The Best U.S. Cities for a Picnic

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Whether it’s your first, 10th, or 100th time out together, a picnic is never a bad idea for a fun date! All you need is a few of your favorite snacks, a blanket, and some sunscreen, and you’ve got everything you need. 

While you can picnic literally anywhere, from a public park to your own backyard, some cities are simply better designed for picnics than others. That’s why we at Shane Co. called on our research team to map out picnic hotspots around the U.S. We analyzed a variety of factors relating to the outdoors, food options, costs, and more in order to determine the best cities for a picnic. 


To conduct our analysis, we started with a list of 100 of the largest cities in the U.S. We collected data on 14 different factors in three categories: weather, food and beverage, and parks. Each factor was assigned a weight, based on its importance to a picnic. From there, we converted the data into a score of 0 to 5, with 5 being the most favorable conditions. Those scores were multiplied by their factors’ weight and added together for a possible total score of 100. You can find a complete list of ranking factors, weights, and sources at the bottom of this page. 

Key Findings

  • Three California cities — Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Jose — rank as the top three cities in the U.S. for picnics, thanks to their warm environment and abundance of picnic must-haves. 
  • Atlanta, Georgia, ranks No. 1 for both the number and quality of parks and No. 10 overall for the best places in the U.S. to picnic. 
  • The West dominates the top overall rankings with Salt Lake City, Utah; Portland, Oregon; Boise City, Idaho; and Ogden, Utah, rounding out the top seven.

The 20 Best U.S. Cities for a Picnic

U.S. map showing the top 20 best cities for a picnic

Californians, pack your baskets because the Golden State is home to the best picnics in the nation! Sacramento tops the list at No. 1, closely followed by its neighboring cities of San Francisco and San Jose. 

But California isn’t the only state to boast an ideal picnic environment. In fact, there are 12 different states represented in the top 20 best cities. From Portland, Oregon, to Boston, Massachusetts, there are great picnic options for residents from coast to coast.

There’s also a healthy variation in city size on the list. For example, No. 7 Ogden, Utah, is roughly one-tenth the size of No. 2 San Francisco, California. A smaller city might mean more privacy for an intimate picnic. On the other hand, a larger city typically comes with more options for food or where you can spread out your blanket. With the right amount of sunshine and a group of great people, we say you really can’t go wrong!

The Best Cities for a Picnic, by Category

A U.S. map showing the best cities for a picnic based on various categories

Next, we wanted to know if isolating the specific categories included in our analysis made a difference in ranking factors. While many of the cities pictured above are familiar names from the repeated section, there are a few call-outs worth highlighting. 

San Jose, which ranked No. 3 in our overall ranking, comes in at the top spot when isolating weather factors. While Silicon Valley might have the sweat dripping at your picnic, you can surely count on sunshine to brighten the sky. The city also has a high number of days with good air quality and a low overall allergen score.

Moving to food, many of these cities were ones we weren’t surprised to see at the top of the list. San Diego, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia are all often referred to as food capitals in their own rights. Planning a picnic is certainly easier when you don’t have to rely on a trusty PB&J to fill your stomach. 

But of course, you can’t have the perfect picnic without the perfect setting — and for that, Atlanta is just the place! Atlanta has a whopping 11.2 parks per 10,000 people, second only to Hartford, Connecticut. 72% of them are pedestrian-friendly, and they’ve got the social media engagement to back up the high rating, too.

Breaking Down the Top Cities

A breakdown of Sacramento and its picnic features

Finally, let’s dive deeper into the top cities and why they came out on top. Starting with Sacramento, the capital city has one of the lowest precipitation rates in the perfect picnic months. Residents here deal with just over half an inch of rain between April and August, compared to the rest of the nation, which faces 3.1 inches on average during these months. 

Additionally, Sacramento is home to 33 different charcuterie options, a relatively low allergen score, and high engagement with #SacramentoPicnic on Instagram.

A breakdown of San Francisco and its picnic features

The second-place position belongs to San Francisco for slightly different reasons. The city features a high volume of both delis and bakeries, which means that whether you’re looking to have a full lunch or simply satisfy your sweet tooth, there are plenty of options for locals. 

On top of that, a whopping 100% of parks are considered walkable, meaning they’ve got easy access to and from by foot. That’s a pretty impressive feat, considering that just 69.6% of all U.S. parks can say the same. 

Rounding out our top three is San Jose, which offers many similar pros to the last two. If the environment is a concern, San Jose is a great option and aligns with its high rating in the weather-specific category previously mentioned. San Jose is also home to 350 bakeries, more than 100 above the national average.

Closing Thoughts

If your city didn’t make the list of the top places to have a picnic, fear not! A place can go a long way to cultivate the perfect picnic environment, but at the end of the day, it’s the memories you make that will last a lifetime. 

And if you’re planning a picnic proposal, your friends at Shane Co. are just the jewelers you need to help find the diamond of your dreams. Head over to our engagement rings page to shop our stunning selection. It would certainly be a picnic you’ll never forget! 

Complete Dataset and Ranking Factors

Weather Ranking Factors 

Average Percentage of Sunshine from April through August

  • Weight: 2.25
  • Source: 

Average Precipitation in Inches from April through August

  • Weight: 2.00 
  • Source: 

Average Temperature Deviation from 75°F from April through August

  • Weight: 2.25 
  • Source: 

Average Humidity Percentage from April through August

  • Weight: 1.50
  • Source: 

Allergen Index

  • Weight: 1.00
  • Source:

Number of Good Air Quality Days 

  • Weight: 2.00
  • Source:

Food and Beverage Ranking Factors 

Number of Restaurants with Charcuterie Options

  • Weight: 0.75
  • Source: Yelp

Number of Local Delis 

  • Weight: 0.75
  • Source: Yellow Pages 

Number of Local Bakeries

  • Weight: 0.75
  • Source: Yellow Pages 

Cost of Block of Cheese 

  • Weight: 1.00 
  • Source: Numbeo 

Cost of Bottle of Wine

  • Weight: 1.00 
  • Source: Numbeo 

Parks Ranking Factors 

Number of Parks per 10,000 People 

  • Weight: 2.00 
  • Source: Trust for Public Land

Walkable Park Access 

  • Weight: 2.00 
  • Source: Trust for Public Land

Number of Instagram Hashtags for #[City]Picnic (i.e. #DenverPicnic) 

  • Weight: 0.75
  • Source: Instagram
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