If picnicking was a sport, competitors would have to be experts at identifying the plushest patch of grass or face off to see who can fit the most sandwiches in a lunch bag. While there’s no such thing as competitive picnicking, there is still some skill required in finding the ultimate picnic spot. Sure, you can spread out on a blanket at nearly any of the Bay Area’s beautiful parks and have a great day, but if you’re looking for a specific vibe it can take a long time to scroll through pictures and compare different parks. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite places to picnic to help you choose the right one. If you’re looking to host a large event, all of these locations offer reservations for groups of up to 50 people (some offer more). And for your ultimate picnic food options, contact Off the Grid catering.

1. Vasona Lake County Park (Los Gatos)

Vasona Lake kind of feels like an amusement park — there’s a carousel and a miniature train you can ride around the park. On weekends, it fills up with bikers, joggers, and dog walkers. There are several hills that provide an elevated view of the lake that are perfect for spending the day lounging and eating. There are also large picnic areas with built-in shade and a view of the creek.

2. Mitchell Park (Palo Alto)

This park is the ideal choice if you’re looking to take any little ones out for the day. Here you can find the magical bridge playground which boasts a two-story playhouse, a treehouse, bucket swings, a sway boat, and a merry-go-round. The playground, designed by the magical bridge foundation, is socially inclusive and physically accessible for all to enjoy. For any parents looking to pass the time, there’s tennis courts and lots of shaded areas for sitting down with a book.

3. Lake Elizabeth (Fremont)

Located in Fremont’s Central Park, Lake Elizabeth has a variety of activities to supplement your picnicking. There’s a library, skate park, and water park; so, you can choose between bringing a book, a skateboard, or a swimsuit. The water park, called Aqua Adventure, is rather small but it has water slides, a lazy river, and a couple pools. For a more casual time, head onto the lake in a boat.

4. Baylands Park (Sunnyvale)

This park provides barbecue pits and picnic tables, but the main attraction is the abundance of animals. In addition to the wildlife, you can find barnyard animals like goats, alpacas, rabbits, and pigs. The natural preserved wetland areas are a unique change of scenery compared to the other spots on this list.

5. Shoreline Lake (Mountain View)

Shoreline Lake is the best place to go if you’re looking to have fun on the water. Choose between kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats to traverse the wildlife refuge. There’s a small lake-side restaurant and plenty of lawn to sit down for a meal. For larger groups, consider renting the Rengstorff House, a historical landmark and beautiful place for a picnic.

6. Lake Chabot (Oakland/Castro Valley)

Lake Chabot is a 315 acre lake with rolling green hills, hiking trails, and multiple golf courses. Take a trip on the lake’s tour boat, Chabot Queen. There are several parks and many trails to explore. Depending which part of the park you visit, it’s also conveniently near the Oakland Zoo.

7. Ed R Levin County Park (Milpitas)

At Ed R Levin County Park, you can fly a kite; or, you can jump off a cliff and soar the skies yourself. It’s one of the few places in the Bay Area where you can go hang gliding and paragliding. You can also spend the day fishing or horseback riding (horses not included). Explore the multiple lakes and fields and pop up a picnic at your favorite spot.

8. Almaden Lake Park (San Jose)

Almaden Lake is a great place to pick up a new game like horseshoes or bocce ball. The park has a stunning view of the mountains with a trail to take a walk around the lake. It’s also an excellent place for birdwatching.

9. Hayes Mansion (San Jose)

You wouldn’t typically consider hosting a picnic at a hotel, but the greenspace at Hayes Mansion is perfect for just that. Even if you’re going with a small group, you’ll need to place a reservation for their picnic package that includes food, wine, and a picnic blanket. If you’re planning an event for a large group, you can choose between activities like mystery solving, trivia, or glider building. While you’re in San Jose, check out our San Jose guide.

10. DeLaveaga Park (Santa Cruz)

Although Santa Cruz is primarily known for its beaches, the city is also home to beautiful forests and parks. DeLaveaga Park is the perfect place to take in nature’s creeks, wildlife, and foliage. If you visit during mushroom season, you can take a short hike to examine the large variety of fungi growing in the dirt and on trees.The park also offers amenities for participating in disc golf, regular golf, or archery.