Best Places to Have a Picnic in the Queen City
Pack your own lunch and spread a blanket down at these area picnic points.
by Rosa Sprinkle
There’s something so wholesome, so nostalgic about picnicking. Preparing, packing and transporting a meal for your family or friends is, at its core, an act of love, passed around through Tupperware containers of potato salad and pitchers of lemonade. There’s no better time than now to pack up some memories for a picnic at local spots – from public parks to vineyards.
Picnic with the Family
Neighborhood: Steele Creek
For aviation enthusiasts of all ages, the airport overlook — where you can watch airplanes take off and land — is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. You bring the food and the planes provide the entertainment.
As one of Charlotte’s newest parks, this tiny urban gem offers a lot. There’s a popular splash pad for kids (or sundrenched adults), bistro tables for your picnic and a large greenspace for blankets. The Market at 7th Street is nearby, so pack your provisions from there.
Arguably Charlotte’s most well-known park, there are more than a few ideal picnic spots from which to choose. If you pick up some quick and tasty hot dogs from JJ’s Red Hots, the only hard decision will be whether to set up at one of the covered shelters, a bench under a tree or spread out on a blanket on the hill overlooking the beautiful seven-acre lake.
Conveniently located steps away from the trolley, Independence Park offers three shelters with grills to turn your picnic into a cookout. If you don’t feel like cooking, let nearby Sabor Latin Street Grill set you up with some picnic platters. After chowing down, there are volleyball, basketball and tennis courts to work it all off.
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
This picnic point has a decidedly neighborhood feel. There’s a community garden and an amphitheater frequented by musical acts and community events. Pick up your basket ingredients at nearby Common Market and enjoy the quaintness of this Plaza Midwood treasure.
Right in the heart of SouthPark, Park Road Park offers much more than you can see from your car along Park Road. Inside, the 72-acre park surprises with a beautiful 11-acre lake and pier. Why not plan a fun breakfast picnic for the family by picking up a to-go order from nearby First Watch? After eating, a walk around the lake and some time at the playground will make for a memorable weekend adventure.
It's official: Pineville Lake Park is adorable. Pack up the family, tons of munchies and juice boxes and a big blanket to accommodate you all while you lounge by the lake and the kids explore all the play areas.
Neighborhood: South Charlotte
This south Charlotte park is great for families with younger children. The playground area is large with lots of fun equipment, so kids can run back and forth between it and your picnic bench until the food is exhausted or they are.
Picnic with Your Date
Daniel Stowe is the perfect place to stroll with a sweetheart. Pick up some yummy sandwiches at The String Bean in Belmont and spend the day appreciating each others' presence in these picturesque gardens.
There’s something wonderful about an urban park. The bit of green surrounded by towers offers the best of both worlds and Romare Bearden delivers. No need to pack anything in advance here — Rhino Market is across the street. Pick your provisions there and refill as needed.
Smack dab in the middle of Matthews is this town square and perfect picnic plot. White Duck Taco Shop is right around the corner and, if you plan it right, there might be live music playing in the bandstand to serenade your hangout.
This campus gem is full of benches, rock walls, bridges and other perfect picnic pockets amongst the ferns and rhododendron. Meander with your honey and your picnic basket til you find the spot that whispers to you "stay a while."
Picnic with Your Posse
Area: Fort Mill
There are miles and miles of trails and beautiful lake views, but for a fun group picnic, spread out your blankets along the field by the Gateway Canteen. You can grab some food and beverages and spend the afternoon kicking a soccer ball with friends.
For a group gathering with a different kind of view, pack a basket and some bikes and set up in the field by the bicycle pump track. Fuel up, then try your hand on the course.
Coming in at a whopping 1,460 acres, this wedge of natural space in Huntersville offers lakeside picnics, 16 miles of trails and more. After your lunch, head to the Carolina Raptor Center, the Southeast’s largest eagle aviary.
This small urban park packs a lot in a small space. Playgrounds, splashpad, basketball and volleyball courts, and a nature trail along a small winding creek offer many recreational options in the heart of Dilworth. Pack some sandwiches or pick up some croissants from Sunflour Baking Company on East Blvd and spend an afternoon in the sunshine.
Neighborhood: University City
With 10 miles of hiking trails and a 727-acre nature preserve, you’ll have no shortage of spots to picnic here. Bring the pups to this picnic, too. There’s a 4-acre dog park inside the park called, appropriately, Barkingham Park.
Pack Your Picnic for a Day Trip
If you’re looking for a day trip, this is your spot. About 45 minutes east of Charlotte in Union County is this family-owned vineyard. On your way there, stop by East Frank Superette in Monroe for some sandwiches to go with a bottle of the winery’s muscadine wine. Once you’re there, sit on the porch swing overlooking the pond and watch the sun fade away.
Neighborhood: West Charlotte
Sure, the Whitewater Center doesn't require a whole day set aside, but it sure does deserve an entire day. Take some hammocks, set up in the woods and enjoy hours of hanging around while noshing on the offerings from the on-site restaurant and canteens.
Area: Kings Mountain
Take a day to unwind with a glass of wine and a mountain view from the comfort of the adirondack chairs. You don’t even have to pack food — the winery has charcuterie picnic boxes available on site.