The Ultimate Boston Summer Picnic Guide
From charcuterie cones in Beacon Hill to Cuban croquettes in Jamaica Plain, here are the spots to fill up your wicker baskets plus nearby grassy spaces to enjoy them.
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While summer weather can be tempestuous, there are still those perfect days in between storms and blistering heat that practically beg for a picnic excursion. Fortunately, we live in a city dotted with roomy public green spaces where you can lay down a blanket, pick up some food, and pretend you do this all the time. Restaurants have adapted to these unprecedented times, which means plenty of your favorite dishes—and drinks—are available to-go these days. Why not admire the Public Garden’s blooming flower beds while noshing on charcuterie kits or indulge on a hearty sub by the harbor? The possibilities and picnic pairings are endless, but we’ve done the hard work for you by rounding up our favorite grassy spots and nearby takeout options.
Amory Playground + Allium Market
If you want to transport yourself to a scene out of an A24 coming-of-age flick, this bustling college student magnet of a park is for you. Frisbees and stray guitarists abound in this spacious park tucked in Brookline that also features an enchanting nature walk and duck pond. It’s also a conveniently short walk away from Coolidge Corner’s Allium Market, an artisanal cheese and sandwich shop. Feast on a “monger-curated” cheese plate (which can be made vegan) or a Spanish-inspired conversas plate to add a bit of sophistication to your fête champêtre.
The Picnic Spot: Amory and Freeman St., Brookline
Provisions: 1330 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-278-1486, alliummarket.com
Olmsted Park + El Oriental De Cuba
This park’s popular set of trails are a runner’s paradise, with its shaded winding pathways connected by bridges and stairs. If you’re more in the mood to take in the scenery, head to the edge of Jamaica Pond, where there are plenty of benches and picnic areas with prime views of the bobbing sailboats and kayaks. To make matters better, one of the city’s best Cuban restaurants is 10 minutes away by foot, so you can grab some sandwiches and a box of croquettes for you and some friends to munch while you catch up by the waterfront.
The Picnic Spot: 217 Jamaicaway, Boston
Provisions: 416 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-6464, elorientaldeduba.net
James P. Kelleher Rose Garden + Eventide Fenway
Archways festooned in blush-colored roses, gurgling fountains guarded by cherubs, and enough butterflies to fill a conservatory—the Kelleher Rose Garden feels like stepping into a Renoir painting. The hidden pearl in Boston’s famed Emerald Necklace was commissioned by infamous Mayor James Michael Curley in 1931 and remains a glorious testament to Boston’s natural beauty to this day. Surprisingly, this blossoming fairytale garden is a relatively uncrowded spot, which makes it the perfect “secret” getaway just outside the bustling streets in Fenway. For such a chic locale, one needs a meal fit for an aristocrat, so we recommend taking a stroll over to Eventide for a brown butter lobster roll. Break out the parasols and tuck in your napkins, because this picnic just became an elevated affair.
The Picnic Spot: 73 Park Dr., Back Bay Fens
Provisions: 1321 Boylston St., Fenway, 617-545-1060, eventideoysterco.com
Boston Public Garden + Kured
This past June, Beacon Hill welcomed Kured, a build-your-own charcuterie board concept, to the neighborhood. While studying abroad in Madrid in Spring 2019, Boston College alum Gilli Rozynek sprouted the idea to create compact charcuterie bouquets and boxes filled with the best locally sourced cheeses, meats, and accoutrements. The aesthetically pleasing, reasonably priced kits and cones can be customized, but you can always go with one of the pre-made artist-inspired assortments. Find a spot under a willow tree in Boston’s central green space where you can spread out your picnic blanket and partake in some fancy finger food. ¡Salud!
The Picnic Spot: 4 Charles St., Boston
Provisions: 83 Charles St., Beacon Hill, 617-870-4151, kured.co
The Rose Kennedy Rose Garden + Pauli’s
With all the whizzing traffic in the North End, it’s easy to breeze by this beautiful rose garden by the water along Atlantic Avenue. The space honoring JFK’s mother has become a hub for summertime events like cornhole, free concerts, or even a spin on the whimsical carousel. If you want to escape the crowds in the North End without straying too far from the area, the Kennedy Greenway offers a sweet oasis for you to enjoy a delicious, overstuffed sandwich from Pauli’s legendary shop in peace. The park also hosts a rotating lineup of food trucks, so if you’re lucky, you might be able to top off your meal with a decadent ice cream sandwich from The Cookie Monstah.
The Picnic Spot: Atlantic Ave., Boston
Provisions: 65 Salem St., Boston, 857-284-7064, paulisnorthend.com
John F. Kennedy Memorial Park + Black Sheep Bagel Café
This lush park filled with trees and tranquil walkways was once the site of Boston transportation system car barns in the ’70s, but it’s safe to say it’s looking pretty now. The five-acre greenspace along the Charles River is the perfect place to host a preppy picnic complete with a gingham blanket and a wicker basket, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to plop on a bench and dig into a bagel sandwich from Black Sheep Bagel Café sans aesthetics. Black Sheep also makes an excellent Caribbean-style café con leche to round out the experience. Consider your next Sunday morning planned.
The Picnic Spot: Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path, Cambridge
Provisions: 56 John F. Kennedy St., Cambridge, 617-945-2189, blacksheepbagelcafe.com
Bow Market + Perry Park
Somerville’s favorite neighborhood food and shopping destination in Union Square boasts plenty of options for adventurous eaters. Whether you’re craving bulgogi beef bibimbap bowls from Perillas, crispy pickle pizza topped with ghost pepper cheese from Hot Box, or miso-mushroom gravy-covered poutine from Saus, Bow Market has all of that and more global-inspired offerings. Skip the busy outdoor courtyard patio and head to Perry Park, where you can spread out and enjoy some summertime magic. This sweet, lowkey gathering space is a popular spot for parents of pets and kids alike, so be prepared to be surrounded by both.
The Picnic Spot: 355 Washington St., Somerville
Provisions: 1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, bowmarketsomerville.com