As the weather starts to warm up we know you’ll want to get outside and enjoy the beautiful Colorado Spring! A nice picnic is the perfect way to enjoy a warm, sunny day. We’ve put together some of our favorite spots in and around Denver, along with some picnic-ready recipes from the Serendipity Kitchen!
Picking the Perfect Place
Denver has so many beautiful parks and scenic views it can be a little overwhelming trying to choose the perfect spot for your picnic. To make things a little easier we’ve put together a list of our 7 favorite spots in or near Denver to enjoy a day in the sun.
1. Alamo Placita Park
Nestled off of Speer Boulevard, Alamo Placita Park is one of Denver’s hidden gems. This historic park boasts beautifully elaborate flower displays between May and October. Alamo Placita—meaning “Little Place of Cottonwoods”—is one of seven parks that is serviced by Denver Parks and Recreation’s horticultural team. During late spring and through the fall, the Italian-styled, sunken garden beds are propagated with flowers from the City Park Greenhouse and are tended frequently. The beautifully symmetrical rows of blooms at the center of the park create the ideal backdrop for a lunchtime picnic.
2. Sloan’s Lake
With stunning views of the Rocky Mountains and Denver skyline, Sloan’s Lake is one of the best parks for catching a sunset (or a sunrise if you’re an early bird). Sloan’s is also the largest lake in Denver, and at 177 acres, it’s the city’s second-largest park so there’s plenty of room to find a nice spot away from other people. The park also has dedicated picnic areas along with two playgrounds, tennis courts, multiple athletic fields, boating, basketball courts, and multi-use trails. So there’s plenty of activity options before or after you eat! Each July, Sloan’s Lake hosts the two-day Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, which is billed as one of the state’s best.
3. Denver Botanic Gardens
Not only are the Gardens one of our favorite places to hold events, its perfect for a romantic picnic date! Whether you prefer an open lawn, a watery oasis, or a quiet bench surrounded by flowers, the Botanic Gardens has a plethora of picturesque spots to enjoy a meal. And YES, you can bring in outside food to the Gardens, just no alcohol.
4. Four Mile Historic Park
Four Mile Historic Park is one of the most unique places on this list. Four Mile Historic Park features 12 acres that includes the Four Mile House that was built in 1859 as a homestead, an old school house, a farm, teepees, barns, a blacksmith shop, a root cellar, a miner’s and trapper’s cabin, a windmill and live animals. Picnic tables are available in the meadow area and near the teepees and miner’s and trapper’s cabin, allowing your kids to reenact pioneer life while eating their lunch!
5. Washington Park
Washington Park, also known as Wash Park, is another fantastic picnic location in central Denver! With two lakes, multi-use trails, picnic tables, and a large grassy meadow this park is certainly a hidden gem within the city. The long, rectangular park covers 165 acres and on a given day of the week, there will be joggers using the park. During the summer months you can expect this park to be a little busier with lots of volleyball, soccer, and other picnickers! Many use the park’s two lakes for kayaking, fishing, and paddle boarding. Wash Park also boasts a flower garden modeled after George Washington’s in Mount Vernon.
6. Parfet Park
If you’re looking to get out of the city without going too far, Parfait Park in Golden is an ideal choice. Once a literal dump, Parfet Park was dedicated to George W. Parfet, a clay miner, after he died in 1924. Today, it’s a charming and well-trafficked plot of grass, sitting at the center of downtown Golden along both the town’s main street and Clear Creek—an ideal spot for people watching, reading, and, of course, an afternoon picnic. The park features picnic tables (if you didn’t bring a blanket), public bathrooms, mountain views, and access to Clear Creek Trail.
7. Evergreen Lake
If you really want to immerse yourself in nature for your picnic, Evergreen is a quaint village about 40 minutes into the mountains from Denver. You can walk from town to the lake, or park the car at the parking lot on the west side of the lake. There you will find a small picnic area complete with grills. There is a lot to do at the lake: paddle boats & canoes, fishing, and a boardwalk.
Picking the Perfect Meal
Now that you’ve picked a spot for your picnic, you can decide what to eat! You can really eat anything on a picnic but some foods maybe easier to travel with than others. We put together some of our go-to easy picnic foods as well some Serendipity recipes to try!
Sandwiches are a classic picnic staple. Not only are they easy to eat without a table or plates, but you can make them as fancy as you please. You can go with classic sandwich ingredients or switch things up with something like a caprese salad sandwich or Serendipity’s Blueberry Jam and Pesto Chicken Sandwich! We recommend packing your ingredients separately and putting the sandwiches together at the picnic to keep your bread as fresh as possible. For the freshest bread, you can even bring a whole loaf and cut your slices there.
Blueberry Jam and Pesto Chicken Sandwich:
Ciabatta Bread Chicken (Grilled & Sliced) Pesto Spread Blueberry Jam (or Your Choice of Berry Jam) Lettuce Provolone Cheese
1. Grill chicken until all the way cooked. When cooled, slice and set aside. 2. Toast ciabatta bread in oven until golden brown. On top side allow provolone cheese to melt. Allow to cool. 3. On bottom bun, spread blueberry jam and top with lettuce. 4. Layer on chicken and spoon pesto on top. 5. Top sandwich with top bun with melted provolone. Enjoy!
We love a good charcuterie board here at Serendipity and they’re perfect for picnics! All there is to making a charcuterie board is deciding what your favorite meats, cheeses and fruits are, then putting them together on a plate or cutting board! Making the arrangement a work of art is almost as fun as the eating!
Salads (including fruit and pasta salads!) are fantastic for picnics since they are enjoyed at room temperature! Vegetable salads are super easy to put together at home or at the picnic. We do recommend pre-slicing your fruit and veggies and making your pasta salad the night before and allowing it to chill. Here are some of our favorite non-traditional salads you can try!
Serendipity Summer Radish + Pistachio Salad:
Crushed Pistachios Sliced Radish (Assorted Varieties such as Watermelon Radish, Red Radish and Daikon Radish) Olive Oil Black Sesame Seeds Salt Fresh Microgreens for Garnish
1. Add sliced radish in a bowl. Sprinkle salt and small drizzle of olive oil and toss. 2. Assemble salad by layering radish down first, adding a bit of pistachios and sesame seeds every layer. 3. Garnish with drizzle of olive oil, microgreens, pistachios and sesame seeds.
Serendipity Rainbow Quinoa Salad:
Tri-colored Quinoa Salt and Pepper 1 Red Pepper 1 Carrot ½ cup Corn (Grilled) ½ cup Edamame (Cooked and Peeled) ½ cup Fresh Blueberries Purple Cabbage
1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. 2. Clean and wash red pepper. Remove seeds and stem, dice into small pieces. Set aside. 3. Clean and wash carrot, grate into shredded carrot or carrot ribbons. Set aside. 4. Wash and clean cabbage. Chop until you have ½ cup to 1 cup worth of cabbage. Set aside. 5. When quinoa is cooled, assemble salad by arranging quinoa on bottom of bowl or plate. 6. Add layers of toppings on top in order of rainbow colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple) or however you desire. Enjoy with your favorite dressing.
If you want to try something out of the box (or should we say basket), we recommend making a ceviche! Ceviches are perfect for picnics since they are eaten cold and require no heat for cooking! Typically prepared with fish, Ceviche can also be made with meatless diets in mind! The tangy and cool flavors of ceviche are the ideal refreshing meal on a hot day in the sun!
Large Cucumber Slices 1 tbsp Fresh Lime Zest 1/3 cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice 1/4 Olive Oil 1 Scallion (Thinly Sliced) 1 Jalapeno (Seeded and Diced) 1 Avocado (Diced) 1 Red Bell Pepper (Seeded and Diced) 1 Yellow Bell Pepper (Seeded and Diced) 1-2 (depending on size) Tomatoes (Diced) Chopped Cilantro Microgreens for Garnish Salt for Taste
1. In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, and jalapeño; season with salt. 2. Gently fold in avocado, bell peppers and tomatoes. 3. Refrigerate the “ceviche” for at least 2 hours. Fold in the cilantro just before serving. 4. Cut out cucumber center then spoon in “ceviche”. 5. Top with sprinkle of sea salt and microgreens for garnish.
We believe in always going the extra mile for dessert, so we’re sharing our favorite hand-held dessert from the Serendipity Pastry Team!
Apple Pie Pastries:
4 Cups Apples (Peeled, Cored and Diced) Juice of 1 Lemon Sugar 1/3 Cup Corn Starch Cinnamon Salt 1/4 tsp Nutmeg 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar 1 tsp All-Purpose Flour 1 Sheet Puff Pastry 1 Egg (Lightly Beaten) 1 Cup Powdered Sugar 1 tsp Vanilla 2 tbsp Milk
1. Place apples in bowl and mix with lemon juice. Set aside. 2. Place 3 cups of water, 1 1/3 cups of sugar, cornstarch, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of salt, and nutmeg in saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine and bring mix to boil for about 2 minutes. Add apples without lemon juice and cover for 5 minutes. 3. Remove lid and stir often, until apples soften. 4. Pour into jar and set aside (mixture will thicken as it cools). 5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 6. In bowl, stir brown sugar, flour and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Set aside. 7. On flour dusted surface, unfold puff pastry and form rectangle. 8. Using knife, cut slits along the sides of pastry about an inch apart, making sure to leave roughly 5 inches in the middle uncut. Add apple pie mixture in the middle, and sprinkle sugar mixture over top. 9. Fold the half-inch edge of dough over the filling. Then fold the first strip on the right over the filling at a slight angle. Fold the first strip on the left over the filling, overlapping the first strip. Continue folding strips of dough from alternate sides to form a braided pattern. When you get to the top, fold the edge of the dough over the filling, tucking it under the braided strips. 10. Carefully transfer pastry to baking sheet. 11. Lightly brush egg mixture over pastry. Allow to bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool. 12. Make frosting by mixing powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. 13. Cut pastry to smaller pieces and top with frosting.