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Best parks for a picnic in Seattle

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It’s sunny outside and all I can think about are summer picnics. This is not conducive to a productive work environment. It is fun, though. If you’re also suffering a mad case of spring fever I suggest now is the time to plan for your summer fun.

Seattle abounds with parks large and small and if all you need is a bit of lawn to lay a blanket on you have dozens of choices from neighborhood pocket parks to parks covering hundreds of acres. Judging between them is highly subjective, of course, so feel free to tell us about your favorites in the comments below.

Meridian Park
Nestled in the Wallingford neighborhood is a gem of a hidden park. Surrounded by high walls and shrubbery it feels like a secret garden, with big lawns to play on and spread out a picnic. It has one of the best playgrounds in the city, a P-Patch garden, grills and shade trees. Neighborhood parks don’t get much better.

Matthews Beach Park
A neighborhood park on the shores of Lake Washington that’s smaller and less visited than Magnuson which lies a little to the south. It makes a great stop on the Burke Gilman Trail, but it’s also a great destination for a picnic. There’s a swimming beach, grills, tables, plenty of lawn and a playground. The parking lot is small so arrive early if you’re planning a visit on a sunny weekend.

Fremont Canal Park
If you just want an interesting place to eat lunch, the Fremont canal delivers with grass, benches, a trail and the Canal Park Shelter and Viewpoint – a small dock built over the water. The viewing platform is ADA accessible. Grab a sandwich from Paseo (4225 Fremont Ave N) – the best pork sandwiches this side of the Caribbean, I like the #2 – and take it down to a spot along the Fremont Canal where it won’t matter that you’re dripping sandwich fillings all over the grass while watching the boats go by. Don’t worry, you want their boats but they’ll want your sandwich.

Gas Works Park
This one seems obvious, right? There are reasons for it, including a killer view, lots of lawn, a playground and watching the boats and planes on Lake Union. But no, you can’t actually do paintball here.

And then there are the mammoth, well-known parks that offer so much room for picnics that it hardly seems fair to mention them. Then again, life isn’t fair. If you want a mix of open space and trails through the woods, along with beaches and playgrounds, then Discovery Park in Magnolia, Seward Park in south Seattle and Lincoln Park in West Seattle have it all. Lincoln Park even has Colman Pool – the only heated outdoor saltwater pool in the city. On the beach. The Arboretum is a stunning little world of its own with plenty of places to get lost in and to picnic.

Finally, Westcrest Park in West Seattle has picnic tables, trails, an off-leash dog park and a great view.

Many of the Seattle city parks have reservable shelters with tables and grills, but popular ones go fast. Click on this link for reservation information. Reserving outdoor tables is sometimes easier, and definitely cheaper at $10 for the day.