Sunny days mean more outdoor excursions, and family picnics are inexpensive, delicious, AND fun! Here are some of the best spots in NoVA for a DIY picnic lunch.
Is there anything better than a picnic? Dozing off on a picnic blanket or playing cards in the shade ... warm weather is all about relaxing.
Great Falls National Park
ADDRESS: 9200 Old Dominion Drive | McLean, VA
ENTRANCE FEE: $15 per vehicle (good for 7 days)
This popular national park gets crazy busy with hikers, so plan on getting there early (before 10 a.m.) for your best chance at finding parking. They have picnic tables, restroom facilities, water fountains, and a snack bar that sells light snacks, hot dogs, fries, pizza, and beverages.
After you eat, try hiking one of their paved or forest trails. You'll love the view of the falls and leashed dogs can go wherever you go. For more information, visit the park website.
Courtesy of Great Falls National Park
Leesylvania State Park
ADDRESS: 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive | Woodbridge, VA
ENTRANCE FEE: $7 per vehicle
This riverfront park has charcoal grills, picnic tables, a fishing pier, and a playground (currently being renovated, reopening in June). Their information center doubles as an interactive museum – Make sure you check it out! You can picnic in the woods or along the riverbanks, but this is a favorite among locals so stake your claim by 11 a.m.
Keep an eye out for white plastic "reserved" signs – The large picnic pavilions can be rented for a fee. If there isn't one up, you can use one!
After your lunch, head to the fishing pier to try your luck, or take your leashed dog for a walk along the water. Kids will love the playground and the visitors' center. It's a great place to retreat if it's really hot outside. For more information, visit the park website.
Courtesy of VA State Parks
Burke Lake Park
ADDRESS: 7315 Ox Road | Fairfax Station, VA
ENTRANCE FEE: FREE for Fairfax County residents | $10 per vehicle for everyone else
This park features a beautiful lake with all of the fun activities that come with it: boat rentals, fishing, canoeing, and more. Amenities include restrooms, an ice cream parlor, a boat marina with rentals, picnic tables, free mini golf, and maintained trails. Leashed pets are welcome!
Come for a picnic and stay to enjoy the water or go for a run along the trails. This is also a beautiful spot to practice your photography! The trail around the lake is 4.7 miles – think you can tackle it?
For more information, visit the park website.
Courtesy of Burke Lake
What to Take for a Stellar Picnic
The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a picnic is comfort. Bring a picnic blanket, but also have some camp chairs just in case. Don't forget cleaning items like paper towels, trash bags, a grill scraper if you're cooking, and a plastic bin for your used utensils. A dollar store painting tarp makes a great waterproof base if you're bringing an unlined picnic blanket.
Great picnic food options include:
- Simple cold sandwich fillings like ham and cheese, chicken salad, or peanut butter and jelly and a variety of rolls (sandwich bread inevitably gets squashed)
- Berries, grapes, and fresh veggie crudité
- Iced tea or lemonade and plenty of water
- Cookies or brownies
Are you excited about planning picnics this summer? Let us know your favorite spot in the comments!