Even though April and May have brought rain, clouds, and snow to Boulder, summer truly is just around the corner. Soon enough Boulderites will happily (and hopefully consistently) be lounging poolside, enjoying the sun on walks, hikes, bike rides, and runs, and will be eating and drinking on the rooftops and patios of Boulder’s restaurants. While Boulder’s outdoor restaurant venues are hands down some of the best places in the area from which to enjoy a summer day, there are a multitude of other outdoor eating venues throughout Boulder for when both you and your wallet need a break from dining out. Boulder’s many parks are prime locations for picnics and all the activities that come along with them and, whether your ideal picnic is with family, friends, your significant other, or even solo, there are numerous parks throughout the Boulder area that offer relaxation for adults, fun for kids, and beautiful outdoor mountain dining views that are au natural.
The City of Boulder operates 60 parks that range from small grass lawns to expansive open spaces that include dog parks, bike trails, sports fields, skate parks, and small lakes. From quiet neighborhood parks to those at the center of the city’s summertime activities, these are just a smattering of the many outdoor locations in Boulder perfectly suited for your picnic.
Central Park in Boulder’s Downtown area on Canyon Boulevard is a park always bustling with activity. With easy access to Boulder Creek, this park has an outdoor amphitheater and the benefit of being adjacent to some of Boulder’s well-known summer events, such as the Boulder County Farmers’ Market on 13th Street on Saturdays throughout the day and on Wednesday nights. With ample lawn space to spread a blanket out on and people watch and enjoy the constant activity in the area from, families with kids of many ages will enjoy the educational activities throughout the park featuring information about the area’s flood history and natural habitat. No matter when you plan your picnic, this location is sure to provide plenty of energy, excitement, and entertainment.
For those picnic-goers looking for a quieter, more tranquil picnic outing, the South Boulder area features multiple park sites both large and small that will provide a more relaxing feel for your picnic. Locations such as the Bear Creek Park off of Table Mesa Drive on Lehigh Street are simply small open lawn spaces with views of the flatirons that are perfect for quiet, low-key picnics. Chautauqua Park off of West Baseline Road on Kinnikinic Road boasts similarly incredible flatirons views, and is part of an area designated as a historic landmark in Boulder. At the mouth of the Chautauqua Trailhead, this park features expanses of grass lawns, a playground, a picnic area for small parties, and the opportunity to rent larger lawn spaces if your picnic takes the form of a bigger gathering or picnic-style event. Harlow Platts Park on Gillaspie Drive offers grass expanses and mountain views with a blend of tranquility and the opportunity for activities. With facilities such as gazebos on the edge of the park’s lake, a walking and biking trail loop, and a playground, Harlow Platts is right next to the South Boulder Recreational Center and also borders Southern Hills Middle School and Fairview High School. A family-friendly area, this park has sites perfect to spread a blanket out on and enjoy a meal overlooking the water with the sounds of geese and birds galore in the background.
Many of the parks of North Boulder feature a consistent trait: huge, expansive lawn spaces. At the base of the foothills, picnic-goers in North Boulder will find open spaces on which to stake a claim with a blanket or sheet and enjoy a meal under a massive blue sky. The Dakota Ridge Park off of Dakota Boulevard features not only these expansive lawns, but also a prehistoric-themed playground complete with additional dinosaur and fossil-related décor and activities for the kids to participate in once their sandwiches have been eaten and their juice boxes are empty. Wonderland Lake Park off of Poplar Avenue likewise boasts both open spaces for lawn games as well as a playground and access to hiking trails. Foothills Community Park is abound with opportunities for activities and eating locations, from lawn spaces to picnic tables for small groups and the opportunity to rent areas for larger picnic-style events as well. All of these locations are quiet, open, airy, and relaxing, ideal for a laid-back picnic experience.