Friday Five: Places to Picnic in Columbus, Ohio.

Picnicking season is upon us! And with the onslaught of trucks and carts hitting the city (and country), the word can be loosely interpreted to include just about any outdoor eating. (Picnic purists, do not fret. Everyone knows nothing—not even a grilled cheese sandwich filled with Cincinnati-style chili cooked in four minutes and handed to you just a few feet from the blanket—can take the place of home prepared food, slathered with mayonnaise or mustard, tucked with fresh garden dill or basil, served alongside brownies and watermelon.) But for this post only, let’s broaden the definition so that we can “picnic” as often as possible.

1. Columbus Commons.

Picnic-related injuries are at an all-time low at one of the city’s newest parks, Columbus Commons: no splinters from these tables! And chances are, no matter what you bring to eat, it’ll be better than the Sbarro (and other City Center food vendors) that were the previous occupants of the space.

2. Hayden Falls.

This park, hidden off the side of Hayden Run Road near Riverside Drive, has changed a lot since my high school years. Stairs and a wooden boardwalk have replaced the well-worn paths that used to bring us to the falls with wet and muddy feet. Nonetheless, the end sight is a beautiful respite from suburbia. No food trucks here, by the way. And plan on sitting on the boardwalk or on a rock.

3. The Goodale Park Music Series.

For those who want a dose of music with their macaroni salad, this Sunday afternoon music series is the way to go. And this may just be the site of the best weekly potluck in Columbus. It’s true: music lovers are foodies.

4. The Hocking Hills.

Okay, so it’s not Columbus. But it’s close enough. (On this trip, I saw hippies and Mennonites.)

5. Urban Steps.

When I lived in the windy city, I used to grab my lunch (a packed-at-home sandwich) and eat on the steps of the Art Institue of Chicago. There’s something lovely about lounging about an urban arts space. The one pictured above (with the steps hidden in the upper right hand corner) is, of course, Mershon Auditorium at the Wexner Center. But any steps will do for concrete picnics. (A Wednesday evening farmers market at this location makes picnicking a cinch.)

Those are a few of my spots; what are yours?

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