Here Are 12 Great Picnic Spots in Metro Phoenix

These are some of the best picnic spots in town.
These are some of the best picnic spots in town. Lauren Cusimano
Picnics, America’s most adorable pastime, are an ideal way to check out well-maintained city parks and, normally, enjoy some cold cuts with your friends or family. Or maybe they just offer a good time to enjoy solitude with a book and a to-go salad — a more ideal situation at this time.

But picnic weather is sacred in central Arizona, meaning, toward the end of spring, we scramble to soak up the last few weeks of the al fresco dining season in the Valley. Now that you’ve dug the picnic basket and cooler out of storage, here are a dozen of the best picnic spots to take it.

Granada Park

6505 North 20th Street

Though on the smaller side, Granada Park is a quiet, beautiful spot for a quick lunch or afternoon on the grass. A fishing lagoon occupies the middle of the park, while the towering Piestewa Peak dominates the backdrop. Picnic tables and grills help with a dedicated picnic, while trees and grass make for an ideal spot to plop down a blanket and yourself. Nearby restaurants include Los Taquitos, SanTan Brewery, Moto, and Sprouts.

click to enlarge Who says you can't picnic after the sun goes down? - ROB MAINS
Who says you can't picnic after the sun goes down?
Rob Mains

Fountain Park

12925 North Saguaro Boulevard, Fountain Hills

This 64-acre park is known for its iconic shooting fountain, but the aptly named Fountain Park also features various picnic tables, benches, and 35 acres of turf. That means grab the blanket and spread out your takeout. Tons of eateries line the edges of Fountain Park, including La Botana Tacos and All American Sports Grill.

click to enlarge Grab a spot on the green under Her Secret Is Patience. - NEW TIMES ARCHIVES
Grab a spot on the green under Her Secret Is Patience.
New Times Archives

Civic Space Park

424 North Central Avenue

You might not know this three-acre downtown park by its official name — Civic Space Park — but this is the spot with the eye-catching Her Secret Is Patience sculpture by Janet Echelman. Imagine having a nice picnic under that big colorful net. It’s easy to do thanks to plenty of grass and the fact 70 percent of the park's surface area is shaded. There are a multitude of restaurant options in the downtown area. Grab a pasty to go from Cornish Pasty or a lunch from Phoenix Public Market Cafe, and you’re good to eat on the green.

click to enlarge Just pick a spot for your picnic lunch. - THE FARM AT SOUTH MOUNTAIN
Just pick a spot for your picnic lunch.
The Farm at South Mountain

The Farm Kitchen

6106 South 32nd Street

Yes, the Farm at South Mountain is a venue and restaurant, but it’s also a farm — meaning you’re free to stretch out. The Farm Kitchen serves its lunches in picnic baskets so guests may sit on the garden patio or out in the five-acre pecan grove at the picnic tables. The restaurant sets up reserved tables in the dog-friendly grove for larger picnics or showers. Choose from sandwiches, soups, salads, and from-scratch baked goods to pack up in your picnic basket, then just pick your favorite tree.

A nice view from your picnic blanket at Freestone Park. - NEW TIMES ARCHIVES
A nice view from your picnic blanket at Freestone Park.
New Times Archives

Freestone Park

1045 East Juniper Road, Gilbert

The 88-acre Freestone Park is packed with things to do — fishing, skateboarding, and of course, picnicking. There are three ramadas available by reservation, six shaded picnic tables, and seven picnic tables accompanied by those little barbecue grills. There are also additional standalone picnic tables and two lake areas for lunch by the water. Freestone Park is extremely close to Gilbert’s Heritage District, where you can pick up Postino, Liberty Market, Joe’s Real BBQ, and plenty more.

click to enlarge The Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt includes many parks along the way. - OFELIA MONTELONGO
The Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt includes many parks along the way.
Ofelia Montelongo

Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt


The Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt is one of the better green areas in the city. It’s a linear collection of parks, lakes, and activity spanning 11 miles. Ride a bike or take a walk to the many ramadas and picnic tables along the greenbelt, or find a spot on the grass along the water to spread out a blanket. Just be aware of the Canadian geese and anything they may have “left behind.” Surrounding eateries include Duke's Sports Bar and Grill but we recommend you grab a wrapped sandwich from DeFalco's Italian Eatery.

click to enlarge If you've been to a food festival here, you know it's a good picnic spot. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
If you've been to a food festival here, you know it's a good picnic spot.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Margaret T. Hance Park

67 West Culver Street

Ever been to a food festival at Margaret T. Hance Park? If so, then you already know it’s a great picnic spot. The 32-acre park is relaxing and surrounded by history, making you completely forget the time you absolutely lost it in traffic in I-10's tunnel right below you. There are reservable ramadas, the grass is lush (most of the time), and there are more than a few neighboring restaurants. Think Match Kitchen & Cocktails, Fez, SoSoBa, and Pizza People Pub.

click to enlarge There are ramadas galore at Papago Park. - PRITHA PHOTOGRAPHY/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
There are ramadas galore at Papago Park.
Pritha Photography/

Papago Park

625 North Galvin Parkway

One of the cooler-looking parks in Phoenix, Papago Park is certainly a place you’d like to find yourself on a beautiful sunny day. But the piping hot sandstone may not make for the best seat for a picnic, so you might want to snag one of the many ramadas along the roads or trails. You can even hike off your lunch with a quick run up to Hole in the Rock. And if you’d like to pack in lunch, nearby eateries include Honey Bear's BBQ, Ladybug Café, and Cafe Roma.

click to enlarge There's plenty of space at Riverview Park for a picnic. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
There's plenty of space at Riverview Park for a picnic.
Lauren Cusimano

Riverview Park

2100 West Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa

Neighboring Sloan Park, Riverview Park is best spotted by the 50-foot Genesis climbing tower. But once you wander the grounds, you’ll see the community fishing lake, open and shaded picnic areas with tables, reservable ramadas, and plenty of grass. There’s definitely a lot of activity, but it definitely makes for good people watching. Nearby restaurants include Henhouse Café, Matta's Grill & Cantina, and Makitto Sushi, or you could just pick up a box from Bosa Donuts.

click to enlarge Sunset at Steele Indian School Park — ideal picnic time. - OFELIA MONTELONGO
Sunset at Steele Indian School Park — ideal picnic time.
Ofelia Montelongo

Steele Indian School Park

300 East Indian School Road

The historic Steele Indian School Park is one of those smack-dab-in-middle-of-the-city parks that provide a perfect urban view for your sunny picnic. There’s the chime of the light rail, skyline of midtown office buildings, and plenty of mature trees and grass. The 75-acre park offers attractions like Entry Garden and the Circle of Life, while nearby restaurants include George & Dragon, Clever Koi, and Pane Bianco.

Picnic heaven at Encanto Park. - TYLER BOLKEN/FLICKR
Picnic heaven at Encanto Park.
Tyler Bolken/Flickr

Encanto Park

2605 North 15th Avenue

The 222-acre Encanto Park kind of has it all — a fishing spot, quaint boat house, pool, trail, sports complex, golf courses, the Enchanted Island Amusement Park, and an adorable surrounding neighborhood. The grass is up for grabs, the ramadas are first-come, first-serve, and the Amphitheater Island ramadas take reservations. But note: There’s no access to electricity in the park, so you’ll have to go with prepared food at this one. However, nearby restaurants include Original Hamburger Works, Persian Garden Cafe, and McGurkee's Italian Kitchen.

click to enlarge Hit the dirt at Tempe Beach Park. - ALEXANDRA GASPAR
Hit the dirt at Tempe Beach Park.
Alexandra Gaspar

Tempe Beach Park

80 West Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe

Yes, a dog or a Frisbee may suddenly end up on your picnic blanket, but the disruption may be worth it if you’re picnicking during sunset. The 25-acre Tempe Beach Park sits at the end of Mill Avenue, just north of Arizona State University, and it’s always bustling with life. Watch the scooters, bikes, and joggers zip by as you enjoy takeaway from nearby spots like Cornish Pasty, Ike’s Love and Sandwiches, Daily Jam, or a slice from Slices.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on April 23, 2019. It was updated on April 29, 2020.
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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.