The Ultimate Guide To D.C.'s Coolest Picnic Spots

UPDATE: With beautiful, sunny weather forecasted for the next several days, this is your chance to pull off a totally relaxing summer picnic. We've got the scoop on where (and when) to go. This article was originally published April 9, 2012.
Spring fever is absolutely going around — and we're not talking about the pollen-induced kind, either. We're daydreaming about leisurely lunches and mellow dinners spent reclining on a blanket under the warm spring sun, preferably in one of the city's most spectacular (but secret) picnic spots.
Not sure where, exactly, those are? Not to worry — we've compiled a list of Washington's most scenic, under-populated locales for throwing down a spread. We searched high and low for our favorite spots, and gathered up a mix of ahhh-worthy sights, gorgeous greenery, and just-quirky-enough settings to suit a variety of tastes. As far as what you should pack in that adorably retro picnic basket? Well, that's up to you.
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The Yards Park
Overlooking the Anacostia River in Southeast D.C., Yards Park is something of a hidden gem. Constructed as a series of "rooms," the park comprises canals, bridges, pools, paths, and more. Before you settle on your blanket, be sure to take in the sweeping water views and wander over the sculptural bridge, and starting in May, plan to stay a little later to catch a free Friday night concert.

Where: The Yards Park, 3rd Street SE at Water Street SE; 202-465-7080.

Photo: Courtesy of Yards Park
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Congressional Cemetery
Call us creepy if you must, but if you like your history with a touch of the macabre, a walk through Congressional Cemetery is a fascinating way to spend a few hours. Scores of notable political figures (and a few cultural icons, such as bandleader John Philip Sousa) are buried here; add the built-in picnic tables and a serene, beautifully landscaped setting, and you've got yourself a just-kooky-enough picnic spot.

Where: Congressional Cemetery, 1801 E Street SE; 202-543-0539.

Photo: Courtesy of Congressional Cemetery
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Gravelly Point Park
In-the-know locals have been heading to Gravelly Point Park for years to take in the awe-inspiring sights of planes landing and taking off at nearby National Airport. But you'll also find groups playing softball and soccer, flying kites, biking along the Mount Vernon Trail, and lunching on the grounds.

Where: Gravelly Point Park, off the northbound George Washington Parkway; 703-289-2500.

Photo: Courtesy of Rebekah Gregory
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Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens
The estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post is worth a visit simply for the incredible collection of antiques and artwork contained within the heiress' mansion. But Hillwood, the 25-acre expanse overlooking Rock Creek Park, has dozens of perfect settings for an al fresco lunch — and they'll even provide you with a blanket.

Where: Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Avenue NW; 202-686-5807.

Photo: Courtesy of Hillwood Estate
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Hidden in plain sight, the Sculpture Garden at the Hirshhorn Museum is a quiet oasis amid the clamor on the National Mall. Here, you can sit with works by Rodin, Calder, and Matisse, and if you time your picnic dinner to end around dusk, you can take in one of the most impressive art exhibitions going right now: Song 1, a video by artist Doug Aitken projected on the museum's exterior.

Where: Hirshhorn Museum, 7th Street SW and Independence Avenue SW; 202-633-1000.

Photo: Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum/Frederick Charles
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Book Hill Park
Need to get away from the hustle of M Street in Georgetown? Hike up Wisconsin Avenue (stopping along the way to grab a to-go bite) and take a detour to Book Hill Park, a tucked-away spot overlooking Georgetown. It's just the place to sit for a spell, kick off your shoes, and sip on an iced coffee — or just soak up some rays during a day of boutique-hopping.

Where: Book Hill Park, Reservoir Road and Wisconsin Avenue.

Photo: Courtesy of Shaun Courtney/Georgetown Patch