Plan the perfect picnic in Dayton: where to go

6:00 a.m. Friday, May 12, 2017 What To Do

It’s the perfect time of year to plan a picnic — whether it’s with your love, your friends or your family. 

Our goal is to make picnic planning simple for you so you can relax and enjoy.

We’ve scoured the area to discover the most scenic, friendly, and fun places to set out your blanket and enjoy delicious food in the great outdoors.

Lisa Powell
Culp's Cafe, located on the grounds of the Carillon Historical Park, has a variety of sandwiches, soups, sides and ice cream treats. FILE PHOTO / LISA POWELL

In 1950, Carillon Historical Park’s museum complex opened with the purpose of showcasing the region’s industrial innovations, transportation achievements, and Dayton’s contributions to world progress. Since construction first began on Deeds Carillon in 1940, the dreams of Edith and Edward Deeds have evolved into a beautiful 65-acre campus—designed by the Olmsted Brothers (the famed landscape architects responsible for Central Park)—containing dozens of museum buildings, countless artifacts, and picturesque green space perfect for a relaxing picnic. 

Chris Stewart
Emily Blair and Aaron Wheeler, both of Springfield, look at a map of John Bryan State Park while out for a hike on Wednesday, April 23. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

John Bryan is the most scenic state park in western Ohio. The 752-acre park contains a remarkable limestone gorge cut by the Little Miami River which is designated as a state and national scenic river. A portion of the gorge itself is designated as a national natural landmark. With both reservable covered picnic areas, a day lodge, and picnic tables available at all campsites, there are plenty of places with remarkable views to enjoy a bite with your buds and besties.

Ty Greenlees
The City of Kettering is in the process of removing and replacing ash trees near the Fraze Pavilion at the civic commons. Many of the dying trees are still standing. Lindsay Arway walks her dog Onyx through Lincoln Park where a few of the trees are almost bare. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Nestled around the Fraze Pavillion, this master-planned outdoor space in Kettering offers the perfect picnic atmosphere with all the modern convenience of a professional venue. Check the schedule for the Fraze to see what events coordinate with your picnic plans -- or just bring a blanket and grab your meal from Ernie’s concession stand.

Ty Greenlees
Two donkeys at Carriage Hill Metropark graze in the pasture surrounded by a split rail fence and brilliant fall colors in October 2015. The picturesque farm park has been a popular place for family photos. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Head to the Cedar Lake Shelter for a lake view, fishing (no license required) and nature trails. With a historic farm just a short walk down the road, there are plenty of great spots to scope out.

The scene on Eastwood Lake at Eastwood MetroPark, Monday, May 30, 2016. JOHN BEDELL/STAFF

The River View Shelter overlooking the Mad River Run area at Eastwood is the place to be with great views overlooking the Mad River and new kayak and river play area. This is a spot close to a playground and other park amenities. The Thompson Shelter in the North Park of Englewood MetroPark also provides an excellent picnic experience. There is a wonderful view from the shelter and the area includes fishing and water access as well as opportunities for wildlife observation. A picnic at Patty Shelter is close enough to let the kids play in the nature play area, and then head out on a short hike ½ mile hike along the purple trail to check out Patty Falls.

Jim Witmer
Conservation Manager Michael Enright of Five Rivers MetroParks walks along the field of the current farmland that will be transformed into a prairie that will provide the food and nesting sites necessary for pollinators’ survival. Many of the plants will be milkweed, which is critical to monarchs since it’s the only plant on which they lay their eggs. The project is funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund. Protecting the dwindling monarch population is a priority for Fish & Wildlife, which is determining if monarchs should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. JIM WITMER/STAFF

Head south of the Germantown Dam on the opposite side of the Creek from the main Dam Parking area. While you are setting up the picnic, let the kids hunt for fossils and splash in the water below the dam as long as water levels are low. Stone imprints from the Ordovician time period such as prehistoric snails, trilobites, and squid-like creatures with hard shells can all be found by the inquisitive and careful explorer.

Hills and Dales offers great picnic amenities, especially for large groups. (Source: Five Rivers MetroParks)

The Paw Paw Shelter has an elegant Adirondack design, fireplace, electricity and ADA flush toilets. An alcohol permit can be purchased. This is a good spot for larger groups (it seats up to 100).

Staff Writer
Animals graze in fields at the farm at Possum Creek MetroPark. Possum Creek MetroPark Edible Farm is striving to become a leader in promoting small-scale food raising for the local community. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Follow the purple trail through the enchanted Argonne Forest where remnants of a once-vibrant entertainment center is now currently intermingled with moss, vines and old trees. Stop at the ballroom dance floor, spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch. There’s also a Hickory Shelter with an Argonne Lake view, fishing (no license required), hiking trails and a smaller-more intimate shelter.

courtesy of: daytonwanderingdotcom.files.wordpress.com

There is a small remote picnic area about 1.25 miles north of the parking lot located at 2005 U.S. Rte. 40. The picnic spot is located at the remnants of the village of Tadmore, which was once the busiest crossroads in Montgomery County. The village was situated at the intersection of The Miami-Erie Canal, the National Road, the Dayton Michigan Railroad and the Great Miami River. Hike or bike the 1.25 miles on the Great Miami Recreational Trail, which is relatively flat and mostly shaded. If you are looking for a slightly more adventurous walk, you can walk along the tow path trail that parallels the bikeway. There’s also the CCC Shelter, featuring a rustic, secluded atmosphere, stone fireplace located near hiking trails.

Twin Creek can be a destination for a romantic picnic for two or a fun, inexpensive day out for the whole family. (Source: Five Rivers MetroParks)

The High View Shelter offers panoramic and scenic views of the Twin Valley, access to nature trails and fishing (no license required) at Dogwood Pond. It’s an intimate, location for a romantic picnic (seats 15 max.) with great views. Up for a little family adventure? Pack a picnic lunch, park at the High View parking lot and enjoy a hike along the 2.9-mile yellow loop, stopping at Dogwood Pond for lunch along the way.

Barb Bayliff of Harrison Twp. took this photo of a row of crabapples trees, showy in the Easter colors of purple and pink on April 12th at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton.

Spend the day touring the formal gardens or visiting the Children’s Discovery Garden at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark. Make a day of it by staying for a picnic in the area that is available to the south of the gardens. A reservable shelter is also available.

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