Summer is the most popular time of year to picnic, with thousands taking to scenic byways, mountain parks, beaches, and lakeshores to enjoy the simple pleasures of homemade food. And the benefits of outdoor dining are plenty: space is not an issue, it’s more affordable than a restaurant, and nothing quite compares to a lazy afternoon with family and friends eating watermelon under the shady canopy of a tree.
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And you don’t have to be home or even picnic in your backyard to enjoy an alfresco meal. These days, with so many hotels offering en plein air meals, travelers don’t have to miss out on the perfect picnic op.
Tourism dollars in the Northwest are setting record numbers. Latest statistics show the Seattle area generating $19.2 million in tourism dollars and Portland area generating $4.9 million. It’s a popular destination largely due to the stunning vistas and natural lands from the Palouse to the mountains regions and coastal areas in the West. If you’re visiting the Northwest or if you live here… we’ve compiled a list of most popular picnic destinations in the region. So, pack your basket and your camera!
1. Ohanapecosh – Mt. Rainier, WA
Ohanapecosh Campground, on the southeast side of Mount Rainier National Park, is surrounded by old growth forest and crossed by an exceptionally beautiful snow-fed river. Close to Ohanapecosh are popular hikes to Silver Falls and the Grove of the Patriarchs.The main attraction at Mount Rainier National Park is the mountain itself, a glacier-clad volcano of immense proportions. At 14,411 ft., it dominates the skyline for hundreds of miles. Visitors travel through majestic old-growth forests, past tumbling waterfalls and historic buildings to reach sub-alpine meadows, where world-famous wildflower displays are seen in July and August. Popular activities in the park include sight-seeing, hiking, climbing and camping.
Ohanapecosh campground has an elevation of 1,914 feet. Weather is dry, cool and sunny in the summer with daytime temperatures in the 60 to 80-degree range. Even though the eastern side of the park can be sunnier than other areas, weather can be variable and visitors should come prepared.
2.Lodgepole Campground – American River, WA
The stunning beauty of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest attracts visitors from throughout the country, with its high, glaciated alpine peaks towering along the Cascade Crest. Lush valleys of old-growth forest define its western boundary and at its eastern edge, rugged shrub-steppe country comprises a more arid region. Elevations range from below 1,000 feet to over 9,000 feet. Lodgepole Campground offers outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to hike, fish, ski, raft and enjoy a multitude of outdoor recreational activities throughout the year.
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Fort Casey Historical State Park is a 467-acre marine camping park with a lighthouse and sweeping views of Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The park is the site of Admiralty Head Lighthouse. A coast artillery post features two 10-inch and two 3-inch historic guns on display. The park features 10,810-feet of saltwater shoreline on Puget Sound (Admiralty Inlet), and includes Keystone Spit, a two-mile stretch of land separating Admiralty Inlet and Crocket Lake.
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Voted favorite picnic spot in the Puget Sound, Hurricane Ridge is the most easily accessed mountain area within Olympic National Park. In clear weather, fantastic views can be enjoyed throughout the year.Hurricane Ridge is located 17 miles south of Port Angeles on Hurricane Ridge Road, off Mount Angeles Road.
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Deception Pass State Park is a 4,134-acre marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline, and 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. Rugged cliffs drop to meet the turbulent waters of Deception Pass. The park is outstanding for breath-taking views, old-growth forests and abundant wildlife.
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Botanical wonders, scenic trails, charming picnic spots and more can be found in Spokane’s beautiful parks.Manito Park, established in 1904, features 20 acres of world class botanical gardens. The John A. Finch Arboretum provides a walking tour to guide visitors through landscapes such as a native pine forest and a shady glen filled with rhododendrons. And Spokane’s crown jewel, Riverfront Park, showcases the Spokane River Falls in the heart of the city. Spokane Valley’s Mirabeau Point Park features a waterfall and pond filled with turtles and more and Liberty Lake’s Pavillion Park hosts summer concerts and events throughout the year. Many of the area’s parks feature pools and splash pads for summertime family-friendly fun.
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National Geographic Magazine named Cannon Beach “one of The World’s 100 Most Beautiful Places” in their June 2013 issue. That comes as no surprise to those who have experienced the miles of scenic sandy beach with dramatic shoreline rock formations like Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach offers the perfect setting for a refreshing stroll, a warm gathering around a beach fire or exploring the Oregon Coast’s remarkable natural areas. There are dozens of public beach accesses that offer passage to this scenic wonderland.
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This is hands-down the picnic spot with the best view. Admire the towering spires of Pittock Mansion on one side, and view a stunning panorama of Portland and Mt. Hood on the other side.
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9.Portland Rose Gardens – Portland, OR
Portland’s International Rose Test Garden, unofficially known as the Portland Rose Garden, is the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States and features more than 10,000 roses. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world enjoy the sights and scents of the gardens, including its spectacular views of downtown and Mount Hood. The garden is open daily and admission is free. While great city views are on offer year-round, the best rose-viewing months are May through September.
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Travel west on the Historic Columbia River Highway about 3/4 of a mile to the entrance of Bridal Veil Falls State Park. The park offers a nice parking area, picnic tables, and restrooms all within easy walking distance from the parking area. Nice grassy areas afford visitors a chance to stretch a blanket in one of the laziest parts of the Columbia River Gorge.
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Champoeg features a unique combination of history, nature, and recreation. This is the site where Oregon’s first provisional government was formed by a historical vote in 1843. Situated on the south bank of the scenic Willamette River, Champoeg’s acres of forest, fields, and wetlands recreate the landscape of a bygone era. Tour the park’s visitor center, Newell House, and Pioneer Mothers Log Cabin museums to discover pioneer life at Champoeg. Take a guided walk to learn what happened to the bustling pioneer town of Champoeg, and how the Donald Manson Barn was built. An 1860s-style garden lies behind the visitor center. Plenty of picnic areas and paved trails for walking or biking.
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Smith Rocks offers outdoors adventure for everyone! A world-class rock climbing area that enjoys international attention, but also accommodates casual strolls down to the river side trails. A more challenging Misery Ridge Trail will ultimately lead to the top of the whole ancient volcanic plug to great views of the High Desert, and off in the distance to the West, the Cascade Mountains. Early morning and evening light make this spot a photographers paradise, as the many sculpted shapes of rock forms and the myriad colors of rock provide millions of great shots, limited only by your imagination and perspective. Also of note, the Crooked River passed through the park and there is some good trout fishing to be had. Visitors will be interested to note that several movies have been shot here including “The Postman” and “Rooster Cogburn.” (Trip Advisor Review)
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