Bust out that picnic basket, pack that blanket and bug spray, and prepare your favorite snack foods. It’s time for a picnic! August happens to be National Picnic Month, which means it’s time to gather the family and go out for a picnic in some of Des Moines’ more picturesque parks and enjoy the outdoors one more time before school starts. Here are a few tips and a couple key places within Des Moines that will help you enjoy your family picnic.

Gray’s Lake – 2101 Fleur Drive
Stop by Gray’s Lake for not only a picnic, but also for a walk around the lake or even some canoeing and paddle boating. Gray’s Lake offers many great places to have a picnic, including in a grassy area or on the beach. The 100-acre lake offers a chance for walking and other water activities to work off all the food you just ate. Gray’s Lake is one of Des Moines’ best picnic spots.

Jester Park – 11407 N.W. Jester Park Drive, Granger
Jester Park is one of Des Moines’ greatest parks for kids. The 1,675 acre park is on the western shore of Saylorville Lake and offers a large playground for kids to let their imagination run wild. There are five picnic shelters within the park, so you can even picnic when it’s raining or extra sunny. If there are no shelters available, there are still lots of areas that lend themselves to a great picnic, complete with a view of the lake, and private, wooded areas.

Walnut Woods State Park – 3155 Walnut Woods Drive, West Des Moines
Walnut Woods State Park is a beautiful area located just southwest of Des Moines and is worth the trip out to it for your picnic. Nestled at the bottomland of Raccoon River, the shaded picnic areas come with fire grills and tables, giving you the chance to grill instead of having just sandwiches. There are also fishing opportunities and a lodge available for renting. The unique area offers a wealth of history and intriguing backstory that is worth digging into while you enjoy your picnic.

Picnic Tips
The key to having a wonderful picnic is obviously in the food and utensils you’re using. If you love picnics, it’d be well worth the money to buy a picnic basket with outdoor dishes, something that is reusable but still cheap and not glass. Invest in a good blanket or sheet that you can set down on the grass to make your dining experience more enjoyable. Prepare some of the food ahead of time so it’ll be easier to eat. For example, bring a salad you made at home, rather than all of the ingredients to make on the spot. Naturally, you will be outside, so don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen. If you don’t want to use spray bug spray, find a different alternative to help keep the bugs away from your picnic. And don’t forget to pack some snacks for your furry friend as well. There are many fun picnic spots around Des Moines, so get out and enjoy before the school season hits.