B. Y. O. Lunch Power Up For a Fun Day

Thinking of packing a basket? Visit the Reservations page to learn more about putting a hold on a shelter. Or spontaneously head out to see what’s available first come, first served.

What are our favorite spots? Scroll down for staff recommendations.

A few of our favorite Picnicking Spots

Headwaters Park

Headwaters Park is a perfect place for a spontaneous picnic by the water followed by a hike, or vice versa. This park boasts access to water, fishing, camping and The Maple Highlands Trail (for those who want to bike to their spot). Plenty of places here help you get away from people and enjoy some wilderness isolation with your meal.


Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Park

Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Park is great for a small family picnic. There’s a playground, small parking lot perfect for bikes and small kid toys, and a mile-long hike. Plus, very little outside traffic appears.

Beartown Lakes Reservation

Beartown Lakes Reservation has a few reservable picnic shelters, but it’s worth mentioning a more intimate, single-hexagon-tabled shelter just behind the main shelter that cannot be reserved. It’s first come, first served, but totally worth running the risk of picnicking on the open grass if it’s occupied. A double grill and trash can are there, too. The small Minnow Pond Shelter, nestled in the woods, is reservable if you’re less willing to leave it to chance.


Big Creek Park

In Chardon, Big Creek Park’s Maple Grove Shelter area is very popular. A large shelter can be reserved near a small children’s play area; a picnic table is tucked amidst tall pines just beyond; and just beyond that is an enclosed table with a great overlook over a ledge into the woods. Also nearby is a big field for activity and Wild Goose Pond, where folks love to sit and fish. Another, more private shelter at Big Creek is just past Deep Woods Shelter, which is also a great reservable shelter. On the park map, follow the dashed line from the Deep Woods parking lot area to the end of the spur…it’s that little square at the end.

Orchard Hills Park

Looking for a shelter with a fireplace, electricity, two tables and a nearby restroom? Consider Pondside Shelter. The view over the pond is beautiful. And it features two octagonal and two standard 8-foot picnic tables. Please be mindful, however, of the fact that this scenic shelter has no drive-up access.


The Rookery

The Rookery has a picnic area near its large white silo. These four tables are uncovered, so they can be directly in the sun, but there are two grills, a large grassy area for games, and restrooms nearby for a nice spontaneous picnic.


Whitlam Woods

Finally, Whitlam Woods is one of those less-traveled parks that’s considered a hidden gem for its hiking and birdwatching. There’s no picnic area per say, but several benches along the trails make awesome spots for a brown bag picnic, especially one with a particularly beautiful overlook.