Why Don't You? Have a Picnic!

This has been a tough winter and spring in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve had oodles of rain, some crazy storms, snow, snow, and more snow, and this weekend it’s finally going to be 70 and sunny! I think this calls for a celebration in the way of a picnic! Perhaps I am secretly English at heart but there are few things I love more than a good picnic, complete with a beautiful location, rosé, good friends, happy kids, a lot of scrumptious food, and sunshine. Bainbridge is dotted all around with pretty parks and gorgeous stretches of beach – so many perfect locations to celebrate the arrival of good weather.  So grab some friends, maybe a game of bocce, and let’s get this party started!

For a proper picnic, I am a strong believer in a proper picnic basket. For my birthday several years ago, my sweet husband surprised me with this 1950s vintage picnic basket from Brooks Brothers, complete with china teacups and saucers!

As time went by, I realized that I am actually quite of fan of having wine with my picnic and promptly realized a secondary picnic basket was required: this one has a special spot for wine glasses.

I highly recommend you own at least one of the two. It makes taking a picnic so much more glamorous, festive, and special. Here are a few of my favorites (just in case you might be in the market) - most of these are available, a couple are ridiculously expensive, and one is silly-fabulous but a must-include for obvious reasons: 

Moving on to the most important part of the picnic: the food! You’ll want to be very generous with the provisions, keeping in mind that you’ll be out in the wilds with no access to civilization for perhaps hours on end.

  • Morning picnics require thermoses of hot chocolate for the kiddos and French press coffee for the grownups. A quick stop at the bakery to grab croissants and the like and you can be seaside for the sunrise in no time.
  • Afternoon and evening picnics, I usually tend toward a French theme: several types of cheese and crackers, salami, paté, olives, cucumbers, strawberries and grapes, baguettes, and lots of rosé. You wouldn't want anyone to get thirsty, afterall.

Perhaps surprisingly, the kids in our circle are just as happy with brie, baguettes and grapes as they might be with Cheetohs and other orange-colored foods. It makes me so much happier to see them eating the former but I will admit to being a sucker for a good salt & vinegar potato chip!

One of the most magical beaches on Bainbridge Island, Lytle is west-facing and a prime spot for catching a sunset. Bring your kayaks or paddle boards and let the kiddies toodle about in this very protected cove of Rich Passage. My son has only gotten stranded on the buoy once so you probably don't have to worry too much about that happening. And, hey, the parking is free. 

My family teases me but I never get tired of seeing the ferry go by...With a few hours at this beach you are sure to see this glorious old gal float by at least a few times on her hour-long trip between Seattle and Bremerton, creating small waves that come out of nowhere and make all the children scream with glee.

Gorgeous any time of day but especially perfect for a sunrise picnic, Fay Bainbridge Park faces due east on the north end of the island and on a clear day you'll get an amazing view of Mt. Rainier. You'll find mountains of driftwood to entertain children who will happily build forts for hours as well as a playground and handicapped access to the beach. You can even camp at this park if you are so inclined (I am not) and there are rustic, covered beach shelters available fo rent which are super for a plan-ahead party when you hope it's going to be nice and it turns out to be cold and raining. We PNW folk are hardy! This beach also hosts "facilities" which can come in very handy.

Another dreamy picnic spot is Prichard Park on Eagle Harbor. Relax as you watch the ferry boat come and go while enjoying the soft sand at this dog-friendly beach. Stretching all the way out to Bill Point, grab a front row seat for the annual 4th of July fireworks and be sure to bring a small BBQ for making s'mores. This is the stuff childhood dreams are made of.

If you decide to bring your fury friend along on your picnic, don't forget to bring fresh water, a bowl, a leash, a Chuck-it if your dog is as much of a fetch fiend as ours is, and those ever-handy doggie bags for cleaning up afterwards. Fido is sure to love a day out as much as the rest of the family.

Here's to a weekend full of sunshine and warmth. I have a feeling my picnic will be prepared well ahead of time, my rosé chilled, and I will have a big, stupid smile on my face. Hope you have the chance to get out there and enjoy this beautiful weekend. Cheers!

Lytle Beach
at the end of Lytle Road
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Fay Bainbridge Park
15446 Sunrise Drive
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Pritchard Park
5350 NE Old Creosote Hill Rd
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

With thanks to the divine Diana Vreeland for inspiring this title.