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It seems that there’s a “national day” for everything, and why not? It’s fun to celebrate tacos, dogs and happiness. (There’s even a holiday in honor of fighting procrastination, but we’ll get to that later). One such holiday includes eating outside while the weather’s nice—like now! In honor of National Eat Outdoors Day happening August 31, we thought we’d take a look at some spots across the U.S. and in Canada to grab a bite, throw down a blanket and nosh under the sky.

ALSO: 7 reasons why aircraft type matters 

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Eastern Promenade: Portland, ME
During season, which is pretty much late-spring into early-fall, downtown Portland is a hive of business people going about their daily activities and visitors exploring the inviting shops and restaurants. If it’s lunch or snack time, stop by Eventide Oyster Co. for a brown butter lobster roll, peekytoe crab roll, or, for landlubbers, a house pastrami bun, and make your way to Eastern Promenade, designed in 1905 by the Olmsted Brothers, who also created New York’s Central Park and Boston Commons. With lunch in hand, find an empty bench underneath a tree along the promenade, or spread a blanket and take in the harbor views.

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Niagara Falls State Park: Niagara Falls, NY
Once again, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead plays a role in where to go for al fresco fun; he was instrumental in persuading the State of New York to make Goat Island and its surrounding environs a public park. Before heading out to the park, stop by Power City Eatery for a taste of Long Island in Niagara. Grab a pastrami on rye or create your own ‘wich and find a spot in one of the picnic areas of America’s oldest state park featuring spectacular views—and sounds—of the thundering falls.


Dinette Triple Crown | Photo courtesy of the @thecausewaykid

Parc de la Petite-Italie: Montréal, Canada
This Lilliputian and leafy patch of green space epitomizes the phrase “good things come in small packages.” Miles (or should we say kilometers?) away from the construction noise and selfie-stick wielding tourists of downtown Montreal, this neighborhood gem on the fringes of Little Italy screams picnic in the park. That might be why nearby Dinette Triple Crown, a cozy and self-consciously cool take out restaurant, neatly packs heaping portions of Kentucky-style barbecue, hushpuppies and unreal mac ‘n’ cheese into a picture-perfect picnic basket for dining al fresco (just be sure to return it to the restaurant when you’re done!).

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Jay Pritzker Pavilion: Chicago, IL
When the weather’s nice in Chicago, it’s time to get outside—just ask any Chicagoan! And when there’s an event happening at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the 24.5-acre Millennium Park in the heart of the city, it’s time to grab a picnic and enjoy the show. It’s BYOP, or build your own picnic, at Pastoral, where you choose bites that best suit your appetite. Pick from a savory selection of cheeses and charcuterie, and a bottle (or two!) of your favorite wine to enjoy under the stars.

ALSO: Want to travel for less? Earning Orbucks is a smart way to have your picnic and eat it too!

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Mallory Square, Key West, FL
Sunsets are cause for celebration in Key West, an island paradise known for its festive spirit. One of the most popular spots to watch the golden orb melt into the turquoise waters (and hopefully glimpse that elusive green flash), is Mallory Square, which quickly fills with revelers at sunset. Before you stake out your spot, stop by Sandy’s Cafe, home of the “Original Cuban Sandwich.” If time escapes you, which it easily does in the Keys, don’t fret: Sandy’s is open ’til midnight most nights, and 24 hours on weekends.

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The Flatirons: Boulder, CO
It’s nearly impossible to be anywhere in Boulder and not catch site of the Flatirons. After all, decades ago an ordinance was passed that no one could build so high as to obstruct views of this natural phenomenon. The area is ripe with hiking trails and picnicking spots; one favorite is a meadow found along the Mesa Trail. Throw down a blanket and refuel with a couple of the “World’s Finest Toasted Sandwiches” from Snarf’s (Gesundheit! Just kidding!). Considered one of the best sandwich spots in all of Colorado, Snarf’s flagship shop is right in downtown Boulder. Try the Italian or artichoke and feta to satiate both carnivorous and vegetarian appetites.

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Jack Early Park: San Francisco, CA
In 1962, San Francisco resident Jack E. Early set out to create “a spot of beauty” on one side of Telegraph Hill, and that he did. Today, the tiny park, which is perfectly sized for just the two of you, offers unparalleled views of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges, as well as Fisherman’s Wharf and, of course, the San Francisco Bay. Grab a sandwich from famed North Beach deli Molinari’s and hike up the 60-plus steps to the intimate park, where you’ll truly feel the world is at your feet.

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Banff National Park: Banff, Canada
Within a short time after arriving in Banff National Park for the first time, you might be asking yourselves, “How do we move here?” The views and vibe in Banff National Park are just that spectacular, and it’s easy to imagine settling there. After enjoying some breakfast goodies at Wild Flour, order sandwiches to go and follow the road out of town and to the Bow Falls trail that runs alongside the Bow River. Along the way, find a quiet spot and bite into your lunchtime eats surrounded by the beauty of Mother Nature.


Downtown Lahaina: Maui, HI
Who says a nosh has to be a meal? When in Maui, meal supplements are oftentimes shave ice, at least in our book. Our personal favorite is Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. Choose you favorite flavor, then opt for the macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom, and sprinkle Li Hing Mui on top to add a bit of tart to offset the sweet fruit flavors. Next, find a spot along the break wall on Front Street in downtown Lahaina and watch the sunset over the neighboring island of Lanai, while keeping one eye on some fun people watching.

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Tagged: Banff, California, Canada, Chicago, Chicago, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Midwest, Montreal, National Parks, New England, San Francisco

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Susan Barnes

Susan Barnes

Susan B. Barnes, aka travlin’ girl, is a freelance travel journalist whose bags are always packed and ready for her next adventure, preferably with her rescued Miniature Schnauzer, Scout, aka travlin’ pup. Follow along on Susan’s travels on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and with Scout on Instagram.

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