The Best Picnic Spot in Every State

Updated: Apr. 05, 2024

Bring out the picnic baskets! These 50 best picnic spots will inspire you to enjoy a nosh in nature.

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Fun At A Family Bbq best picnic spot
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Where do the most memorable meals take place? Often on benches, blankets and basic ol’ grass. That’s especially true when waterfalls, sand dunes and the occasional castle are within view, as is the case in this roundup of the best picnic spot in every state. Yes, there’s nothing like fresh air and stunning scenery to up the excitement of a basket full of favorite summer picnic recipes.

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"Pre-Waterfall" and a Dam.
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DeSoto State Park, Fort Payne

DeSoto State Park is a gift to anyone who wants to see the main attraction, but also doesn’t want to stress over keeping the cooler light. The parkway, picnic area and waterfall are all within the same area here, so there’s no need to worry about a long hike.

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Bartlett River Hiking Trail
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Bartlett River Trail, Glacier Bay National Park

Work up an appetite as you wander through a spruce-hemlock rainforest along Bartlett River Trail in Glacier Bay National Park. Where the path leaves the forest and opens to meadow and river views, you’ll find the ideal place to unpack your picnic. You might even spot local otters, moose, eagles and seals enjoying a snack of their own.

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Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, Grandview Point With Blue Sky In Background
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Grandview Point, Grand Canyon National Park

“Grand” doesn’t even begin to describe the panoramic perspective at Grandview Point. You’ll get an eyeful of the Grand Canyon, plus a peek at the Colorado River. The site has restrooms and picnic tables, plus it’s wheelchair accessible. As for what to eat, these picnic recipes should provide plenty of inspiration.

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best picnic spot Pinnacle Mountain State Park


Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Little Rock

For peak picnicking (in more ways than one), Arkansas has Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The area’s namesake mountain rises 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River and has two hiking trails to its summit. Don’t want your sandwich with a side of altitude? No worries. The West Summit trailhead has a picnic area and pavilion.

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A shot of the purple manganese garnet sand crystals from Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, CA
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Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur

Pack plums, grapes or other purple foods to match your surroundings at Pfeiffer Beach. Here, the sand takes on a purple hue, thanks to manganese garnet deposits that wash down the beach. Plan for extra cruising time before and after your meal—driving California’s iconic Highway 1 is half the fun of any Big Sur visit.

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best picnic spot san sophia overlook


San Sophia Ridge, Telluride

Soak up Telluride’s views without breaking a sweat by riding the gondola up to San Sophia Ridge, where you can set up your spread. Even better, skip meal prep by grabbing sandwiches to go ahead of time at Cindybread or The Butcher & the Baker in town.

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Gillette Castle
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Gillette Castle State Park, East Haddam

Give your lunch an air of aristocracy by picnicking near Gillette Castle. What looks like a medieval fortress actually dates back to 1914 and was built by actor William Gillette, who is best remembered for playing Sherlock Holmes. Do your best detective impressions as you try to deduce what’s in the picnic basket:”Egg salad, my dear Watson!”

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Trap Pond State Park
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Trap Pond State Park, Laurel

Paddle out to enjoy a floating picnic at Trap Pond State Park. Take your pick of water crafts: Canoes, kayaks, pedal boats and rowboats are all available to rent here in the summer. And while you’re enjoying lunch, you may want to start working on dinner—Trap Pond has been called one of the top 100 bass fishing lakes in the country.

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Fort Desoto Park Beach
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Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde

With 1,350 miles of coastline, the beach is a prime place to picnic in the Sunshine State. And Fort De Soto Park, which is made up of five islands, is no slouch in the sand department. In this kid-friendly area you’ll find long swaths of white sand, multiple playgrounds, a historic fort and 15 picnic shelters—perfect for a kid-friendly picnic.

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Lake Blue Ridge with a cloud handing in the blue ridge mountains
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Lake Blue Ridge, Blue Ridge

For picnicking pairs, dining alfresco at Lake Blue Ridge sets the mood. Whip up a tasty supper of picnic recipes for two, like chicken quinoa bowls and Sweetheart Slaw. Then, grab a table with water views in the park’s day use area and stay for sunset.

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Long exposure of the Waimea Waterfall on Oahu
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Waimea Valley, Haleiwa

Here’s how to spice up a sandwich and potato chips: Eat them beside a waterfall. At Waimea Valley, a 1-mile stroll through lush botanical gardens leads to a 45-foot waterfall. Take a dip, then enjoy your lunch. Little ones can even join, as the path is paved.

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Castleton Tower (Castle Rock) and The Priest and Nuns atop Round Mountain in Utah's Castle Valley near Moab
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Castle Rocks State Park, Almo

Make like ancient man and eat outside at Castle Rocks State Park. Evidence suggests that humans have been visiting the area for 9,000 years. And once you see the breathtaking landscape—with its dramatic rock formations—you’ll understand why. The park has a picnic shelter with a charcoal grill—one advantage you’ll have over those old-school tourists.

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LaSalle Waterfall located at Starved Rock Illinois State Park.
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LaSalle Canyon, Starved Rock State Park

Waterfalls aren’t only reserved for tropical destinations. At Starved Rock State Park you’ll find multiple cascades right in the Midwest. The hike to LaSalle Canyon is about two miles from the visitor’s center, but the unique opportunity to picnic behind a waterfall is worth the trek.

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View of Lake Michigan over the dunes at Indiana Dunes National Park
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West Beach, Indiana Dunes National Park

Pack floaties and a beach picnic (Bomb Pop Cookies, anyone?) for a summer afternoon at West Beach in Indiana Dunes National Park. Lifeguards are on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and you’ll find eight picnic shelters here. After you eat, tackle Dune Succession Trail, with its 270 steps and sweeping Lake Michigan views.

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Roseman Covered Bridge, Madison County, Iowa, Usa
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Bridges of Madison County, Winterset

Fans of both finger foods and love stories will appreciate an alfresco meal near the Bridges of Madison County. Yes, these cinematic overpasses are the ones from the Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep movie. If you can’t decide which one to visit, Roseman Bridge won’t disappoint. Something else that’ll make your heart race: Picnic Fried Chicken.

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best picnic spot Thompson Park West Entrance Strang Carriage House Sign Web


Thompson Park, Overland Park

Splash pads go with picnics like peanut butter goes with jelly. Enjoy it all at Thompson Park, which recently received a $3.6 million renovation (the area used to be called Santa Fe Commons). You might also catch live music at the bandstand, which is shaped like a paper airplane as a nod to the site’s former use as an airfield.

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A section of the reconstructed Fort Harrod, Old Fort Harrod State Park, Kentucky, USA, circa 1960. (Photo by Harvey Meston/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
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Old Fort Harrod State Park, Harrodsburg

Here’s a site for both nature and history buffs. Old Fort Harrod State Park is home to an 18th-century fort, the log cabin where Abe Lincoln’s parents were married, and the country’s largest Osage orange tree. Plus, the picnic area behind the amphitheater is a prime place for bird watching.

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View of a great white egret in the Cypress Island Nature Preserve at Lake Martin, outside Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, USA.
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Cypress Island Preserve, between Breaux Bridge and Lafayette

Feast your eyes on roseate spoonbills, yellow-crowned herons and egrets in this bird lover’s sanctuary, then chow down in the picnic pavilion. In addition to adequate outdoor seating, Cypress Island Preserve has 9,500 acres of protected land, including hardwood forests and cypress swampland with a boardwalk.

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View From Top Of Cadillac Mountain
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Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Sunrise is a popular time to soak up the views at Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the U.S.. Kick off the day with a morning meal inspired by some of our best brunch picnic recipes. Or, honor Maine’s favorite fruit with anything made from fresh blueberries.

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best picnic spot Quiet Waters Park Pond


Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis

With 340 acres along the South River, there’s plenty of space to spread out a blanket at Quiet Waters Park. Lounge near a pond, fountain or gazebo, and then take your pick of afternoon activities Paddling, cycling, and trail walks are all available here.

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EASTVILLE, VINEYARD HAVEN, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - 2012/09/24: Rowboats and sailboats at Vineyard Haven harbor. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Eastville Point Beach, Martha’s Vineyard

Grab lobster rolls to go at The Net Result Fish Market before crossingthe bridge to Eastville Point Beach. Here you can match your meal with mellow waters and an impressive sunset. If you’re more the DIY type, here’s how to make a lobster roll.

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Elk Rapids Day Park, Elk Rapids

Shrimp Avocado Salad and art don’t usually go together, but at Elk Rapids Day Park, you can pair the two (or choose from the best picnic salads in every state). At the park, a local non-profit called Art Rapids! has created an outdoor sculpture garden called “Walk of Art.”

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Tourists stand behind the Minnehaha Falls on the Minnehaha River, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, Midwest, United States
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Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis

A 53-foot waterfall, river vistas, limestone bluffs, disc golf and bike rental– Minnehaha Park has it all! You’ll find loads of enviable spots for your finger foods, but anywhere with a view of the falls can’t be beat. And don’t forget your four-legged friends. Minnehaha has a dog park, too.

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Tishomingo State Park Mississippi
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Tishomingo State Park, Tishomingo

Host a picnic-palooza in one of Tishomingo State Park‘s three picnic pavilions. Each can be rented for the day and comes equipped with a barbecue and fireplace. Or, paddle out in a canoe on Bear Creek for a meal on the water.

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Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, Missouri
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Tower Grove Park, St. Louis

If there were a museum devoted to picnics, it might look something like Tower Grove Park. Many of the pavilions here date back to the 1800s and are still available for day rentals. And these are no standard shelters. They’re all adorned with bright coats of paint and some, like the Turkish Pavilion, have international flair.

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Milltown Walk best picnic spot


Milltown State Park, Missoula

Take a page from the book and movie A River Runs Through It and go fly-fishing along the Blackfoot River. At Milltown State Park, a river (or two!) can also run through the backdrop of your picnic. Here, the Blackfoot meets the Clark Fork and the park covers several miles of river frontage.

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Sunken Gardens best picnic spot


Sunken Gardens, Lincoln

Admire the tulips as you feed your own lips at Sunken Gardens, a botanical wonderland that’s free and open to the public. Each year, garden artists come up with a new floral scheme that incorporates 30,000 different annuals.

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Floyd Lamb Park, Las Vegas

Sin City doesn’t exactly scream: “Great place for a picnic!” That’s what makes Floyd Lamb Park—a 680-acre oasis with lush foliage, lakes and mountains—all the more enticing. In a destination where visitors often get hitched by Elvis at a drive-thru, planning a picnic and eating in nature is pretty original.

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New Hampshire

Wildcat Falls Conservation Area, Merrimack

Depending on the time of year, you may be able to snag some blueberries right from the bush at Wildcat Falls Conservation Area. Treat them as an appetizer as you hike your way to the main event: a meal atop a boulder near the park’s namesake waterfall.

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SMITHVILLE, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES - 2009/03/21: Historic Smithville recreation area. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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New Jersey

Lake Meone, Historic Smithville

Grab a wicker basket and your best straw bonnet. Old-fashioned is the way to go in Historic Smithville, a town that feels frozen in time. Picnic on the banks of Lake Meone, which is in the middle of all the throwback action. After lunch, wander the cobblestone streets and check out the small shops.

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Sunset over the sand dunes of White Sands national Monument,New Mexico,USA
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New Mexico

White Sands National Park

Have you journeyed to another planet to eat lunch? Nope, these rolling ivory dunes are part of White Sands National Park. The three picnic areas here—named Yucca, Roadrunner and Primrose after iconic plant and animal species in the park—have covered tables and grills. Just be sure to pack colorful plates and cutlery; otherwise, anything you drop will blend in with the surroundings.

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This picture was taken at Chittenango Falls, July of 2010
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New York

Chittenango Falls State Park, Cazenovia

Come for the picnic tables, stay for the hiking at Chittenango Falls State Park. The main attraction here is the 167-foot waterfall that was created by glacial sculpting over 400 million years ago. Need ideas for what to carry on your trek? Cold picnic foods that don’t need to be heated up will be perfect.

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best picnic spot Linville Gorge Wilderness Area

North Carolina

Linville Gorge Wilderness Area

Where better to gorge than in an actual gorge? Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the East, is rugged terrain carved 2,000 miles deep. Plot your own place for a nibble in the dense pine forest, or stick to the designated picnic area at Table Rock.

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North Dakota

Sheyenne River State Forest, Fort Ransom

Bur oak, quaking aspen and green ash are some of the stars in Sheyenne River State Forest, where the woods create a lush backdrop for a meal. As for the star of your picnic basket, Black Forest Ham Pinwheels or Black Forest Brownies could fit the bill.

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Squire's Castle was built in the 1890s by Feargus B. Squire for use as the gatekeeper's house for his future country estate, which was never built. It is now just a shell of a building owned by the Cleveland Ohio Metroparks and is open to the public.
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Squire’s Castle, Willoughby Hills

Another deviled egg, your majesty? Put together a regal affair (even if you’re only eating on paper plates) by picnicking in front of a castle. Squire’s Castle sits within North Chagrin Reservation, where you can also find horseback riding. Finish off the day with a gallop on a stately steed.

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Martin Park Nature Center, Oklahoma City

Picnics can be educational (and more than just learning the trials and tribulations of packing sauce-soaked dishes). Martin Park Nature Center offers a visitor center with live animals, guided hikes and a nature-themed playground in addition to a picnic pavilion.

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Photo taken in Cannon Beach, United States
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Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach

Have a puffin and potato salad kind of day at Haystack Rock, a beloved beachfront landmark. This sea stack, formed by lava flows, rises 235 feet from the water. At low tide, you can walk out to the rock and explore the surrounding tide pools, searching for vibrant sea stars. From early spring to mid-summer, you may also spot tufted puffins nearby.

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Washington Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing

Don’t throw away your shot… for a revolutionary picnic! Hamilton fans and history buffs will appreciate grabbing an outdoor bite at Washington Crossing Historic Park. This is the place where George Washington and his army crossed the Delaware River in 1776 and turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. Before you visit, peruse these 4th of July picnic ideas.

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Green Animals Topiary Garden In Portsmouth, Rhode Island
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Rhode Island

Green Animals Topiary Garden, Portsmouth

Lunch with a lion, a giraffe and a unicorn at Green Animals Topiary Garden, where picnic baskets are welcome. Over 80 botanical sculptures, shaped like animals and geometric figures, cover the grounds. Plus, flower fanatics should note that Green Animals has been recognized by the American Daffodil Society as one of only 28 Daffodil Display Gardens in the country.

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best picnic spot Palmetto Islands County Park

South Carolina

Palmetto Islands County Park, Mount Pleasant

Pack boiled peanuts, pimento cheese sandwiches and a jug of sweet tea—all favorites in the Palmetto State—for an outing in Palmetto Islands County Park. And while you’re at, try a local pastime: crabbing. The park has a dock for catching both fish and crustaceans.

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Conata Picnic Area best picnic spot

South Dakota

Conata Picnic Area, Badlands National Park

Match the layered rock formations at Badlands National Park by carrying layered club sandwiches in your cooler. Conata Picnic Area provides a place to pull off the road and have a bite at a shaded table. Bonus: The site of a major paleontological excavation (the Big Pig dig), where 19,000 fossils were recovered, is nearby!

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View of the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA
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Chimneys Picnic Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

At the Chimneys Picnic Area, you can dip your toes in the West Prong Little Pigeon River and your carrots in easy-to-pack veggie dip. Chimney Tops Trail is also nearby and offers some of the best views of those truly great Smoky Mountains.

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Texas State Tubes best picnic spot
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San Marcos River, San Marcos

Take your lunch in a tube along the scenic San Marcos River. Floating adventures may be arranged through outfitters like Texas State Tubes, who can take care of transportation and provide your personal tube, plus a cooler and cooler tube. The only challenge is seeing how long you can last without shouting “tubular!” throughout the day.

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Devils Garden best picnic spot


Devils Garden, Arches National Park

Devils Garden is the place to be, not only to enjoy the designated picnic area, but also for peeping the park’s iconic arches and rock spires. Landscape Arch, the longest arch in North America, is here, as are trailheads for multiple hikes. What to pack in your basket? Devil’s Food Whoopie Pies seem like an obvious choice.

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view of rural Vermont farm valley in autumn with Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains in distance
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Mount Philo State Park, Charlotte

Picnicking is practically an art form in the Green Mountain State, so you may want to up your game with one of the best recipes from Vermont. As for where to eat, Mount Philo State Park provides views of Lake Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

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This photo shows the rapids and waterfalls on the Potomac River on the Maryland and Virginia border.
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Great Falls Park, McLean

Just 15 miles from Washington, D.C., you can see the dramatic show as the Potomac River gains speed and spills over jagged rocks at Great Falls Park. Best of all? All three scenic overlooks are within a 10-minute walk of the visitor center. That means you can soak up nature and then get back to your picnic basket lickety-split.

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Dawn at Cranberry Lake in Deception Pass State Park in Washington State. Trees are reflected in the lake and the Olympics (Olympic Mountains) are visible in the distance.
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Deception Pass State Park, Oak Harbor

There’s no deception here—Deception Pass State Park is a picnicker’s dream. You’ll be inspired to take a bite at plenty of spots across the park, near coves and forests and atop rugged cliffs. But if you’re looking for a table, Cranberry Lake or Bowman Bay are the places to be.

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West Virginia, Cass, historic Cass Scenic Railroad
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West Virginia

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Cass

All aboard for an outdoor lunch in the land of legendary locomotives. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park includes 11 miles of historic track and the chance to explore an old-fashioned lumber town. Whatever you pack in your picnic, just save room for dessert. The park has a soda fountain that serves sweet treats.

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Sunset Beach Park, Fish Creek
Pack your cheese curds and cherries for some end-of-day dining at Sunset Beach Park. As the name suggests, this is the ideal place to watch the sun go down in Door County. Pets are allowed and skipping stones on Fish Creek Harbor is practically required.

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Reflection Of Mt Moran
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String Lake Picnic Area, Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton has 10 designated picnic areas scattered throughout the park and a number of them sit on prime lakefront real estate. String Lake is one of the most popular, not only because of its size, but also because the water here is the warmest for swimming. You can kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle board here, too.