What can be more relaxing, romantic and satisfying than having a picnic on a sunny day with loved ones, good food and a beautiful atmosphere? Of course, Long Beach has plenty to offer when it comes to picnic spots. Whether it is at the beach, near the bay, or under a tree at a park, there are plenty of places to enjoy an al fresco meal. So grab some grub, pack your basket, and head outside. While not an exhaustive list, here are some of the top places in Long Beach to enjoy a fantastic picnic.
With its expansive, panoramic views of the city and plenty of benches to take in the sights with your sweetie, Hilltop Park is an excellent place to enjoy a beautiful afternoon. On a clear day, you can see the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains. Funnily, downtown Los Angeles doesn’t seem that far away from this view, as opposed to when you’re late for work, stuck in a car in the dead of rush hour traffic, or trying to get to there on the 405 freeway. No, this is a better way to see the city — away from all the hustle and bustle of the honking cars, yelling people, and overly loud car radios. It’s also an excellent place to take young children. They’ll enjoy the sights and appreciate the quiet, serene atmosphere. Hilltop Park is also a great place to watch 4th of July fireworks launching from the Queen Mary and the other many places that offer firework shows on that day. Here’s an idea: come to Hilltop Park at dusk with a baguette, cheese plate, and watch the sun go down and city lights go up as you take in a refreshing breeze.
Marina Vista Park
We love looking at the water here in Long Beach, and there’s no better place to enjoy an al fresco dining experience beset the gorgeous water views at Marine Stadium. A prime place to set up a blanket is on the little grassy area right across the street from the actual park on East Eliot Street. Take in the gentle breeze and ocean salt-kissed air while enjoying a refreshing drink and leisurely meal. Marina Vista Park is also a hub for many recreational sports like tennis and soccer, not to mention all the water sports that take place in the summer and throughout the year.
El Dorado Park
Enter the El Dorado Park Nature Center parking lot and set up a picnic on a beautiful grassy area known as the Opossum Patch, located just before entering the Nature Center. Then, pack up your picnic belongings and walk off some calories on the walking trails that are through the spectacular Nature Center. Enjoy the beautiful lakes, streams and forested area this tranquil wildlife mecca has to offer. The visitor center at the front of the premises hosts art galleries, educational displays and is also a small gift shop. This is a great picnic outing for the whole family! Parking is $7 and there is actually no picnicking once entering the Nature Center.
Long Beach State University
Of course, the sprawling campus of Long Beach State University contributes much to the aesthetic value of East Long Beach. During the summer, and especially on weekends, the campus is very quiet and peaceful. The upper main campus provides an especially nice place to have a picnic with all of its’ trees and expansive, grassy areas. There are also plenty of tables and benches to plop down a picnic basket and blanket. Just be careful of the squirrels. They are not afraid of humans, and it is not wise to wave a baguette in the air to try to get them to split — after all, they are after your food. There is also paid parking in every lot at all times at LBSU, so plan accordingly. Smile and wave to the occasional summer session student or weekend studier while spreading some fig jam on some crackers.
Edison Park (College Park West)
This secluded park is a calm, tucked-away area at 99 College Park Drive next to the San Gabriel River Bike Trail. The area is also a community garden. The park is wide open, with just a small jungle gym off to the side. Kids can run for days at this park and the grass is well-kept. If you’re looking to really get away from it all, especially on a spring or summer weekday, this is the picnic spot for you.
Other suggestions on how to execute a perfect picnic outing
Visit your local gourmet shop: Lazy Acres makes order-ahead cheese plates and picnic baskets through its’ catering department. They have a variety of cheese plates to choose from, including a “Taste of Spain” cheese plate, an Italian cheese plate, and a French brie cheese platter. But for a simple, elegant selection, start out by trying the basic plate, which comes with your choice of three kinds of cheese (try the Havarti and jalapeño Muenster), crackers, fruit, walnuts, and fig spread. It’s all neatly packed in a wicker basket. Grab a french baguette, maybe a hand-carved sandwich and you have quite a spread already.
Stop by your favorite local small business for some fixings: Another option is visiting Shenandoah At the Arbor, which puts together a picnic pack for the concerts in the park season. The picnic pack for two includes granny’s fried chicken fingers, two sides, brownie bites and those famous apple fritters. Is your mouth-watering yet? Another suggestion is stopping by Sconage Bakery, located at Anaheim and Ximeno Avenue. You won’t regret bringing one of their chocolate walnut scones to your picnic.
Meditate on life: Pack a journal and maybe write the next great novel on your picnic or just take time to write and meditate on your thoughts. Sometimes planning a picnic for one is a way to spark creativity or just a means to escape for a while. Whether you’re with that special someone, your kids, as a family, or just by yourself, picnicking is that special opportunity to be out in nature, enjoy the sunshine and chill.