Whenever I consult my clocks these days, they all say the same thing: Time to get outside. One of my favorite outdoor activities involves unfurling a well-worn quilt in a beautiful spot and unwrapping some delicious portable food. That’s right, folks, I’m talking about picnics. To me, there’s just no better way to make the most of this beautiful season called spring, which only comes around once a year, after all.
The Fredericksburg region offers many a pleasant picnic spot. Here are a few suggestions, based on the kind of event you are planning.
For romance: Potomac Point Winery allows visitors to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to picnic at the vineyard (pictured above), just call ahead to make sure no special events are planned (540-446-2266), and grab a bottle of wine to complement your meal at the winery’s gift shop.
For road-trippers: Skip the fast food and pack a picnic for your pit-stop. Just minutes off I-95 (Exit 130), you’ll find a variety of peaceful picnic spots around downtown Fredericksburg to help take your mind off the road. Take in views of the Rappahannock River at Old Mill Park, graze from the weekday farmers market in Hurkamp Park or enjoy the mix of natural beauty and architecture on the campus of the University of Mary Washington. You’ll find no shortage of places to grab a quick bite on your way to these spots. Favorites for picnicking include Here & Abroad Bistro and Bakery (tucked behind Hyperion Espresso at 1004 Princess Anne St.), Eileen’s Bakery and Café at 1119 Caroline St., or Baba Ganoush Mediterranean Grill at 1115 Jefferson Davis Highway.
For families: No matter how old your kids are, you’re guaranteed a good time with them if you take your meal out to Spotsylvania’s Loriella Park. After you eat, run around the large expanse of open fields, explore trails through the woods, climb and slide on the playground or compete with each other on the disc golf course. A public pool is open in the summer. For provisions, consider prepared food from Wegmans grocery store, where every member of your family can find takeout to his or her own taste, or grab a pie at Brother’s Pizza, a favorite among locals.
To get away from it all: Head to Stafford County’s Duff McDuff Green Memorial Park. Park your car and walk past the ball fields and playground, and you’ll find a peaceful expanse of open land with secluded views of the Rappahannock River. That table pictured at left is waiting for you! If you’d like to pick up food on the way, stop into Smyrna Mediterranean Cuisine and Café at 215 Kings Highway in Stafford County.
For water lovers: One of the perks of picnicking is the chance to find a spot on the water—without the steep prices usually associated with waterfront restaurants. In Spotsylvania, head to Lake Anna State Park, where you’ll find a beach and three picnic shelters to choose from. If your trip to the park takes you through Spotsylvania Courthouse, stop in the Harvest Market to pick up fresh local produce and other provisions for your meal. Stafford County’s Aquia Landing Beach Park, on Brooke Road, 15 miles east of the Stafford County Courthouse, offers another opportunity to dine on the water. Try take-out from Before N After Café, a popular eatery and coffee shop at 35 Walpole St.