Across Connecticut, families and romancers alike love this area for its scenic picnic locations. State parks provide shoreline and waterfront views, and local vineyards combine wine with delicious foods to create a romantic getaway from life’s daily stressors. Pack those picnic baskets to enjoy hilltop views and ocean breezes at Connecticut’s best spots for a picnic.
1555 Asylum Ave.
Hartford, CT 06117
This national historic park is in full bloom with an array of more than 15,000 plants and flowers. Its scenic pond, trail, roses and flower gardens provide a picture-perfect atmosphere for an afternoon picnic. The Rose Garden, its most popular attraction, fills the air with the aromatic smell of romance. Hide from the summer rays and find shade inside the Perennial Garden. Elizabeth Park’s summer concert series is a local hit every Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the Rose Garden lawn. Pack a picnic dinner from June 27 to Aug. 29 to enjoy the sounds of blues, the Beatles and tons of fun local bands. Expect free parking and nearby restrooms, but no grilling. Leashed pets are allowed.
1339 Whirlwind Hill Rd.
Wallingford, CT 06492
Love birds, families and best of friends are welcome at this hilltop vineyard. Guest are welcome to bring their own food to pair with wine or non-alcoholic beverages from Gouveia’s. Wine tasting by the glass is a fan favorite, but by-the-bottle options make for great picnics here. Visitors may have those bottles re-corked to bring unfinished wine home as well. Outdoor picnic tables and lawn seating provide a breathtaking view, especially at sunset.
Hammonasset Beach State Park
1288 Boston Post Rd.
Price: $20 Connecticut residents/$30 non residents/$14 weekdays for residents/$20 weekdays for non residents
Picnic shelters line the shore at Hammonasset Beach. Also enjoy picnic table set ups in grassy fields near the camp sites here. The best location at this state park is Meg’s Point, or taking the first right at the round about. Hammonasset is the best shoreline location for sun, swimming and cookouts. Enjoy two miles of surf and sand at this premier picnic location right in Madison. Be sure to stop by Meigs Point Nature Center for information on fun area activities and a little history lesson on the park itself.
Bradley Point Park
420 Captain Thomas Blvd.
West Haven, CT 06516
Contact the City of West Haven for fee schedule
Located along Long Island Sound, this public park provides recreational entertainment and waterfront views. Pack a blanket and your favorite foods for lunch on the beach or grassy fields. Benches are located in the park, however, this site doesn’t offer picnic tables. A 1.7-mile waterfront walkway is available 24/7, connecting Bradley Point Park to Sandy Point. Limited on-site parking closes at 11:30 p.m.
Bigelow Hollow State Park
288 Bigelow Hollow Rd. (CT-171)
Union, CT 06076
Price: $9 residents/$15 non residents/free on weekdays
Your next picnic experience is open to 9,000 acres of recreational ground at Bigelow Hollow State Park. The best of both worlds, this public park offers beach and picnic access. Sport lovers, work up an appetite on Bigelow’s hiking trails from Bigelow Hollow all around Breakneck. Enjoy stunning views of the park’s lakes and Eastern Connecticut’s largest unbroken patch of forest. Fishing and boating is available on the 18-acre pond inside this state park.
Related: Top Connecticut Camping Sites
Kimberly Ord is a freelance writer and lifetime resident of Connecticut. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.