The Best Places To Picnic In The South

Pack up your basket and enjoy lunch in one of these pretty parks.

<p>Sean Pavone/Getty Images</p>

Sean Pavone/Getty Images

I remember my mother’s picnic basket. A sturdy rattan, the leather latch opened to reveal a full set of dining supplies nestled in cheerful yellow fabric. Each little compartment housed a surprise—little cups for tea, forks with melamine handles to match and plates with dividers to hold food in place. I always asked to use it and she accommodated me as well as my friends.

We held our grown up tea parties sprawled on a bedspread, enjoying the view of the green summer marshes of the Lowcountry. There seemed to always be a breeze. To this day, I can’t pass up a well-crafted basket in the store in hopes my family will spread a blanket in a gorgeous spot and just spend time together.

Picnics are an easy way for Southerners to enjoy our favorite foods. Fried chicken lends itself to fingers and cutting watermelon the right way will give a green handle to enjoy the fruit. Corn doesn’t need anything fancy, especially in the summer when it’s sweet and needs no accompaniment. Tomato sandwiches with the crusts cut off fit perfectly, as do containers of deviled eggs and potato salad. Don’t worry if the peaches are juicy, there’s a cloth napkin for that.

Related:55 Classic Picnic Food Ideas For Your Next Outdoor Gathering

Here are some beautiful locations across the Southern states to get out and enjoy our warm weather and your loved ones for a picnic.

Forsyth Park

Henryk Sadura/Getty Images
Henryk Sadura/Getty Images

Savannah, Georgia

This 30 acres of greenspace within the historic district of Savannah holds the Forsyth Park Fountain, one of the most photographed landmarks in the city. There are always blankets on the lawn with relaxing residents and visitors watching people exercise on the path around the park, listening to live music, or soaking up Savannah’s warm weather. While you’re there, visit the fragrant garden for the blind or walk through the network of towering oaks for a little shade. The city loves this landmark and so should you.

Hunting Island State Park

<p>Shunyu Fan/Getty Images</p>

Shunyu Fan/Getty Images

Hunting Island, South Carolina

Just outside of Beaufort, there’s a special state park that’s only just getting discovered by more tourists. Hunting Island State Park is exceptionally beautiful, the maritime forest wrapping its gnarled trees right down to the white sand beach. There’s a picturesque lighthouse, built in 1859, right at the foot of one of the beach access points with picnic tables and plenty of room to spread out and enjoy.

The park encompasses over 5,000 acres of marsh, forest and beachfront, so there’s much to explore and enjoy. Pet friendly and even welcoming horses in some winter months, Hunting Island is a treasure to be enjoyed with furry and human family and friends.

Our public service announcement: the months of May through October are sea turtle nesting season and lights aren’t allowed on area beaches. Turtles return to the sea following the light of the moon and a flashlight gives enough glow to cause confusion. 

City Park

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orlean’s urban space has a grove with ancient oak trees, some reaching 800 years old. This park houses the New Orleans Botanical Garden, Couturie Forest and Arboretum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Louisiana Children’s Museum. 16 million people visit it every year to picnic, play, and enjoy nature.

Sit among the over 90 works of art in the Bestoff Sculpture Garden or put your blanket under the mysterious singing oak, an ancient tree with dozens of wind chimes hidden in its branches.

Shelby Farms Park

<p>Sean Byrne/Getty Images</p>

Sean Byrne/Getty Images

Memphis, Tennessee

There’s a herd of buffalo at Shelby Farms, but don’t let that worry you. They’re fed up to 50,000 pounds of hay and supplemental feed by Park Rangers each year, so they don’t need your picnic.

The park is gorgeous, with over 20 bodies of water, 40 miles of trails, and plenty of activities for kids. Furry family members are also welcome as the park is dog-friendly with an area called The Outback that’s all their own. As one of America’s biggest urban parks, Shelby Farms has space for all.

If you come without a blanket to spread, look for the multiple pavilions and picnic tables throughout the property. Hyde Lake, the biggest body of water in the park, offers 80 acres of shoreline and makes a great choice for your spread.

Rowan Oak

Courtesy of Visit Oxford, Mississippi
Courtesy of Visit Oxford, Mississippi

Oxford, Mississippi

Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner purchased this property in 1930, naming it for Scotland’s Rowan Oak to reflect security and strength. There aren’t actually any oaks on the property, at least of the type that he imagined, but there's plenty of beautiful spots to dine. Bailey Woods Trail runs from Faulkner’s historic home to the University Museum, offering a little exercise before you eat. The grounds have historic buildings, an English knot garden, and a concentric circle garden to relax away the day. 

Noccalula Falls Park

Shackleford-Photography / Getty Images
Shackleford-Photography / Getty Images

Gadsden, Alabama

As legend has it, Princess Noccalula gave her heart to a young brave in her own tribe, but her father promised her to another. In her grief, she jumped from the waterfall that bears her name to avoid her wedding. Today, the falls sit in the middle of the 500 acre park, dropping water 90 feet into the ravine below. Picnic near the botanical gardens or take the gorge trail to the cavern behind the falls. There are numerous spots to sit and have a meal.

Bok Tower Gardens

<p>Sean Pavone/Getty Images</p>

Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Lake Wales, Florida

An oasis among the state’s sandy beaches and warm weather, Bok Tower Gardens became a landmark for tourists in the 1920’s. Dutch immigrant Edward Bok created the 250-acre contemplative garden and bird sanctuary. The beautiful grounds were meant to be a haven for visitors, full of music from the constantly played Carillon, or singing tower. From most places on the property, you can hear the chimes, and a picnic anywhere in the acreage lets you experience rare plants and animal habitats. An excellent spot is the reflecting pond near the bell tower. There’s plenty of shade from oak trees around the bottom of the structure.

Pro tip: Try these ideas from Southern Living to pack in your next picnic basket!

For more Southern Living news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Southern Living.