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 Jared Misner
There’s something so wholesome, so nostalgic about picnicking. Preparing, packing and transporting a meal for your family or friends is, at its core, acts 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.
Of course, our list begins here. Arguably Charlotte’s most well-known park, there are more than a few ideal picnic spots from which to choose here. We prefer the raised/leveled hill. It’s spread-out with a beautiful view of the park and 7-acre lake.
If you’re looking for more of a day trip, this is your spot. About 45 minutes east of Charlotte in Union County is this family-owned vineyard. Buy a bottle of the winery’s muscadine wine, sit on the porch swing overlooking the pond and watch the sun fade away.
Area: 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 – wait for it – Barkingham Park.
Smack dab in the middle of Matthews is this town square and perfect picnic plot. If you plan it right, there might be live music playing in the bandstand to serenade your hangout.
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.
You have to be in-the-know about this hidden gem. Located just north of Davidson’s campus, the college owns a slice of lakefront property complete with a small beach, plenty of forested areas and picnic tables. The entrance is limited to Davidson College staff, faculty and students. (Editor’s note: Misner is an employee of Davidson College.)
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 7th Street Public Market is nearby, so pack your provisions from there.
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.
Conveniently located steps away from the soon-to-be-completed trolley, Independence Park offers three shelters with grills to turn your picnic into a cookout. 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.
The creatively named 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. There are also, of course, your usual picnic and recreation areas, but the lake is the real stunner here.