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10 Great Places for a Picnic

Jeremy Darst, Interpretive Naturalist at Whitewater State Park

It's a beautiful day and you are looking to spend some quality time in nature. Does a day full of activity sound appealing or would a more relaxing experience fit the bill? One thing is for certain, you're going to get hungry. Use this list to match your activity level with an ideal picnic spot along the way.

On the Go...

Planning an active day, but want a relaxing picnic along the way? These are for you.

On a Hike

Few activities in Minnesota offer a wider variety of scenery than hiking. Hiking is a wonderful way to spend time at a beautiful backcountry vista. You've invested the time to hike to it, what's the rush? Spend a little extra time and savor the experience while enjoying a picnic.

Great picks:

Suggestion: Carrots and almonds are easily portable trail snacks that can be incorporated into your picnic.

On a Bike

It's hard to beat a day on the bike trail pedaling to your favorite spot or letting the wind take you to a newly discovered location to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Great picks:

Suggestion: Bring a variety of food that can be combined together in interesting ways. Use small containers to protect fragile foods like chips.

On a Winter's Day

When winter's chill has settled on the state and the snow covers the ground, there are few activities that will warm you faster than throwing on a pair of snowshoes and packing down the powder. The end of your snowshoeing adventure is a wonderful opportunity for an indoor picnic nestled next to the fire. Most parks that rent snowshoes also have a place to warm up. Your body will feel refreshed after a nice cup of cocoa and a snack.

Great picks:

Suggestion: New to snowshoes? Check out a Naturalist led snowshoe program to learn the ropes.

Take it Slow...

Not in a rush? Just want to relax and soak it in? These will fit the bill.

In the Grass

Color explodes onto the scene with great diversity as flowers sway in the breeze, birds chirp, and butterflies flutter to and fro. Sound amazing? Few places can provide the varied beauty of the prairie. This is a wonderful place to explore while enjoying a picnic.

Great picks:

Suggestion: Summers on the prairie can get warm, so a picnic brunch might be the perfect choice.

To the Point

Whether searching for an amazing view or a spot to get away from the crowd, scenic viewpoints offer an opportunity to reflect and enjoy the beauty of nature while you enjoy a picnic with someone special.

Great picks:

Suggestion: Breakfast picnic? Scenic viewpoints are amazing at sunrise.

Under the Stars

Few picnicking experiences have more potential to leave you with wonderful memories then a late dinner under the stars. The Perseid meteor shower in August is a grand display.

Great picks:

Suggestions: Create your own Sky Viewing Kit with a blanket, sweater, red cellophane flashlight and night sky app on your phone.

In the Past

Ever want to spend an afternoon going back in time? Few places offer an opportunity to experience the lives of those who came before us. The clang of that blacksmith's anvil and smell of freshly baking bread will transport you to another time. Enhance your experience with a picnic in the timelessness of nature.

Great picks:

Suggestion: Look for historical simplicity. Pack a picnic with the basics—a nice loaf of bread, hard cheese and cherry tomatoes.

Capturing the Color

With its explosion of color, autumn is a great time to get outside and snap some family photos. It's also a great time to pack a picnic featuring seasonal flavors like fresh apples and pumpkin pie.

Great picks:

Suggestions: If you capture a great shot, upload it to the DNR Fall Color Gallery and share it!

Not Sure?

Can't decide if you want an active day or just to relax? Consider these.

On the Beach

Beat the heat by heading to the beach. The sun, refreshing water, and a spread of tasty treats create the perfect picnic atmosphere. Most beaches have dedicated picnic areas nearby where you can grill, plug in a crockpot and enjoy a bonfire.

Great picks:

Suggestions: Scout it out. Look online or in person to learn what facilities are available for a fabulous day.

On an Island

For a relaxing and refreshing summer adventure, spending time on a river is a great choice. While you're out exploring, take a break on one of the many sandbars. Enjoy your picnic surrounded by nature and the calming effects of flowing water. Afterward, take time to comb the sandbar for shells and rocks. You might take home a unique souvenir.

Great picks:

Suggestions: Allow some extra time. These are great places to relax and swim. Enjoy a classic picnic fare in reusable, sealed containers.