Whether it’s a mid-hike picnic, a day at the beach with a scrumptious hamper, or a DIY cheese plate at one of your favorite wineries, the Bay Area offers some of the most scenic alfresco dining venues for those who love fresh air and a movable feast.
From island day trips to majestic forests, here are five gorgeous Bay Area Picnic spots that will have you reaching for the picnic blanket.
Must Have Sustainable Picnic Accessories
Nestled between rocky cliffs to the south and the rolling golden hills of the Marin Headlands to the north, picturesque Rodeo Beach is a fantastic stop on any San Francisco itinerary.
Both tourists and locals flock to the area for the great hiking trails and scenic Pacific Ocean vistas.
It’s also an excellent spot for a picnic. – Enjoy a scenic picnic to the sound of the lapping ocean (and the slightly less romantic squawking of seagulls).
There are plenty of places to picnic overlooking the beach, complete with picnic benches that are often available. After all, the best picnic spot is undoubtedly on the beach itself.
For a simple, yet delightful picnic at Rodeo Beach put together a little DIY cheese plate or a simple dip mezze of fresh bread, hummus, baba ganoush, and olives, pick up a bottle of local wine at the Ferry Building in San Francisco along the way. Maybe even throw a travel size guitar into your picnic kit for a complete day out.
Head out across the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge to the Alexander Ave exit, cross under the freeway, and follow winding Conzelman Avenue uphill to Bunker Road.
At the end of Bunker Road, you’ll find a parking lot that often fills up before 10 am, but you’ll be able to park along the road.
The facilities at Rodeo Beach are basic, but you’ll find bathrooms adjacent to the parking lot if you need them.
On Sundays, you can take the MUNI public bus system to Rodeo Beach from San Francisco on the 76X route, which picks up along Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street in the city.
The bus will be your best bet if you’re visiting and don’t have a car, although you can also take an Uber to and from the beach.
By Matt Hansen | Wheatless Wanderlust
Angel Island State Park
A little off the grid and it may take a little planning, but a picnic day trip to Angel Island is totally worth the effort.
The only ferry accessible picnic areas in the Bay Area with some of the most amazing views. Angel Island caters exceptionally well to even the amateur picnicker.
It’s only a short ferry ride from San Francisco or Tiburon to the island with plenty of picnic facilities and spaces as soon as you disembark.
Many day trippers stake a picnic claim a short stroll from the dock area in Ayala Cove. The spacious grassy area offers plenty of picnic real estate, including tables and great views of the bay.
Camp Reynolds about a mile or so from the ferry offers a beach picnic site or take the tram ride tour for 360 views of the bay and learn about the island’s historical sites. Jump off to visit the island’s historic Immigration Centre before your picnic.
If you don’t want to DIY your picnic hamper, there is a cafe and cantina on the island, and you can also pre-order a box lunch that is delivered to the ferry on arrival.
The cantina also hosts live music every weekend.
Check the Angel Island website for ferry times and tickets and events or to pre-order a lunch box.
Sonoma County Winery Picnic
Sonoma County is known for its beautiful wineries with delicious tasting rooms. These wineries also make perfect spots for a picnic lunch.
The Dry Creek Valley in Healdsburg is known for its quaint and sweet vineyard locations. You can head down Dry Creek Road off Highway 101 and stop at whichever area catches your eye.
Or you can plan ahead and make sure your picnic location of choice allows for outside food brought in.
Truett Hurst is a lovely choice for a rustic, relaxed country picnic. There are several tables available in a shaded patio just off of the tasting room. There are also adorable red Adirondack picnic tables and chairs on the far edges of the property along the creek.
Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are required on weekends if you’d like seating. The lawn area with gazebo arch and garden flowers make for a beautiful picnic setting.
Stop by the tasting room to request a tasting service at your table. The cost for a tasting of 5-6 wines is $20 but waived with the purchase of two bottles. Their Zinfandel is the most popular choice.
If you are looking for a tasty picnic lunch to bring in, stop by Journeyman Meat Company for sandwiches and Costeaux Bakery for pastries, and you’ll be all set for the perfect afternoon in Sonoma County.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve
Northern California Bay Area is known as the place to see the giant and breathtakingly beautiful California coastal redwoods.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve is just one of the beautiful redwood forests in the area. It is also one of the most beautiful picnic spots in the Bay Area.
Located in Guerneville off River Road from Highway 101, reaching the grove is an easy drive from the north or south.
There is a free parking lot at the park’s entrance, but it is a decent walk to the picnic areas. If you want to park closer to the picnic areas, a second parking lot is available with a $10 fee. Restrooms are available here as well.
There are many hiking paths in the park from easy one mile walks to more advanced several mile hikes with an incline. The Pioneer Trail is a flat path accessible for all ages and winds through the magical forest.
The trees provide lovely shade on hot days and plenty to see – The tallest tree is over 300 feet tall and the oldest over 1400 years old.
After working up an appetite, stop for a refreshing picnic at one of the many rustic picnic tables and benches located around the main paths. BBQs are also available for use.
There are not any concessions nearby, so you will want to be sure to bring all food and beverages with you.
Oliver’s Market is a lovely local grocer with plenty of delicious options for local picnic fare.
By Sierra Schmit | Free to Travel Mama
Vasona Lake County Park, Los Gatos
Multiple picnic areas, miles of walking and hiking trails, and plenty of picnic worthy grassy places with a lakeside view – Vasona Lake County Park is a gorgeous Bay Area picnic spot.
You’ll also find plenty to keep all ages entertained at Vasona once you’re done chilling lakeside in the sun.
Park near Oak Meadow, and you’ll find the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad and children’s carousel ride. Or throw your picnic rug out near the Youth Science Institute for an interlude with wildlife and nature.
Summer is an excellent time for an evening picnic as Vasona hosts a series of summer music events and movies under the stars.
There is a $6 vehicle entry fee into the park. See the Vasona Lake Park website for events and opening times.
Vasona Lake County Park is at 333 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos, CA