There’s hardly a more quintessential summertime activity than a family picnic on a beautiful, sunny day. Hudson Valley residents are lucky to have a wide selection of picturesque spots to choose from for their al fresco dining.
Located on the eastern banks of the Hudson, Bowdoin Park offers an unobstructed view of the river, framed by trees. The 300-acre park is spread over rolling hills, with numerous choice picnic spots throughout. An award-winning handicapped accessible playground area features swings, tunnels, and two separate play structures for different age groups. The park also contains a nature center and nearly seven miles of hiking trails, with two boardwalks offering views of wetland wildlife.
“What makes Bowdoin Park stand apart are the extras, like the miniature golf course, the nature center, hiking trails, and the events like the summer concert series,” said Nancy Lutz of the Dutchess County Tourism Office. “You can easily spend an entire day enjoying all of the park’s recreational activities.”
The park opens every day at 9am, and closes at dusk.
85 Sheafe Rd., Wappingers Falls. 845-298-4600.
PARK PERK: During the hot summer months, a water play area is open, featuring a splash pad with three spouting turtles to climb on.
BEAR MOUNTAIN STATE PARK
A full day is required to enjoy all the amenities within Bear Mountain State Park’s expansive 5,000 acres on the west bank of the Hudson. Its unexpected features include an indoor carousel featuring hand painted scenes of the park and 42 hand-carved seats of native animals including black bear, deer, fox, swans, and bobcats.
There’s also a Trailside Museum and Wildlife Center, a sizeable playground, pedal boats on Hessian Lake, a walking path around the lake, and numerous picnic tables. The swimming pool will likely be closed this season if proposed state budget cuts go into effect. The park is open every day from dawn to dusk, year-round, with varying hours for the carousel, museum and Wildlife Center. The parking fee is $8.
Lemon Rd., Bear Mountain. 845-786-2701.
PARK PERK: A drive up to Perkins Memorial lookout tower atop Bear Mountain will reward you with wide open scenic views of the park and the Hudson Highlands.
THOMAS BULL MEMORIAL PARK
Covering more than 700 acres, Thomas Bull Memorial Park is the largest in the Orange County parks system. The recreational amenities include paddleboats, fishing, tennis and volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits. The trail loop has various exercise stations alongside the six-acre pond. The facility also includes an arboretum and the Hill-Hold museum, a 1769 stone farmhouse.
The spacious country setting provides a range of scenic locations for a picnic. The main area, Picnic Grove, is a 20-acre area with shelters, charcoal grills, and tables. It’s ideally situated next to “Sally’s Dream” Playground, one of four within the park. This facility not only includes traditional swings and slides, but also special equipment for children with disabilities, such as activity boards and swing sets with platforms for wheelchairs.
The park is open daily, from dawn to dusk.
211 State Rte. 416,Montgomery. 845-615-3830.
PARK PERK: The 35-acre arboretum is a great place to stroll through an artful display of trees, shrubs, plants, raised gardens and cascading water features.
Traci L. Suppa is a family travel writer living in Dutchess County. Her website is WordScapesny.com.
Find picnic spots for Ulster and Sullivan County.