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Late spring and early summer are wonderful times to head outdoors to enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and beautiful scenery. It’s an ideal time for a short trip to a nearby park to enjoy the outdoors.

Preparing a themed picnic is a fun staycation getaway without the hassle of longer travels, and helps families relax and reset for the week ahead.

Just a little shopping and planning are needed to assemble a fabulous lunch or dinner before heading out to one of the beautiful parks around the region. To make the perfect picnic even better, pack a tablecloth, napkins, paper plates and cups, utensils, and ice. Here are a few inspiring themes and settings to consider.

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Lakeside Seafood Picnic

Pack a seafood-themed picnic meal and bring it to a lakeside park and allow the family to enjoy waterside activities such as fishing, swimming, or boating.

Most have picnic tables or even covered pavilions that offer gentle breezes and relaxing lakeside views. Make the day even more enjoyable by bringing sunscreen and other equipment for enjoying the water.

MENU

Catfish Po’ Boy Sandwiches

Shrimp Scampi Pasta Salad

Corn on the Cob

Strawberries or cantaloupe

Raspberry Lemonade or Iced Tea

SETTING

Tom Finley Park near Gun Barrel City sits on a small island in Cedar Creek Lake. The park features a peaceful view of the lake by land or boat. Amenities include a swimming area, a playground, shaded picnic tables, boat docks, a fishing pier, a pavilion, and public restrooms. Admission is $3 per person.

Other good lakeside settings include Lake Forest Park in Henderson, Graham Park in Greenville, The Harbor in Rockwall, and Texas State Parks throughout the region.

Main Street Picnic

Make Main Street a backdrop for enjoying a traditional southern picnic. Many historic districts offer quaint pocket parks with sheltered picnic tables. Take some time after the meal to explore the town.

Pack a picnic basket with a tablecloth and tableware then head to the deli of a local grocery to gather some favorites. Brookshires, Brookshire Brothers, or Kroger offer a good selection in their delis.

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Fried or Roasted Chicken Pieces

Potato Salad

Coleslaw

Watermelon Wedges

Iced Tea

Mini Fried Pies

SETTING

Historic downtown Henderson and McKinney provide pocket parks with tables. Sulphur Springs’ Celebration Square is a park unto itself with shaded picnic tables that line the perimeter. Elevated park gazebos — like the one in Palestine’s Reagan Park — may provide splendid views of historic buildings or residences.

French Picnic in the Texas Countryside

The Texas countryside is blooming with beautiful wildflowers this time of year, so here’s an idea for planning a unique way to enjoy them. Pack a French country picnic, and voilà, you can enjoy a lovely afternoon, rivaling even those in the French countryside.

Jean LaSalle and expedition members who toured the Texas countryside almost 500 years ago witnessed the same beauty but would be jealous of the provisions we can whip up in our modern kitchens.

If you’re feeling adventurous enough, try packing a basket with these items suggested by Lea and Steve Bishop of 55 Degrees + Local Market in Carrollton, and set out to create your own romantic adventure.

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Salad Niçoise (tuna, green beans, red potatoes, hard-boiled egg, capers, black olives, tomatoes, vinaigrette)

Baguette or French bread with thinly sliced ham or cured meat, sliced Brie, or paté

Honey or Preserves

Cornichons and Crudités

Grapes or Pears

Cream Puffs

Wine pairings: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Albariño, or Sparkling Rosé

SETTING

Mineola Nature Preserve on the Sabine River — which La Salle crossed to enter Texas — is an ideal setting to enjoy a country picnic. The preserve is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to sunset. Activities include walking or biking on paved or mountain bike trails, horseback riding on equestrian trails or derby, an 18-hole disc golf course, disc golf and chain games, fishing ponds, and a playground. The preserve also offers picnic tables at the People’s Pavilion.

Other enjoyable nature settings include Oak Trails Nature Park in Marshall, Ja-Lu Community Park in Greenville, and Caddo Mounds State Historic Site near Alto.

Veggie-table Farmers’ Market Picnic

Plan to sit down to enjoy a picnic during your next trip to the local farmers’ market. With lots of foods to choose from, it’s the ideal location for a midday meal or snack.

Shopping for fresh veggies on the spot means carrying around fewer items, and many local markets stand next to an adjacent park where spreading out a quick meal is easy in nice weather.

Before leaving home, pack potable water, a knife, cutting board, tablecloth and a few cups, plates, and napkins.

Many markets offer fresh baked breads and rolls, and bring some healthy dips or salad dressings.

While shopping, look for foods that are easy to wash, cut, and serve immediately. Bring a variety of vegetarian dips with protein to add sustenance to the plant-based meal and enjoy trying out the different flavors.

For drinks, look for a stand selling fresh lemonade or local wines.

MENU

Veggies: Zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions

Fruits: Peaches, grapes, strawberries, blueberries.

Vegan Dips: Hummus, nut butters, guacamole, bean dip

High Protein Options: Pimiento cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt

Drinks: Lemonade, Local Wines

SETTING

Find great farmers’ markets in Greenville, Henderson, Longview, Marshall, Mineola, Mount Vernon, Palestine, Paris, Rockwall, Sulphur Springs and Winnsboro.

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