Best Picnic Spots in Missouri

A picnic blanket spread under a shady tree, with a wicker basket, sandwiches, fruit, and a thermos of lemonade. Wildflowers and a creek in the background
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Missouri’s diverse landscapes offer a plethora of picturesque spots perfect for outdoor enthusiasts looking to enjoy a day under the sun with a basket in hand. From lush parks to tranquil nature reserves, there’s a charming nook for every picnic-goer. Whether you’re seeking a quiet waterfront view or the shade of ancient trees, Missouri’s great outdoors beckon you to lay out your blanket and relish in the state’s natural beauty. Pack your favorite treats and venture into parks that promise relaxing afternoons away from the bustle of everyday life.

Forest Park

In St. Louis, Forest Park is your premier destination for a scenic and tranquil picnic. With over 1,300 acres to explore, you’re sure to find the perfect spot, whether you favor lakeside vistas or open, grassy expanses. Enjoy your lunch at Pagoda Circle, surrounded by elegant sculptures and a beautifully landscaped backdrop, or opt for a lakeside picnic with the serene waters providing a soothing ambiance.

The park also caters to families, with several playgrounds ensuring the little ones can play before or after eating. As you relish your meal, keep an eye out for the local wildlife, which adds a delightful touch to the park’s natural charm. Remember, it’s not just about food; it’s about the experience. So, grab your basket and embrace the beauty of Forest Park‘s best picnic spots.

Table Rock Lake State Park

Table Rock Lake State Park offers you a serene escape with ample opportunities for picnicking by the clear, inviting waters. Designated picnic areas are nestled among oak and hickory trees, providing a peaceful setting for your meal. After lunch, explore the park’s hiking trails or enjoy a day of fishing in the bountiful Table Rock Lake.

For a more adventurous day out, consider boating on the lake to explore its vast expanse. The park’s proximity to Branson means that after your outdoor activities, you’re just a short drive away from local attractions.

Castlewood State Park

Your exploration of Missouri’s best picnic spots leads you to the scenic Castlewood State Park, a place where the winding Meramec River enhances picnicking with stunning backdrops. Here, you have the opportunity to enjoy meals at well-maintained picnic shelters.

Hiking and biking trails await your adventurous spirit, each offering a gateway to scenic views of the river valley and perhaps a glimpse of local wildlife. Embrace the serene landscape as you relish your outdoor feast amidst nature’s splendor.

Elephant Rocks State Park

At Elephant Rocks State Park, you’re greeted by awe-inspiring granite boulders resembling a caravan of elephants. Revel in the wonder of geological history as the 1.5-billion-year-old formations tower around you, offering a breathtaking backdrop to your picnic.

Your visit isn’t complete without traversing the Braille Trail, a hiking trail designed for everyone. Along the path, find a pavilion and several picnic tables, inviting you to dine amidst nature’s grandeur.

Mark Twain National Forest

The Mark Twain National Forest boasts an expanse of over 1.5 million acres strewn with pine forests, scenic rivers, and rolling hills. Explore the Ozarks’ diverse and flourishing nature as you unwind at various picnic areas, spacious enough for a delightful outdoor feast.

Your adventure doesn’t end with a picnic; trail options are plentiful, ranging from serene day hikes to more challenging backpacking paths. Set up camp under the stars in designated camping spots to fully immerse yourself in the wilderness experience.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Experience the majesty of nature fused with history at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Traverse through more than 15 miles of scenic trails enveloping you in the park’s diverse beauty. Marvel at the stone Castle Ruins perched atop towering bluffs and let the park’s past enchant you.

Your adventure isn’t complete without witnessing the park’s 12th-largest Spring, which adds to the allure. And when it’s time to relax, enjoy a serene picnic with views of the Lake of the Ozarks. Embrace the tranquility of a calming Waterfall that perfectly complements your picnic backdrop.

Meramec State Park

Your visit to Meramec State Park offers a variety of scenic areas perfect for picnicking along the Meramec River. You can enjoy your meal surrounded by the park’s natural beauty, finding spots with tables and grills ready for your use.

Activities: Beyond picnics, the park invites you to explore more than 13 miles of hiking trails, experience fishing in the river, or take a guided cave tour. If you’re traveling with children, the playground provides a delightful break for the younger ones.

Katy Trail State Park

Spanning across Missouri, Katy Trail State Park offers you magnificent opportunities for both bicycling and hiking. As the longest-developed rail-trail in the country, it impresses with a flat, crushed limestone surface that invites cyclists from all skill levels to enjoy a smooth ride while taking in diverse views, including the flowing Missouri River.

On weekends, the trail becomes a vibrant hub for nature enthusiasts eager to explore the serene outdoors. Marked trailheads and restored railroad depots enrich your journey, connecting you to the area’s history and beauty. Whether you seek a leisurely stroll or an active ride, Katy Trail ensures a memorable escape into Missouri’s inviting landscape.

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Among Missouri’s treasured outdoors, Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park stands out for its scenic beauty and the adventure it offers. You’ll find yourself amidst the ancient geology of the Ozark Mountains, where the East Fork Black River cascades into stunning waterfalls, creating natural swimming pools known as shut-ins.

When planning your picnic, the park provides shaded areas with tables where you can relax to the sounds of flowing water. If you crave a little thrill, kayaking along the river’s challenging course is a memorable experience. Remember to respect nature’s charm and leave no trace of your visit.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Your exploration of Missouri’s majestic outdoors isn’t complete without a visit to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, a haven of natural beauty in Lampe, Missouri. This 10,000-acre paradise captivates with its crystal-clear trout streams, cascading waterfalls, and miles of trails.

Whether you seek serenity by foot or prefer cycling through this Ozark Mountain wonderland, the park caters to nature enthusiasts of every stripe.

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