15 of the Best Picnic Spots around the World

Is there anything more relaxing than a picnic on a beautiful day? Picture this: family, friends, wine, cheese, bread, fruit, salads. Bring your sunglasses and sunscreen because chances are high that you will be lounging for quite a while.

Piazzale Napoleone I, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
Encompassing early 200 acres of rolling parkland, Villa Borghese is Rome’s verdant heart and everyone’s favorite place for an afternoon walk. The vast gardens are criss-crossed with picturesque paths, where visitors can meander past ancient statues and fountains, sit by a lake or caffè, and take in a film at one of two cinemas. For culture vultures, there is a Shakespearean Globe Theatre with a robust summer schedule, a historic puppet theater, and several world-renowned museums including Galleria Borghese with its enviable collection of Bernini sculptures and Caravaggio paintings. Younger kids enjoy playgrounds, electric train rides, and a kids museum, while children of all ages can get active with skate, bike, and paddleboat rentals.
222 Main Rd, Claremont, 7708, South Africa
When you search for “gardens” and “Cape Town,” you will inevitably be directed to the Company’s Garden or world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Sure, those are worth a visit, but for something a little more unique and off the beaten path, vislt the Arderne Gardens. What was once a family’s private estate is now property of the city and one of the finest collections of exotic trees in South Africa. The original owner, an English timber merchant, collected seedlings from all over the world. Six of the trees have now been distinguished for their age and significance by the City of Cape Town as ‘Champion Trees,’ one of the most popular trees being the vast Moreton Bay Fig in this photo. There are a few different areas within the gardens—a great lawn beneath a giant Norfolk Pine, a Japanese inspired koi pond, and one section filled with hydrangea bushes (resembling something straight out of Alice in Wonderland). On any given weekend, you’ll brush past groups of girls in bright orange or maybe turquoise taffeta dresses at the entrance. The gardens are a cultural gathering point for some in the community, and the giant fig is known as the wedding tree, where newlyweds have their photo taken. If you’re looking to escape the chaos and see a hidden gem, Arderne is perfect place for a romantic stroll or afternoon picnic.
La Isla de Guilligan (Gilligan’s Island, though not the one from the television show) is a popular hangout for Puerto Rican locals. I myself am only home for several weeks a year and I still go once or twice every year. The island is sometimes isolated and sometimes crowded. It boasts snorkeling (I’ve spotted many anemones, fish, crabs, starfish, and barracudas), calm water perfect for floating and swimming, and several trees from which you can jump into the water. It’s off the coast of Guanica, and there are two ways to get there. Either take a ferry (call 787-821-5706 for more information) or rent a kayak from Mary Lee’s by the Sea. If you choose to do the latter, you might want to take your kayak to Isla Ballena (see my highlight “Kayaking and Snorkeling and Hoping for Whales”). This tends to be a day trip, so I suggest you have some food. You can either pack up your own or, if you take the ferry, place an order before embarking and tell them when you’d like to have it delivered. There are picnic pavilions that you can claim if it’s a calm day or you get there early.
Rhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town, 7735, South Africa
Founded in 1913, this famous botanical garden was the first in the world dedicated to its country’s own flora. The spectacular, 90-acre plant haven forms part of a nature reserve that borders Table Mountain National Park. Besides numerous gardens and forests—some of which you can traverse on high via the futuristic Boomslang (Tree Snake) walkway—Kirstenbosch has a greenhouse, a restaurant run by the popular Moyo group, and a nursery for green thumbs who want to take a piece of the garden home with them. Spend five minutes here and you’ll realize why Kirstenbosch’s displays at the Chelsea Flower Show in London often win gold.
Pos Chikito, Aruba
Just down the road from Zeerover is Mangel Halto Beach, located in Pos Chiquito on the southeast coast just south of the Spanish Lagoon. Rife with marine life, the shallow waters make it a perfect place to snorkel. Powdery sand and beach huts make it a great place to get away from the crowds.
New York, NY, USA
Manhattan can, famously, feel like endless rows of apartment blocks and office towers for most of its length. At least above 14th Street, a regular grid of streets and avenues, bisected only by Broadway, has transformed the city into a dream for real estate developers. The green spaces interrupting the pattern—Union Square, Gramercy Park, Madison Square Park—are few and far between, with one enormous exception: Central Park. Running from 59th Street to 110th Street, and between Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) and Fifth Avenue, it is one of the world’s largest urban parks, measuring some 843 acres. It is the masterpiece of the 19th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted working in collaboration with Calvert Vaux. Inside its borders are stately allées and naturalistic scenes, ice-skating rinks (in the winter), an enormous reservoir, and a faux castle. The park is hugely popular, and so to call it an escape from the bustle of the city is often not accurate, especially on mild summer days and the first warm ones in the spring when thousands of residents head to its playing fields, bike and run along the road that loops the park, and enjoy picnics on the Sheep Meadow or one of its other lawns.
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