Summer is the season for picnics, and Chicago is full of spots just asking for a blanket and a basket of sandwiches. Before you grab your cooler and head for the nearest park, though, make sure you’re an expert on making outdoor meals enjoyable.
Bring all of the materials you could possibly need.
You don’t want to break out the pasta salad and then realize you forgot forks. According to the ehow.com article “How to Plan a Picnic,” you’ll want to pack utensils, paper cups and plates, napkins, insect repellant and sunscreen, among other things. Take a look at the full check list for more.
Make some delicious food
It wouldn’t be a picnic without the sandwiches, salads, or whatever you decide to pack in your basket. Tasteofhome.com suggests whipping up some summer veggie subs or picnic chicken. Find more recipes here.
You don’t want food poisoning to ruin your outing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that picnickers store food that needs to be kept cold in a cooler with ice, cook meat thoroughly (using a food thermometer), and not leave leftovers out for more than two hours (or one, if it’s above 90 degrees Fahrenheit). Read all of the FDA recommendations here.
Pick the perfect location
Picnickers in Chicago have lots of places to choose from. For a comprehensive list and reviews, visit yelp.com. Here are a few fun spots from the list:
1. Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
You’ll find fountains, flowers and plenty of art at this popular downtown park. The sights include British artist Anish Kapoor’s sculpture “Cloud Gate,” better known locally as “the bean.” Take a look at it and you’ll see why!
2. Lincoln Park Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive
If you’re looking for somewhere less crowded and more tranquil than Millennium Park, take your picnic here. You can have your lunch surrounded by woodland wildflowers, prairie grasses, dragonflies and turtles.
3. Oz Park
2021 N. Burling St.
Come here if you want to take your picnic over the rainbow. This park is named after Lyman Frank Baum, the author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” You’ll find statues of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Dorothy and Toto watching over the swings and flower garden.
Now that you have your materials, your food, safety knowledge and a location, it’s time for a picnic!