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Across the United States, there are endless spaces that invite a picnic, from local parks to national ones

As long as the weather’s good, a picnic is always the right idea. It’s a wonderful—and inexpensive!—reminder that you can transform anywhere with a view into a temporary café on a blanket. It gives you a reason to explore as well as a chance to settle down and relax for an hour or two. We seem to be busier with each passing year, so any opportunity we have to take a moment and appreciate what the world has to offer is keen.

Across the United States, there are endless spaces that invite a picnic, from local parks to national ones.

So we thought we’d help narrow things down by finding the 7 absolute best places to pack a picnic.

1. Central Park, New York City

It should come as no surprise that one of America's (and perhaps the world's) most well-known parks is included on this list. A true urban retreat is New York City's Central Park. Finding a peaceful area of nature to retreat to from time to time is important when living in a 23 square mile cement jungle, and Central Park offers just that.

Shop for your picnic supplies at a nearby deli, greenmarket, or bakery, then stroll through the park to find the ideal spot for your tranquil afternoon. You won't be the only one who has this idea, but this park has plenty of space with its 843 acres.

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2. Point Dume, California

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Photo: Mapquest

Point Dume, in the vicinity of Malibu, California, presents the ideal opportunity to combine your picnic with some beach time. This stunning state beach, which has rocky cliffs, coves, and plenty of beach access, is only a short drive outside of Los Angeles.

On a clear day, the top offers views of Santa Monica Bay, inland mountains, and the northern Malibu Coast, making it the ideal location for a picnic with a view. You might even have the chance to see California gray whales while enjoying your picnic fare at certain times of the year.

3. Walden Pond, Massachusetts

What better location than the birthplace of the conservation movement itself to eat in the midst of nature. While residing at Walden Pond from 1845 to 1847, American author Henry David Thoreau was inspired to write the famous book "Walden," which reflected on leading a simple life surrounded by nature. The reserve has hiking trails and a pond that is a very popular place to swim in the summer, in addition to being a lovely and peaceful place for a picnic.

4. Guadalupe River, Texas

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Photo: Mapquest

The Guadalupe River State Park is a great place to spread out your blanket and take a relaxing picnic by the water because it has miles of riverfront access.

Since there are many birds and other animals in the park, your picnic might also include a complimentary songbird serenade. You can take a hike on one of the park's trails after lunch, canoe down the river, go fishing, or for a little more adventure, try tubing down the river.

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5. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Maine

Anyone can enjoy a picnic at Neck Woods State Park in Maine's coastal region. You can reach this picturesque park, where you can see wildlife including the numerous Ospreys that live on a nearby island, in just 40 minutes by driving north of Portland.

Find a covered picnic shelter on an inland hike, or stay near the water for stunning coastal views. You're sure to have a relaxing time wherever you decide to set up your picnic spread in this lovely park.

6. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

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Photo: Canoeing

Isle Royale is a remote island in Lake Superior that is 894 square miles in size. The entire island was designated a National Park in 1980, and it also received the designation of National Biosphere Reserve. Its location within one of the Great Lakes and the abundance of smaller lakes, streams, and rivers on the island itself make it a haven for a variety of wildlife, including wolves, moose, and numerous birds of prey.

Due to its remote northern location, this destination is more than just a day trip destination, even though it still makes the ideal backdrop for a picnic. Take one of the four ferries that run shuttle service to the island from either Michigan or Minnesota, or arrange a flight with a seaplane operator, to get to Isle Royal National Park. It's worth taking your picnic and turning it into a wilderness adventure in this amazing park because it has some of the best hiking and camping the country has to offer.

7. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The National Scenic Area of the Columbia River Gorge spans the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, and it has a staggering area of 292,500 acres. Multnomah Falls, the second-largest year-round waterfall in the United States at 620 feet, is the most impressive of the many waterfalls that line the riverside highway.

This location offers a fantastic picnic location surrounded by some of Oregon's most beautiful natural water features and forest settings. You can even try kitesurfing or windsurfing in the gorge after lunch. This location is well known for this exhilarating water sport because of the natural wind tunnel created by the rock formations.

Food Safety

If you carefully plan and pack, there's no need to run the risk of getting a funny stomach. Keep foods like meat pies, fish, or dairy dishes stashed away and don't wait to chow down once you arrive at your destination. Cold boxes and ice packs are essential to ensure that items normally stored in the fridge stay as cool as possible.

While setting out your food for everyone to see may seem appealing, keeping it cold as long as you can will lessen the likelihood that you'll have to throw anything out that has spent the day sitting in the hot sun. Miriam, an assistant food editor, advises cutting dishes like quiche into wedges and serving them straight from the refrigerator. Finally, make sure that everyone's hands are clean before they begin eating by carrying some hand wipes or antibacterial gel.

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