Even the most boring sandwich tastes amazing when it’s eaten in the sunshine. There’s a lot to love about picnics – the kids can run about, the grass can deal with the crumbs and it’s cheaper (and less stressful) than piling into a restaurant or cafe. Take a look at our pick of the best places to picnic in and around York. Fancy letting someone else make the sandwiches? Here’s a selection of the best places for picnic provisions and street food in York. Bon appetit!
Eat your picnic….while you watch the squirrels at York Museum Gardens
York Museum Gardens is one of York’s most beautiful places, with river views, squirrels and lots of intriguing corners for kids to explore. Enjoy a picnic in the shadow of the stunning ruins or, if it’s busy, keep walking around to the back of York Art Gallery where there’s a lovely garden that’s quieter but just as pretty. As it’s right in the heart of the city centre, you’re a stone’s throw from lots of lovely cafes where you can pick up a drink or something to eat. Our local favourites include Brew & Brownie and Spring Espresso. There’s also an ice cream van in the gardens themselves during the summer months, and a coffee van too. Admission to the gardens is free. Museum St, York YO1 7FR. Visit the website.
…on the banks of the River Ouse
There’s oodles of space by the Ouse for a riverside picnic, so just take a wander from the city centre and see how far you get before hunger sets in. We like the area near the Millenium Bridge – towards Fulford – not least because the ice cream boat moors at the bridge during the summer months, and it’s close to beautiful Rowntree Park for a run around. The areas on both sides of Skeldergate Bridge (above) are convenient for the city centre and have a lovely river view too – you could even pick up a drink or something tasty to eat from the quirky cafe bar, Dyl’s, if you’re lucky.
…in the shadow of York Minster at Dean’s Park
Fancy a Minster view with your sandwich? Then head to the tranquillity of Dean’s Park, just to the left of the main entrance of York Minster and a stone’s throw from Treasurer’s House. Although it isn’t huge, it’s a lovely quiet space with lots of room to roam. It’s also perfectly placed for city centre shops and cafes where you can pick up something nice to eat if you’ve not brought anything with you. 2 Minster Yard, York YO1 7JJ.
…by the water at Rowntree Park
Possibly the prettiest park in York, Rowntree Park is the perfect place for a family picnic. Not only are there two play areas, a skate park and basketball court, but there’s plenty of room to scoot, run and crawl. Say hello to the ducks, count the squirrels and take a stroll around the little lake. Top tip: head to one of the pretty gated gardens in the centre of the park where the geese don’t go. There’s a wonderful little cafe/library – Rowntree Park Reading Cafe – if you fancy a hot drink, snack or ice cream.
…while the children play at Homestead Park
Slightly outside the city centre in the Clifton area of York is Homestead Park, a lovely, well-maintained green space that’s a favourite with families across the city. There’s plenty of play equipment for children of all ages, and green space galore for you to set down your picnic blanket. During the summer months, keep an eye out for the pop-up cafe. The Homestead, 40 Water End, York YO30 6WP
Places to picnic beyond York
…in the woodland at Falling Foss near Whitby
Falling Foss is a gorgeous place just outside Whitby. Pack a picnic and find a shady spot to enjoy it while the kids paddle in the stream. Why not pick up a drink or something to eat from the lovely Falling Foss Tea Garden too? No admission charge. Falling Foss, Whitby YO22 5JD. Read our review and find out more about Falling Foss here.
…at world heritage site Fountains Abbey
Eat lunch among the ruins at this iconic World Heritage Site. Get wildlife spotting too – if you’re lucky, you might even see a deer! Children will no doubt want you to make a detour to the play area, too. Admission charges apply. Fountains, Ripon HG4 3DY. Visit the Fountains Abbey website.
…below the sculptures at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Fancy a bit of culture with your cake? Acres of space, spectacular sculptures and a fab cafe if you forget to pack your picnic. Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield WF4 4LG. Visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park website.
…among the formations at Brimham Rocks
Clamber to your heart’s content at this special place in the Dales, and enjoy your sandwiches while you overlook one of the best views in Yorkshire. No admission charge, just pay to park. Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge, Harrogate HG3 4DW. Visit the Brimham Rocks website.
…beneath the trees at Dalby Forest
Family-friendly walks galore, stunning scenery and a fantastic adventure playground make this a cracking day out. No admission charge, just pay to park. Dalby Forest Visitors Centre, Low Dalby, Thornton-le-Dale YO18 7LT. Visit the Dalby Forest website.
…while you watch the train go round at Newby Hall
Drag yourselves off your picnic blanket for a ride on the mini-railway, a play in the adventure playground or a run through the fountains. Admission charges apply. Newby Hall, Skelton-on-Ure, Ripon HG4 5AE. Visit the Newby Hall website.
…on the beach at the Yorkshire Coast
If you don’t mind sand in your sandwiches, Scarborough, Whitby, Filey, Robin Hood’s Bay and countless other little spots along the Yorkshire coast are beautiful places to picnic. We love the slightly less well known (and therefore much quieter) beaches at Hunmanby Gap and Fraisthorpe, too. For lunch in the shadow of a lighthouse, Flamborough Head is a stunning spot. Don’t forget your buckets and spades!
…while you watch the fish at Burnby Hall Gardens
Burnby Hall Gardens is the perfect size for children to explore, and there’s a play area too. Feed the enormous fish before feeding yourselves! Burnby Hall Gardens, 33 The Balk, Pocklington, York YO42 2QF. Visit the Burnby Hall website.
…by the stepping stones at Bolton Abbey
Park up at the Riverside car park for prime paddling and picnicking potential at Bolton Abbey. Older chidren will enjoy the Welly Walk, with fun physical challenges along the way. There are various ice cream and refreshment options, public loos and a gift shop. No admission fee – just pay to park. Bolton Abbey, Skipton BD23 6AL. Visit the Bolton Abbey website.