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The World’s 10 Best Parks for Picnicking

The World’s 10 Best Parks for Picnicking


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A picnic lunch at these urban parks is a feast for the stomach and the eyes

The World’s 10 Best Parks for Picnicking

Spring — or autumn, if you’re south of the Equator — is inching toward us, so it is time to plan either your first or last picnic of the season. With the right food and the right company, you can picnic at any park in the world and have a great time. So what’s the point of highlighting these 10 parks? Just wait and see what makes them stand out.

10. Mission Dolores Park (San Francisco)

With 16 acres of picnic space to choose from and fantastic views of the city’s picturesque Mission district, Mission Dolores park is one of the most vibrant, fun-filled places to picnic in the world. Cultural events, like San Francisco Mime Troupe performances, Aztec ceremonial dances, and, our favorite, the annual Easter “Hunky Jesus” competition, show that the legacy of the 1960s is still alive in San Francisco — especially in this legendary park. It’s a great place to make new friends, and maybe you’ll share some of the sandwiches you pack (get them from The Sandwich Place on Mission Street) with them.

9. Parque Tres de Febrero (Buenos Aires)

Drinking yerba mate in the park is the most Argentinian thing you could possibly do, so do so at Parque Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires. Highlights include the Buenos Aires Zoo, the City Planetarium, and a Japanese garden — the largest one outside Japan. Book lovers would enjoy a picnic by the Poets' Garden, with stone and bronze busts of luminaries like Jorge Luis Borges, Luigi Pirandello, and William Shakespeare. Pack some Pepepe sandwiches (chicken, bacon, and avocado on ciabatta) and seasonal fruit licuados from Voltaire in your basket.

8. East Coast Park (Singapore)

The tropical climate of food-obsessed Singapore makes many of the impeccably clean city-state’s (and neighboring Sentosa Island’s) outdoor recreational areas great for picnics, but what sets East Coast Park apart is the East Coast Seafood Centre, a strip of hawkers selling delicious satays, won ton noodles, world-famous chilli crab, and sugarcane juice by the beach. Oh, did we mention there’s a beach?

7. Vondelpark (Amsterdam)

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Nobody can leave Amsterdam without biking through the 120 acres of Vondelpark, which includes sites like Pablo Picasso’s sculpture The Fish and the Blauwe Theehuis, a modernist masterpiece of a building that serves coffee and food. The park is popular with tourists, due to its proximity to Amsterdam’s museum strip, but is also packed with locals. Eat your packed stroopwafel anywhere in the lush greenery of the park, and in the summertime, enjoy free performances at the outdoor theater.

6. Retiro Park (Madrid)

Located right in the heart of the Spanish capital, Retiro Park features beautiful landscape architecture, a lake, a greenhouse-turned-art-gallery, a rose garden containing the only known monument dedicated to Satan (or, rather, to Milton’s Paradise Lost), and rolling acres of space. Open your picnic blanket and enjoy the pastries you packed from Vait, right off the Retiro metro station. Be warned, though: PDA is a-plenty here.

5. Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden (Cape Town)

As a botanical garden dedicated to preserving indigenous plants, Kirstenbosch has been doing an excellent job: out of the 33 Chelsea Flower Shows its officials attended, they have won 29 gold medals. It’s an excellent escape from the bustle of Cape Town. Purchase biltong from The Butcher Man and eat it as you take in the breathtaking sights of the surrounding mountains.

4. Primrose Hill (London)

This north section of Regent’s Park, which has stunning panoramic views of central London and Hampstead, is one of the most expensive residential areas in London. Celebrity sightings are hardly uncommon. People love it because it is so close to trendy Camden town, where you can get the perfect picnic nosh: arancini, at Arancini Brothers.

3. Villa Borghese Gardens (Rome)

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If you’re tired of the constant sightseeing and crowds of Rome, climb up the Spanish steps to this picturesque garden that’s just perfect for a romantic meal. You are in the best place for picnic eats, so pick up all the essentials (olives, salumi, cheeses, wine) from the famous Campo de’ Fiori before you head the grounds that you are sharing with the famous works of Bernini, Caravaggio, and Raphael.

2. Stanley Park (Vancouver)

A park that is an entire peninsula? Yes, please. There’s a lot to do — rollerblade along the sea, go to the aquarium, play golf, hike — but nothing beats a good old-fashioned picnic on the grass surrounded by the ocean. If you feel like sitting down for a meal, the views at Prospect Point Cafe are unbeatable, but if you feel like packing food, get your sandwiches from Hubbub.

1. Champ de Mars (Paris)

Paris has no shortage of excellent places to picnic, like Place du Vosges in the Marais (down the street from the famous L’As du Fallafel) or the Tuileries Garden, but the structured green expanse in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower is simply the best. The fact that the green manages to feel vast and open despite its proximity to one of the most visited tourist sites in the entire world is almost a miracle. One of the best museums in Paris, the Musée Rodin, home of The Thinker, is within walking distance. Grab a baguette and some camembert from a local boulangerie and lay on the grass for a relaxing afternoon, even though the view around you might render you too speechless for conversation.