Favorite Fall Picnics

Enjoy the changing of the season with a hearty autumn picnic.

Meal Game Plan

The night before:

  • Grill or pan-fry chicken for sandwiches. Assemble sandwiches and refrigerate.
  • Make a dessert that reflects the season–you can’t go wrong with bar cookies. Make and bake a batch of each at the same time. Let them cool overnight and cut in the morning.
  • Just before bedtime, put ingredients for the soup in the slow cooker. Instead of cooking it on HIGH for 4 hours and LOW for 2 hours, just turn the dial to low and cook while you sleep. Stash it in a thermos just before you leave.
  • Clean out and prepare a cooler or backpack. Stow sandwiches and any cold snacks or beverages in the fridge to chill overnight. Make or buy ice. Clean out the thermos so it is ready to fill in the morning.
  • If you still have a little time, make up some extra snack foods. It always tastes better when it’s made from scratch!
Cranberry Bars

Photo by Sarah Koethe

Early in the morning:

  • Cut cookie bars and pack in zip top plastic bags or foil.
  • Put ice in cooler and rearrange foods so everything stays cold.
  • Fill the thermos with soup.

Perfect Picnic Strategies

  • Drive scenic back roads and rural routes to enjoy autumn colors. If the terrain is hilly, search out a high spot where the views are panoramic and set up your picnic.
  • Check out national parks and local open space areas with walking or hiking trails. Pack your picnic in a backpack and hike to a scenic spot.
  • If you’re staying in town, walk, bike, or take the bus to a local park and enjoy your picnic there.
  • Sign up for a guided bus tour of a popular leaf peeping route to save on gas and have better access to the views. Carry your picnic on board.
  • Have kids collect different kinds of leaves to press and keep in a scrapbook. Bring along a pocket-size guide of local outdoor plants to help identify leaves before you touch them.
  • Lightweight binoculars come in handy, and remember to pack your camera and a waterproof picnic blanket.
  • Be prepared for changes in the weather: dress in layers and bring lightweight rain jackets just in case.

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