How to Throw an Instagram-Worthy (& Totally Romantic) Picnic Date

According to the experts—yes, experts.
Picnic Date
Photo: Getty Images | Capuski
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Wendy Rose Gould
wendy rose gould headshot
Wendy Rose Gould
The Knot Contributor
  • Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Along with The Knot, she contributes to Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Insider, Verywell Mind and others.
  • Wendy has a degree in editorial journalism and a second degree in philosophy.
Updated Jul 31, 2023

While a fancy dinner is a grand gesture and heading to the movies or a museum is a fun way to pass time with your special someone, there's something inherently charming and romantic about a picnic date. It's a chance to get outside and enjoy the weather, focus your attention on each other and enjoy leisurely, laidback time getting to know one another better.

"A picnic date is more casual and can take the pressure off of a date," explains Susan Trotter Ph.D., a relationship expert and coach. "And with the right setting—like a park or beach—delicious food, a candle, flowers, soft music and some wine, it can feel ever so romantic."

Ahead, we're covering everything you need to know about planning a romantic picnic date, including what to look for in a superb location, which picnic date food to bring and ideas for picnic date activities that'll help you bond.

How to Plan a Picnic Date

From figuring out what to bring on your picnic date to scouting a perfect location, you'll want to put some thoughtfulness into your plan. This attention to detail ensures everything goes off without a hitch and will make your partner feel cared for.

Step 1: Find the Perfect Location

The setting of your picnic is everything and will either enhance romantic vibes or detract from them. "Choose a location that ideally has a flat area where you can lay down a blanket or cloth to sit on, and perhaps has some shade, too," Dr. Trotter suggests. "Choose a location that is more secluded to make it even more romantic."

A park or a beach is a great setting for a picnic date. Plan ahead to ensure that there are no major events planned in the area so that it isn't too chaotic.

Step 2: Prepare Your Menu

It's not a proper picnic without some yummy foods to chow down on. Amanda Orso, a New York City party stylist known as the "The High-Low Hostess," says to stick to food that can be served and eaten at room temperature.

"Anything you can eat with your hands is even better. The fewer utensils, the better," she recommends. "Simplicity is key, although one can still have a sophisticated menu with these things in mind."

Step 3: Brainstorm Fun Activities

Along with enjoying each other's company through a finger food-friendly meal, plan one or two activities you can do together. This can be something as simple as a word game, a "get to know each other" exercise or a card game.

Step 4: Pack the Essentials

Before heading off for your picnic date, make sure you've packed all the essentials—including a basket full of food and drinks, utensils, plates and cups, a picnic blanket and small pillows. Also keep some hand wipes or antibacterial gel available, as well as bug spray, SPF and perhaps a portable speaker for some light background music.

Step 5: Get Your Partner Excited

Fill your partner in on the details and make sure they know that this will be an outdoor picnic. That'll help them figure out what to wear and what to bring. If you want it to be a surprise, that's okay—but just make sure they're aware of the general atmosphere, so they can plan in advance!

Step 6: Enjoy Your Time Together

Once the day arrives, pack everything up and head to your chosen picnic date location. Definitely snap some cute pictures together, but try to keep your smartphone tucked away so you can enjoy each other's company to the max. If you want to capture the moment—especially if it is a special day like an engagement, anniversary or birthday—consider hiring a photographer to take a few professional images, so you can remember the occasion for years to come.

What to Bring on a Picnic Date

The benefit of a picnic date is that it's often a casual, low-key rendezvous. That said, you don't really need to bring too much in order to make it a success!

If You're the Host...

Take responsibility for all the essentials, including the picnic blanket, food, drinks, activities and essentials (like hand wipes, bug spray and sunscreen). It might also be helpful to bring a few sun umbrellas or hand fans to protect yourselves from the heat and sun. If your partner wants to participate in the planning, see if they want to bring a dessert to share or another small item. The goal, though, is to offload as much of the work so they can feel spoiled!

If You're the Date...

Ask your partner if there's anything you can help with—but if they say they've got it covered, then follow their lead. Otherwise, just show up in comfortable clothing suitable for the weather, and make sure to slather on the SPF before heading to your special spot in the great outdoors.

Best Food for a Picnic Date

The best picnic date foods are finger-friendly, not too messy and are servable at room temperature. You don't want to worry about melty messes or spoiling, so try to keep it simple.

  • Sandwiches
  • Wraps
  • Fresh fruit
  • Chinese takeout
  • Pizza
  • Veggies & dip
  • Salad
  • Cookies
  • Brownies
  • Charcuterie
  • Fried chicken
  • Biscuits
  • Chips & dip
  • Popcorn
  • Scones

"One thing to consider is that many restaurants near large parks have 'picnic menus,' so you may want to inquire if you don't want to do any prepping yourself," Oros advises. "Additionally, research any nearby food trucks where you could pick up food en route."

For drinks, consider iced coffee, lemonade, iced tea, water, champagne, wine and premade cocktails.

5 Things to Do on a Picnic Date

Chowing down on yummy food with your honey is the main event of your romantic picnic date_but come prepared with a few additional activities, as well.

Playing Cards

A pack of playing cards is easy to tote and full of possibilities. Consider a few rounds of poker, blackjack, gin rummy, or golf. You can also find relationship-themed card games for couples here.

Intimacy Game

"There are some wonderful games couples can play to enhance connection and intimacy," Dr. Trotter says. "For example, Esther Perel has a card game called Where Should We Begin. In this game, there are a variety of cards with questions on them to help couples learn more about each other, feel more connected and develop greater intimacy."

Small Board Games

Try a board game that's easy to transport and play. Some good options include Cribbage, Backgammon, Scrabble, Checkers, Jenga and Chess. You can also find additional board games for couples here.

Physical Activity

Getting off the picnic blanket will help stretch your legs and keep the day exciting. Consider a game of Frisbee, a stroll around the park, rollerblading or cornhole.


"For some couples, reading aloud to each other can be very romantic," Dr. Trotter says. "It all depends on the couple!" If this sounds like your vibe, bring along a book of poetry or essays—something that's easy to absorb together in a short time period.

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