Top 10 Central US Picnic Spots
Picnic season is upon us and seeking the best picnic location is a sport for many. The following are the 10 best picnic locations in the Central United States. Organized by state, they’re evaluated by scenery, accessibility, and amenities.
Nebraska might not top your list of scenic states but a visit to Scotts Bluff National Park is sure to change your mind. Eight hundred feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff is a natural landmark and has served as the path marker for those on the Oregon, California, Mormon, and Pony Express Trails. Today, Scotts Bluff National Monument preserves 3,000 acres of unusual land formations, which rise over the prairie land below.
Picnic at the well-appointed visitor’s center and enjoy the scenic views. After lunch, you can hike the Saddle Rock Trail, drive to the summit, visit the Oregon Trail Museum, and take a step back in time to relive life on the Oregon Trail during Living History programs on summer weekends.
Pikes Peak Colorado? Nope, visit Pikes Peak State Park near Marquette, Iowa. This park offers fantastic picnicking opportunities where you can enjoy some of the best views in the Midwest from the overlooks and trail viewing platforms.
In addition to being an ideal picnic location, Pikes Peak State Park has been called a hiker's delight. On its trails, you will find sheer walls of Decorah limestone, and fossil remains including brachiopods, gastropods and cephalopods and no hike is complete without a view of the amazing Bridal Veil Falls.
Looking for a place to picnic, run, hike, canoe, fish, camp, bird watch, ride horses, hunt, and scuba dive in the middle of Illinois? Look no further than Kickapoo State Recreation Area near Danville, Illinois.
Named after the Kickapoo, a Native American Tribe, this area has a long and rich cultural history. In fact, many archaeological excavations have provided evidence of a prehistoric village on the Middle Fork River near the park.
Smack in the middle of this flat landers state you’ll find Kanopolis State Park in Marquette. The park features a full-service marina, beaches, picnic areas, and trails for horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking. There is something for everyone.
Pattison State Park features the highest waterfalls in Wisconsin and the fourth highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. In addition to this fantastic landmark, Pattison has three picnic areas with tables, grills, water, and rest rooms. The largest is near the 300-foot sand beach on Interfalls Lake, which also offers a sunning area, and well appointed bathhouse. The 1,436-acre park also has nature programs and guided hikes, a nature center, camping, 9 miles of hiking trails, and abundant wildlife.
Wyalusing State Park offers 170 picnic tables in open shelters. Wyalusing State Park, 500 feet above the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, is one of Wisconsin's oldest parks. You can visit Indian burial mounds, canoe, and spend hours bird watching. It's a place to go for fishing, boating, bicycling, picnicking, and enjoying nature.
The Katy Trail State Park, which was built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad, allows visitors today to travel through some of the most scenic areas of the state.
Though there aren’t any designated picnic tables or locations, the smooth, level grade is ideal for bikes or wheelchairs, and the trailheads make restful picnic spots.
After your picnic enjoy a hike along the route of the Missouri River. The trail travels through a variety of landscapes and is an ideal location to spend the afternoon.
Twin Bridges State Park, near Fairland Oklahoma, is known for a country atmosphere, excellent fishing, lighted boat ramps, campgrounds, lake huts, playgrounds, volleyball court, horseshoe pits and of course amazing picnic facilities. These picnic facilities provide tables, individual shelters and group picnic shelters.
At the opposite end of the state you’ll find Lake Texoma State Park. This 1,882-acre park is Oklahoma's second largest lake, and one of the premier fishing locations in the Southwest. In addition to fishing, the park offers swimming, camping, picnic areas, horseback riding, trail rides, hiking, playgrounds for the children, hiking trails, riding stables, full service marina and guide fishing services.
When in Arkansas you must visit the Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area. The AHRA is home to the Arkansas River, one of the world's most popular whitewater rivers for kayaking and rafting. In addition to water sports there are abundant opportunities for other recreational activities including hiking, wildlife watching, mountain biking, and of course picnicking.
Collegiate Peaks offers a panoramic view of the Arkansas River Valley. For group picnics there is one covered pavilion with 6 picnic tables and two covered pavilions with one picnic table each.
Some fun things to take while picnicking are cookies, barbecue ribs and don't forget that fresh lettuce on your sandwiches!