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Best Places to Plan a Picnic in Southern California

Best Places to Plan a Picnic in Southern California

Whether you're with family or that special someone, here are the best places to plan a picnic in Southern California.

Palig Dzadourian


5 min read

April 04, 2023

Southern California is where we get a taste of the warm sun-kissed weather, stunning beaches, and breathtaking scenery. What better way to relieve the year's stress than to plan a picnic in Southern California? You will be spoilt for choice when looking for the ideal place for a cute picnic. Here are some that are worth checking out!

The best picnic spots in Los Angeles

When looking for the best places to picnic in Southern California, it is without hesitation that Los Angeles comes up in any list. The city has endless parks that are perfect for planning a picnic, so let’s look at a few of them.

Griffith Park 

Picnics at Griffith Park will be sure to make your day

If you have been up on the Griffith Observatory deck, then you have seen the sheer size of the LA basin stretching out in front of you, which also includes the vast lands of the wilderness of Griffith. Catering to all types of outdoor lovers, Griffith Park has infinite spots for you to pick from; it’s no wonder it is one of the best Los Angeles picnic areas

The Old Zoo at Griffith Park is definitely a good spot to start with. This zoo was simply abandoned and turned into a picnic area, making it one of the most strange yet unique Los Angeles picnic areas. The Old Zoo can be found just North of the merry-go-round on the East side of Griffith Park. There are picnic tables and BBQ grills available to facilitate your planning of the day, along with vast open grass fields for any games and activities you wish to have. 

Echo Park Lake

One of the most popular destinations for picnicking, Echo Lake Park

There is a reason why Echo Lake Park is filled to the brim with people; it is one of the best places to have a picnic in Los Angeles. With the tall palm trees and the local fauna dotted all around the gorgeous lake right in the middle, it offers incredible views while enjoying a lovely picnic. The charming swan pedal boats are also part of why this park is so popular among outdoor enthusiasts, whether you are riding in one or just gazing at them slowly swimming on the lake. 

Echo Park Lake is also a great place to bring the entire family together for a day to remember. 

Lake Balboa Park

One of the most popular Los Angeles parks for picnics, Lake Balboa Park is perfect for a day out under the sun. Although the lake is artificially made, there are a great number of birds that use the body of water, giving a more natural atmosphere. Picnic tables are available, but you can also take advantage of the green grass for a more traditional picnic experience. Lake Balboa Park welcomes pets as long as they are on a leash, and it is very kid-friendly, with a lot of recreational activities like swings and other games for them to play while the grown-ups relax on the soft grass of the park. 

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The best picnic spots in San Diego 

When thinking of the Pacific Coast, it is easier to think of where to plan picnics in Southern California. However, San Diego is undoubtedly one of the most stunning destinations. With its striking beach views and fantastic weather, it is the ideal place to look for picnicking. 

Nate’s Point Dog Park 

Take your pups to Nate’s Point Dog Park for a fun time in the sun.

Nate's Point Dog Park is the way to go for all dog lovers asking themselves where to have a picnic in San Diego. Located in the South of El Prado/ Laurel Street, where you can find an off-leash area of 2.3 acres for your dogs, it is considered one of the most frequented parks for dog owners since 1996. It was named after a long-time city employee named Nate Wells, who took it upon himself to transform the park by removing weeds and dirt from the area. 

The park has all sorts of amenities for visitors, such as picnic tables and water fountains. So head on over to Nate’s Point Dog Park for a day to remember with your pups.

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park is arguably the city's most significant open space, with 12 acres of soft green grass upon which you can set up your picnic blankets and relax. One of the most popular picnic spots in San Diego, Waterfront Park will be able to refresh you after a long week of hard work. Although the 830-foot-tall interactive fountain in the center is the main selling point of this park, it is also used by both young and old as a splashing zone to fend off the sun's heat. 

With private themed garden rooms you can use, incredible views, a whimsical children’s play zone, and several picnic areas you can choose from, Waterfront Park is high on the list of best places to picnic in Southern California

Kate Sessions City Park 

With breathtaking views of Mission Bay and the Pacific Coast below it, Kate Sessions Park is worth checking out if you are looking for the most picturesque places to picnic in Southern California. Situated at the top of Lamont Street at Soledad Road, between Pacific Beach and La Jolla, Kate Sessions City Park is an absolute gem of San Diego. The 79-acre park is divided into two areas, the first of which is a grassy slope perfect for picnicking, kite-flying, and frisbee throwing. In addition, this side of the park is equipped with picnic tables, restrooms, BBQ grills, and drinking fountains.

The second area is made for more adventurous spirits wanting to get active, as it has been left in its natural state. It is great for exploration and hiking activities.

Other picnic spots in Southern California 

Heisler Park in Laguna Beach

Beautiful views of Laguna beach from the Heisler Park.

If you are searching for the best Laguna Beach picnic area, look at Heisler Park. This park has everything you would want for the perfect day out picnicking, with public art all around the area, the Laguna Beach waves crashing down right below, and tall palm trees watching over. So many sides of Heisler Park have outstanding views, pick the one that speaks to you the most and spread your blankets out to take in the beauty of it all, along with the serenity of the park. It is perfect for a relaxing day out in the sunny weather of San Diego.

Palisades Park in Santa Monica

Relax on the grass as you take in the views of Santa Monica beach.

Last but not least is Palisades Park, a landmark of the beautiful city of Santa Monica. A 26-acre land stretching along Ocean Avenue attracts visitors from all around the continent. With incredible views of the iconic Santa Monica beach, benches, artworks, and monuments, Palisades Park is undoubtedly one of the best places to picnic in Southern California.

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