We are not short on lovely outdoor spaces here in Tampa Bay. And this time of year especially, when the sun begins to set and the breeze kicks in, eating outdoors feels like a must. Here are some of our favorite spots to bring a blanket and a basket and have a picnic.
Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum
It’s hard to go wrong at any park along downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront. North Shore Park, Demens Landing, Vinoy Park — all are lovely for picnicking. But this intimate spot is tucked away just north of those, along North Shore Drive. It’s an arboretum, with more than 500 palms and cycads representing about 150 species of plants.
Address: North Shore Drive and 11th Avenue NE, St. Petersburg
One of the most scenic parks in Pinellas County, this Safety Harbor spot borders Tampa Bay with dazzling views of the water and Tampa. It’s one of the area’s oldest parks, listed in the National Register of Historic Landmarks because of its connection to Native Americans known as the Tocobaga. You can walk along the water on a mile-long path or partake in the kids’ playground, a rock climbing park, a ball field and a public boat ramp with access to Tampa Bay. The park is full of trees that shade a good portion of the land, and it’s particularly hilly for Florida, which adds to its mystique.
Address: 2525 Philippe Parkway, Safety Harbor
Lettuce Lake Park
Located on the Hillsborough River near the University of South Florida in Tampa, Lettuce Lake Park is home to plenty of wide open, grassy spaces to plop down and picnic. There are also lots of sheltered picnic areas and tables. Across 240 acres, you’ll find hiking trails, mangrove forests, a wooden boardwalk that winds through the woods and more. Its proximity to the river means you can rent canoes, too.
Address: 6920 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa
A prime spot to watch gorgeous Tampa Bay sunsets, this idyllic 70-acre park is located just before the Sunshine Skyway bridge. It offers vast views of the open water and has lots of picnic shelters, a boat ramp, a covered playground and walking trails.
Address: Pinellas Point Drive and Sunshine Skyway Lane S, St. Petersburg
Alafia River State Park
Another spot with elevation changes that might make you feel like you’re not in Florida, this park in east Hillsborough County is home to 20 miles of hilly trails and many lakes. There are picnic pavilions galore and lots of shaded areas to settle into. The Alafia River winds through here, too, so canoeing and fishing are also available. And there’s a full-facility campground if you want to turn your day picnic into an overnighter.
Address: 14326 County Road 39, Lithia