A New Survey Reveals the Best Cities in America for a Picnic

Residents of the Golden State are in luck—its cities claimed six of the top 20 spots.

mother and young daughter enjoying picnic in park
Photo: d3sign / Getty Images

Summer is all about eating outdoors and one of the most laid-back and beloved ways to do so is by going on a picnic—after all, what's better than throwing down your coziest blanket and dining on your favorite snacks a la carte? While you may think you've found the most ideal picnic spot in your area, a new survey says there are certain cities more ideal for this style of eating than others.

To determine the best cities in America for a picnic, Shane Co. started with a list of the largest cities in the U.S. Its research team collected data on 14 different factors across three categories, including weather, food and beverage, and parks. Each factor was giving a weight based on how essential it is to a picnic. They then converted the data into a score of zero to five, with five being the most ideal conditions. The scores were multiplied by their factors' weight then added together to find their total score out of 100.

So, where is the best place to picnic? According to the survey's data, Sacramento, Calif. is the most ideal place to hold your next outdoor fête, with a total score of 71.4. Sacramento was followed by two other California cities, including San Francisco (70.4) and San Jose (70.1). Rounding out the top five was Salt Lake City, Utah (65.4) and Portland, Ore. (65.2). The three cities from the Golden State took the top spots thanks to their climate and abundance of picnic must-haves, Shane Co. writes.

The capital of California came in on top for a reason. According to the data, it has one of the lowest precipitation rates during popular picnic months. Residents experience just over 1/2 inch of rain between April and August compared to the rest of the country, which garners about 3.1 inches of rain on average during those months. What's more, Sacramento has a relatively low allergen score and 83 percent of its parks are walking accessible, compared to a national average of 69.6 percent.

Beyond California, there are 12 different states represented in the top 20 best cities list including: Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Maryland, Georgia, Rhode Island, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Mexico. No matter where it's ranked on the list, each location has its own unique charm. In San Diego, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, the variety of food spots are all the rage. In Atlanta, it's the ambiance and abundance of parks (there are 11.2 parks per 10,000 people!).

The list also features a wide variety when it comes to city size, meaning even smaller locations can provide the perfect picnic spot. Shane Co. notes in its research that smaller cities may provide more privacy, while larger cities have more options for food or spots to really stretch out during your outdoor feast. From coast to coast, this list is proof that with enough sunshine—plus good food and company—the perfect picnic spot in your city is likely lurking right around the corner.

The Best U.S. Cities for a Picnic

  • Sacramento, California: 71.4
  • San Francisco, California: 70.4
  • Sand Jose, California: 70.1
  • Salt Lake City, Utah: 65.4
  • Portland, Oregon: 65.2
  • Boise City, Idaho: 65.2
  • Ogden, Utah: 65
  • Stockton, California: 62.2
  • Baltimore, Maryland: 61.8
  • Atlanta, Georgia: 61.7
  • Providence, Rhode Island: 61.5
  • Spokane, Washington: 61
  • Denver, Colorado: 61
  • San Diego, California: 61
  • Seattle, Washington: 60.5
  • Provo, Utah: 59.1
  • Fresno, California: 59
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 58.3
  • Boston, Massachusetts: 58.2
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: 58.1
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