By Joshua Palmes

With the longer and warmer days of spring and summer now upon us Connecticut residents will be spending more of their time outdoors. One of the most popular things to do this time of year is have a picnic, and the state has no shortage of beautiful settings for one. So make some sandwiches, stock your cooler with soda and bottled water, and have a great outing with friends and family at these Connecticut parks.

Dinosaur State Park
400 West St.
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
(860) 529-8423

Dinosaur State Park is the perfect location for an afternoon picnic with the entire family. It has two miles of nature trails lined with several species of trees, plants and flowers, a rock garden and an arboretum. There is also a picnic area with tables and grills, as well as a pavilion which can be reserved for larger groups. And before or after lunch your kids will want to check out the exhibits inside the park’s museum, including real Jurassic fossils.

Cove Island Park
1125 Cove Road
Stamford, CT 06902
(203) 977-4140

This clean and peaceful coastline park is one of Stamford’s great attractions. Benches and picnic tables are readily available all across the sprawling area, which contains a marina, tennis courts, a mile-long walking trail, bicycle path, and two separate beaches. Cove Island also has a concession stand open during the summer which sells hamburgers, hot dogs and seafood. The park charges a parking fee, but it is easily accessible by bus.

Stratton Brook State Park
149 Village Farms Road
Simsbury, CT 06070
(860) 242-1158

Stratton Brook may not be one of Connecticut’s larger state parks, but it is one of the most attractive. And there are still numerous options for holding your picnic, including a covered shelter with several tables and a tree-shaded area with grills. For those who don’t mind being under the sun the park also has a spacious lawn and a small beach by the pond. Other amenities include a long trail for walking and biking, nature center, and trout fishing. Admission is free on weekdays.

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Argia Mystic Cruises
12 Steamboat Wharf
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-0416

Argia Cruises allow you to enjoy a relaxing picnic while sailing through the sea town of Mystic. The schooner Argia departs several times each day from May through October, with cruises lasting from two to four hours. The crew invites passengers to bring their own food and drinks aboard and has a large cooler they may use for storage. Argia Cruises will even help out by providing complimentary napkins and cups along with goodies like lemonade, chips, cookies, crackers and cheese. The earliest cruise departs at 9:30 p.m. and the latest at 6 p.m.

Rocky Neck State Park
244 W. Main St.
East Lyme, CT 06357
(860) 739-5471

The over 700 acres of this state park on Long Island Sound provide plenty of picturesque views for your next picnic. You’ll find lots of room to lay down a blanket on its expansive and pristine beach. Or explore the park further and set up by the salt marsh or grassy expanses. Rocky Neck’s most popular attraction is the Ellie Mitchell Pavilion, a large stone building on the National Register of Historic Places with picnic tables on its front lawn.

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