For much of the year, Western New Yorkers look forward to summer for all of the things they want to do outside but can’t. So at the first sign of sun and warmth, we exercise outside, we go to parties outside, and we even look forward to working outside.
So, of course, we also eat outside.
The outdoor picnic is a tradition that spans the generations. Chances are that even the most bug-infested and rain-soaked picnic still will spark a pleasant memory in the future.
You can almost smell the charcoal burning, the music playing and the children screaming.
And everyone who enjoys a picnic has a favorite picnic spot. Maybe it’s a peaceful setting by a waterway, or a place that has stayed the same while the world around it has changed. Maybe it’s the baseball diamond or the playground nearby.
You don’t need much to have a picnic, which means this region has plenty of spots that are perfect for a blanket and a basket. But here are some of the best.
Whether you choose to dine under the weeping branches of the willows along the creek bank or in one of the offered picnic shelters, you can enjoy the leisurely activities the park offers before or after the meal. There is a canoe launch, and fishing is allowed. You can inline skate along the paths or fly kites in the open meadows. If you are looking to wander around, make sure to head across the footbridge to Ellicott Island. There are playgrounds for the kids and baseball diamonds for pickup games.
After eating a large lunch at one of the picnic areas complete with a grill, you can work off the calories by hiking or biking through the park’s 1,213 acres. In the southwest corner of the park, you can visit a remote creek in a wooded ravine. The “Eternal Flame Falls” also are in that pocket. If you want something more mainstream, you can play tennis on one of the 12 courts or leisurely drive along the roads.
There are many private pockets around the lake in Delaware Park that are well-suited for a picnic date. Trendy Elmwood Village dwellers often bike over with blankets and snacks. If you are there on a Wednesday evening, you can even catch a Shakespearean play en plein air. Where else in the area can you simultaneously be immersed in nature and surrounded by classical architecture?
Beaver Island State Park
The designated picnic areas are only a small part of what this 950-acre park has to offer. If you wait the 30 minutes following your meal to eat, you can swim on the half-mile long sandy beach on Niagara River. If 30 minutes is too long, you can also canoe and kayak on the river or bike the trails. For those who have a competitive streak, there are horseshoe pits and an 18-hole golf course.
Erie Basin Marina
You could spend a whole day relaxing at the Marina, where the Buffalo River and Lake Erie meet. There is a path to wander, and the summer brings flower gardens to explore. It’s a great place to people and boat watch. If you are still hungry after your picnic, an ice cream store is nearby for dessert. This is also a good spot to have an evening picnic and watch as the landscape changes with the setting sun.