Whether it’s a romantic picnic for two or a full-fledged family reunion, Missouri has a wealth of great picnic locations. Enjoy the beautiful scenery that Missouri is proud of, whether you are in the city or in one of our amazing state parks. Spread a blanket, grab a picnic table, or rent a pavilion and enjoy a meal in the great outdoors. Regardless of how you choose to picnic, make sure you leave no trace that you have been there. Keep these wonderful spots pristine for future visitors. Here are some really great picnicking options, just in time for spring.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Watkins Mill State Park, Lawson
There are lots of picnic spots to choose from at Watkins Mill. There are official picnic areas with tables and grills as well as several additional picnic tables and grills located along the bicycle trail near the beach and the shelter house area. All picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but the Shelter House can be reserved and can accommodate up to 80 people.
2. Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Columbia
There are several picnic areas scattered throughout the park, and two official picnic shelters. The Billy Gilbert Memorial Shelter is located in the upper picnic area, can accommodate up to 80 guests and features four grills, electricity, and running water. It is wheelchair accessible and there are restrooms and a dumpster nearby. Reservations for this shelter can be made up to 11 months in advance, and it costs $40 per day.
Rockbridge Mills Shelter is located about 400 feet south of the Devil’s Icebox parking lot along Sinkhole Trail. Although it is used primarily for interpretive programs, it is an open shelter with picnic tables that can accommodate up to 60 people. It has no electricity, running water or grills. When it is not needed for interpretive purposes, this shelter can be reserved for $25 per day up to two months in advance.
3. Loose Park, Kansas City
Loose Park is one of Kansas City’s most beloved and historic areas, and features 75 acres, beautiful flower gardens, bike trails, a tennis court, and a “sprayground.” There are lots of lovely picnicking locations, as well as Loose Park Shelter, a beautiful rentable space with a seating capacity of 128. It has electricity, a playground, and a grill. Rental costs are $95 per day during the week and $125 on weekends. Loose Park is located at 5200 Pennsylvania Avenue.
4. Hawn State Park, Ste Genevieve
Beautiful Hawn State Park has a large picnic area with 30 picnic sites nestled in a grove of tall pines right next to Pickle Creek. They also have an open picnic shelter available for $45 per day that accommodates 100 people. It features an outdoor barbecue grill and picnic tables, and if not already reserved, it is available on a first-come first-served basis.
5. Johnson’s Shut Ins, Lesterville
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is considered nature’s water park. It features hiking and equestrian trails, a new visitor center, one of Missouri’s best natural swimming holes, and of course, lots of spots for picnicking. There are 14 covered picnic shelters and 15 single table picnic spots in two official picnic areas located on the north and south ends of the day-use area. The Campground Shelter ($40/day), Day-Use Shelter ($30/day), and Enclosed Shelter ($100/day) can be reserved in advance.
6. The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden, Kansas City
Kauffman Memorial Garden is the perfect setting for a romantic picnic with your sweetie. The garden is two acres, part of the Kauffman Legacy Park, and is located near the Country Club Plaza in the heart of Kansas City. The spot offers a serene atmosphere, and limestone walls for a bit of privacy. The garden is located at 4800 Rockhill Road.
7. Prairie State Park, Mindenmines
Located on the western side of the state, Prairie State Park has beautiful picnic options amid a beautiful setting of wildflowers and grasses. The charming official picnic spot features six picnic tables settled into a grove of pin oaks next to Fleck Creek, a rare prairie headwater stream. Nearby, a small footbridge crosses the stream. All picnic sites contain picnic tables and pedestrian grills, and are accessed by a hardened dirt path.
8. Concordia Park, Clayton
The City of Clayton leases more than an acre of beautiful rolling hills on the grounds of Concordia Seminary, and offers it to the public as a park. The park features picnic tables and benches, as well as plenty of serene grassy spots that are perfect for a picnic blanket. During your meal, enjoy the seminary’s sweet carillon church bells. Although it’s a popular park, especially on weekends, there are some great out of the way spots if you want some privacy. Concordia Park is location at 801 DeMun Avenue.
9. Dillard Mill State Historic Site, Davisville
Truly a magnificent and serene location, one of the prettiest settings for a picnic is from picnic tables overlooking the pond at Dillard Mill State Historic Site. Enjoy a magnificent view of the barn-red mill and waterfall on Huzzah Creek. Two picnic tables are located along the trail to the mill, facing the mill pond, as well as five picnic tables with pedestal grills that are located in the parking lot area. There is also a covered, accessible shelter available to reserve for $25 per day.
10. Creve Coeur Park, Maryland Heights
You can choose to picnic at the playground area located among trees overlooking the lake, down near the beach or in beautiful scenic wooded areas for more private picnics. Creve Coeur Park features a 320-acre lake with kayaking, canoeing, bike and hiking trails, and beautiful overlooks that frame the lake. The park is located at 2143 Creve Coeur Mill Road. The above photo is a view of Creve Coeur Lake from atop the bluffs at the Albert P. Greensfelder memorial pavilion.
11. Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City
A picnic is lovely at Nelson-Atkins Museum and Sculpture Park. You can spread a blanket in the grass or use one of the newly added picnic tables on the south lawn. The museum’s oversized backyard is the perfect place for a picnic accompanied by a game of catch or Frisbee or a walk around the beautiful grounds and sculpture park. The museum is located 4525 Oak Street.
12. Grand Gulf State Park, Koshkonong
Grand Gulf State Park is one of the natural wonders of Missouri. It features the most remarkable collapsed cave system in the Ozarks. For more than a mile, the "Grand Gulf" lies between 130-foot-high walls. It can be viewed from the trails on top or from the floor. The floor of the gulf features a 250-foot bridge with an opening 75 feet high. You can picnic along the tree-shaded rim of the gulf at one of three different sites.
13. Castlewood State Park, Ballwin
Castlewood State Park features 50 picnic sites scattered throughout the park consisting of a picnic table and pedestal charcoal grill. Some of the most peaceful picnic locations are at the lower picnic area near the Meramec River, along Kiefer Creek, near the playground and at some trailheads. They also have equestrian picnic sites at the horse trailer parking area with a picnic table, pedestal charcoal grill and a hitching post.
For larger groups, you can rent one of the two picnic shelters. There is a playground conveniently located between the two shelters, and each shelter has at least one barbecue grill (Shelter 1 has two), a water fountain, a modern restroom, and a play space for volleyball, soccer, softball, or horseshoe pitching. Either of the shelters can be rented for $75/day.
14. The Banks of the Missouri River in Fort Osage
Fort Osage is located 14 miles northeast of Independence. It was built in 1808 and served as a military garrison and trade center. Today, it’s a wonderful reminder of the men and women who secured the American frontier, and also a great picnic location. The best spot is overlooking the bends and currents of the Missouri River. Fort Osage is located at 105 Osage Street.
15. Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, Wildwood
This state park has an abundance of picnicking options. There are three large picnic shelters and more than 200 individual picnic sites scattered throughout the park. The three shelters can be reserved for $75 per day, and can accommodate 56-130 people depending on the shelter. Amenities may include fireplaces and barbecue grills, and all three have picnic tables and water and restrooms nearby.
16. Forest Park, St. Louis
There are seemingly limitless amazing picnic spots in the iconic Forest Park in St. Louis. You have 1,293 acres of beautiful green near bike trails and waterways to choose from, or picnic near the Jewel Box, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, or the many other buildings.
17. English Landing Park, Kansas City
The historic English Landing Park provides the perfect atmosphere for a picnic. Located just south of downtown and next to the banks of the Missouri River, it also features a great walking trail that runs right along the river. Listen for trains in the distance and take in the beautiful sights around you. The park is located at 8800 Clark Avenue.