Picnicking 101: Tips for Success

5 Things to Keep in Mind for the Perfect Picnic
Katherine RivardTravel Ideas
Picnic on the beach with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background
Mike Klimas

Excited to speak with a recent returnee from a two-week escapade through national parks out west, we wanted to know if national park fan Lena Bichell had any picnicking advice or tips. Her only suggestion: always have a good hard cheese, a quality sausage, and a strong knife.

This tip wasn’t what we’d had in mind, but it was a reminder that a picnic does not have to be an elaborate event. Rather, all you need are a few snacks, good company, and the proper gear. To plan accordingly, we’ve collected a list of tips for those of you who are excited to make this the Summer of Picnics.

1. Pack out what you take in.

You don’t have to be good at math for this equation. Make sure to leave the park just as you found it (or cleaner!). Bring an extra trash bag to ensure the napkins, cracker wrappers, and other trash doesn’t blow away with the breeze. Parks are meant to be enjoyed by all, but leaving any rubbish can be dangerous for animals and unpleasant for other visitors.

2. Bear safety.

Bears and other park wildlife like to picnic too. To ensure that you do not attract uninvited guests, make sure to keep all food completely out of reach (or smell) of animals before and after the picnic starts. If you’re visiting a park where bears are common, check out the park’s website for information on bear safety and see if bear boxes are available for safe storage.

3. The right cutlery and tableware are key.

Consider using reusable cutlery, plates, and water bottles to cut down on waste. Biodegradable disposable silverware is another great option to include in your picnic pack.

4. Research isn’t just for school.

Don’t forget to do a quick scan of your park’s website before visiting. Knowing the park rules, hours, and picnic locations will ensure that maximum time can be spent on fun once you’ve arrived.

5. Outsmart Mother Nature.

Thinking of sticking around the park before or after the picnic? Check the weather and plan accordingly. A good hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bug spray might be necessary for a pleasant visit.

An Antique Picnic in the trunk of an antique automobile at Princes William Forest Park

An antique picnic at Prince William Forest Park

National Park Service

Whether you’re grilling hot dogs or just sticking to crackers and hummus, you’re bound to have a pleasant picnic if you follow our tips. Now dig up your checkered picnic blanket and go #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque!


After reading this article, I am encouraged to consider a picnic! It might be fun! Thank you.
Our family has done the picnic,kids enjoyed very much running all over park. Recommended for those with kids and you get to enjoy a relaxed day.
Our family just spent 5 days at Whiskeytown NRA and loved every minute. We had lots of picnics and fun.
Don't unintentionally feed the park's animals! If you drop ANY food or food scrap, pick it up immediately. It might be biodegradable, but an animal will probably grab it before it degrades. That animal (especially a smaller animal, like a bird, fox, mouse or vole) could get sick or even die from food that is not part of their regular diet. And keeping the park animals wild is an important part of protecting our parks.

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