5 spectacular spots for a romantic picnic

Maryland couples looking for a romantic spot for a picnic don't have to travel far.

Evie Turner, of Severna Park, and her husband fell in love with quintessentially romantic meals — including those outdoors — when honeymooning in Paris.

"We had an amazing picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens with charcuterie, bread and a Beaujolais," recalls Turner, the vice president of The Main Ingredient in Annapolis. "It was perfect."

If you aren't planning to travel to Paris anytime soon and are looking for a great spot to picnic with your significant other, here are a few worth a visit.

5 spots for romantic picnics

Ferry Point Park

Located just across the Bay Bridge in Queen Anne's County, Ferry Point Park is a pretty spot perfect for hikes, bike rides and picnics.

The park is surrounded by the Chester River, Kent Narrows and Piney Creek, which together offer plenty of scenic water views. The 41 acres are home to a great deal of water-oriented wildlife.

"It's a short hike in to a nice sandy cove and beach," says Queen Anne's County Tourism Manager Laney Soloman. "And it's very close to the Cross Island Trail, which is a really beautiful bike path that goes from the bay to the Kent Narrows."

To get to the beach, woods and picnic tables, visitors follow a 530-foot boardwalk over marshy ground.

425 Piney Narrows Road, Chester
Open sunrise to sunset
Admission: free
parksnrec.org/hiker-biker-trails/parks-and-maps

Picnic Ferry Point W

Schooley Mill Park

Tucked in the peaceful town of Highland, Schooley Mill Park is one of Howard County's best kept secrets for walking and picnicking, according to Heather Johannes, the county's park operations superintendent.

Known for its baseball diamonds, basketball courts, cricket field, tennis courts and equestrian rings, the park also offers many spots for quiet romantic picnics.

"The beauty of Schooley Mill is that you feel like you are in another world," Johannes says. "The view for miles is rolling hills and lots of land, which makes it feel like a place where you can get lost for a little while, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life."

Before settling on a mealtime spot, picnickers can hike the park's 4.6 miles of trails, which meander through wooded areas and over streams and offer glimpses of a variety of woodland wildlife.

12975 Hall Shop Road, Highland
Open 7 a.m. to dusk
Admission: free
410-313-4700, howardcountymd.gov/SchooleyMillPark

picnic Schooly Mill W

Rocky Point State Park

The park's 375 acres cover a long, narrow peninsula between the Back and Middle rivers in Baltimore County. The tip of the park is the point where the two rivers meet and open into the Chesapeake Bay.

With pavilions, boat ramps, a fishing pier and a bayside beach, the park offers multiple opportunities for picnickers to gaze at the water or engage in water sports.

"There's abundant wildlife — ducks, ospreys, eagles, blue heron — and lots of good fishing," says Ben Porter, community supervisor of the park. "It's a picturesque location."

The park has expansive views of the bay, Hart-Miller Island and Craighill lighthouse. But it also offers couples a bit of privacy either in one of many picnic groves or in a more secluded part of the park.

2200 Rocky Point Road, Essex
Open sunrise to sunset
Admission: Labor Day to Memorial Day, free. Summer season, $4-$8, 12 and over; free, 11 and younger
410-887-2818, baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/recreation

picnic Rocky point W

Annmarie Sculpture Garden

Located in Calvert County, Annmarie is well known for romance.

"A lot of people come here to pop the question," says Director Stacey Hann-Ruff.

Even if your picnic won't end with a proposal, the sculpture garden is a lovely place to spend the day. The 30-acre park includes numerous gardens focused on particular plants with sculptures throughout. Classrooms, galleries and other facilities are also on the property.

Several particularly picnic-worthy spots include the Overlook, facing St. John's Creek, and The Council Ring, a peaceful granite sculpture that includes seating, Hann-Ruff says.

13480 Dowell Road, Dowell
Gardens open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (buildings may have different hours)
Admission: $3-$5, members free
410-326-4640; annmariegarden.org

picnic Annmarie W

Downs Park

This waterfront park in Pasadena is no stranger to romance. The 236-acre park is home to a lovely wedding garden and numerous quiet spots ideal for picnics.

Dedicated picnic areas with picnic tables are scattered throughout the park, along trails that loop through wooded areas and on the Chesapeake Bay shoreline where there are breathtaking views.

"The whole park is just so beautiful,” says Robin Fries, president of the Friends of Downs Park. “The Mother's Garden is very romantic, especially when it's in bloom. It's such a special spot," she says of the 102-year-old garden.

Fries says she also sees couples eschew the picnic tables in favor of blankets on several hilly spots overlooking the bay.

8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena
Open 7 a.m. to dusk, Wed.-Mon; closed Tuesday
Admission: $5-$6 per vehicle (annual and lifetime passes also available)
410-222-6230, aacounty.org/departments/recreation-parks/parks/downs

downs park

Click next below for ideas for picnic fare.


What to pack for your picnic

picnicWhen it comes to picnics, not all food is created equal.

"Keep it cold and simple," advises Evie Turner, from the Main Ingredient. "Slice everything before you go, so you can pull out your blanket or picnic table with ease. Avoid anything labor intensive."

Turner suggests simple foods like cheese, grapes and salads, plus sweet touches like chocolate-covered strawberries for an extra dash of romance.

When planning your picnic, she suggests making sure you have a "plan B" in case of bad weather — such as a covered pavilion. In the summer months, consider spraying bug spray before placing your blanket on the ground, she suggests.

If you're not interested in preparing picnic food at home, head to a local restaurant for carryout.

A few picnic-ready options 

The Main Ingredient

The Annapolis restaurant has long been popular for its tasty salads and classic sandwiches. One of Turner's favorite picnic-friendly dishes is a boneless Maryland-fried chicken breast, served in a biscuit with sweet pepper jelly.
"It is so perfectly delicious," she says.
themainingredient.com

Giolitti Deli

Italian delis like Giolitti in Annapolis are an ideal spot to pick up thick sandwiches and salads that are hearty enough to make a meal. Giolitti's antipasto salad and porchetta sandwiches are two flavorful favorites.
giolittideli.com

Nora's Kabob

Add a Middle Eastern twist to the excursion with kabobs and hummus — or other cold mezze from a spot like Nora's Kabob in Ellicott City. The dishes are excellent, even at room temperature, and offer something a little to the left of standard picnic fare.
noraskabob.com

By Kit Waskom Pollard