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Top 10 best places to picnic along the west coast

With sweeping views of the Pacific or encapsulated in the lush forest of the northwest, a picnic destination should be as savory as the landscape. With that in mind, we are bringing you 10 of the top places to picnic along the West Coast with your best friend, boyfriend or beloved family.


Getty Villa: Malibu, California

Getty Villa: Malibu, California

Photo credit: vmiramontes

Why we love it: It never hurts to pair cultural enlightenment with a little gourmet meal, especially when it’s right across from the beach in Malibu.

What to do: Explore ancient European-inspired architecture through the Villa’s museum dedicated to arts and culture. Bonus point: admission is always free.

What to pack:  Getty Villa sells gourmet lunch boxes, so you don’t need to worry about packing your own eats, but be sure to bring a camera to capture all the beautiful architecture.


Julia Pfeiffer State Park: Big Sur, California

Julia Pfeiffer State Park: Big Sur, California

Photo credit: tylerkaraszewski

Why we love it: Cascading waterfall onto a white sand beach tucked away along the scenic Highway 1 — what more could you ask for?

What to do: Soak in the sun, read a book or admire the flora of one of Big Sur’s treasures.

What to pack: Highway 1 isn’t known for its fine food stops, but you can always pick up a bottle of wine from the surrounding regions of Paso Robles and Napa, which pair exquisitely with panoramas of the ocean, or head 15 minutes north of Julia Burns and find yourself at Nepenthe, a quaint restaurant with unbeatable views.


Crissy Field: San Francisco, California

Crissy Field: San Francisco, California

Photo credit: daveandlolo

Why we love it: With long stretches of green grass paralleled along the shores of San Francisco Bay, Crissy Field sets the stage for family (and dog-friendly) fun.

What to do: Bike along the bike paths, play soccer, Frisbee or bocce ball, or fly a kite amidst the grand view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

What to Pack: Snag a couple baked goods from the nearby Warming Hut Café and Bookstore or pack some local bread and cheese from the wharf.


Point Reyes National Seashore: Point Reyes, California

Point Reyes National Seashore: Point Reyes, California

Photo credit: Allie_Caulfield

Why we love it: No entrance fees makes this one-stop-wonder a must–see, with camping options and a shuttle bus to a nearby lighthouse, optimal for photo ops.

What to do: Walk along the beach, stretch out in the field or take in the wide variety of birds in the area. Point Reyes has more than 490 species of birds recorded, 45% of species in North America.

What to pack: A few sandwiches for the day, or stop by Drake’s Café for some clam chowder and fish and chips.


Haystack Rock: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Haystack Rock: Cannon Beach, Oregon

Photo credit: Quiltsalad

Why we love it: Other than the fact that the cult-classic film “Goonies” was filmed partially in this area, its Northwest appeal thanks to the Cannon Beach area has attracted nature lovers from all walks.

What to do: It’s best to get there at sunrise or sunset to explore one of the trails near Haystack Rock, or stretch out on a blanket, soaking in the coming/setting sun.

What to pack: Hiking shoes as well as sandals, as well as a thermos of hot cocoa or hot tea if the weather is right.


Hoyt Arboretum: Portland, Oregon

Hoyt Arboretum: Portland, Oregon

Photo credit: dougtone

Why we love it: Towering redwoods and A-frame eating areas set the stage for a hobbit-esque picnic day for the family.

What to do: Discover what plants are in bloom or take a guided tour to educate yourself on the surrounding nature.

What to pack: For a larger group, buy a couple pizzas from Portland’s best Sylvan location, Pizzacato. It pairs perfectly with wooden scenery. And don’t forget a rain coat, you never know with Oregon weather.


Cape Falcon: Portland, Oregon

Cape Falcon: Portland, Oregon

Photo credit: Ivan McClellan

Why we love it: Sprawling panoramas and less of a crowd than you might expect at a “picnic” ground keep this spot well worth the hike.

What to do: The 4.8 mile round-trip hike takes you across a creek, by colossal trees and lush foliage before opening up at the Pacific.

What to pack: You won’t find any restaurants or rest stops near this gem, so we suggest packing some homemade granola bars.


Kerry Park: Seattle, Washington

Kerry Park: Seattle, Washington

Photo credit: jeffgunn

Why we love it: Romantic views of the Space Needle and downtown Seattle set this park apart from the rest as a picnic spot for two.

What to do: Impress your beloved with a stroll along the park’s edge, overlooking Emerald City.

What to pack: A blanket to bundle in and a thermos of something warm to drink, like this red velvet hot cocoa.


First Beach: La Push, Washington

First Beach: La Push, Washington

Photo credit: jeffgunn

Why we love it: Calling all Twi-hards, this beach park was the location shoot of certain scenes for Twilight, and it still sets the stage for some magical sunsets over James Island.

What to do: Enjoy the surf and explore the beach treasures, from shells to beach glass.

What to pack: If you have a dog, be sure to bring them to First Beach in La Push. It’s a great spot to let him/her cruise around.


Deception Pass State Park: Oak Harbor, Washington

Deception Pass State Park: Oak Harbor, Washington

Photo credit: Chas Redmond

Why we love it: Whether it be a day trip or a weekend trip, this place feeds the senses with picturesque views of wooden coves along the water.

What to do: Fish, play some beach games, relax in the shade of evergreens.

What to pack: Fresh fruit and veggies for the trek through Deception Pass. Also pack a swimsuit in the summer and warmer clothes in the fall and winter.

More West Coast travel

What to do in Portland
3 Romantic West Coast destinations
Day trip: San Francisco Ferry Building

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