Best Picnic Spots in North Carolina

Lush greenery surrounds a wooden picnic table set with a checkered cloth, a wicker basket, and a spread of food and drinks. Sunlight filters through the trees, casting dappled shadows on the scene
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North Carolina offers you a breathtaking array of outdoor landscapes, from mountain vistas to forested trails, making it a prime destination for picnic enthusiasts. State parks and natural areas across the state provide the perfect backdrop for your al fresco dining. Whether you’re in the mood for a serene meal by a mountain stream or a sunny afternoon with family on a grassy parkland, North Carolina’s diverse environments cater to every outdoor preference. Embrace the state’s natural beauty and find your ideal spot to spread out your picnic blanket.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll discover the Cades Cove picnic area, a serene destination open year-round. Bask in the picturesque scenery as you enjoy your meal amidst rolling hills and diverse wildlife. This area not only offers charming picnic spots but also access to several hiking trails, including a segment of the Appalachian Trail.

Elevate your picnic experience as you venture to Clingmans Dome, the park’s highest point. On a clear day, the sweeping views from Clingmans Dome are unforgettable. The scenic journey there may reveal hidden waterfalls and vibrant weather changes, creating a dynamic backdrop for your outdoor dining.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers you a scenic drive that is enhanced by numerous picnic spots to enjoy along the way. One such spot is Linville Falls, where the roar of cascading water creates a tranquil background for your meal. Julian Price Park is another, sitting at an elevation perfect for taking in mountain air while dining al fresco.

Near milepost 364, you’ll find Craggy Gardens, a favorite for its panoramic views and the distinctive summit of Craggy Pinnacle. For a memorable picnic with breathtaking scenery, these spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway are unmatched.

Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest offers you a diverse palette of natural beauty with its lush forests and iconic landmarks like Mount Pisgah and Looking Glass Falls. You can stroll through the dense canopy of hardwoods, explore the famous Pink Beds loop for a family-friendly picnic, or hike to breathtaking overlooks.

The forest caters to adventurers of all levels with a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. Embrace the serenity of nature as you set up your picnic amid the calls of native birds and the rustling of tree leaves in this treasured North Carolina landscape.

Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park offers a splendid mix of adventure and relaxation for your perfect picnic outing. With hiking trails that lead to breathtaking views, you can work up an appetite before settling down at one of the available picnic tables.

After enjoying your meal, take a leisurely hike to the waterfall or explore the family-friendly trails. This park ensures a memorable experience for visitors of all ages amid North Carolina’s natural splendor.

Lake Norman State Park

At Lake Norman State Park, you can unwind by the vast waters of North Carolina’s largest manmade lake. The park includes an inviting swimming area, perfect for cooling off on a warm day.

Picnic enthusiasts will appreciate the well-maintained picnic spots, complete with tables and restrooms nearby. Surround yourself with refreshing scenery as the backdrop for your leisurely day out.

Umstead State Park

Nestled in Raleigh, Umstead State Park offers you a peaceful nature retreat. With its extensive network of hiking trails, you can explore the diverse flora and engage in bird watching. The trails range from easy to difficult, ensuring options for all skill levels.

When you’re ready to relax, the park provides several picnic shelters. They present the perfect setting for an outdoor meal amidst the serenity of North Carolina’s natural landscapes. Enjoy the tranquility and picturesque surroundings as you dine al fresco.

Linville Gorge Wilderness

As you seek out the perfect picnic spot in North Carolina, the Linville Gorge Wilderness stands out for its breathtaking landscape. Nestled in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest, this area—often termed the “Grand Canyon of the Southeast”—offers not only stunning scenic views but also a chance to connect with nature at its most raw.

Your adventure wouldn’t be complete without exploring the winding Linville River or venturing along renowned hiking trails. Don’t miss taking in the panoramas from Grandfather Mountain, a dramatic backdrop that defines this remarkable wilderness.

Duke Gardens

Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a celebrated feature of Duke University, widely known for its vibrant botanical displays and tranquil settings, making it a top choice for a picnic spot in North Carolina. Offering a tapestry of natural beauty, you can immerse yourself in various garden areas that promise a serene escape into nature.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy time with family or seeking solitude among the flora, the gardens’ scenic appeal is undeniable. With dedicated spaces like the South Lawn for picnicking, you’ll find the perfect backdrop for a leisurely afternoon. Remember to register in advance if your group is large, to harmonize your plans with the gardens’ schedule.

Hanging Rock State Park

Perched within the stunning Sauratown Mountains, Hanging Rock State Park offers you an exceptional spot for a picnic with breathtaking scenic views. Blanketed with lush forestry, this park will serenade you with the soothing sounds of nature, making it an idyllic setting for a daytime retreat.

You’ll find a variety of picturesque picnic spots throughout the park, with convenient access to the park’s striking waterfalls. The serene environment, combined with the park’s natural splendor, creates a perfect backdrop for a tranquil dining experience amidst the outdoors.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

When you visit Cape Hatteras National Seashore, your picnic experience is complemented by the beauty of unspoiled beaches and the sound of the ocean. At Salvo Day Use Area, you will find facilities such as picnic tables and grills amidst the coastal backdrop.

The Buxton Woods Picnic Area is another spot where you can enjoy your meal under the shade of maritime forest. It is conveniently located near the Hatteras Island Visitor Center, providing easy access and amenities for a comfortable outing.

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