THE ASPIRATIONAL PICNIC SETUP FOR YOUR NEXT LUNCH AL FRESCO

When you think about a picnic, you likely think of the old standards: an old blanket tossed onto the grass, some paper plates, sandwiches and chips and, if you’re lucky, maybe a sneaky bottle of wine. We love the idea of a picnic in any form, but for occasions like an intimate birthday party, an anniversary (cause everyone can make reservations) or just a lazy Sunday after a particularly stressful week, you might want to up your picnic game and get a little extra.

So, what does the aspirational picnic setup entail? We’re thinking a flower centerpiece, some fancier-than-the-norm snacks, and… well, we’re still pretty into the sneaky bottle of cold rosé. Here’s a complete list of everything you’ll need to plan a picnic to be remembered.

The location.

If you are going to do this up right, the moves you make here set the tone.  You could go for the standard (and lovely) park play under a tree in Frick, Schenley, Point State or (our favorite — seen above) Mellon parks.  Or, you could go for the unexpected move posting up somewhere like the 31st Bridge with couple chairs at sunset, or heck, even your own backyard!

A stylish, luxe blanket.

This is the foundation for your picnic — literally. Make it pretty and cozy by investing in something seriously worth sitting on. We’re fans of the kantha quilts from Block Shop Textiles, but you can’t go wrong with a classic Pendleton blanket, which you can pick up at Jonathan Moran Woodworks in the Strip District.

An upgraded picnic basket.


With smart leather straps and a modern shape, today’s picnic baskets are anything but old-fashioned. We like this one and this one. If you go all out on the basket, you should have that baby stocked with the real deal serving wares, like vintage glasses for your rosé or a batched cocktail from Von Walter & Funk.

Cheeses that don’t come from a grocery store.

We’re always looking for any excuse to pop into the newly opened Chantal’s Cheese Shop, and this is as good a reason as any. Skip the soggy sandwiches in favor of artisanal, fresh-cut cheeses and charcuterie from this Penn Ave specialty shop. The cheesemongers on staff will even prepare an arrangement featuring other add-ins like olives, jams, honey, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, and bread.

Not-so-picnic foods.

Looking for something a little more elaborate than the typical picnic snacks? Your favorite foods can easily transition into picnic foods with the right serving setup. Think all the meat and grilled veggies from Gaucho, beer can chicken and broccoli salad from Pork & Beans, or a vegetarian spread from B52. And you’re going to want to have something sweet to top it off, so load up on French treats from Madeliene Bakery or La Gourmandine. Maybe even a pint of Millie’s for the extra ambitious?

The Beverages.

If you are a die-hard La Croix fan then you’re all set, but if you ask us, picnics should come with some summer libations.  A cold bottle of rosé is always the answer here, but there are also some other strong contenders: a growler of one of our aforementioned favorite summer beers, a batched beverage like sangria, or a summer cocktail like a Negroni, perhaps.  And yes, alcohol isn’t *necessarily* permitted outdoors, but if you go with the principle of not being a jerk about it, then no one is likely to bother you.

The perfect centerpiece.

No table? No problem — create a centerpiece for your picnic with some potted succulents, or hit Roxanne’s or The Farmer’s Daughter for a bouquet that you can disassemble and scatter throughout your picnic spread.

Bonus: A no-brainer picnic hack. 

If all of this sounds a little overwhelming (except the whole picnic part), then we’ll let you in on a little secret.  The Hyehold Restaurant in Moon does a spectacular picnic setup on their incredible grounds — all you need to do is make the call and pick from one of their delightful menus.