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Picture perfect picnics in Madison, WI


Lake Monona parks are a perfect backdrop for any kind of picnic. | Photo by @honeyoliveblaire

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When it comes to planning the picture perfect picnic in Madison, we’ve done our research. From the best bites to the most secret spots, let’s pic(nic) and choose the best in the 608.

DIY happy hour picnic

We’re in America’s Dairyland, so this picnic is going to revolve around cheese. Start with a trip to one of Madison’s favorite cheese shops + follow our guide regarding how much to buy, what kinds to pair, and how to make a good board grate.

We recommend batching a pitcher of State Line Distillery’s Tomato Sangrita. Disclaimer: The recipe requires the use of a blender, so do this prep step at home.

For the backdrop, check out our favorite spots to watch the sunset. Choose a local park so you’re not hiking out your cocktails + charcuterie.

Self-love picnic

Picnics can be social events — but they don’t have to be. Take a trip to a local bookstore and pick up a summer read with ties to Madison.

Head over to the Capitol Square to pick up the perfect picnic fare from a local food truck. Pro tip: Common Pasta’s green pasta salad is a light dish perfect for an afternoon under the sun.

Trek to Wingra Park and find some space. While you read, munch, and enjoy nature, keep an eye out for some of Madison’s most common birds — local parks during non-peak hours can be perfect for 608 birders.

Nostalgia picnic

Enjoy summer vacation like you used to: ride bicycles, enjoy cold treats, and play by the lake.

Start by grabbing a BCycle. While everything in our cold treats guide is sure to level up your picnic experience, we recommend you stop by Ice Cream Social. What’s more iconic than a melty ice cream cone at the beach?

Our ongoing lake guide series has covered Mendota, Monona, and Wingra so far — each of which offer picnic amenities like beach access, boat launches (for a picnic on the water), and stunning visuals.

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