the Delaware Folk Art Collection.

image of Alapocas Run State ParkNate Hughes, Flickr

Florida: Castilla de San Marcos

Florida has several fantastic spots for a relaxing picnic, but if you’re looking for something more outside-the-box, the Castillo de San Marcos is a historic beauty with waterfront views.

Built in the late 1600s, it is the oldest masonry fort in North America.

The grassy lawn provides ample space for a picnic in the sun while you soak up some history and seaside views.

Castillo de San Marcos in St Augustine, FloridaBarbara Smyers, Shutterstock

Georgia: Rolater Park

A popular summer dining spot in Cave Spring, Georgia is the limestone cave that gave the town its name.

Check out the stalagmites, take in the views at the reflection pond, explore the historic buildings and enjoy a picnic in the pavilion.

image of Rolater Lakedaveynin, Flickr

Hawaii: Kualoa Beach Park

If you’re in Hawaii, check out Kualoa Beach Park— a scenic beach with calm water and picturesque cliffs and mountains that make it the ultimate picnic spot.

Full of history, this location also plays a role in several Hawaiian myths, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

image of Kualoa Beach ParkBob Linsdell, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Idaho: Discovery Unit, Lucky Peak State Park

Discover, a section of Lucky Peak State Park is the perfect place for a day away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.

With convenient amenities like grills, picnic tables, and public restrooms, it’s a top choice for nature viewing. Sit by the river and cast a line, or venture around the park for a swimming beach and boat launch.

Lucky Peak State Park and Boise River in IdahoVictoria Ditkovsky, Shutterstock

Illinois: Millenium Park

If you’re in Chicago and looking for an exciting afternoon walk, check out Millenium Park’s “bean” sculpture—a popular tourist photo-op.

Pick a nice spot on the grass to set up your picnic and enjoy a free concert in the park, or dip your feet in the small canals running through the perennial Lurie Garden.

image of Illinois: Millenium ParkWally Gobetz, Flickr

Indiana: Victory Field

For a sportier afternoon, you can set up your lunch on either the Corona Premier Patio or the Left Field Picnic Area as you watch Indianapolis's minor league baseball team, the Indians.

Be prepared to pay a bit for tickets, though.

image of Indiana: Victory, Shutterstock

Iowa: John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

For a more urban picnic, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park offers an incredible, eclectic display of 28 sculptures dotting the grounds from artists like Willem de Kooning and Louise Bourgeois—valued at over $40 million.

Pick a spot on the grassy field to set up your picnic, and enjoy a game of chess at one of the several chess tables throughout the park.

image of The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture ParkJason Mrachina, Flickr

Kansas: Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead

For a kid-friendly picnic hotspot, check out this replica family farm where you can enjoy a tour of the grounds, a petting zoo, a fishing pond, horse-drawn wagon rides, pony rides, and milking cows.

Check out the intriguing replica buildings on the ground, like the schoolhouse, bank and blacksmith shop.

The barn entrance to Deanna Rose Children's FarmsteadRachael Martin, Shutterstock

Kentucky: Kingdom Come State Park

Kingdom Come offers amazing views, sitting at an elevation of 2700 feet on Pine Mountain and overlooking unspoiled wilderness.

Set up a picnic lunch anywhere you please, but don’t forget to check out the state’s wildest rock formations, including Raven Rock—a nature-sculpted mass that stretches 290-feet into the sky.

image of scenic view at Kingdom Come State Parkanthony heflin, Shutterstock

Louisiana: New Orleans City Park

If you’re in Louisiana, take a blanket and pick a sunny spot in City Park, which offers a scenic lake, forests, historical canals, and much more.

image of New Orleans City ParkWally Gobetz, Flickr

Also on site is the New Orleans Botanical Garden, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, and many more attractions.

image of New Orleans Museum of ArtReading Tom, Flickr

Maine: Quoddy Head State Park

If you’re looking for a cliff-top picnic, this is the place to go. Quoddy Head allows visitors to survey Quoddy Channel—a body of water separating the U.S. and Canada.

Enjoy a picnic with views of humpback, finback, and mink whales that surface offshore, and head to the candy-striped lighthouse for fantastic photo-ops.

image of Quoddy Head State ParkVW Beetle, Flickr

Maryland: Patterson Park

Patterson Park is Baltimore’s oldest park, and the main attraction is the stunning Pagoda—a towering Victorian-era lookout that boasts stunning views of downtown.

Aside from picnicking in the pavilions, you can also take a swim, go ice-skating, or do some birdwatching.

image from Patterson ParkElvert Barnes, Flickr

Massachusetts: Smolak Farms

This family-run farm gives people the opportunity to reserve a picnic program that comes with food, drinks, dessert and a picnic blanket. Or, you can request permission to bring your own.

Aside from picnicking, Smolak offers a variety of activities from hay rides to American Girl doll tea parties.

Best part: Visitors can pick their own fresh apples, peaches, strawberries and gooseberries.

image from smolar farmsspablab, Flickr

Michigan: Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo offers several picnic tables throughout the grounds, allowing visitors to graze in between exhibits—making it a popular spot for an afternoon picnic with furry views.

image of a tiger in detroit zooMaia C, Flickr

Minnesota: Itasca State Park

Itasca State Park is a perfect spot for a quiet picnic lunch while admiring the start of one of the most famous rivers in the U.S.

It’s the perfect spot to sit and snack while the kids play in the water and you take in the views.

Mississippi Headwaters at Lake ItascaJasperdo, Flickr

Mississippi: Sculpture Garden at Delta State Park

For the artistic-minded people, an afternoon picnic in the Sculpture Garden is sure to impress. The garden features a rotating exhibition of sculptures along with its permanent collection.

It also hosts an annual contest that anyone can enter.

Vicksburg National Military ParkNina Alizada, Shutterstock

Missouri: Forest Park

St. Louis’s Forest Park is the ultimate picnic oasis hidden in the middle of the bustling city.

This former fair ground has tons of green space, as well as the St. Louis Zoo and a gorgeous glass-walled greenhouse called the Jewel Box.

image of forest park fountainsgobucks2, Flickr

Montana: Palisade Falls

If you’re looking for an easy hike with a stunning view, Palisade Falls is the place to go.

With plenty of wildflowers, a shady cover of spruce and fir trees, and the impressive 90-foot waterfall, this park offers accessible trails and an array of quiet spots of a scenic picnic.

image of Palisade FallsBen Miller, Flickr

Nebraska: World’s Largest Porch Swing

The tiny town of Hebron is home to one of the world’s largest porch swings. Located in a public park rather than a porch, this massive porch swing offers a fun spot to swing away the afternoon.

Enjoy a picnic on the grass, and let the kids play while you relax away the afternoon.

image of world Largest Porch SwingJimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr

Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park

Sneak away from the Vegas chaos and take in the incredible natural scenery in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park. 

Pack a picnic basket lunch to honor the prehistoric “Basket Maker” peoples who created much of the rock art that is still visible in the park today.

image of Valley of Fire State Park in NevadaKen Lane, flickr

New Hampshire: Rhododendron State Park

If you’re looking to dine amongst flowers, head over to New Hampshire’s Rhododendron State Park. 

This 16-acre park offers trails full of rhododendrons, with plenty of natural scenery and open spots of picnicking.

image of Rhododendron GardenRick Obst, Flickr

New Jersey: Van Saun County Park

Van Saun County Park offers so much more than picnic hot spots. Make a day of it and check out the park’s ball fields, playground, dog park, pony rides, carousel, and zoo.

There are several designated picnic areas to set up lunch or snacks in between attractions.

image of resting elksAdam Fagen, Flickr

New Mexico: White Sands National Monument

It you’re looking for more of a dramatic-view, White Sands national Monument is where you’ll find it.

Dunes Drive is a 16-mile round-trip route that winds into the dune fields. With various hikes along the way, and opportunities for dune sledding, be sure to pack a lunch and watch for the park’s futuristic looking picnic shelters—each one equipped with its own grill.

White Sands National Monument in the northern Chihuahuan DesertRobert Shea, Flickr

New York: Bear Mountain State Park

High up in the mountains overlooking the Hudson River, Bear Mountain State Park offers incredible views and a variety of things to do.

Enjoy leisurely hikes along the nature trails, rent a boat, or go swimming before spreading out a blanket for a sunny afternoon picnic.

image of Bear mountain parkDaniel Mennerich, Flickr

North Carolina: Bear Island

Bear Island is only reachable by boat, which makes it the ultimate picnic hotspot for water-lovers.

Check out the island’s fishing and swimming spots, rent a kayak or canoe, or relax with a snack and watch the waves.

image of Bear Islandmogollon_1, Flickr

North Dakota: Icelandic State Park

History and nature buffs alike will enjoy an afternoon at Icelandic State Park, which boasts restored historic buildings, the Pioneer Heritage Center, and a riverside nature preserve that is a sanctuary for plants, birds, and wildlife.

Have a picnic under the old oak trees and enjoy the natural beauty.

Deep hollow in the trunk of the ancient oak treeAnton Verbilo, Shutterstock

Ohio: Huntington Beach

For someone who just wants to sit quietly with a snack, head over to Huntington Beach and enjoy a picnic in Bay Village on Lake Erie.

If you don’t want to pack your own, grab some snacks from The Noshery. Pick a bench overlooking the scenic view and enjoy your quiet afternoon.

image of Huntington BeachHeather McLaughlin, Flickr

Oklahoma: Guthrie Green

Guthrie Green in Tulsa is a community gathering space with a large lawn, a garden, tree-lined paths, shady shelters, and a performance space.

Check out the Green’s calendar and plan your picnic to match up with one their concerts, events or food truck festivals.

Museum and 23 Acre Garden in Tulsa, Oklahomascottyvo, Flickr

Oregon: Hoyt Arboretum

Tucked in the urban landscape of Portland is every nature lover’s dream—the Hoyt Arboretum. Washington Park’s “museum of living trees” is home to 6000 tree specimens.

After enjoying a scenic hike, stop for a picnic under the Stevens Pavilion Picnic Shelter which provides a dozen picnic tables under a large A-frame roof that is surrounded by a grove of Douglas firs.

Sign at the entrance to the Hoyt ArboretumRon Southern, Shutterstock

Pennsylvania: Ringing Rocks State Park

If you’re looking for a picnic with a side of musical entertainment, Ringing Rocks State Park is it. The area is often filled with the sounds of people striking hammers against the park’s intriguing echoing boulders—hence the name “Ringing Rocks.”

As well, visitors are encouraged to check out the park’s waterfall, and head over to the Homestead Coffee Roasters and general store down the street for ice cream and deli sandwiches.

image of Ringing Rocks Park in Bucks CountyGavin M. Roy, Flickr

Rhode Island: Beavertrail State Park

Beavertrail State Park is famous for its stunning coastal views.

After exploring the historic lighthouses and miles of hiking trails, lay out a blanket for a seaside picnic along the park’s rocky shoreline and take in the views.

image of Beavertail State ParkClara S. Flickr

South Carolina: Angel Oak Park

On the edge of the charming town of Charleston, is the impressive Angel Oak tree that has been growing for at least 300-500 years.

Not only is it a must-see landmark, but it is known as one of the best picnic hotspots of the area with the 17,000 square-feet of shade beneath its canopy.

Image of the Angel Oak Treeslworking2, Flickr

South Dakota: Black Hills National Forest

One of the state’s best-known destinations for natural beauty is Black Hills National Forest, which offers plenty of picnic spots surrounded by impressive natural beauty.

The Strawberry Picnic Ground on Strawberry Hill offers picnic tables, grills, a fire ring, and a path to a small pond.

image of Entering Black Hills National ForestJ. Stephen Conn, Flickr

Tennessee: Cumberland Park

Cumberland Park in Nashville offers an array of activities for a fun-filled afternoon. Boasting a climbing wall, a walking path, an amphitheater, and two water-spurting “spraygrounds”, visitors can picnic anywhere in the grassy park in between activities.

Watch the calendar for a number of free music events, from jazz concerts to full moon parties.

The Canopy and Lawn at Nashville's new Cumberland ParkBrent Moore, Flickr

Texas: Blue Hole Regional Park

On a hot Texas afternoon, Blue Hole is where you’ll want to be. The cool, crystal-clear waters of the swimming hole are perfect for taking a dip while enjoying a sunny picnic under the shade of the cypress trees.

image of Blue Hole Regional ParkNan Palmero, Flickr

Utah: Antelope Island State Park

With over 28,000-acres, Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, and home to one of the largest free-roaming herds of bison in the U.S.

Packed with swimming spots, picnic tables, horseback riding, and hiking trails—this is the ultimate destination for an afternoon getaway surrounded by nature and wildlife.

image of Antelope Island State ParkJacqueline Poggi, Flickr

Vermont: Hildene

If you’re in Vermont and looking for a scenic picnic spot hidden in American history, Hildene in Manchester is unmatched.

The historic home was occupied by members of Abraham Lincoln’s family under 1975.

Visitors can tour the home and picnic among the stunning gardens around the property, or at the picnic tables near the visitor’s center.

image of Manchester Village, VermontLEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES, Shutterstock

Virginia: First Landing State Park

With 19 miles of hiking and biking trails, swimming and boating spots, and tons of wooded areas and beaches, First Landing State Park is another popular picnicking hotspot.

It also features a beautiful diverse mix of subtropical and temperate plants to be appreciated.

image of First Landing State ParkVirginia State Parks, Flickr

Washington: Gas Works Park

While this may seem like a strange place for a picnic, the grounds of the abandoned factory in Seattle’s Gas Works Park offers and interesting charm of nature and urban decay.

With vast green lawns and a stunning view of the Seattle waterfront, this park is a refuge from the city. Spread out a blanket, or use one of the grills in the designated picnic area for a lovely afternoon lunch.

image from Gas Works ParkSeattle Parks and Recreation, Flickr

West Virginia: Summersville Lake

Summersville Lake boasts 60-miles of shoreline, scenic cliff faces and lush forests, and has been dubbed, “The Little Bahamas of the East” by scuba divers.

With its four large picnic shelters, it’s an ideal spot for a picnic followed by a swim in its clear waters and warm temperatures.

image of Summersville LakeRandom Michelle, Flickr

Wisconsin: Picnic Point

Located in the Lakeshore nature Preserve at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Picnic Point gets its name for a reason.

The nearly mile-long peninsula that juts out into the blue waters of Lake Mendota boasts an array of plant and animal life, and offers plenty of fire pits and benches tailoring to family picnics.

image from picnic point at lake mendotaNicolás Boullosa, Flickr

Wyoming: Mirror Lake

And finally, if you’re in Wyoming, pack a picnic lunch and head over to Mirror Lake where you can spend the afternoon overlooking the lake’s clear waters.

Cast a fishing line, dip your feet in the water, or enjoy one of the numerous hiking trails for a relaxing day trip.

image of Grand Teton National Park, WyomingLynn Yeh, Shutterstock


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