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Location, location, location. Besides what’s on the menu, locale is everything when it comes to planning the perfect picnic. And because eating and drinking outside is another reason to get out of the house and breathe in some fresh air, we found a few of the best spots in and around Denver to do just that—as well as local delis and restaurants to help fill your picnic basket.
Lover’s Hill Park, Boulder
It’s all in the name. Just steps from Boulder’s buzz sits this hidden gem, a romantic little enclave that’s built for two. While Lover’s Hill doesn’t boast expanses of green space or miles of hiking trails, it does have a wraparound bench and a lot of privacy. If you time it right (and get a little lucky), your evening meal may come with a side of epic sunset views over the mountains.
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Where to get picnic supplies: Lover’s Hill is meant for special occasions, so swing by Le Frigo for unbelievable charcuterie and cheese boards. For a sweet surprise, follow up the cheese with some delicious pain au chocolat or macarons; everything is baked fresh daily. 5360 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite B2, Boulder
Wonderland Lake Park, Boulder
Along the foothills of North Boulder lies Wonderland Lake, a serene watering hole with plentiful lounging spots along is banks for your next al fresco lunch. The tarn is 0.2 mile (about a five minute walk) from the Wonderland Lake trailhead on Quail Circle, and the destination is more than worth that short stroll, with ample grass bordering the lake, picnic tables, and benches on its southwest shores. After your meal, stretch your legs on one of the park’s walking trails.
Where to get picnic supplies: For a low-maintenance meal, stop by wine and food market Dedalus Boulder for gourmet, made-to-order cheeseboards featuring an assortment of salumi, olives, pickles, and other snacks. 1825 Pearl Street, Suite B, Boulder
Mt. Falcon Park, Golden
If you’re the sort who likes mixing fun and food, venture west to Mt. Falcon Park and its quieter west trailhead. Here, you can decide: hike or lunch first. If you’re ready to move, load your snacks into a backpack and trek 0.6 mile along the Castle Trail until you reach the Eagle Eye Shelter. There, enjoy your meal with a side of Turkey Creek views. If you’d prefer to nosh first, unload your goods at the picnic shelter near the parking lot where the panorama of rolling greenery is still darn good.
Where to get picnic supplies: For gourmet cheese, meat, or hot sandos, Cheese Ranch is the spot. (Can’t decide? Go with the Red Rocks Box, which is packed with a nice variety.) 601 16th Street, Unit A, Golden
Alamo Placita Park, Denver
Nestled off of Speer Boulevard, 4.6-acre Alamo Placita Park used to be the location for high-diving elk back in 1898 (yes, really). Now, in lieu of airborne ungulates, find elaborate flower displays across this historic locale. Alamo Placita—meaning “Little Place of Cottonwoods”—is one of seven parks that is serviced by Denver Parks and Recreation’s horticultural team. Between the months of May and October, the Italian-style, sunken garden beds are propagated with flowers from the City Park Greenhouse and are tended frequently. The symmetrical parterres of blooms at the center of the park create the ideal backdrop for a lunchtime picnic.
Where to get picnic supplies: Oliver’s Meat and Seafood Market is a 20-minute walk from Alamo Placita Park and carries locally sourced meats and upscale snacks for your picnic basket. 1718 E. Sixth Avenue
James A. Bible Park, Denver
If your perfect picnic morning includes a gaggle of little ones, there is no better place than James A. Bible Park. In 2021, a new playground was unveiled, complete with a gigantic net structure, tall towers, a merry-go-round, bouncers, swings, a pavilion, and more that will keep kiddos entertained while Mom and Dad relax in the grass with glasses of bubbly (water). If that’s not enough, bring a towel to splash around in the small creek. A paved path also winds through the park and hooks up with the High Line Canal Trail; bikes and walking shoes are encouraged.
Where to get picnic supplies: For classic New York–style deli food, stop in the appropriately named New York Deli News for a couple of sammies and salads. It’s known for its friendly staff and large portions—try the corned beef in one of the pre-fab boxed lunches. 7105 E. Hampden Avenue, Denver
Harriman Lake Park, Littleton
If you’re looking for a less crowded spot to wine and dine, Harriman Lake Park in Littleton promises a serene waterside experience. Just south of Bear Creek Lake, Harriman sits in the middle of a prairie, surrounded by a 1.4-mile loop trail. There are a two primary shoreline spots ideal for picnicking, in addition to park benches and picnic tables. However, park amenities are limited to maintain the natural integrity of the area.
Where to get picnic supplies: Champagne and Charcuterie offers the bougie picnic fare of your dreams. Snag a small charcuterie board (feeds two to four people) packed with premium meats, cheeses, and fruits. 6575 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard, Greenwood Village
Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver
While it might seem like an obvious choice for a picnic, the Denver Botanic Gardens boast plentiful lawn space, tucked-away benches, and a flowering oasis ideal for a picnic setting. And while outside food is welcome, the gardens’ restaurant, Hive Garden Bistro, is open for takeout orders.
Where to get picnic supplies: Before you make your way to the gardens, stop by Leven Deli for a pastrami reuben sandwich (or two) and a few chocolate, tahini, and malted milk brownies for your basket. 123 W. 12th Avenue