6 spots around Atlanta to celebrate National Picnic Day

Dust off your gingham blankets. Picnic season is upon us again.
Jasmine Smith Photography - Pretty Luxe Picnics - Backyard

Credit: Jasmine Smith Photography

Credit: Jasmine Smith Photography

Monique Alveranga, founder and owner of Pretty Luxe Picnics, says she’s grateful that her picnic setups, catering and services are fulfilling a need over the pandemic. Courtesy of Jasmine Smith Photography

The pandemic hasn’t just given us more motivation to eat outdoors, it’s also inspired some “out of the box” thinking. As more Atlantans grow bored with eating in their homes, they are now finding new ways to eat out — in greenhouses, enclosed domes and, of course, patio seating at beloved metro Atlanta eateries. And not surprisingly, picnics, a centuries-old tradition, have garnered a newfound appreciation in the age of COVID.

Monique Alveranga, founder and owner of Pretty Luxe Picnics, says she’s grateful that her picnic setups, catering and services are fulfilling a need for people looking to celebrate their special occasions in a fun and safe way.

“Picnics have social distancing [as part of the experience], and they are usually [ideal] for gatherings on a smaller scale,” says Alveranga who has set up luxury picnics for everything from romantic engagements to intimate birthday parties during the pandemic. “It’s a great way to enjoy the open and breathe fresh air.”

But you don’t have to have a special occasion, an elaborate catered menu or a fancy set up to have a memorable picnic outing. Sometimes a picturesque location is all you need to turn outdoor eating into an epic dining experience. So, with a few of Alveranga’s suggestions, we’ve narrowed down a few locales to plan your picnic.

The Meadow at Piedmont Park is a popular Atlanta picnic destination with beautiful Midtown skyline views.

Credit: Eric Champlin

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Credit: Eric Champlin

Piedmont Park

“Piedmont Park is a great location for families,” offers Alveranga. “What I like most about Piedmont Park is that it’s very accessible and open. It’s great for family picnics because you can have a beautiful setup but also have a lot of open spaces to play some classic games.”

Perhaps the metro’s best-known park, Piedmont Park draws more than 4 million visitors each year, making it a top tier option for those who love a good “people-watching” scene. Additionally, the park offers ample parking, picnic tables, gaming fields, a dog park, a labyrinth of trails and a playground for kids. And it’s a great option for a spontaneous day in the park. With restaurants, a grocery store and shopping nearby, a Piedmont picnic can unfold without much planning.

Piedmont Park, 1320 Monroe Drive NE. 404-875-7275, piedmontpark.org.

Chastain Park

The 268-acre park is another city favorite. The expansive area, which includes an equestrian park, gives visitors plenty of scenic options to frame their picnic. Plus, there is the outdoor Cadence Bank Amphitheatre, which was already a popular picnic experience (since guests are allowed to bring their own food and drinks into the venue). Live events at the amphitheater are expected to return later this spring and summer with concerts featuring Anthony Hamilton, Barenaked Ladies, Steely Dan and more. As all events are subject to change, call 404-233-2227 for more details.

Chastain Park, 4469 Stella Drive. 404-733-5012, buckhead.com/parks/chastain-park.

A woman walks her dogs at the Historic Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta’s Od Fourth Ward community. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

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Historic Fourth Ward Park

If you’re in search of a charming intown escape, this is one of Alveranga’s favorite locations for a romantic setting. Couples can start with a stroll on the BeltLine — even picking up takeout from Ponce City Market — and end with a picnic in the 17-acre public park.

“It has a tucked away area by the water,” Alveranga says of the park’s lush green space by the retention basin, where she often sets up lavish picnic displays. “Fourth Ward Park is beautiful for marriage proposal picnics, date nights and family fun. Also, the beautiful water below the steps is the perfect backdrop to pop the question and also provide a beautiful photo [opportunity].”

The park also features a playground, skate park and amphitheater. In May, the park opens its splash pad for kids, making it a fun “cool off” break for the whole family.

Historic Fourth Ward Park, 695 Morgan St. NE. 404-546-6813, h4wpc.org

Grant Park

Gifted to the city in the 1880s and touted as the oldest surviving city park in Atlanta, Grant Park steps into the future with the 2021 opening of the multimillion-dollar Grant Park Gateway structure — a state-of-the-art parking lot that includes a restaurant and rooftop green space that will serve as an extension of the park.

The park also features a pavilion, gazebo, playground, paved trails and more. For those who have yet to experience the newly expanded Zoo Atlanta, which connects to the park, visitors can easily make a day of outdoor fun at the 131.5-acre, attraction-packed park.

Grant Park, 90 Cherokee Ave. SE. 404-521-0938, grantpark.org.

Jasmine Smith Photography - Pretty Luxe Picnics - Backyard

Credit: Jasmine Smith Photography

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Credit: Jasmine Smith Photography

Alexander Park

Gwinnett County residents have a great option, too. And for those who live in Atlanta, Alveranga insists Alexander Park will be worth the trip to Lawrenceville. The 91-acre park boasts walking trails, a horseshoe pit, a playground, and tranquil lake views.

“Alexander Park in Gwinnett County is a very beautiful park, also. It has beautiful green space for family picnics,” she says, adding that the park also has quiet, secluded areas for more intimate date picnics.”

955 Scenic Highway, Lawrenceville. 678-277-0890.

Hotel Colee, formally the W Buckhead, invites guests to their rooftop for a private poolside picnic. 
Courtesy of Michael Kleinberg

Credit: Michael Kleinberg

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Credit: Michael Kleinberg

Hotel Colee Spring Picnic Package

For a fun picnic spin that makes a splash, Hotel Colee, formerly the W Buckhead, is inviting guests to their rooftop for a private poolside picnic. Ideal for a fun gathering with friends, the property offers their Sensational Spring Picnic package, which includes exclusive two-hour use of their rooftop pool and deck, an elaborate breakfast or lunch picnic spread, canned alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and complimentary valet parking for the members of your party. The package, which starts at $1,000, is available now for both overnight guests and non-staying guests through the end of spring.

Hotel Colee, 3377 Peachtree Road NE. 678-500-3100, hotelcolee.com