Let's have a picnic! Eight great parks for dining — and more — outdoors
June 18, 2018
Hey, hey — you, you!
How about a picnic?
Dig out your baskets and your Discover Pass — today is International Picnic Day. With the warm days ahead, it’s a perfect time of year for dining alfresco. All packed up and no place to go? Read on for eight great state park destinations and a few tips to inspire your outing.
And, if you don’t feel like packing lunch or just want a spur-of-the-moment adventure, we have included some nearby hot spots for grabbing a great lunch to go before hitting the park.
If you want to set up your picnic at a kitchen shelter for your picnic party, you can reserve one online. From the “Pick your reservation type,” choose “Day Use Facility,” then pick your park and shelter from the map, list or on a calendar.
You are not being deceived! Deception Pass State Park is such a nice place for an afternoon picnic you might even want to stay for dinner and sunset.
♦Deception Pass State Park♦
Alfresco amenities: Two words: picnic mecca. Deception Pass has 11 reservable kitchen shelters, all built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. Need something a little more cozy? Park your basket at one of the 50 sheltered or 261 unsheltered picnic tables. After you eat, go discover why Deception Pass is a state parks crown jewel. Hike, bike or whale watch along the rugged cliffs. Explore the tide pools at Rosario Beach, take a spin through the interpretive center or just drink in the majesty of it all.
Grub stop: Stock up on surf, turf and a nice big slice of cheesecake at Seabolt’s Smokehouse at Deception Pass. If you like seafood, you can choose from a variety of fish and chips as well as smoked salmon. In the mood for a hot cup of joe? Visit the brand-new Campstuff Coffee inside the park. They even serve s’mores from the cute, vintage trailer.
♦Riverside State Park♦
Nine Mile Falls
Alfresco amenities: Do you want to dine in the woods? Prefer to spread out a blanket and enjoy the music of the rushing river or the tranquility of a lake? Rather pull your cooler up to a table? Riverside is an enormous park with almost no limit to dining options. If you have a large group, why not reserve the CCC-built kitchen shelter. After lunch, take a swim in the designated swimming areas on the Spokane River or go for a hike or a bike ride on one of the park’s multiple mixed-use trails.
Grub stop: For a big, beautiful and award-winning sandwich, drop in to the High Nooner. Or, check out one of these other recommendations from Spokane’s food blog, Spokane Eats.
♦Manchester State Park♦
Alfresco amenities: Manchester State Park has wide, lovely lawns, a volleyball court, horseshoe pits and beautiful vistas of Rich Passage. It’s also home to one of the coolest kitchen shelters — replete with picnic tables — in any state park. The old torpedo warehouse, with a majestic stone fireplace at one end, is a must-see. It’s reservable, so if a party is already there, you’ll have to choose another spot from the other two kitchen shelters or 36 unsheltered picnic tables. Travel tip: Most of the picnic sites have braziers. You can cook your own lunch if you like!
Grub stop: Grab a top-notch Italian-style lunch from Cosmos Ristorante and Delicatessen in Port Orchard. Mmmm…paninis!
Insert your picnic here. Visiting Twanoh State Park makes for a lovely day at the shore — and more!
♦Twanoh State Park♦
Alfresco amenities: Warm, mostly placid waters, wide beaches beloved for swimming and oyster harvesting, moss-hung forests … it’s little wonder the CCC chose this spot on the Hood Canal to build an iconic park. Twanoh’s CCC-built kitchen shelters make for cozy quarters should a June shower erupt. The largest is reservable, but the smaller one is first come, first served. You also can choose from 125 unsheltered picnic tables. Do a little wading after lunch!
Grub stop: Union Country Store not only has groceries and other supplies for your picnic lunch but great sandwiches and coffee! If you’re driving to the park via Shelton and want something a little different, bring a pot, camp stove and a few favorite spices and stop into Taylor Shellfish for some clams to steam at the park!
♦Kitsap Memorial State Park♦
Alfresco amenities: Bring a date to Kitsap Memorial State Park for a picnic, and you might be back for a wedding — your own! Kitsap is a small, but pretty park with a volleyball court and fields perfect for a wicked game of Frisbee. The park has 20 unsheltered tables and five shelters, but they can fill up fast. You can always find a nice, soft spot on the grass. Enjoy the panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains and Hood Canal as you stroll along the beach. Kitsap is a much sought-after romantic hot spot and a top Washington wedding destination. If you fall in love here, don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Sandwich stop: 2 Brother’s Deli. Pizza! Burgers! Sandwiches!
Gather with friends and enjoy the day with a picnic at Lyons Ferry State Park.
♦Battle Ground Lake State Park♦
Alfresco amenities: Pack your trunks and towel as well as your basket: the swimming is supreme here. Battleground’s two first-come, first-served kitchen shelters accommodate about 20 people and the larger, reservable shelter has room for 20 to 150. But you will want to be at the park early to snag one of the 70 unsheltered picnic tables; this park is popular and fills up fast. It’s a great summer day park set on the banks of a cool, deep volcanic lake. Play volleyball, badminton, baseball or horseshoes. The shallow swim area is great for all abilities. Don’t forget the sunscreen; this is sunny spot in spite of the trees.
Grub stop: Old Town Battle Grounds features sandwiches, Dungeon Donuts, cookies, snacks, fun, fresh food specials and some top-notch coffee and barista art!
♦Yakima Sportsman State Park♦
Alfresco amenities: Right in the heart of town on the banks of the Yakima River, Yakima Sportsman is an oasis in this dry part of the state. Originally created to be a game preserve, the park still attracts a vast and colorful array of bird life. Relax on the wide, shady green lawns dotted with picnic tables (as well as three roofed shelters and a reservable kitchen shelter). You’ll get the benefit of warm desert air and the cool breezes coming off the river. Even if you miss out on a table, you’ll be quite comfortable stretching out your blankets — and your legs — on the lawn.
Grub stop: Is anything better than finding a great hole in the wall? Lulu’s Lunchbox is tiny, but makes a stellar sandwich and a tall, refreshing iced tea or coffee to go. For something a little out of the ordinary but still wicked good, try tWISTEd SISTERS Creations. Oh, and you will likely want one of their lemonades.
♦Lyons Ferry State Park♦
Alfresco amenities: Lyons Ferry is a bit of a destination, but once you arrive you’ll know it was worth the drive. At the confluence of the Snake and Palouse rivers, you’ll find no shortage of shoreline to explore — 52,000 feet, in fact. The verdant lawns offer a pleasant place to enjoy your picnic, and the fawn-and-charcoal bluffs rising dramatically above the river provide amazing scenery. Find some shade or a table and settle in — you’re not going to want to leave anytime soon. Bring your swim gear!
Grub stop: Lyons Ferry is fairly remote. But you can find some good fare-to-go across the bridge from the park at The Snake River Grill. For deli sandwiches, ice, drinks and more, try the Farmer’s Daughter, a quaint market located about a half hour’s ride from the park.
Do you have a favorite park you picnic in? Got some great stories and photos from a family outing?
Tell us about it and share your photos here!