As our counties reopen in Washington, we are experiencing more freedom to move around and enjoy outdoor activities. Although they look much different than last summer, the Northwest is by far the richest area for picnics with hundreds of parks and day trip opportunities nearby.
This year, hitting the great outdoors and bringing a picnic may be the extent of many people’s
summer travels, as many are choosing to stay close to home and socially distanced from the public. Travel is less appealing as you consider the risks but fresh air and a fresh perspective are still very much in style. State guidelines allow for outdoor enjoyment as long as you stay distanced from others, outside of close family members.
To celebrate with picnics, we’ve gathered information about some of the best picnic ideas in Western Washington. Close enough for a short drive, but far enough away to be an adventure. So grab your favorite foods, or pick up a curbside picnic from a favorite restaurant, and head out to one of these delightful picnic spots with a close friend or loved one.
1. By far the favorite of grandkids is the “Fishnic.” We gather beachwear, surf shoes, a blanket, and home-made Fishnic visors as we head out to either Juanita Beach or Edmond’s Marina Beach Park. Spud’s Fish & Chips, with locations in Kirkland, Edmonds and their first original location on Alki in West Seattle, has first class Fish & Chips that stay hot as you head right over to the beaches that are close by. We toss a blanket on the beach, eat and take photos together and then enjoy a waterside adventure. Both beaches have plenty of opportunities for walking and playing. If you want to extend the day trip, walk on the Edmonds Ferry and grab an ice-cream on the other side at the Mora Iced Creamery, before heading back on this iconic Northwest boat trip.
2. Another seaside treat is Golden Gardens located in Ballard on Puget Sound. With a multitude of picnic tables along a beautiful sandy beach, ample parking and accessible facilities, you can enjoy the salt and sea close to home. Golden Gardens offers strolls along a rugged coastline, hikes through forest trails, sunbathing on sandy beaches, fishing from a pier and a boat launch. The park is also home to an off-leash area for dogs at the upper northern portion of the park
3. If a rich forested adventure is what you are looking for, then Denny Creek and a short, 2 mile hike to Franklin Falls will be perfect for the entire family. Clear blue mountain streams and old growth forest line this well maintained trail that is great for kids and adults alike. You will need to pack in and pack out your meal as there is not an official picnic area, so plan on having a bite to eat as you sit on the rocks under Franklin Falls.
4. “Purple mountains majesty” await on the Mountain Loop Highway! The road winds along a 52 mile mountain loop starting at Granite Falls, but makes for an exceptional day trip. Stop along the way at one of many campgrounds and picnic areas to enjoy beautiful views or riverside escapades.
5. If you have never seen the turquoise waters of Diablo Lake, it is one of the ‘must see’ day trips for anyone living in Washington. Located along the North Cascades Highway 20, about 2.5 hours away, it has an overlook with stunning views of mountains and sparkling waters of Diablo Lake (and convenient bathroom facilities). While you are there, be sure to drive across the Diablo lake Dam, located just west of the outlook, for a “Selfie Photo Moment”. If you are there in the early evening, watching the dam lamps come on with the mist is blowing in the wind, when Pyramid Peak is bathed in the rose light of the alpenglow, it is heavenly. Find out more about the Ross Lake Recreation Area before you go.
Whether you choose a day trip to the mountains or a gathering in your own backyard, Washington offers a summer full of adventure and picnic opportunities. Stay safe by distancing and having hand sanitizer ready at a moment’s notice. Carry in and carry out all your supplies to keep our parks clean and healthy. Most importantly, breathe deeply and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and count your blessings as you experience the outdoors this summer.
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