When gardens are in full bloom and woodland and water views are at their best, it’s the perfect time to pack up a picnic and head out to celebrate the season’s bounty of beauty. Here are a few of our favorite spots:
The Stevens-Coolidge Place: The property boasts flower gardens with woodland and field views. 137 Andover Street.
Lynch Park: Enjoy your picnic at the waterfront park, beach, or in the Rose Garden.
Long Hill: Gorgeous plantings and garden rooms make for a perfect picnic setting.
Stavros Reservation: Head up the hill for views of Crane Beach and the Essex River estuary. Island Road.
Stage Fort Park: Picnic at this oceanfront park overlooking the harbor and lawn. Spread out in the gazebo, on picnic benches, or at Half Moon Beach, a tiny, beautiful cove.
Castle Hill: The Allee, behind the Great House, is picnic perfect, as are the Casino or garden areas.
Appleton Farms: There are stroller-friendly paths, shady spots, and quintessential New England views.
Old Town Hill: Climb to the open field atop the 168-foot coastal promontory and drink in superb views and dine. Newman Road.
Maudslay State Park: Gardens, meadows, and towering pines make for lush picnic spots. Curzon Mill Road.
Atkinson Common: Twenty-one acres of gardens, historic structures, and notable monuments create picnic hideaways. High Street.
Coolidge Reservation: A quick hike on a wooded trail brings you to Coolidge Point with vistas of Massachusetts Bay, beach, woodlands, and salt marshes. Summer Street (Rt. 127)
Masconomo Park: Feast on the lawn, in the gazebo, or on a bench at the harbor’s edge. Follow Beach Street and turn right at Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream.
Crocker Park: Enjoy your next picnic perched above the harbor at the end of Front Street in Old Town. Pleasant Street, behind Crosby’s Market.
Halibut Point Reservation: This spectacular site of renowned granite quarries features big-sky views up the coast to New Hampshire. Gott Avenue.
Bearskin Neck: Head to the tip of Bearskin Neck and picnic on a stone bench with the ocean ahead.
Bradley Palmer State Park: Paths, meadows, and old carriage roads lead the way for picnicking. Asbury Street.
WHERE TO SHOP
The North Shore’s landmark gourmet store, with a great selection of packaged snacks, fine wine, cheeses, meals to go, and sandwiches—two that got our attention being meatloaf with crispy onions, roasted tomatoes, arugula, and Parmesan cream, and of course, the turkey with basil mayo, both followed by the freshly baked raspberry shortbread cookies. 16 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead, 781-631-0149, shubies.com.
Coastal Green Grocer
Right on the main drag in downtown Ipswich, Coastal Green Grocer looks the part of a neighborhood staple with produce, groceries, and an excellent deli that turns out sandwiches, salads, soups, and sides from a fresh-daily menu and specials. 51 Market St., Ipswich, 978-356-8500 .
Joppa Fine Foods
Think of it as fine dining meets summer picnic. Everything’s fresh and the menu changes daily, but be on the lookout for the likes of obester mustard encrusted salmon, asparagus and herbed roasted cherry tomatoes with piave vecchio, baked lemon chicken, and orzo salad with chickpeas & feta. 50 Water St., Newburyport, 978-462-4662, joppafinefoods.com.
Ipswich Fish Market
Come here for chef Chrissi Pappas’s special creations, from lobster rolls to coleslaw, spanakopita to meatless frittata, to authentic Greek baklava and carrot cake. Next to Ipswich Shellfish Company, 8 Hayward Street, Ipswich, 978-356-6941, ipswichfishmarket.com.
Cha Cha La Mer
Located in a mere hole-in-the-wall storefront next to the Beverly Farms Post Office, chef/owner Elizabeth Hogan turns out big flavors in ready-made and call-ahead picnic fare like grilled salmon on a bed of green goddess salad, BBQ chicken, and grilled stuffed corn on the cob. 36 West Street, Beverly Farms, 978-969-3676.
Karl’s Sausage Kitchen
All decked out in its shiny new quarters off Lowell Street at Route 95, Karl’s is the place to go for a do-it-yourself picnic feast of housemade cold cuts, cheeses from around the world, freshly baked breads, and European delicacies like cookies, candies, and chocolates. One Bourbon Street, Peabody, 978-854-6650, karlssausage.com.
It may look like an old-fashioned country market, but Vidalia’s is a serious one-stop shop for freshly baked goods, top-notch produce, unusual groceries, and signature sandwiches to go. Try the eggplant panini with roasted eggplant and red peppers, Kalamata olives, red onions, fresh mozzarella, and garlic mayo, or the Utopia sandwich with hummus, lettuce, tomato, cukes, red onions, shredded carrots, and sprouts. 9 West Street, Beverly Farms, 978-998-4814, vidaliasmarket.com.
Chef/owner Melissa Donati brings her obsession for flavor to breads and cupcakes, local cheeses, produce from the family farm, and sandwiches packed with imagination. Try the Dogtown sandwich, a chicken, arugula, roasted pepper, goat cheese, and tomato bruschetta concoction, or the Big BLT made with cherrywood smoked bacon, fresh greens, tasty tomatoes, and mayo. One Holly Street on Route 127, Glouceste, willowrest.com.