Grab a blanket, food and serene views to set the mood

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Long before Julia Roberts urged Richard Gere to “cop a squat” with a snap dog under a tree in the big screen romance “Pretty Woman,” couples around the world have used a blanket, food and serene views to set the mood.

And I would argue that our Twin Cities offer the best picnic spots, whether you have youngsters in tow, are preparing to propose, or simply want to grab a bite between meetings and enjoy some fresh air. After all, more than 94 percent of us locals live within a 10-minute walk to a park. So when you’re in town, that means you, too, can grab some grub and head on out.

Lake Calhoun: Tin Fish

The Twin Cities Chain of Lakes is the mecca of outdoor parks and best exemplifies what the region is all about: a series of beautiful lakes with 13.3 miles of pathways interlaced between them—a picnic lover’s utopia. There is so much to see and do here, I could fill this entire page with just this entry. Rather, I’ll set your sights on Tin Fish, located on the northeastern corner of Lake Calhoun near bustling Uptown Minneapolis. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., this hot spot is a must.

While there: Head south and visit nearby Lake Harriet’s Lyndale Rose Garden, the second oldest in the United States.

Como Park: Como Dockside

Breakfast, lunch, happy hour or dinner can be had by heading to St. Paul’s beautiful Como Park, which includes not only an always-free zoo (donations encouraged), but an equally impressive conservatory, outdoor water park, lake, amusement park and seemingly endless acreage of open space for summer outings. First stop should be Como Dockside to grab the eats—you can dine inside, outside or take it to go. With ample parking throughout the massive park, there’s no need to worry that it will get cold or spoil.

While there: Don’t miss the nightly music starting at 7p.m.

Lake Nokomis: Sandcastle

Combine the best of the outdoors with fresh, local food created in a near zero-waste establishment, and you have the perfect beginning to your picnic. The proprietors at Sandcastle believe in making their own food, in their own kitchen, on the beach, achieving a delicate balance of quick service and moderate prices yet maintaining quality and freshness. Grab a BLT made with bacon from Thielen Meats of Little Falls, Minn., or any of the sandwiches layered between breads from St. Agnes Bakery in St. Paul. Whatever your taste buds desire, be sure to include the Monkey Bar—a special concoction that nearby caramel candy artisan Jules Vranian developed just for Sandcastle. Then head out to eat along the shores of the amazing 204-acre Lake Nokomis nestled in the heart of Minneapolis and surrounded by seriously charming and picturesque neighborhoods.
Lake Nokomis picnicers and swimmers

Image by Passej/flickr

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