While the Twin Cities offers great picnicking opportunities, a little trip out of town for lunch on a warm summer day makes all the difference. The area’s best picnic spots are just a short drive away, so pack a basket, grab a blanket and hop in the car for a day trip to some of the most scenic lunch spots in the state.
Bay Point Park
Red Wing, MN
In the beautiful bluff areas of southeastern Minnesota spread out the contents of that picnic basket at Bay Point Park in Red Wing. A favorite spot for annual community gatherings, this park offers 1.25 miles of walking trails, a playground, a boat launch and a volleyball court for “Top Gun” reenactments (aviator shades optional). Located just a few steps from downtown, shopping opportunities abound — and a picnic wouldn’t be a picnic without forgetting a few ingredients. Stay for the evening, watch the lights sparkle on the water and find yourself in the middle of impromptu concert of songbirds and crickets welcoming the cool night breezes.
3100 Edgewater Vw
Woodbury, MN 55125
If your ideal picnic spot has plenty of family friendly activities nearby, then Edgewater Park might be just the spot. With tennis courts, basketball hoops and a playground located near a large expanse of open grass, this ideal picnic location on the eastern shore of Colby Lake has a little bit of everything to help you turn a sunny summer day into hours of fun. The open air shelter and picnic tables offer a bit of respite for those who managed to leave their picnic blankets at home, and 120V electrical outlets are available here as well. Take advantage of the canoe launch, basketball court or hop onto the nearest end of the paved city trails and explore all that Woodbury has to offer.
Grand Portage State Park
9393 E. Highway 61
Grand Portage, MN 55605
Price: $25/state park sticker required for admission
This is by far the longest drive on the list – but the opportunity to take in a little lunch near the thundering sound of the highest falls in the state — water plummeting from a height of 120 feet is not exactly serene — is just the misty summer ticket some picnickers love. Photographic opportunities abound, but the one-mile hike to Lake Superior isn’t exactly a paved city path. Bring a good pair of hiking shoes and be rewarded by all of the scenery that the Pigeon River watershed has to offer. Nestled within the Grand Portage Indian Reservation, this day-use recreational location has a little something for everyone who wants an epic weekend story to tell come Monday.
Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center
600 South Lake Ave.
Duluth, MN 55802
While the name Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center might sound like an odd place for a picnic, visitors to the Duluth area will probably recognize a more familiar name for this piece of waterfront property – Canal Park. The general term encompasses everything from the William A. Irving Ship Museum to the twin lighthouses, the lift bridge to the charter boat docks, and everything in between. Nestled right near the lift bridge and the entrance to the Visitor Center is a little stretch of lawn and a small food truck, and one of the most picturesque places in Duluth to have an afternoon picnic. No day trip to the area would be complete without a trip up to Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls, but start the visit by spreading out that blanket and having lunch while you watch the steady parade of ships coming into the harbor. Just keep a close eye on your food, the seagulls are always looking for a handout.
8500 127th St. East
Hastings, MN 55033
Just a short drive south of St. Paul on highway 52, the city of Hastings sits right on the Mississippi River and promises great views from many spots within the city limits. Schaar’s Bluff offers visitors a great spot for a picnic lunch while they take in the scenery offered by Spring Lake, a backwater pool off of the Mississippi and temporary home to varieties of migratory waterfowl. Nearby access to miles of walking trails make this a great place to spend an afternoon, and the historic downtown shopping district offers a little something for everyone.
Rich Rein, previously featured in magazines like Midwest Outdoors and Outdoors Weekly as well as a contributor to MyBuckStory.com and covering the Minneapolis fishing scene for Examiner.com, is a Minnesota transplant doing his best to enjoy the state’s multitude of fishing opportunities while holding down a career as a software developer by day and a firefighter/EMT by night. His work can be found at Examiner.com.