Imagine a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, some cheese, and a basket of fresh fruit, all set out along the French riviera for you and your family to enjoy the original “piquenique” al fresco in the mid-1700s.  Sounds delightful, yes?  Well, we may not have the French riviera outside our back door, but we do have so much of what it takes to create a beautiful picnic for family and friends.  For you, it may mean the red gingham blanket strewn across a wide-open field.  For others, it conjures thoughts of tailgating and football being tossed around.

 

The very concept of the picnic has opened our imaginations to a variety of ways to dine outdoors.  And while all of them can be enjoyable, let’s get back to the roots and celebrate National Picnic Month AND National Parks & Recreation Month together, by packing up some food and exploring a nearby park this summer!  Check out the following tips to make your picnic in the park safe, healthy, and FUN!!

DO YOUR RESEARCH!

What type of setting do you desire?  Some parks are smaller in open grounds but have picnic tables, a play set, and maybe even a trail to hike.  While other parks have no play sets nearby but have big open spaces for you to set out a blanket or two and play games.  To find a park near you that fits your picnicking needs, visit your local parks and recreation website, or visit Find Your Park to check out the National Park options based on your location, activities, etc.

What activities are available?  More and more parks provide activities beyond a play set and trails to hike.  Your park may offer kayaking, canoeing, and more – and some provide all the equipment you need, too.

What rules are in place?  Every park asks you to follow the basic rules (i.e. clean up after yourself and respect others), but your park may have additional rules based on the property, the various park offerings, and even the local “wildlife.”  Make sure to check out the park rules that are posted throughout the property.

KEEP IT SIMPLE!

No need to make this a stressful occasion – create the ultimate picnic in the park experience by keeping it simple!

Finger foods are a great go-to – skipping out on the need to pack plastic ware, plates, etc, as well as having to dispose of it all.

Ø Sandwiches with whole fruit… Yes, super simple but also super versatile.  Everyone can make their own sandwich before leaving the house, they’re easy to pack, and everyone can choose which fruit to bring.

Ø Rice Roll Ups (aka spring rolls)… Spring rolls are easy to personalize when rolling up at home.  And while a lot of recipes include some kind of sauce for the side, many find the rolls perfectly refreshing and tasty to eat without a sauce – also making it easier for a picnic.

Ø Go for brunch!… If breakfast for dinner is an American favorite, why can’t it work for a picnic, too?  Let’s think simple.  Pancakes are a breakfast favorite, right?  But often we smother them with syrup… and what about the other food groups to keep us going?  Check out these mini pancakes!  They are naturally sweet, everyone can add in their own fruit filling, and they’re easy to pack for a picnic or even a school/work lunch!

Ø Watermelon for dessert!… Slice the watermelon ahead of time, keeping the rind on, for a quick, hydrating, sweet, and tasty dessert.

Which games require little to no equipment?  Kickball and ultimate frisbee don’t require a lot of equipment and can easily be carried to your picnic site, or go “old school” with Red Rover, no equipment needed!

HYDRATE!

Water fountains and even vending machines are never a guarantee in a park setting, so make sure to bring EXTRA hydration.  It is never a bad idea to bring more water than you think you will need!

Again, not the French riviera of the 18th century, but there are so many local and national parks with beautiful landscapes, fun activities, and more to help create your perfectly fun and memorable, ultimate outdoor dining experience.

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