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The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the birds are chirping. What better way to celebrate spring in the Mile High City than with a laid-back outdoor picnic? We matched four fantastic eateries with walking-distance parks so that you can picnic on a whim. All you’ve got to do to enjoy a fabulous al fresco feast is pick up your grub—and remember to bring a blanket and a frisbee.
Picnic Location: Congress Park
Eats: The Truffle Cheese Shop
When it comes to picnicking, you really can’t beat a classic spread of cheese and charcuterie. The 17-year-old Truffle Cheese Shop is one of the best destinations in the city for both; all the better that it happens to be located just two blocks south of Congress Park’s green lawn and shady trees. Ask the knowledgeable mongers to help you create the perfect spread from the 100-plus cheese options, or go for one of the daily sandwiches. (Recent sammies included a delicious combo of Harvarti, spicy capicola, and fig jam on a Grateful Bread Co. hoagie.) And if you really want to go all out with the ultimate picnic, call a day in advance and order one of the custom-curated picnic baskets. 2906 E. Sixth Ave., 303-322-7363
Picnic Location: Great Lawn Park, Lowry
Eats: Woodgrain Bagels
Boulder’s Woodgrain Bagels chose the burgeoning Lowry neighborhood for its Denver debut in February. Now that the weather is warming, it’s the perfect excuse to take your food to-go and stroll on over to the green grass along the quiet stream at Great Lawn Park. The slightly sweet, wood-fired Montreal-style bagels are fantastic on their own or with a simple smear of cream cheese, but they also make the perfect vehicles for a long list of sandwich toppings. Our favorites include the open-faced Brooklyn (lox, dill, tomato, capers, and cream cheese) and a Mile High Reuben (made with ultra-tender house-made pastrami). Pair your sammie with an order of the crisp fried Brussels sprouts. 7559 E. Academy Blvd., 720-510-1903
Picnic Location: Harvard Gulch Park
Eats: Roaming Buffalo BBQ
Forget hauling your own charcoal and hot dogs to the park. Instead, stop by three-year-old Roaming Buffalo BBQ to pick up some already smoked meats before you head to Harvard Gulch Park. Owners Rachael and Coy Webb specialize in classic barbecue with a Colorado twist; the pair uses a mix of pecan and oak woods to flavor everything from bison and green chile sausages to Colorado lamb shank and brisket. Don’t skip out on their excellent house-made sides—the smoked poblano cheddar mac and cheese and the blueberry apple crumble are favorites. Just be sure to arrive early, as the ‘cue often sells out. And pack sunscreen for this picnic—after this meaty feast, you may not want to move for a couple hours. 2387 S. Downing St., 303-722-2226
Picnic Location: Cheesman Park
Eats: Liks Ice Cream
We love ice cream so much that we’ll happily eat it as a meal replacement. All the better when the sweet frozen treat comes from Liks and we’re enjoying it at the ever-popular Cheesman Park. This family-owned creamery has been dishing out seasonally rotating flavors—such as the ultra-popular Amaretto Peach, made with real Colorado peaches, and classic Cookies and Cream—as well as milkshakes, banana splits, and sundaes since 1976. We can never resist the lure of the house-made waffle cones, whose vanilla-y smell beckons from blocks away. 2039 E. 13th Ave., 303-321-2370