Five Idyllic Picnic Spots for Relaxing and Enjoying Mother Nature (+ Restaurant Recs)

You’re trying to be “socially distant” while enjoying Blue Ridge, so why not take advantage of all the take-out options offered by the area’s restaurants? Pack your basket with local treats and head to one of these endearing parks for a picnic you’ll adore.

Lake Blue Ridge Day Use Area Top of our list is the new day use area. You can take in gorgeous views of the lake while feeling a gentle breeze. After your picnic, load your basket into the car and take a walk or leisurely bike ride in the area.

Horseshoe Bend Park If you’re craving a river view, head over to one of the locals’ favorite parks. Spread your blanket along the Toccoa riverbank or find a seat at one of the myriad tables here. 

Bring the kids; they’ll enjoy tackling the playground while you test if the trout are biting.

Tammen Park Below the Lake Blue Ridge dam sits this quiet escape. It includes picnic tables and a small playground. You’ll love relaxing on the deck that overlooks the water, and on a good day you might even catch something.

Morganton Point This Forest Service recreation area charges $5 per vehicle, but the amenities are worth the Lincoln. Access to the picnic area includes the ability to sit at one of the tables or throw a blanket along the lakeside.

When you’re finished with your lunch, a dip in the water is waiting. The swimming area is a pebble beach, so you’ll want some water shoes. 

If you want to work off your slice of limoncello rum cake from Rum Cake Lady, then check out the kayak and SUP board rentals offered here from Lake Blue Ridge Outfitters.

Ocoee Whitewater CenterThe Whitewater Center was home to the 1996 Summer Olympic games, but you can enjoy it for a perfect picnic. It’s here you can also photograph those on the water, play in the swimming holes, meander the native plants and peruse the gift shop.

Additionally, after your lunch explore 20 miles of trails (hiking and biking), including two favorite loops: Bear Paw Trail and Chestnut Mountain Trail.

Where to grab your picnic essentials

Now that you’re convinced a picnic should be in your future, let’s chat about the food. It is, after all, one of the most important components of such a venture. Blue Ridge is rich with options, and here are a few ideas we know you’ll love.

Mystic Mountain PizzaPizza is one of the easiest picnic options invented! I’m partial to Mystic’s Supreme Pizza, but you can pick your favorite or design your own. You can also choose from wings, gourmet hot dogs or salads (and there is no sacrificing when you dine on a Mystic salad–they are delicious!) 

Hansen’s Grill My recommendation? There is nothing like a bacon cheeseburger from Hansen’s! Pair it with jalapeno poppers, fries or onion rings for something special.  Need something lighter? Enjoy tacos, chicken Caesar wraps, or chicken salad sandwiches. There’s also a kids’ menu with options for even the pickiest of eaters.

Ocoee River Café If your picnic takes you to the Copperhill area, then Oconee River Café is ideal. Burgers, wings and slaw dogs will make your mouth water. We love the “basket” lunches that come in multiple sizes and feature fries and slaw as a side (though I always upgrade to the tots!).

Angelina’s Gourmet Market Imported Italian gourmet food, plus sandwiches filled to the brim with meat, cheese and veggies. Before you place your order, ask about the daily specials on sandwiches, soups and sides. And don’t skimp on a slice of cheesecake.

Sue’s Burgers Sue’s is the oldest restaurant in Blue Ridge, family-owned since 1976! This is where the locals come for "the best hamburger in town.” One of my favorite things they do is to make desserts with fruits of the season!

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Lesli Peterson

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