Here are the parks to celebrate in

Baskets and blankets. Family and friends. Snacks and drinks. Whether you’re packing a beer and fries or bringing a bottle of wine and charcuterie plates, picnics are the perfect springtime activity that fits any budget.

Over the past two years, no doubt influenced by the pandemic, picnics have become luxury outdoor dining experiences with lush pillows and matching dinner sets delicately placed along a raised table. However, you can’t go wrong with a classic gingham blanket and wicker basket.

No matter your picnic style, and with wintry temperatures seemingly in the rearview mirror, let’s dive into the best places to relax and soak up the sun for National Picnic Day (April 23).

Pegan Hill, Natick and Dover

“The perfect place to sit back and enjoy the view,” said Aaron Gouveia, public relations manager for Reservations Trustees.

Pegan Hill, once the ancestral home of the Pegan Indians, is Natick’s highest point at 410 feet. Climb the one-mile trail that runs along its north-south axis with your picnic essentials and rest on the hilltop fields, where your dining views stretch to New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock .

Noon Hill, Medfield

Are you looking for a perfect place for a family or romantic day out? Go to another trust reserve, Noon Hill in Medfield.

Soaring 370 feet above the surrounding landscape, a trail leads to the summit, which offers sweeping views of Walpole and Norfolk (including a distant view of Gillette Stadium for any Patriots fans).

Don’t feel like going for a hike? No problem, Noon Hill has a forest floor dotted with wildflowers, a whimsical and romantic picnic destination that will make you think you’ve been transported to a Disney princess movie.

Fruitland Museum, Harvard

With 210 acres to roam, Harvard’s Fruitlands Museum is “probably the best hidden gem for picnicking and watching the sunset in the summer,” Gouveia said of this trustee property.

After a relaxing afternoon in the sun, you can also explore the remnants of the Transcendentalist Community, home to a wide array of artifacts spanning five collections established by Clara Endicott Sears – preservationist and descendant of prominent Massachusetts families such as the Peabodys – in 1914 when she opened the land to the public.

Currently, the New England Triennial, a showcase of 25 artists presented by the trustees, is happening (until September 11) and is a great way to immerse yourself in the local art scene.

Hopkinton State Park

Spanning Hopkinton and Ashland, this park has 300 picnic tables, as well as a group picnic site open by reservation, perfect for a relaxing springtime meal with friends. If you’re lucky enough to have a grill in the party, turn up the heat on your average picnic with one of the park’s 15 charcoal grills.

Want to make it a full day of adventures? Hopkinton State Park offers several recreational activities like fishing, swimming (lifeguards are at the beach), hiking 10 miles of marked trails, boating, kayaking and more.

Cochituate State Park, Natick

What’s better than a picnic by the lake? Cochituate State Park’s namesake, Lake Cochituate, is the main attraction. After enjoying a meal, you can hike, swim, paddle board, fish, and more. The park is ideal for a family outing or an afternoon with friends.

Picnic tables at Lake Cochituate in Natick, April 21, 2022.

Not to brag, but Cochituate State Park is the fourth best thing to do in Natick, according to TripAdvisor.

Unfortunately, the boat launch and adjoining parking lot are still being renovated — part of a $2.5 million project — but those will be finished by June 10, according to the Department of Conservation and Recreation. But nearby Ashland and Hopkinton State Parks offer boat ramps.

About Michael Brafford

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