San Diego Picnic Planner

Ready to become a basket case? We can help. From romantic picnics for two to family-size beach BBQs, we've got everything you need to create the perfect San Diego picnic just time for summer.

Updated: May 11, 2009

Provisions: Where to get the picnic goods


Cheese Shop

627 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Get all your cheeses and main-course deli meats at this downtown gourmet shop.


The French Gourmet

960 Turquoise St, San Diego, CA 92109

Pop in for perfect pastries, tortes and other sweet treats.


Henry's Market Place

3243 Camino de los Coches Rd, Carlsbad, CA 92009

Henry's the perfect stop for organic fruits and veggies (many of which are locally sourced) as well as bulk-bin items like almonds, sunflower seeds or yogurt-covered pretzels.


Point Loma Seafoods

2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

Grillmasters, listen up! Point Loma Seafoods is your go-to spot for all of your seafood grill items. Get the best, most fresh shrimp perfect for skewering on the grill or tossing in a light salad. Or order up some fresh mahi mahi or halibut for grilled fish tacos and a so-San Diego picnic lunch. Also: Don't miss their prepared seafood salads, sushi trays and ceviches.


Hillcrest Farmer's Market

Lincoln St At Cleveland, San Diego, CA 92104

If Sunday is your picnic day of choice, then Hillcrest's farmers' market should be your first stop of the day. Everything from strawberries and tomatoes (in the summer) to baguettes and hummus dip is organic, and yu can pick up handy, reusable canvas bags for easy transport out to the beach or the park.


Ocean Beach People's Organic

4765 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107

It's San Diego's only community-owned, co-op grocery store, and it's full of organic produce, dry goods, glueten-free items and more--perfect for vegan or veggie-loving picnic people.


Picnic Spots: Where to Park Your Blanket


San Diego Botanical Garden

1650 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Lay your picnic spread on one of the perfectly manicued lawns in front of Balboa Park's Botanical Gardens for a garden-inspired lunch. The living museum features seasonal exhibits, streams, planted pathways and the famous, sprawling lily ponds out front where kids (of all ages) can get up close and personal with huge lilypads and koi fish.


Cabrillo National Monument

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

At the tip of Point Loma, this 160-acre parcel of the National Park System commemorates explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and preserves the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Set up your blanket or take a seat at one of many view benches for expansive vistas out to San Diego Bay (or watch for gray whales migrating by to the Wes from Januray through March).Kids will also love exploring the tide pools and visiting the museum, which features exhibits on the coast artillery, Juan Cabrillo's exploration and the ecosystem of the area.


Santee Lakes Regional Park

9310 Fanita Pkwy, Santee, CA 92071

Santee Lakes is a great option for families looking for plenty of space to lay out a picnic spread. Stake out your spot, set up the coolers and folding chairs, and fire up the grill at one of dozens of different picnic areas throughout the park. Try your hand at fishing (buy a license from the bait shop) in one of the lakes or just strill along one of the many pathways. But beware of scorching temps in the summer: Santee Lakes gets well into the 90-degree range in the height of summer.


Mission Bay Park

1775 E Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

We love Mission Bay Park for a beach picnic because it offers the best of both worlds: Sand and grass. Kids can build sandcastles down by the water or hop into kayaks for a cruise out to Fiesta Island, while paddle ball players and grill masters can hang back up on the grassy park area. Throw in dozens of picnic tables, BBQs and a playground for the kids, and you're got a near-perfect picnic spot.


Embarcadero Park North/South

111 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

So you're not a beach person, and you're going to trek out to East County's lakes and campgrounds just for lunch ... but you'd still like a place to picnic this summer? Embarcadero Marina Park is your spot. It's an urban park with sprawling lawns, picnic tables and a paved bike path that winds along the marina. Perfect for the downtown dweller looking for a little green space.


Rain Checks: Where to Go When the Weather Goes South


Sycuan Casino

5469 Casino Wy., El Cajon, CA 92019

Syacuan is like an indoor wonderland with restaurants, casinos and live shows running at all hours of the day and night.


Viejas Casino

5000 Willows Rd, Alpine, CA 91901

With miles of outlet shopping, dozens of restaurants, live entertainment, and all the gambling options in the casino, Viejas is the perfect place to blow an entire day should your picnic plans not work out.


Reuben H Fleet Science Center

1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Balboa Park picnic turned to a rainy mess? Head to the RH Fleet Science Center at the south east end of the park. It is the ultimate indoor playground, with hands-on science exhibits and an IMAX movie theater.