Al Fresco Feasts
Whether you want secluded and quiet, a place to take the kids, a killer view or all of the above, we have your top picnic spots at the ready right here.
You Want a Place With a View
Try: Corey Hill Outlook, at the peak of Brookline’s Summit Avenue.
How to Get There: Ride the Green C line to Summit/Winchester stop.
Meal to Bring: Take-out Asian food. The nearby Washington Square offers a number of restaurants that can do the job, from the quick-and-easy Dragon Star to the fancier Minato Sushi.
For Extra Supplies: The Washington Street Whole Foods sits less than half a mile away, replete with chilled drinks and organic snacks.
Nearby Restroom: Athan’s Bakery in the middle of Washington Square has a wonderfully spacious bathroom — but if you stop in, do make sure to pick up a piece or two of their (incredible) baklava.
Bonus Feature: A killer hill for a pre-meal workout, plus amazing views of Boston and Cambridge.
You Want a Place Hidden from View
Try: Under a tree at the Forest Hills Cemetery.
How to Get There: Take the Orange line to Forest Hills.
Bring: Any one of the made-to-order sandwiches from City Feed and Supply (handily nearby on Jamaica Plain’s bustling Centre Street). They’re packed to the gills with fresh food made to order — and with local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Call ahead orders are welcome for those in a rush to stake out the best spot.
For Extra Supplies: Stay in City Feed — the grocery section has everything from local honey to extra bottles of water.
Nearby Restroom: There’s a restroom stop right by the Forest Hill Avenue gates on your way in.
Bonus Feature: History lessons: the cemetery is packed with famous figures from the past, including E. E. Cummings and William Lloyd Garrison. Guide books are available for $15-22 in the office for those looking to explore.
You Want a Place With an Unusual View
Try: Deer Island.
How to Get There: Drive this one; public transport to the island is sparse.
Meal to Bring: This stop has rather a less than cheerful past (at various points in history, it housed a jail and a hospital and served as a loading point for potato famine refugees), so consider bringing some comfort food to nosh on. Think mac-and-cheese or a slice or two of strawberry pie.
For Extra Supplies: Hit up the prepared food section in Winthrop Marketplace, a locally owned shop with customer service so far and above beyond the usual grocery stop reception, you may find it hard to shop anywhere else.
Nearby Restroom: There are Port-a-Pottys on both sides of the island (two near the water, two near the guard gates).
Bonus Feature: Large swaths of beach for those interested in a nap in the sun, plus, for the science/hygiene curious, the chance to tour the mindblowing, award-winning sewage treatment plant nearby (it’s a curiously Seussian experience to stand beneath the towering, rounded vats populating the area).
You Want a Place With an Historical View
Try: The Charlestown Navy Yard.
How to Get There: Take the 92 or 93 bus from Downtown Crossing.
Meal to Bring: This area has several small deli-style bakery options. If you’re up early, we recommend you hit up the American Bakers’ Café for one of the melt-in-your-mouth iron-pressed breakfast sandwiches. (And if it’s later in the day, live dangerously and get one anyway.)
Nearby Restroom: Available in the park.
For Extra Supplies: Hit up the nearby Newtowne Foodmart on Medford Street.
Bonus Feature: The park includes a playground and room to run, making it particularly family-friendly (it’s also a nice breather for antsy children if you’re coming in by way of the Freedom Trail).
You Want a Place With People Watching
Try: The Boston Common.
How to Get There: There’s a wealth of transport options here: Arlington (Green line), Boylston (Green), Park (Green and Red), Downtown Crossing (Orange and Red).
Meal to Bring: People watching is the king of spectator sports — and to do it right, you’ll need a bit of solid, greasy sustenance. Aim for pizza-to-go from the likes of Figs on Charles Street or Sal’s Pizza on Tremont, then top it off with a frozen lemonade from one of the street vendors.
Nearby Restroom: The Boston Common Visitor Information Center has restrooms for use.
For Extra Supplies: Deluca’s Market on Newbury Street. A cozy little stop where sandwiches are made to order, the cheese is smelly and the selection of sweets is exactly what you need to flesh out the picnic basket.
Bonus Feature: You might find a group of people running around on broomsticks playing Quidditch. And then there’s the squirrel-watching, which rivals the people for sheer entertainment.
You Want a Place On the Water
Try: Jamaica Pond.
How to Get There: Take the Green E line to Heath Street or the Orange line to Stony Brook.
Meal to Bring: Need you even ask? You’re in JP… get ice cream from the original JP Licks! Although, if you do want something more substantial, try the bites from any of the several take-out friendly restaurants on Centre Street, like Bukhara Indian Bistro or The Purple Cactus Burrito & Wrap Bar.
Nearby Restroom: Best bet is to try whichever restaurant you grab your meal from on Centre Street, which is only about a block or two away from the pond.
For Extra Supplies: Check out the Harvest Co-Op on South Street, which specializes in fresh, local, organic foods (handily balancing out the ice cream).
Bonus Feature: Rent a rowboat and really eat on the water.