Picnics rock! Photo: Gregory Bourolias/Unsplash; Edited: Jessie on a Journey
I’m a huge fan of picnicking. It’s such a fun way to enjoy the outdoors, savor the local food and make new friends (hey, sharing food brings people together!).
Recently The Hamper Emporium, an Australian-based retailer selling hampers of gourmet food, wine and gifts, asked me to name my top picks for picnic spots around the world. The exercise brought back some fond (and delicious!) memories, as I transported myself to:
1. The Great Lawn (Manhattan, NYC)
As a native New Yorker and a tour guide in NYC I’ll admit I may be somewhat biased; however, this is my favorite place in the world to be on a sunny day. My friends and I head to this leafy green Central Park spot with bottles of Prosecco and bags full of hummus, cheese, crackers and chips spread out on our blankets. Usually some type of tipsy frisbee or yoga activity further entertains us, as people come here to both do nothing and be active. There are beautiful skyline views from here, as well!
2. Riis Park Beach (Queens, NYC)
Okay, one more NYC spot then I promise I’ll stop. Brooklynites remember the wonderful indoor Brooklyn Night Bazaar in Greenpoint with its live music, bar, gif creator, glow-in-the-dark mini golf and plethora of cool local vendors. Sadly the space was taken over by BMW, though the crew have moved their operation to the beach — Riis Park Beach, to be exact. I’ll admit it’s a hike to get out here, but on summer weekends they’ve got live music, volleyball, beach stalls, delicious food and sandy shoreline for a fun day outdoors.
Enjoying some wine at Jacob Riis Park Beach
3. Lake Bled (Slovenia)
While Lake Bled does have some overrated attractions within it (cough Bled Island cough), I still think as a whole it’s one of the most magnificent places on earth. I recommend packing a picnic lunch or bringing a hamper (maybe a Shiraz & Gourmet Nibbles) before you reach the lake — there weren’t a ton of grocery or affordable sandwich options there — and heading up to the site’s most iconic viewpoint, Ojstrica. It’s located at signpost #6 (Lake Bled walks/hikes are numbered). When you see the road sign for the 2,005-foot hill you’ll hike uphill through the forest for about 20 minutes to the top. The hike is short but not easy; however, the aerial view of the entire Lake Bled landscape and surrounds is well worth the sweat.
4. Tayrona National Park (Colombia)
Tayrona National Park was the highlight of my two-week Colombia trip, and if you’re into picnicking it’s a must. You can purchase your food beforehand — it’s more expensive to buy eats within it — and either hike two hours to the Cabo San Juan campsite with it in your backpack or hire a horse for about $9 (my recommendation). During the trek the scenery seems to change every 10 minutes, shifting from jungle to beach to otherworldly boulders to fields of enormous plants that look like giant clovers. You’ll scramble up rocks, climb up and down stairs, take your shoes off to walk through sea water, and sometimes find yourself overlooking immaculate white sand beaches and turquoise waters. There are many beaches to choose from, so take your pick(nic).
5. Park Forest Marjan (Split, Croatia)
Park Forest Marjan is often touted as the “lungs of Split,” and this important natural spot is the perfect place for an ambient picnic. Evidence shows humans have inhabited the forest since the 8th century, with churches in the park dating back to the 13th century (St. Nicholas). Throughout its history Marjan was considered a special place, even protected during medieval times from exploitation. Sadly, however, during the 17th and 18th centuries it was completely barren, ruined by war, agriculture and human greed. In the 19th century, the community came to together to fund the rehabilitation of Park Forest Marjan, allowing it to blossom into the abundance of lush Mediterranean flora, pine and beauty it is today. Coming here was exactly what I needed, as I’d been wandering around cities for a week, and the local seafood salads I brought along were scrumptious in the setting.
6. Kealakekua Bay (Big Island, Hawaii)
Kealakekua Bay was one of my favorite hikes during my Big Island Hawaii road trip. It’s great for those wanting a private Hawaiian beach picnic that also incorporates a slew of other landscapes into the experience. During the moderate hike — each way takes about 90 minutes — the scenery starts out with tall grassland and volcanic rock and slowly changes to open lava field to woodland and finally to sea and mountains, with opportunities for bird and butterfly watching throughout. At the bottom there’s a fork, both leading to enormous rocks where you can sit, picnic and dangle your feet into translucent waters — which are also great for swimming and snorkeling. Of course you should bring some poké (a seasoned raw fish salad), and a hamper makes a nice addition to that (especially one of the beer-equipped ones to help you refresh!).
7. Along The Tiger’s Nest Hike (Paro, Bhutan)
If you get the chance to go to Bhutan please, whatever you do, tell your guide you want to hike to the Tiger’s Nest. You’ll trek up about two hours to a gorgeous 17th-century monastery built right into the cliffside. About one hour up you’ll come to a beautiful lookout, giant prayer wheels and colorful payer flags cresting a frame around an opening of trees with the Tiger’s Nest just above and beyond. It’s a spectacular spot to post up with some fresh fruit, cheese and bread and enjoy the view, and there are even benches for sitting.
8. Grand Canyon Of Chiang Mai (Thailand)
Known as the “Grand Canyon of Chiang Mai,” this beautiful old quarry (the Chiang Mai Rock Quarry) resides about 30-45 minutes outside of Chiang Mai’s Old City. It’s very popular for cliff diving, swimming and picnicking. You’ll pay $50 baht (about $1.50 USD) to get in, which gives you a free herbal drink and access to the beautiful blue-green waters for swimming, relaxing on floating docks and jumping off terrifying cliffs. You can also rock climb and rent life preservers for a bit extra. Again, to save money and get the full experience it’s best to bring your own nibbles or pack a treat-filled hamper.
What’s your favorite picnic spot around the world? Please share in the comments below!
*This post was sponsored by The Hamper Emporium
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