August is National Picnic Month and though we may be in the middle of a heat wave, it is the perfect time to say goodbye to summer with a picnic. Dreamy, nostalgic and budget friendly, picnics are an easy way to bask in California’s beautiful weather, savor locally grown food, and have a safe, socially distanced get together. If the weather in your area is too much to brave at the moment, we suggest laying out a blanket and creating the picnic feel right in the cool of your living room. Whether you’re planning a small family picnic or a romantic sunset picnic, Amtrak San Joaquins can help you make it picture–or picnic–perfect.
Location. Location. Location. It’s one of the most important aspects of a memorable picnic. If you’re looking to escape the inland heat, we suggest Martinez Regional Shoreline. You can choose to set up your picnic near the duck pond, Alhambra Creek, or in one of the many open grass fields. Martinez Regional Shorelines has various activities you can enjoy, like fishing, hiking, bird watching, and bicycling. If you’re in the East Bay, Lake Merritt, especially the areas near Empowerment Park and the Lake Merritt Amphitheater, are great picnic spots that are also close to many downtown Oakland restaurants. In San Francisco, Golden Gate Park has 1,017 acres of prime picnic areas with gardens, sports opportunities and more. In downtown Fresno, lay your picnic spread out in the Cultural Arts District Park and walk to Fulton Street Coffee or along the historic Fulton mall. If you’re in Hanford, Civic Park is downtown and there’s even a Thursday Night Market Place each week from 5pm to 8pm where you can fill your picnic basket. Or plan an urban picnic in Sacramento’s State Capitol Park and spend the day exploring flower gardens, monuments and the Capitol building. For a list of other potential locations check out our Trip Ideas page.
Eating local, fresh food in California is relatively easy, especially with all the farmers markets and agricultural land along the San Joaquin corridor. This time of year, there are lots of fruits and veggies in season for you to pack, like watermelons, tomatoes, plums, lettuce and corn. We recommend fresh caprese sandwiches, cherry tomato couscous salad, potato and zucchini salad, and blueberry hand pies. If cooking and packing food isn’t your thing, order take-out from a local restaurant. Near the Martinez train station, Sunflower Garden, Taco Daddy’s and a slice at Italeigh Pizza Kitchen are a few great options. Oakland’s Jack London Square station is near a variety of excellent restaurants like The Forge Handcrafted Pizza, Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine and Belcampo Meat Co. In SF, the Inner Sunset neighborhood has many delicious offerings within walking distance from Golden Gate Park, including Jenny’s Burgers, Pacific Catch and Lavash Persian Cuisine. In Fresno, try Chef Paul’s Cafe for soul food, Toshiko Ramen and Sushi Bar for fresh fish or Cosmopolitan for Italian—all within walking distance of the Cultural Arts District Park. Superior Dairy is always at the top of the must try list in Hanford, but there’s also Zaytoona, El Tarasco and Fugazzi’s. And in Sacramento, choose between Osaka Sushi, Wildflower Cafe, Petra Greek and more. Wherever you go, be sure to pack a blanket and sunglasses!