Almost any day is perfect for a picnic in and near Denver, as long as it’s not raining or the temperature is below 50-degrees that is. Many parks offer swaths of plush grass, picnic tables, grills and even shelters in case the sun it beating down or one of those afternoon sprinkles happens. These 10 spots should be on your picnic list, and in case you don’t have time to whip up a basket of sandwiches, we added some quick stops nearby for food and supplies.
What’s your favorite place to picnic and what do you bring? Read on for our suggestions.
Ralston Central Park
The small but mighty Ralston Central Park is great for so many things-kids, dogs, walkers-so it’s no surprise the Arvada spot is also a perfect picnic destination.
Type of picnic: Bring a blanket or plan on eating at one of the many picnic tables scattered around the splash pad and playground. Because the tables are by the kids amenities, it can get a bit busy and loud, not ideal for a romantic meal. Just keep in mind that if you choose the blanket route, there aren’t a lot of trees or shady spots outside those aforementioned man-made shelters.
Amenities: During the summer the splash pad is bustling, perfect for kids and adults who want to cool off (but no dogs allowed in the water). All year kids can run up an appetite on the playground, right across from the splash pad. Bonus, there’s a bathroom building right next to the area too, so no need to hit up a Porta Potty.
Things to know: The bathrooms are open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., May 1 through Labor Day. There are portable toilets for the off times. Weekends in the summer get busy, so don’t bank on getting a table. Parking is limited during busy times too, though there is neighborhood parking across the stream, just a short walk from the grass and tables.
Location: 5850 Garrison St., Arvada
Impromptu picnic supplies: Grab a pizza from Pizza Hut right across the street at 8990 Ralston Road, Arvada.
Denver Botanic Gardens
While you have to pay to get into the Denver Botanic Gardens, once there you can throw down a beautiful spread in one of the most serene spots in Denver. Picnicking is allowed all over, as long as you clean up after. There are also tables in the cafe and picnic benches in the children’s garden across the street from the main gardens.
Type of picnic: Pack a romantic picnic for two, or have a special day out with the family. It’s a tame spot surrounded by people walking around and lovely curated plants.
Amenities: Use the bathrooms in the conservatory and by the cafe. And if it rains take shelter in one of the two indoor attractions.
Things to know: Bring your own food, non-alcoholic beverages and a blanket and set up a picnic on one of the lawns or benches. Just make sure to book a time to visit the gardens, timed tickets are required. No pets allowed.
Location: 1007 York Street
Impromptu picnic supplies: The Denver Botanic Gardens has the Offshoots Cafe and Hive Garden Bistro, both with sandwiches, salads and wraps, among other things. Both spots are located in the main garden. The children’s area doesn’t have food options.
With 177 acres, Sloan’s Lake Park has plenty of space for picnics of any size. Of course if the group is very large you need to reserve space on the Denver Parks and Recreation website. Fun fact, Sloan’s Lake was accidentally made in the 1860s when Thomas Sloan struck a spring while digging a well.
Type of picnic: There are two playgrounds with shady picnic tables, perfect for groups with kids. Or, take the picnic anywhere else in the park. With numerous tables, picnic shelters and grassy spots there’s plenty to choose from, all with a view of the mountains and/or the lake.
Amenities: Utilize the restrooms on both sides of the park by the playgrounds, or near the boat house. There’s also a basketball court, a 2.5-mile pedestrian and bike path circling the lake, tennis court and playgrounds.
Things to know: There are parking lots at each playground spot, as well as a small one by the boat house.
Location: Approximately between 17th and 26th Avenues, and Sheridan Boulevard and Meade Street.
Impromptu picnic supplies: Order vegan and/or vegetarian smoothie bowls, fresh juices and fancy toast from Whole Sol Blend Bar at 1611 Raleigh St., on the south side of the lake.
Pack a picnic and choose to have it near one of two lakes, gardens, one of two playgrounds or in the center of the action. There are 155 acres to explore, all laced with large trees and plush grassy knolls.
Type of picnic: Anything goes at this large park, though parties over 25 do have to reserve a spot and get a permit. Otherwise, pack your own blankets and water and pick a corner of the vast park. Also find BBQ grills, picnic shelters and tables in designated areas.
Amenities: Year-round lighted tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a foot path around the whole park, baseball and softball field, portable toilets and seasonal restrooms.
Things to know: Visit the renovated 1913 boathouse by Smith Lake (the one on the north side). It also happens to be next to one of the two playgrounds and the park’s curated garden. If visiting the park on the south side, during the summer and weekends you can use the South High School parking lot.
Location: 701 S. Franklin St.
Impromptu picnic supplies: Five minutes from the park is a Whole Foods. Gather prepared foods, chips, dip, drinks and fruit here and take it strait to the picnic.
Though this park is only a block long, it’s got a great grassy area and tall trees casting shade. There’s also a small playground and smooth path around the park perfect for little bikers, roller skating and scooters.
Type of picnic: Pack everything you need for an epic picnic, and stay all day. The park accommodates larger groups if you want to do a picnic party, or keep it small and simple. Because the center is open and treeless, it’s a great place for kite flying and playing games too.
Amenities: There’s a playground with swings and slides, and a basketball court. The Woodbury Library is right there too, which can be used for its bathrooms and to escape the heat.
Things to know: Later in the afternoon a lot of people bring their dogs out to play, often off the leash. Bathroom access is limited to when the library is open, so check the schedule when planning.
Location: 3265 N. Federal Blvd.
Belleview Park in Englewood
The Big Dry Creek runs through this hilly park, and it’s been cultivated as a play area perfect for splashing around and dipping your toes in on a hot day. Take a walk through the tunnel, which runs under West Belleview Ave., and find a whole swath of greenery to lay a picnic blanket down in. There are many places to choose from, including the kid-centric area near the playground and petting zoo, or over by the cricket ground.
Type of picnic: With a cool stream to play in, playground, train and animals to pet (available Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for $2.50 a ticket for those over the age of 2), Belleview Park proves great for kids. With so much to do, the adults can watch the little ones have fun while they lounge on the picnic blanket. Or, keep away from the kids and wander to more secluded areas.
Amenities: Park shelters, picnic areas with tables, skate park, playground, basketball court, restrooms, tennis court, petting farm, train and stream.
Things to know: By booking online, large groups can reserve picnic shelters with tables and barbecue grills, two which are handicap accessible. Fees vary on which shelter and what days, but start around $100 for 4 hours.
Location: 5001 S. Inca Drive, Englewood
Impromptu picnic supplies: There aren’t many options when comes to food in this area, so if you’re in a picnic pinch than head to Sprouts grocery store for prepared foods and snacks. Located at 5001 S. Broadway, it’s just 6 minutes from the park.
Paco Sanchez Park
Boosting 30 acres with a playground, event space and rolling green hills, Paco Sanchez Park is a great spot in the city for a picnic. The park was named after the man who started Denver’s first Spanish-language radio station, and the playground pays homage to him through the 1950s microphone-shaped climb structure, a gramophone slide.
Type of picnic: Park by the playground for a kid-focused picnic. There are large, shady trees for blanket eating or a handful of not-as-shady tables. Or, head away from the child mayhem and plant your picnic in the open green space. Paco Sanchez Park is surrounded by connecting parks too, including Rude Park to the East, and Lakewood Gulch Park to the west, so there’s plenty of grassy spots to choose from.
Amenities: Skate park, playground, baseball field and restrooms.
Things to know: Parking can be tricky. There’s a small lot, but otherwise visitors need to park cars along the street.
Location: 1290 Knox Court
Impromptu picnic supplies: Find the La Salvadoreña Pupusas food truck at 1000 Knox Court and take tacos, pupusas, tortas, quesadillas and burritos to your picnic.
With 330 acres and so many reasons to visit City Park, picnicking is just one of them. Inside the park is the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Denver Zoo, Ferril Lake, City Park Golf Course, a large playground and numerous trails to meander down. Decide what area you want to be near and stake a plot of grass for an alfresco feast.
Type of picnic: During the summer you can pack a picnic for City Park Jazz, a free concert on Sundays through August 7 at the pavilion. Or, pick up goods to nibble on after visiting the City Park Farmers Market on Saturdays through October 29. Of course any time in between is good for a picnic, and with picnic tables and tons of grassy spots to lay out on, it’s not hard to find a good spot with a great view.
Amenities: Baseball field, picnic tables, jogging and strolling paths, the historic Thatcher Fountain and Martian Luther King memorial, and a lake. Restrooms are scattered about and there are portable toilets, too.
Things to know: While there is a parking lot, it’s not always easy to park around here. On the weekends and in the summer the East High School parking lot is open.
Location: 1700 N. York St.
Impromptu picnic supplies: Open Sandwiches opens at 11 a.m. and serves an array of sandwiches and barbecue, all which can be taken to go. Find it two blocks away on the south side of the park at 3242 E. Colfax Ave. Or, take out an array of dips like hummus and baba ganoush, kabobs and falafel from Yahay’s Mediterranean Grill & Pastries on the south-west side of the park at 2207 E. Colfax Ave.
Hudson Gardens and Event Center
Head to Littleton to indulge in the beauty that is The Hudson Gardens & Event Center. This botanical garden and event space opened in 1996 and features 30 acres of stunning curated gardens, trails and natural terrain to explore.
Type of picnic: Though this garden isn’t ideal for crazy kids that need a playground, it’s great for adults looking for a peaceful spot to enjoy the outdoors, food and company. The venue allows guests to picnic just about anywhere, you only need a blanket.
Amenities: Parking, restrooms and a coffee house on site.
Things to know: The garden is free to visit all year long. Bonus, it’s great spot for finding geocaches.
Location: 6115 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton
Impromptu picnic supplies: There isn’t anything nearby that makes for good picnic fare, but there is a coffee shop on the property in case you need reinforcements.
The actual size of the Wheat Ridge park isn’t huge, but it connects to the Greenbelt & Clear Creek Trail, which means picnics can happen on the grass near the playground, on a picnic table, or along the babbling water. In general the park doesn’t get busy and there is ample parking. Bonus, the swimming pool on the north end can make a day of picnicking even more exciting.
Type of picnic: Groups, kids and adults can all embrace the picnic options here. There’s plenty of open space and enough nooks if you want to feel more secluded.
Amenities: Bathroom, basketball court, bike trail, creek, playground, picnic tables and soccer field.
Things to know: Soccer games occur through the summer and fall, but there’s plenty of open space on the other side of the field.
Location: 4355 Field St, Wheat Ridge
Impromptu picnic supplies: Give your picnic an Italian twist with pizza and/or sandwiches from Pietras Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant at 9045 W. 44th Ave.