Think Outside of the Basket with These Unique North County Picnic Spots

While the last days of spring linger in the air and the warm breeze of summer approaches, now is the perfect time to enjoy some carefree fun with friends and family in the beautiful outdoors. Whether you enjoy your picnics with a hint of history, want to plan a jam-packed afternoon of activities before taking a break on a blanket in the grass, or simply feel like sitting back with your toes settled in the sand, we’ve put together a list of a few of the top picnic spots in North County that are sure to help you get into the swing of summer with a unique picnic experience.

Lake Poway

This spot offers plenty of outdoor recreational activities to make your picnic an all-day event. Rent a row boat, try out your aim on the archery range, or head up the mountain on a hike before enjoying your picnic at Lake Poway. Fishing permits are also available for purchase. Once you’re ready for a break, the Lake Poway Concession shop has beverages and snacks available, including duck food to feed the ducks! If you plan to bring your own food and drinks, note that beer and wine are okay, but glass containers are not permitted. Lake Poway’s gates open at 6 a.m. and close daily at sunset.

14644 Lake Poway Rd.
Poway, CA 92064

Moonlight Beach State Park

Moonlight Beach got its name from the fact that local residents used to come to the area for midnight picnics in the early 1900s. With picnic tables available for use, as well as a snack shack, children’s play area, tennis and volleyball courts, and of course swimming, surfing, and fishing, Moonlight Beach pairs the amenities of a park with the fun of the beach for the perfect picnic. Fire rings are also available for bonfires after dark – so make it a beach day, then grab your blankets and stick around for s’mores under the stars before heading home. The large parking lot is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the beach is available for use until 2 a.m. Remember that no dogs, portable grills, alcohol, smoking, or glass is allowed.

400 B St.
Encinitas, CA 92024

Old Mission San Luis Rey

If history is your thing, pair your picnic with a visit to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, also known as Old Mission San Luis Rey. Stroll the expansive grounds – it’s nicknamed the “King of the Missions” for a reason – and marvel at the Mission church which was completed in 1815. A National Historic Landmark, the church is open daily to visitors via the on-site museum. Don’t miss California’s oldest documented living pepper tree which was originally planted back in 1830. Settle your picnic in the grass of one of the beautiful courtyards, or head over to the nearby Heritage Park Village and snack in the shade of the gazebo. Enjoy the unique historical experience during the week from 9:30 to 5 p.m. or on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A small fee may apply for self-guided tours in the museum.

4050 Mission Ave.
Oceanside, CA 92057