Picnics have a sort of celebratory feel. It’s more than dining al fresco—we are seated on the ground or at a rickety wooden table, maybe even eating with our hands. It’s like a dining vacation—we retreat from customary manners and expectations.We’ve scouted the area for a few of the best picnic locations, offered a few creative picnic scenarios and, if you want to take the day off from cooking, we’ve listed some of the tastiest restaurants and shops to supply your picnic fare.
Jetton Park This popular 104-acre park boasts multiple shaded picnic areas, including several along the lake. It’s a great destination for families, with tennis courts, walking/biking trails, playground, public beach area and a beautiful garden and gazebo. 19000 Jetton Road, Cornelius. www.charmeck.org
Grub GuidePick up Southern favorites like fried chicken and macaroni salad at Julia’s Talley House. Add a bag of chips and a jar of pickles and your meal is complete!Julia’s Talley House, 305 N. Main St., Troutman. www.juliastalleyhouse.com
Duffy Boat Rental Picnics are not only for landlubbers. Why not rent an electric boat from Duffy Boats and take to the lake for the afternoon. You can bring your own food and wine and make it a special event for adult friends, or bring a few floaties and keep it kid-friendly. 200-B North Harbor Place, Davidson. www.duffylkn.com
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Grub GuideJJ Wasabis and Joel’s Grill, both in Mooresville, offer tasty, Asian menu items including Saigon tofu rolls, Nirvana sushi roll, spinach strawberry chicken salad, veggie wraps, chicken yakitori skewers and pistachio sansrival pastry for dessert. JJ Wasabi’s, 183 N. Main St., Mooresville. www.jjwasabis.com Joel’s Gril, l 110-A Marketplace Ave., Mooresville. www.joelsgrill.com
Lake Norman State Park This wonderful waterfront park has three picnic areas—all with restrooms, tables and grills—including one near the swimming area and fishing pier and another on a scenic ridge overlooking the lake. With 33 miles of shoreline within the park, an extensive network of hiking and biking trails, along with public boating access and boat rentals, it’s an ideal place to spend the afternoon and enjoy a meal. 159 Inland Sea Lane, Troutman. www.ncparks.gov
Grub GuideGrab some picnic items that are both good and good for you at Healthy Home Market, such as Green Jeanie juice and Lenny Boy Kombucha, along with curry tofu salad, deluxe chicken wraps, granola, stuffed mushrooms, and a mini cheesecake for dessert. Healthy Home Market, 261 Griffith St., Davidson. www.hemarket.com
Other local picnic spots and food purveyors
Fisher Farm For nature lovers and people who like to amble, Fisher Farm is a great, low-key place to take in wildflowers, play in a creek or picnic with a blanket in the middle of an open field. It also has 4 miles of mountain biking trails.21215 Shearer Road, Davidson. www.ci.davidson.nc.us
Ramsey Creek ParkThis waterfront park offers a public boat launch area, fishing pier, volleyball courts, a horseshoe pit and walking trails, as well as a 3-acre dog park. 18441 Nantz Road, Cornelius. www.charmeck.org
Fresh Market Picnic possibilities are virtually endless here at The Fresh Market. Prepared foods abound alongside an extensive antipasta bar and colorful, fresh fruits and veggies. You can’t go wrong with some of their slow-roasted, succulent baby back ribs, or grab some freshly made seafood salads or steamed shrimp cocktail, along with breads, desserts and cheeses. 20623 Torrence Chapel Road, Cornelius. www.thefreshmarket.com
Ferrucci’s Old Tyme Italian Market For an authentic Italian picnic, look no further than Ferrucci’s. Specialty Italian sandwiches made to order, as well as grilled paninis, house-made salads, Italian cured meats and sausages and imported cheeses. Don’t miss their pepperoni or spinach rolls—hot or cold they are a taste of Italy.20910 Torrence Chapel Road, Cornelius. www.ferruccis.com
Yappy Hour Bakery You can find this bakery’s “Treat Truck” at Birkdale Village (across from Starbucks) on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with a variety of gourmet dog biscuits and other baked treats. Various retail locations also sell Yappy Hour Bakery Items, which are listed on their website www.yappyhourbakery.com