Top Places For

Picnicking By The Water

A picnic by the water is the perfect way to appreciate nature with friends and loved ones. At these places around the Chesapeake region, you can share a snack outdoors while enjoying a spectacular water view.

Pack a picnic basket and head to spots like Kiptopeke State Park, Riverbend Park, or the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center for an afternoon of fun. Whether you’re planning a big family gathering or seeking a romantic outing with a special someone, the Chesapeake has a perfect picnicking location for you.

For a party with lots of friends and family, check out one of the Chesapeake region’s awesome waterfront parks, from Elk Neck State Park all the way to Gloucester Point Beach Park. Many have picnic shelters with tables and grills that overlook the beautiful Bay or one of its rivers. If you prefer a lakeside retreat, head to Bald Eagle State Park in Pennsylvania, Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland, or Bear Creek Lake State Park in Virginia.

Looking for a more secluded picnicking spot? Lay a blanket in the sand at Douglas Point on the Potomac, Myrtle Point Park on the Patuxent, or Chippokes Plantation State Park on the James. On the Eastern Shore, seek out your own private patch of beach at marshy Janes Island State Park and watch the sun set over the water.

Why not try taking your picnic on the water! Set off in a kayak on a water trail on the Occoquan River or the Choptank and Tuckahoe rivers, all of which offer calm waters that are perfect for a floating picnic.

So load up your cooler and hit the road for one of the top places for picnicking by the water. The only thing left to decide is what to eat!

Aerial View of Anacostia Park

Anacostia Park

Anacostia Park provides open space and recreation along 5 miles of the Anacostia River in the Nation's capital. It includes trails, boat launches, picnic areas, a swimming pool, a pavilion and Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.

Washington, DC

Annapolis Maritime Museum

Annapolis Maritime Museum

The Annapolis Maritime Museum is dedicated to preserving and commemorating the maritime heritage of Annapolis and the neighboring waters of the Chesapeake Bay and features rotating exhibits celebrating the area's unique maritime heritage.

Annapolis, MD

Main building at Caledon State Park

Caledon State Park

A designated National Natural Landmark, Caledon State Park provides visitors a unique opportunity to view bald eagles in their natural habitat.

King George, VA

Bald Eagle State Park

Bald Eagle State Park

The 5,900-acre Bald Eagle State Park is in the broad Bald Eagle Valley of northcentral Pennsylvania. The 1,730-acre lake laps the flanks of Bald Eagle Mountain, surrounded by forests, fields and wetlands.

Howard, PA

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Less than an hour west of Richmond and nestled in the heart of Cumberland State Forest, Bear Creek Lake is the perfect getaway for the outdoor enthusiast. It has opportunities for recreation on the water and in the surrounding forest.

Cumberland, VA

Bel Air State Park water view

Belle Isle State Park

With seven miles of waterfront on the north shore of the Rappahannock, Belle Isle State Park features diverse tidal and nontidal wetlands, lowland marshes, tidal coves and upland forests.

Lancaster, VA

Cliffs at Calvert Cliffs State Park

Calvert Cliffs State Park

Calvert Cliffs State Park is a day-use park featuring a sandy beach, unique fossils, recycled tire playground, a freshwater and tidal marshland and 13 miles of hiking trails located in Calvert County.

Lusby, MD

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center is a 500 acre preserve located 15 minutes from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Maryland's Eastern Shore. With a variety of habitats, the Center is an excellent place to see the Chesapeake's wintering assortment of waterfowl.

Grasonville, MD

Chippokes Plantation State Park

Chippokes Plantation State Park

Chippokes Plantation State Park is one of the oldest working farms in the United States. Chippokes is a living historical exhibit located in a rural agricultural area along the James River, directly opposite Jamestown Island and has a wide variety of traditional park offerings.

Surry, VA

Choptank & Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail

Choptank & Tuckahoe Rivers Water Trail

An eighty mile water trail connecting historic landings, towns, and natural areas on the Eastern Shore.

Choptank River, MD

Cowans Gap State Park

Cowans Gap State Park

A 42-acre lake, large campground, rustic cabins and many hiking trails are prime attractions at Cowans Gap State Park, which is surrounded by state forest land.

Fort Loudon, PA

Person fishing at Dutch Gap Conservation Area

Dutch Gap Conservation Area

Dutch Gap consists of 810 acres of woodlands, wildlife and waterways along the James River, a major Chesapeake Bay tributary. It's home to a blue heron rookery, beavers, muskrats and other wildlife of a freshwater marsh.

Chester, VA

Hikers at Elk Neck State Park

Elk Neck State Park

Elk Neck State Park boasts 2,188 acres of sandy beaches, marshlands, and heavily wooded bluffs within the peninsula formed by the North East River, Elk River, and the Chesapeake Bay.

North East, MD

Emperor's Landing Park

Emperor’s Landing Park

Emperor's Landing Park is a central gateway to the Nanticoke River and watershed. A historically significant area dating from Native American times, the park offers long sweeping vistas of the Dorchester and Wicomico marshlands.

Vienna, MD

Footbridge to Beach at First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is located near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay close to the spot where Captain John Smith landed in 1607. First Landing is Virginia's most popular state park with over a million visitors each year.

Virginia Beach, VA

Flag Ponds Nature Park

Flag Ponds Nature Park

A Bay front park on the western shore, with beaches, freshwater ponds and trails. Once the site of a major pound net fishery, today the site preserves one of the original shanties and houses a fascinating exhibit on the Bay's old-time fishing industry.

Lusby, MD

Fisherman at Pier at Fort Smallwood Park

Fort Smallwood Park

Fort Smallwood Park became the newest regional park in the Anne Arundel County Park System, located on the Patapsco River, the park offers experiences for fisherman, boaters, swimmers, birdwatchers, and admirers of local scenery.

Pasadena, MD

Gifford Pinchot State Park

Gifford Pinchot State Park

Gifford Pinchot State Park consists of reverting farm fields and wooded hillsides, with the 340-acre Pinchot Lake serving as a prime attraction.

Lewisberry, PA

Gloucester Point Beach Park

Gloucester Point Beach Park

Gloucester Point Beach Park is located on the bank of the York River near where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The park offers a large, shady, and grassy area with picnic areas and a shelter.

Gloucester Point, VA

Great Bridge Lock Park

Great Bridge Lock Park

Visitors come to watch boats pass along the canal and through a single lock, and to use a boat ramp, playground equipment, picnic shelters, and fishing and crabbing spots.

Chesapeake, VA

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park protects the stream valleys of the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls and the Gunpowder River. The long, narrow 18,000 acre park ranges from tidal marshes and wetlands near the Bay to steep, rugged slopes upstream.

Middle River, MD

Gwynns Falls Trail and Greenway

Gwynns Falls Trail and Greenway

Explore a hiking and biking trail through a Baltimore stream valley making its way to the Chesapeake Bay.

Baltimore, MD

James River State Park

James River State Park

The park offers more than 1,500 acres of rolling farm meadows and three miles of river frontage. The park offers opportunities to see wildlife and explore habitat native to the foothills of the Blue Ridge.

Gladstone, VA

Kayaker at Janes Island State Park

Janes Island State Park

Janes Island State Park encompasses 2,900 acres of Chesapeake Bay marsh, beach, and highland. The park is dissected by many small waterways, with 30 miles of trails marked for canoes and kayaks.

Crisfield, MD

Beach at Holliday Lake State Park

Holliday Lake State Park

Deep in the heart of Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest, Holliday Lake State Park is a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast.

Appomattox, VA

Kingman and Heritage Islands Park

Kingman and Heritage Islands Park

Kingman and Heritage Islands are natural parklands found on the Anacostia River in Northeast Washington, DC. There are over 50 acres of natural area to be explored on these two island habitats by water and land.

Washington, DC

Sunrise at Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park's location near the tip of the Chesapeake's Eastern Shore makes the park a prime location for bird-watching. Migrating birds congregate at this point on the Delmarva before moving on to breeding or wintering grounds.

Cape Charles, VA

Lake Anna State Park

Lake Anna State Park

Boating and fishing are the major attractions at Lake Anna, but the park also offers lakefront picnicking, swimming, wooded hiking trails, and seasonal interpretive programs on local history and nature.

Spotsylvania, VA

Picnickers at Leesylvania State Park

Leesylvania State Park

Leesylvania State Park is the location of the ancestral home of the Lee family overlooking the Potomac River. Today the park offers a range of recreational activities and beautiful views of the river, one of the Chesapeake's largest tributaries.

Woodbridge, VA

Milton State Park

Milton State Park

Milton State Park is an 82-acre island on the West Branch Susquehanna River, with day use facilities, water access, and wooded areas for hiking and nature study.

West Milton, PA

Beach at Myrtle Point Park

Myrtle Point Park

Myrtle Point Park is a 192-acre natural park is located on the western shore of the Patuxent River. The park is distinguished by its nearly two miles of pristine shoreline, tidal wetlands, salt ponds, mature forests, and more.

California, MD

Cherry Blossoms in bloom at the National Mall

National Mall and Memorial Parks

Each year, millions visit the National Mall and Memorial Parks to recreate, to commemorate presidential legacies, to honor our nation's veterans, to make their voices heard, and to celebrate our nation's commitment to freedom and equality.

Washington, DC

North Point State Park

North Point State Park

North Point State Park is a 1,310-acre Bay-front park with more than six miles of shoreline along the Chesapeake Bay, Back River, and Shallow Creek. The park offers public access, a wading beach, and crabbing and fishing opportunities.

Edgemere, MD

Occoquan Water Trail

Occoquan Water Trail

The Occoquan Water Trail provides a diversity of on-the-water experiences, along almost 6,000 acres of protected riparian shoreline.

Fairfax Station, VA

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley includes five developed recreational areas, providing hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails, as well as picnicking for individuals or large groups in the park's many popular pavilions.

Ellicott City, MD

Patuxent River Park Jug Bay Natural Area

Patuxent River Park Jug Bay Natural Area

Jug Bay Natural Area offers many activities including walking through wetlands, guided boat tours, hiking and horseback riding over eight miles of trails, boating, fishing, camping, hunting, and visiting a museum.

Upper Marlboro, MD

Patuxent River Water Trail

Patuxent River Water Trail

The Patuxent River Water Trail offers visitors the opportunity to paddle the river, camp along its banks and visit its numerous parks, historic sites, sanctuaries and wildlife areas.

Upper Marlboro, MD

Point Lookout State Park

Point Lookout State Park

Once a prison camp for 52,000 confederate soldiers during the Civil War, Point Lookout State Park now serves as a peaceful place to enjoy recreational outings.

Scotland, MD

Riverbend Park

Riverbend Park

Tucked away in a remote river setting, Riverbend Park has over 400 acres of forest, meadows, and ponds. Kayakers and canoeists can enjoy exploring many islands in the Potomac River.

Great Falls, VA

Rocky Gap State Park

Rocky Gap State Park

Rocky Gap State Park is encompasses over 3,000 acres of public land for visitors to enjoy. Rugged mountains surround the park, featuring 243-acre Lake Habeeb.

Flintstone, MD

Rocky Point Beach and Park

Rocky Point Beach and Park

Located at the mouth of Back and Middle Rivers, Rocky Point Park features a 300' beach, a 20' x 30' beach front tent, a large and small pavilion, seven shaded picnic groves, fishing pier, two boat ramps, and a bathhouse with first aid station.

Essex, MD

View of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Sandy Point State Park

Sandy Point State Park

Spectacular views, diverse wildlife and fantastic beaches make this park a popular Chesapeake destination. The 786 acre park provides a variety of recreational opportunities such as swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating, and windsurfing.

Annapolis, MD

Shenandoah River State Park

Shenandoah River State Park

Located just down stream from Bentonville, the park boasts over five miles of frontage on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The park consists of pastures, forests and vistas of the mountains and the river.

Bentonville, VA

Train bridge at Shikellamy State Park

Shikellamy State Park

Featuring a marina and boating access to the Susquehanna River, this park also provides picnic tables, picnic pavilions, drinking water and restrooms; Shikellamy Overlook has hiking trails, and Shikellamy Marina offers paved walking trails.

Sunbury, PA

Susquehanna River from Susquehannock State Park

Susquehannock State Park

The 224-acre Susquehannock State Park is on a wooded plateau overlooking the Susquehanna River in southern Lancaster County. Besides the awesome view, the park offers a variety of recreational opportunities for year-round fun.

Drumore, PA

Biker at Terrapin Park

Terrapin Beach Park

Terrapin Park sits on 276 acres of Bay front land north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The park includes over 4,000 feet of shoreline and 73 acres of wetlands, making it a destination for nature and wildlife enthusiasts.

Stevensville, MD

Trap Pond State Park

Trap Pond State Park

Nationally known for its scenic bald cypress stands and the James Branch Nature Preserve, Trap Pond State Park oversees 2,685 acres of land that offer recreational opportunities to the public.

Laurel, DE

Twin Lakes State Park

Twin Lakes State Park

Twin Lakes State Park, centrally located in Virginia's Piedmont region, provides visitors from all over the Commonwealth with a variety of lakefront activities in a secluded setting.

Green Bay, VA

A sunset at Westmoreland State Park

Westmoreland State Park

The park extends about one and a half miles along the Potomac River and offers hiking, camping, cabins, fishing, boating and swimming. Visitors can enjoy the park's vacation cabins as well as spectacular view of the Potomac.

Montross, VA

York River State Park

York River State Park

York River State Park offers visitors an opportunity to experience the environment of a coastal estuary. The park is known for its rare and delicate environment, where freshwater and saltwater meet.

Williamsburg, VA

June 19, 2017

Main image: A picnic area at James River State Park (Image courtesy: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation)
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