Summer in Boston means getting outside, and there’s no better way to enjoy the metro area’s extensive green spaces than by slowing down time and feasting on a picnic in the sun. There are plenty of options for changing up a dining routine, so grab a blanket, swing by these restaurants for some picnic-friendly takeout, and settle in for some ground-level al fresco dining.
Each section of this guide highlights a particularly picnic-friendly area and several reliable takeout options nearby.
This guide was originally published on May 11, 2016; it is updated periodically, and the date of the most recent update appears above.
Corey Hill Outlook, Brookline
It's a bit of a hike up, but it’s definitely worth getting to the top of this hill for the view of the city and sprawling green space, with shady and sunny parts. There’s some seating if that’s preferable to the ground, and the trees at the top of the hill are close enough to hang a hammock.
Find it by walking up Summit Avenue from Beacon Street or taking the pedestrian Summit Path that begins near the Washington Square MBTA green line stop.
Stop by one of these places nearby before working up an appetite on the trek up the hill:
- Allium Market (1330 Beacon St., Brookline) — Known for its vast selection of cheese (and delicious chocolate chip cookies), Allium is a great pre-picnic stop. Grab some cheese and any crackers or accompaniments you want, and head to Corey Hill to enjoy your snack.
- Anna’s Taqueria (1412 Beacon St., Brookline) — Take a burrito to go from the Beacon Street location of Boston’s classic taqueria chain and lean back in the shade while admiring the view from the hill.
- Athan’s Bakery (1621 Beacon St., Brookline) — Prime spot for wraps and panini, plus coffee and iced lattes — the perfect combination for a chill hilltop picnic.
- Charlie’s Pizza & Cafe (177 Allston St., Allston) — Depending on the time of day, grab a breakfast sandwich or choose from an array of lunch treats, including club sandwiches, subs and wraps, and Middle Eastern roll-ups.
- Livite (1644 Beacon St., Brookline) — For something on the lighter side, Livite has smoothies, juices, wraps, and salads, and a convenient online ordering system.
- Stoked Pizza Co. (1632 Beacon St., Brookline) — For this one, the pizza box will serve as your ideal picnic basket.
Christopher Columbus Park, Boston
Christopher Columbus Park is the perfect waterfront picnic spot near plenty of great food options in the North End, Haymarket, and Downtown. It's got wifi, a playground, and tons of grassy space for relaxing. (Find it on Atlantic Avenue, right by the Aquarium T stop.)
- Boston Public Market (100 Hanover St., Boston) — Here's where you'll put together the perfect picnic basket. Grab some smoothies from Mother Juice, sandwiches from Bon Me or Beantown Pastrami Company, and all manner of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables from any of the excellent vendors. It’s a treasure trove of pastries and baked goods, too.
- Monica's Mercato & Salumeria (130 Salem St., Boston) — Swing by this North End spot for a made-to-order sandwich, and pick up some snacks and beverages while you're at it. There’s also pizza if that’s more your style.
- Tenoch Mexican (3 Lewis St., Boston) — Excellent tortas and tacos to go, right near the park.
Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston
Walk up and down the Greenway and plop down on the grass with a snack, or check out any of the numerous food trucks that frequent the area. In the summer season, bring food into Trillium’s Greenway beer garden, situated adjacent to Rowes Wharf. The Greenway spans more than a mile, starting around the Chinatown Gate and ending around Haymarket.
- Flame Cafe (2 Oliver St., Boston)— Take on the day with some Greek and Armenian fare, including gyros, veggie pitas, and a treat of baklava.
- Mighty Love Food (155 Milk St., Boston) — Healthy options abound here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner picnics outside.
- Nebo Cucina and Enoteca (520 Atlantic Ave., Boston) — Take out everything from pizza to lasagna and meatballs from this downtown spot.
- Pauli’s (65 Salem St., Boston) — Start in the North End and pick up sandwiches, wraps, salads, and more for a walk south along the Greenway.
- Villa Mexico Cafe (121 Water St., Boston) — Get an agua fresca and a burrito to go, just a short jaunt away from the Greenway.
Charles River Esplanade, Boston
Take a stroll, then settle in for a snack along the Charles River on any number of park benches, green spaces, or docks. (Find it along Storrow Drive, with numerous pedestrian bridges providing access.)
- Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse (75 Arlington St., Boston) — Through August 31, Davio’s has picnics available, with various options to choose from for salads, sandwiches, and dessert. From there, it’s a short walk over to the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge and onto the Esplanade.
- Flour (190 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge) — On the Cambridge side, find plenty of pastries plus portable salads and sandwiches from Flour, just .4 miles from the Mass. Ave. bridge and the path alongside Memorial Drive, which has plenty of spots for a bench picnic.
- Greco (225 Newbury St., Back Bay) — Pick up a pita and stroll up Fairfield Street to cross Storrow and get onto the Esplanade. Park it on one of the islands and watch the sailboats in the summer.
- J.P. Licks (150 Charles St., Boston) — The Beacon Hill location is a perfect source for frozen treats to take on an Esplanade walk.
- The Paramount (44 Charles St., Boston) — Get take-out for any meal of the day from this Beacon Hill spot. The lunch menu is particularly picnic-friendly, with a focus on sandwiches and salads.
- Tatte Bakery and Cafe (70 Charles St., Boston) — A nice cup of coffee and some pastries are perfect morning picnic treats to enjoy.
Pack a basket and make a day of it with a trip around the Harbor Islands and a picnic stop on Spectacle Island. (The Boston Harbor Cruises Ferry Center is north of the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston.)
- Boston Public Market (100 Hanover St., Boston) — So nice, it’s included in this guide twice. It’s a convenient stop before a Harbor Islands excursion.
- Saus (33 Union St., Boston) — Grab sandwiches, hot dogs, and more, and hit the high seas (er, harbor) for a nice ferry ride to the island.
Jamaica Pond / Franklin Park, Jamaica Plain, Boston
Plenty of green space can be found in the southern part of the city, along with a host of outdoor-friendly foods. (Find Jamaica Pond along the Jamaicaway. Franklin Park, home to the Franklin Park Zoo, is bordered by Roxbury, Dorchester, and Forest Hills.) The green space has thousands of plants, greenhouses, walking paths, and lookout points. Bring your picnic to the top of Bussey Hill Road for great views.
Note: Near Franklin Park, the acclaimed Arnold Arboretum is accessible from the Forest Hills orange line MBTA stop and by bike via the Southwest Corridor Park passage, but picnicking is not permitted within the grounds of the Arboretum, so try one of the other spots first and then head over to explore.
- The Joint (605 Centre St., Boston) — Previously Grass Fed, the Joint is now run by Socrates Abreu of the local Chilacates mini-chain. Still serving burgers and fries, the Joint also has salads, wraps, and even mac and cheese, if comfort food with a waterside view strikes your fancy for this picnic.
- The Purple Cactus (674 Centre St., Boston) — This Centre Street eatery will send you on your picnicky way with wraps, sandwiches, and other portable foods.
- Centre Street — Hit up all manner of snack stops on Centre Street before selecting a picnic spot. Get empanadas at Pikalo, ice cream at Fomu or JP Licks, or tacos at Casa Verde (extra tip: Casa Verde has a $1 oyster happy hour from 4 to 5 p.m. every day, if you’re craving a raw bar evening picnic).
- Fiore’s Bakery (55 South St., Jamaica Plain) — Grab a sandwich to go or pick from any number of baked goods and pastries. It’s just a short walk away from the Arboretum.
Walden Pond, Concord
If you want to get out of the city, consider Walden Pond for a day's getaway. It's dog-free, there are walking and hiking trails, and you can go swimming. (Find it at 915 Walden St.)
- Branch Line (321 Arsenal St., Watertown) — If you’re coming from the Boston direction, swing by this Watertown spot on your way out for a perfect lunch box, available weekdays between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. In addition to house-made chips and chocolate cake, folks can choose sandwiches made with cauliflower, turkey, pork shoulder, or Italian meats. For a chicken picnic for two, available all day, get the restaurant’s classic rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes and a Caesar salad — enough for two. It’s still a bit of a drive from there, but if you can wait before you start devouring the chicken, it’ll be a great picnic.
- Concord Center — A hotbed of quaint restaurants. Swing by Fiorella’s for all manner of Italian takeout picnic treats, or pop into Haute Coffee for some beverages, soups, and salads. Additionally, the Concord Cheese Shop serves soups, salads, and sandwiches on a choice of bread.