Who doesn't love throwing a blanket down on a sunny patch of grass, cracking open a box of sandwiches and getting down to the serious business of high-grade loafing?

To help encourage dream picnics in the USA, we've prepared up this Perfect Picnic Primer (PPP).

Folks around the Lonely Planet Oakland office chipped in on some of the most ideal picnic spots in these United States:

Kilohana overlook, Kaua'i, Hawaii
Most people would probably vote for Kauai's iconic Kalalau lookout, or if you're a bit more adventurous the Pihea lookout which is a short hike and a scramble up to a viewpoint on the far side of the valley. Kilohana is about 7-8 miles roundtrip on the Alakai swamp trail - the draw of this place is that IF you get there while it's clear, you get an astonishingly gorgeous view over Hanalei that few ever get to see from a platform on the edge of a 3800 ft. cliff. You're tired and famished, you just walked for miles on a boardwalk through a tropical swamp, and a picnic never felt so perfect. Snagging this view is like finding a four-leafed clover, because it socks in with fog nearly every afternoon and even an early start won't guarantee a clear view, but somehow this adds to the allure of the place.
-- Andy Murdock

Kate Sessions Memorial Park, San Diego
Picnics on this huge, grassy hill offers a 180-degree view of the Pacific to the west; the bay, downtown skyline and Coronado Bridge to the east. There's a huge grassy hill to sit on and fly kites, eat, lay on a blanket and relax.
-- James Phirman

Angel Island, San Francisco Bay Area
Rising from the middle of the bay, this island looks over Golden Gate, Alcatraz, downtown San Francisco, the Berkeley hills -- perfect to spread out a picnic to overlook the near-but-distant urban surroundings, then look around the island by bike or hiking. Ferries go from Tiburon for $13.50 return.
-- Heather Dickson

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California
I love to picnic at the Crocker Monument at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA. I know sounds weird but it is a local favorite! First, the cemetery is beautiful (designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted who designed Central Park). And it's walking distance to great lunch take-away spots such as the Piedmont Ave location of the Gourmet Ghetto fave Gregoire. Plus Bay Area legends like Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck are buried here - as well as the Black Dahila (in an undisclosed location). Great views, great history! I love it! I can go on and on.... (Check here for events including guided tours.)
-- Nica Powell

Grant Park, Chicago
Go for Taste of Chicago (a foodie fest through July 4) or any sunny summer Saturday, grab a spot near the fountain and revel in the city and lake views, with people-watching thrown in to spice things up.
-- Lou LaGrange

Cumberland Islands, Georgia
A couple hours south of Savannah, this national seashore is a picnic paradise. It's a virtually untouched place, with beaches, 50 miles of hiking trails through deep, spooky Spanish moss, plus campsites if you're thinking star-lit picnic.
-- Rana Freedman

DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York City
I love a picnic at the 'Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park' in DUMBO, Brooklyn. There's a patch of grass between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, with one of the greatest vantage points of Manhattan -- and easy to reach after a walk across either bridge. Plus Phil Collins shot that dumb 'Take Me Home' video here. But don't worry -- someone took him home, so he won't be asking for a chip.
-- Robert Reid

Sandy Hook, New Jersey
While living in New York City, I used to take my bike on the ferry from Lower Manhattan to Sandy Hook. Great to have a picnic there; just bike around to find a good spot, or stay on the beach. Coffee on the ferry in the morning, drinks on the way back. You get a close-up of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn), and downtown Manhattan looks amazing in the early evening sun.
-- Lotte Vester

Cranberry Islands, Maine
Picnic with island views here, a delightful group of islands about 20 minutes offshore from Acadia National Park.
-- Rana Freedman



Meanwhile, the Twitter community chipped in on 'best picnic tips' too -- unsurprisingly the best tips came from a bear (ants don't Tweet). Here's the word from the ever-savvy (and snacking) @wilburbear:

  1. PICNIC 101? 'The best picnic spots are in the woods of course and the best time to have a picnic is always today.'
  2. PERFECT PICNIC? 'I like picnics with smoked salmon sandwiches without crusts, pink lemonade, and squirrels to play frisbee with.'
  3. DON'T FORGET! 'Some hoomans [sic] think it's OK to have a picnic without honey *shudder*. It's not but mead is acceptable substitute.'

For the good of us all, don't forget the mead!

This article was refreshed in June 2012

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