Main Street News

Your guide to picnicking in the region

By Published On: July 11th, 2024

Did you know that July is National Picnic Month in the United States? We at Main Street love a good picnic and put together some of our recommendations for creating the perfect picnic below. 

Best picnic locations 

Before we can even enjoy our picnic, we have to find a place to set up shop. Here’s a selection of some of the best picnicking spots in the area. 

Lake Taghkanic State Park in Ancram, NY, offers a variety of recreational activities and space to hang out. There are picnic tables located throughout the park and if you’re interested in swimming after you eat, you can set up on the swimming beach. The park also has boat launch sites, rowboat, paddleboat, and kayak rentals, and playgrounds, sports fields, and a variety of trails for hiking and biking. 

The Tribute Gardens and Innisfree Garden, both in Millbrook, NY, are good options if you don’t feel like doing a hike to get to your picnic area. Make sure to bring a blanket if you’re headed to the Tribute Gardens, as there are only benches and no tables. Innisfree has picnic tables located in the picnic area between visitor check-in, the parking area, and the lake. 

The Clermont State Historic Site in Germantown, NY, offers beautiful views of the Hudson River. There are four gardens to explore at the historic site – the cutting garden, the walled garden, the upper garden, and the wilderness – as well as a designated, accessible picnicking area. 

Bash Bish Falls State Park in Mt. Washington, MA, offers a scenic view of the state’s largest waterfall. You can enter through Taconic State Park in New York and hike up to the falls from the parking lot, or park at the lot on Falls Road in Mount Washington. The water from the falls originates from Guilder Pond in Mount Everett State Reservation and the waterfall itself is located within Mount Washing State Forest. Hike to the falls, then set up for lunch nearby to enjoy the surrounding landscape. 

Sandisfield State Forest in New Marlborough, MA, is another good option if you’re looking to enjoy some water activities on your picnic. Within the forest is York Lake, which features a day-use area with a 300-foot beach for unguarded swimming, picnicking areas, and a boat launch ramp.

The Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge, MA, is a 24-acre botanical garden that contains over 3,000 species and varieties and there are tables and benches throughout the park for picnicking. 

Housatonic Meadows State Park in Sharon, CT, is located in the valley of the Housatonic River and is an ideal setting for a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, picnicking, and fishing. 

Kent Falls State Park in Kent, CT, offers views of the falls that cascade 250 feet down on its way to the Housatonic River. View the falls, then circle back to the picnic tables and set up for lunch. 

On the menu 

Now, on to the more important part: what to pack for your picnic. Of course, you can always make food at home, but if you’re looking for somewhere that you can grab some lunch and snacks and be on your way, here are some of our recommendations. 

Jam Food Shop is a deli counter and grab-and-go shop in Sharon, CT. Order a delicious sandwich or one of their freshly made salads from the counter or grab one of their pre-packaged goodies from the shelf. 

If you find yourself a little further north in Salisbury, CT, head over to White Hart Provisions. It’s a casual little spot attached to the White Hart Inn with a cafe – order a sammy or a salad from the counter and browse the goodies on the shelves while they make your lunch. 

If you find yourself in the Red Hook area, The Corner Counter is a great option for all of your cheese board needs, as well as other to-go goodies like sandwiches and salads. 

In Great Barrington, stop in to the Berkshire Food Co-Op or Guido’s Fresh Market to stock up on your picnic needs. 

The other goodies 

After you’ve made or picked up your food of choice, you have to make sure you pack the rest of the goodies that you’ll need for your picnic. Opt for reusable plastic or enamel plates, cups, and cutlery, as glass or ceramics have the potential to break while in transit or when they get knocked over. 

Of course you need a receptacle to carry all of your items on. You might consider going with a good ol’ fashioned picnic basket, or for ease, carry everything in a reusable tote bag or an insulated grocery bag to keep the perishable items cold. 

If you’ll be sitting on your picnic, make sure you pack a good, solid blanket that’s big enough to fit all of the picnic attendees. If you have more than four people coming to your picnic, consider bringing multiple blankets to ensure that everyone has the appropriate amount of space to spread out. I like to bring a thicker blanket because it can withstand the breeze better, and this part may be all in my head, but I’d like to think it’s harder for the ants and other bugs to crawl onto. 

Also, make sure you think of what you can use to weigh down the corners of the blanket if it’s windy. Consider using your picnic basket on one corner, perhaps your shoes on another, and maybe a book or a bottle of water for the others. 

You might even consider packing a pillow or two, especially if your plan is to take a little afternoon nap in the sun after you’re done eating! 

If you’re going to be bringing cocktails with you, consider batch-making them ahead of time and storing them in a container that is lighter weight. It can be a pain to lug around wine bottles or cans, so by batch making them, you’re saving space and lightening the load of things you’re going to be carrying. 

You may also want to pack some items to keep you occupied for the afternoon if you’re planning on being out there awhile. If it’s not too windy, packing a set of playing cards can be a good way to pass the time, or another kind of board game. Bring books to read, or even a sketchbook and a set of colored pencils and go to town to create drawings with your surroundings as your inspiration. All of these things are easy to pack and can keep you occupied for a good length of time if the conversation well starts running dry. 

Last minute add-ons that may not be necessary, but sure can be helpful include bug spray, extra napkins, wet naps, and garbage bags, and make sure you pack enough water! You may not think that you need that much, but sitting in the hot sun can zap your hydration levels pretty quickly. 

Be mindful that what you bring in, you also have to bring out. Clean up after yourself and leave the locations beautiful for everyone else to enjoy, too. Regardless of what you choose to bring with you on your picnic, make sure you have fun, bring lots of yummy snacks, and enjoy the beautiful weather!