The perfect picnic all starts with the right backdrop
When it comes to agreeing on things to do or places to eat during your summer getaway, it can be a challenge to land on that one choice that everyone will love equally the same.
That’s where the classic “American Picnic” can become the great unifier.
With gorgeous parks, trails and picnic tables everywhere you turn, Lake Lure & the Blue Ridge Foothills was simply made for dining al fresco!
It is one activity that can take minimal planning and be put together on the fly. So, whether you’re here for a day, weekend or week, consider changing things up a bit by weaving a picnic into this summer’s travel itinerary.
To help you decide where to set up your blanket, hammock or basket, we’ve rounded up some of our best picnic spots, along with a punch list of places to pick up the necessities if you’re short on time or just prefer to spend more of it enjoying the scenery.
First off: Where to go
Crestview Park – Located just one mile south of this charming small town, Crestview Park is the ideal spot for taking your picnic from a simple lunch outing to an all-day affair. It’s a 26-acre, multi-purpose park that contains several ball fields, two playgrounds, a picnic shelter, a lighted walking trail, basketball courts, tennis courts, and horseshoe pits.
Local’s tip: The town does rent out the picnic shelter so if you have a large group you’ll need to reserve the picnic shelter. Otherwise, it operates as a place to escape the heat and sit down and eat a bite in the shade. The shelter includes a charcoal grill, lights, and four electric outlets.
Purple Martin Greenway – Across the street from Crestview Park is Rutherfordton's first natural trail system! Here, you can enjoy your picnic lunch while you explore wildlife, creeks, waterfalls and local plant life. The trail is bike, kid and pet friendly, as well as handicap accessible.
Local’s tip: The picnic shelter operates just like the one mentioned above at Crestview Park. So if you are planning a party, reserve ahead of time.
Main Street Park – For the feel of a somewhat urban picnic in the heart of historic Rutherfordton, tuck into this small open space decorated with planters, trellises, iron archways, benches, and a water feature.
Local’s tip: If you’re in a time crunch, grab a to-go lunch from one of several nearby restaurants and simply relax for a few minutes of bliss.
LAKE LURE & CHIMNEY ROCK VILLAGE
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park – With miles of trails, multiple scenic overlooks, wildlife, and even a 404-foot waterfall, Chimney Rock Park takes the picnic experience up a notch. There is a large pavilion in the meadows, as well as tables along the roadway and trails. You can carry your picnic along with you while you hike and find the perfect place to eat and relax.
Local’s tip: We love the large deck overlooking Hickory Nut Gorge outside the Sky Lounge at the top of the mountain. Enjoy your own picnic there or order from their menu!
Dittmer-Watts Nature Trail –With plenty of picnic tables positioned all along an intimate network of easy to moderate woodland trails, this park is located within minutes of the shops and restaurants of nearby Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Village.
Local’s tip: Have some bird lovers in your group? This is the picnic spot for them!
Pool Creek Picnic Park – Pool Creek Picnic Park says it all. This park was designed for picnickers. It’s accessible by water or by land. Simply dock your boat, hop out, fire up one of the grills and enjoy the scenery.
Morse Park – The only thing better than a picnic in a park is a picnic in a park with miles of crystal clear waters all around you. Morse Park is located next to the town marina and is the ideal spot for that traditional ‘throw a blanket on the grass’ kind of picnic. There are also several perfectly positioned picnic tables right next to the water.
Local’s Tip: Want to get in a little fishing, kayaking or canoeing while on your picnic? Both Pool Creek and Morse Park are perfect for anglers of all ages. After lunch, rent a kayak, canoe or SUP at the nearby marina, located within walking distance from both parks.
James F. Crowe Park – With five covered shelters, two playgrounds, outdoor grills, a horseshoe pit, and picnic tables, this 80-acre park has everything you need for groups large and small. The recently renovated bathrooms and upgraded fencing are a bonus. Picnic shelters stay busy, so reserve one in advance by calling the Town of Forest City.
Spindale House – Visit Main Street in Spindale to find a row of eclectic shops and restaurants where you can grab a bite to go, then sit on the lawn of historic Spindale House on a nice afternoon. Work off your full bellies with a stroll along the Rail Trail directly across the street.
Max Gunter Park – Grab a classic, handmade bologna and cheese sandwich, Moon Pie and an RC Cola from Washburn’s General Store and head over to Max Gunter Park for a nostalgic picnic experience. For the truly ambitious, pickup an ice cream churn and make homemade ice cream on your picnic! Or, for a homemade treat, swing by Whistle Stop Bakery for some homemade cupcakes or dessert of the day.
Local’s tip – History buffs will love the Cherry Bounce Trail, a historic trail taken by those seeking out Amos Owen's famous cherry bounce drink. Unfortunately you can't get that to take on your picnic but there are several stops along the trail in Bostic that are definitely worth the trip.
Putting it all together: Places to Get Picnic Gear
Bubba O’Leary’s General Store & Outfitter – From picnic blankets and large beach towels to tumblers, tin cups, hammocks, and outdoor lawn games, a stop here will cross off the list several last-minute picnic must have items.
Local’s tip – Before you head out to the parks, fill your cooler with ice-cold bottled drinks from the store’s antique fridge.
Washburn’s General Store – For the traditionalist, only a checkered tablecloth will do for your picnic. Not to worry, Washburn’s sells tablecloths by the yard. How’s that for customization?
Short on Time? How about a Picnic To Go?
We’ve found that all of the following restaurants, cafes and delicatessens have picnic appropriate food choices. From a simple brown bag hiker’s lunch, to barbecue, pizzas or a gourmet picnic feast for a large family, there’s something for everyone:
|RUTHERFORDTON||LAKE LURE & CHIMNEY ROCK||FOREST CITY||SPINDALE||BOSTIC|
|Bee Happy Eats and Sweets||Larkin’s on the Lake||Copper Penny||Fat Tracy’s||Whistle Stop Bakery|
|Sunnyside Orchard & Cafe||Lake House Diner||Smith’s Drug||Spin City||Washburn’s General Store|
|Corner BBQ (Tommy’s)||Medina’s Village Bistro||Foothills Cafe||Granny B’s|
|Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery||Moe's BBQ||Shake Shop|
|Riverwatch Bar & Grill||Barley's|
|Old Rock Cafe|