Where to Have a Picnic in St. Paul: 9 Perfect Picnic Spots

picnic areas in st. paul, mn

Looking for the perfect picnic in St. Paul?

From hidden gems to huge formal picnic shelters, I’ve got you covered.

I’ve always been a huge picnic fan, but in recent months, I’d like to think I’ve taken my picnic game to the next level.

At this point, I’m pretty confident I’ve tried just about every official (and unofficial!) picnic location across St. Paul. (Thanks but no thanks to COVID-19…)

In any case, I’ve narrowed down my favorites to what I consider the 9 best picnic locations in St. Paul.

Happy Picnic’ing!

Map of the Best Picnic Areas in St. Paul

1. Harriet Island

harriet island - saint paul minnesota

If you’re imagining a classic picnic, where you bring yourself a blanket, lay in the grass, and watch the clouds go by, then Harriet Island is the perfect picnic location for you. This massive public park lies just across the river from Downtown St. Paul, so you’ll catch the city’s most dramatic skyline views from the comfort of this urban oasis.

Depending on the time of day, you might also catch some of the huge shipping barges floating their way down the Mississippi River, which always makes for some lively entertainment.

2. Como Picnic Pavilion

Como Park’s picnic area is definitely the largest in St. Paul.

This sprawling green space is spotted with hundreds of picnic tables throughout the trees and gradual hills. It’s a beautiful location, and there’s no better way to begin or end a picnic than a quick stroll through the always interesting and always free Como Zoo or Como Conservatory.

3. Fort Snelling State Park

harriet island - saint paul minnesota

Fort Snelling State Park is so down with picnics that they literally have an area of the park called “Picnic Island.”  As you’d expect, this island is loaded with quiet and peaceful picnic tables in all different locations.

That said, the most popular picnic spot at Fort Snelling is probably the Snelling Lake area. This wide open grassy space has plenty of picnic tables for a relaxing meal.

4. Union Depot Rail View Picnic Area

Looking for one of the most unique picnic spots in St. Paul?

As the name implies, Union Depot’s Rail View Picnic Area gives views of the train tracks leading to Union Depot. This means you can grab one of the half-dozen picnic tables and gain a front row seat to the trains rolling past, less than 100 feet away.

It’s the perfect picnic for the kids or the kids at heart!

5. Summit Overlook Park

summit overlook park

This small park off Summit Avenue is one of the most beautiful in the city. Perched atop the very steep Ramsey Street hill, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world as you look over the West 7th neighborhood, the Mississippi River, and The Smith Avenue High Bridge.

There’s no picnic tables, so this is very much a BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket!) type of picnic spot. That said, I love how this park is less than a mile from all the awesome restaurants on Grand Avenue. Grab yourself a delicious meal, and it’ll still be fresh by the time you start your picnic!

6. Highland Park Picnic Pavilion

The Highland Park Picnic Pavilion sits just West of the Montreal Ave/7th Street W intersection. You’ll find tons of picnic tables scattered on both sides of the street, interspersed with a disc golf course and playgrounds.

Whether you’re looking for a sunny or shady table, you’re sure to find one here.

7. Indian Mounds

Indian Mounds Park

At Indian Mounds Park, located in East St. Paul, you’ll catch glimpses of St. Paul’s towering downtown buildings, perfectly framed by the park’s trees.

There’s a collection of picnic tables on the Southeastern edge of the park, and while the setting is certainly peaceful, they don’t have the skyline view that Indian Mounds is famous for. If that’s what you’re searching for, we recommend driving west on Mounds Blvd until you see the view. From there, you can set up a blanket in the grass and get picnic’ing!

8. Irvine Park

Irvine Park is a total hidden gem in St. Paul’s West 7th Neighborhood. While there’s no picnic tables in this tucked away in this beauty, you will find a small space with a few benches and a lone gazebo.

It’s a great place to grab a to-go bowl pasta from some St. Paul’s best Italian restaurants, like Cosetta’s or DiGiddio’s, located just two blocks away, and then enjoy eating to the sound of the park’s historic water-fountain.

9. Those Super Secret Hidden Tables Underneath The High Bridge

Okay, now we’re really getting off the beaten path!

To find these super-secret but super-awesome tables, take Randolph avenue underneath the Smith Avenue High Bridge. Along the river you’ll find a small collection of five or so picnic tables, each with a stunning view looking up the 160 ft. steel behemoth known as The High Bridge. It’s a super-cool spot on the water that most people don’t know about.

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Picnic Shelters for Rent in St. Paul

If you’re hosting a big event, The City of Saint Paul rents many large picnic shelters for half-day or full day time slots. These shelters are located at public parks all across the city, and they’re all beautiful.

If you’re event is even slightly important, we definitely recommend getting a reservation. These big shelters can be very popular, and the last thing you want is to show up for your big day, only to get kicked out by another group that already reserved the shelter!

Rental rates range from $70 all the way up to $600, depending on the size, popularity, and length of your reservation.

For more information, check out the picnic reservation page at StPaul.gov.

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