Spring is in the air which means picnics are back in fashion, and we couldn't be more excited to throw down a rug and pull out our finest plasticware for a spot in the sunshine.
From urban oases to lush national parkland, check out Melbourne's best picnic spots below:
Royal Botanic Gardens
The OG of gardens, the grandaddy of parks, we may even go so far as to say that the Royal Botanic Gardens is one of Melbourne’s best picnic spots. Lush, evergreen, and with so many hidey-holes that you’re sure to find respite from the crowds, the Royal Botanic Gardens is an absolute mecca for picnic-goers, especially with spring in the air. and a plethora of flowers blooming. If you’re looking for some extra intel, make your way down to The Grotto for some out-of-sight waterways.
If you’re trying to live your best cottagecore life and stroll through some of Melbourne’s most aesthetic history, head over to Abbotsford Convent and park yourself there for the afternoon. This place has it all, what with a farmers market on the weekends, a constant supply of art exhibitions, hell they even have a horse or two. With a ton of little gardens to explore, you’re sure to find the perfect place to settle down for your picnic.
Canary Island date palms are a clear indication of which garden you’ve made your way to, right in the heart of the city. Alexandra Gardens is nestled daintily on the banks of the Yarra River, and is host to some of the city’s more popular festivals, such as Moomba. However, when amusement rides haven’t taken residence, Alexandra Gardens is a serene little oasis in the city, bordered by a pretty spectacular view of the Arts Centre Melbourne and Federation Square, making it one of Melbourne’s best picnic spots.
Immaculate gardens, a picturesque lake and come spring, perhaps some cute little ducklings. Queens Park is so green and flourishing you’d be forgiven for thinking you are far off in the English countryside rather than in an inner-city suburb. It’s definitely less crowded than some of the city’s more hyped-up spots (Edi Gardens we’re looking at you), so sit back and chill with your mates as you soak up the fresh air.
Studley Park Boathouse
With barbeques and shelters, Studley Park Boathouse is a haven for those who want to picnic their days away. You can also hire a boat or a canoe if you’re feeling antsy and paddle your heart out down the slow bends of the Yarra. There are also bushwalking tracks nearby to help you digest your feast, making Studley Park Boathouse an all-rounder for all varieties of picnic-goers.
A certified stunner, Carlton Gardens is filled with everything you'd want in a picnic spot, like lush green grass, plenty of trees for shade, a couple of fountains and some of the city's most stunning buildings in its surrounds. Bonus points for the bougee snacks you can pick up from Gertrude Street which is just around the way.
The oft-forgotten sibling to Princes Park and Edinburgh Gardens, Royal Park is just several KMs out of the CBD, though you’d feel you’re much further out of town with its rugged native fauna. There are some BBQs and facilities available here, but this one’s best enjoyed stretched out between some of the gumtrees with that BYO basket you’ve so carefully packed for the day. Keep an eye out for one of the many native White’s skinks that call Royal Park home.
Perched on one of the Yarra River’s dog-leg turns, and home to the Fairfield Boathouse, Fairfield Park is another inner-city spot primed for a picnic. You’ll find enough BBQs for everyone to make use of and plenty of space along the river to while away an afternoon.
One Tree Hill
UPPER FERNTREE GULLY
You’ll find One Tree Hill at the top of Melbourne’s famed 1000 Steps. That sounds like a lot of effort for a picnic ground, but it truly is idyllic up there. Put in the leg work and you’ll be treated to views overlooking the nearby national park as you buddy up with the local wildlife. If the 1k steps sound daunting, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are actually only around 770 of them. Regardless of the number, a well-earned bev of your choice should be opened as you take in the view from upstairs.
This one’s a rite of passage for any inner-city dweller. 'Edi' has plenty of flat, grassy patches for your picnic rugs, ample pergolas, playgrounds for the little ones, a basketball court and the infamous Fitzy skate bowl. If you live on the northside of town, it’s a no-brainer. Expect to see half of Melbourne here on a sunny day.
If you thought Edi Gardens was big, head just a few KMs west and you’ll find yourself at Princes Park. Given the space, Princes Park is the preferred spot for activities needing a little room. Frisbee is a good one, but your cricket bat is just as welcome if you’d prefer. There’s a charming water feature at the north end if you’d prefer to make some distance between yourself and the crowds. Plus, everyone’s favourite apartment turned coffee shop, Capulus & Co is just over the road for your takeaway caffeine needs.
Mosey east out of the city grid and you’ll hit the pristine Fitzroy Gardens within a minute or two. The place is kept immaculately and should be considered when planning any picnic if you live close to the CBD. Check out the series of fountains if you want some showmanship while you’re snacking away, otherwise park up in one of the ornate pergolas.
When all you want is well-kept grass and some space for your carefully-selected mate, Brighton’s Elsternwick Park is the one. You’ll find plenty of takeaway options close by should you need a coffee to perk up after doing nothing but laying in the grass, plus there’s a lake which adds just the right amount of serenity.
Emerald Lake Park
This one's for the suburbanites, under an hour’s drive south-east and you’ll arrive at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges in a town called Emerald. Emerald Lake Park is a picnicker's dream; you’ve got not one, but two lakes, grassy patches everywhere, plenty of BBQs and even two-seater paddleboats should you be trying to charm that special someone. As you drive into the park, you’ll see the main lake which acts as somewhat of a tourist trap. So park that car, and b-line east for the secondary lake called Lake Nobelius. The track gets a little muddy, but a few minutes of trudging will be well worth the scenery that you’ll probably have all to yourself.
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Image credit: Visit Vic, Urban List