A summer of sunny days and cool evenings signals the arrival of more meals outdoors. Whether you want a romantic night for two, a casual get-together with friends and Frisbee, or a field big enough for the whole family, there are plenty of places around Michiana to spread your blanket.
Shanklin Park, Goshen’s largest green space, stretches along the Millrace Canal and boasts Tommy’s Kids Castle for the young ones.
Follow the seasons at Defries Gardens, just outside of Goshen in New Paris. Defries is known as a calendar garden with seasonal plants, and its gorgeous flowers and four picnic pavilions make a cozy spot for couples.
Stop at Charlie’s Butcher Block for chips, salads and sandwiches before heading to Bonneyville Mill in Bristol, which has fishing along the Elkhart River, hiking trails, open meadows and rent-able picnic shelters with grills (most cost $50 to reserve).
Try Wellfield Botanic Gardens for a more romantic spot. There are 20 individual gardens; admission is free on Tuesdays for Elkhart residents and $5 every other day.
Cobus Creek County Park in Osceola is Elkhart County’s newest recreation spot, with 84 acres of fields, a playground, volleyball court and sensory garden.
Krider Garden, which turns 80 this year, is a popular lunchtime spot with working windmill.
For sports and animal lovers alike, Rum Village Park boasts a nature center, more than 100 species of birds, and a free 18-hole disc golf course.
Plan on staying out late? Wilson Park is lit at night, and draws area astronomers with its views of the sky; a picnic blanket is also ideal for star-gazing.
For those with pets, Prickett Marina Park has an off-leash dog run.
The Japanese strolling garden Shiojiri Niwa is little more than an acre, but its bridges, tea house pavilion and bright sprays of flowers make the spot worth a visit.
This is by no means a complete list of parks, gardens and outdoor spots in the Michiana area. Visit Middlebury Parks, Goshen Parks, Elkhart County Parks, South Bend Parks or Mishawka Parks for more places to eat outdoors.
Where are your favorite picnic spots?
See Flavor 574’s Pinterest page for ideas for foods to pack in the picnic basket.