By Pat Dillon
Best Picnicking Places
A grassy stretch along a Wisconsin lake for a beach picnic or a central city park known for local music are just two of many places Wisconsin picnickers head with their moveable feasts. Every corner of the state has its own brand of open-air dining – some with unforgettable views, while others are about ambience created by a chamber orchestra playing under the stars. Here are some of the best picnicking places that scatter the state.
Family Fun in Madison Parks
Madison’s parks are legendary for access to water sports, bike paths and the offerings of nearby neighborhoods. Many have summer festivals where picnickers throw out blankets or claim a picnic table for a day surrounded by the buzz of the event. Yahara Park, on the east side, is a favorite for picnickers who like lawn games or enjoy a paddleboard cruise around Lake Monona. Care to rent a kayak or canoe before you grill? Head to Wingra Park, a classic site for intimate and large gatherings. The University of Wisconsin’s Lake Shore Path is filled with picnic perfect options tucked along its woodland paths and Lake Mendota. Some parks have fire pits and grills if brats and burgers make your picnic complete.
Picnic with Purpose
Milwaukee’s Lake Park is a historic swath of lush green lawns where picnickers overlook the cool Lake Michigan views and air. You can also play nine holes of golf, tennis or even get in on a game of lawn bowling. It’s close to the shops of Downer Avenue and the city’s bike trails—off and on road—that connect north as far as the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Bayside or southwest to the Hank Aaron trails that head out through the Menomonee River Valley.
Birders Dream Spot
A 500-foot bluff overlooking the Mississippi River is the setting for Buena Vista Overlook in Alma, a favorite for people traveling along Hwy 35. Favored by waterfowl birders, it’s unpopulated so picnickers enjoy unobscured views of eagles soaring or barges pushing through Lock Dam #4. You can even hike down the bluff right into the sweet town of Alma.
Rustic & Remarkable
Frog Bay Tribal National Park is the nation’s first Native American-owned National Park. Its white sandy Lake Superior shoreline offers a sense of privacy and a waterscape of the Apostle Islands. Its ungroomed paths give picnickers a rustic hike to their destination, but its shoreline does not disappoint. Located on the Red Cliff Reservation, Frog Bay is just minutes from Bayfield’s quaint shops and Red Cliff’s Legendary Waters Resort & Casino.
The Serenity of Seurat
Paoli Mill Terrace and Park in Paoli stretches along the Little Sugar River in the heart of a darling artist village. Sit down along this sweet gentle river way and crack open a basket of goodies and a bottle of wine. Then cruise the galleries throughout this pastoral country setting.
Concerts in the Park
Concerts on a city square is where scores of outdoor music-lovers lay out food and wine and settle in for evening entertainment. Madison’s Capitol Square offers the musical styling of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra for six consecutive nights during summer. Baraboo’s historic downtown Courthouse Square is another summer spot for picnicking to local sounds. Wausau has a ten-week concert series and Harbor View Park’s concerts in Egg Harbor are held on Thursday evenings; picnics are encouraged!
Looking for more options of where to spend your summer days? Check out additional ways to spend time outdoors.