Inspire your inner romantic with a spring picnic in the park

Romantic Picnics CC FKR Nina Matthews Photog
           Impress your mate with a romantic picnic date at the park! Poetry books optional. Photo by Nina Matthews.

April 26, 2017

You’ve got the hearts covered. How about we add some flowers?



Despite some unseasonable cold and wet weather, signs of spring are in the air. Everyone and everything is shaking off the long winter blahs! It’s the season of blossoming, both for relationships and for our state’s gorgeous native flowers. Time to take that special someone out and grow some memories that may even bloom into something perennial! 

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Rom Picnic 2 CCFKR Nootka Rose
Raindrops on roses anyone? We hope you find some of YOUR favorite things on a romantic picnic at a state park. Photo of Nootka rose by Upupa4me.

It’s Washington State Native Plant Appreciation Week. Why not plan a trip to enjoy a romantic picnic with your sweetheart while you also stop to smell the Nootka roses? Need some inspiration on where to go with your significant other? Read on! Just remember all the flowers you see are for display not a bouquet—no picking, please!

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Rom Picnic Calypso Stock Photo
                     Delicate and exotically beautiful, Calypso orchids are blooming on forest floors in the Pacific Northwest!

Fort Townsend State Park


Spread out those grapes, cheeses and sous vide treats (or just some nice sandwiches) on one of Fort Townsend’s 43 picnic tables. Or just plant yourself on the bluff overlooking Port Townsend Bay or the old parade ground. Then, go hand in hand through the 6 miles of looping trails in search of the tiny-but-vivid Calypso orchids that dot the forest floor. Keep an eye out for the dainty blooms of Menzies’ larkspur and the bright spikes of scarlet paintbrush.

Manchester State Park


Breathtaking views of Clam Bay and Rich Passage serve as backdrop to your romantic rendezvous. If it’s raining, hole up with your sweetheart in Manchester’s enormous old brick torpedo warehouse (provided it’s not being reserved that day), and wait for the showers to pass. Walk along the shore trails and interpretive trails and hunt for the subtle pinks of baldhip roses and the truly unusual candystick. Sneak a kiss under the big leaf maples!

Fort Simcoe State Park


An absolute oasis! Small in size but rich in history with verdant, wide-open lawns; Fort Simcoe is a top-notch destination for exploring, playing and picnicking. Lay out your feast on one of the four sheltered or 49 unsheltered picnic tables. Explore the old fort, and wander through the shady Garry oak trees where the famed Lewis’ woodpeckers swoop and dive for flying insects. Here you will find star-like Kittitas larkspur, peach-colored whorls of large-flowered collomia, onion and many kinds of native grasses.

Deception Pass State Park


You brought the chocolate—we’ll provide the chocolate lilies! Come explore the mecca of romantic picnic sites! Deception Pass has acres of dramatic views (provided you can pry your eyes from your dearest), rugged shoreline, old growth forest, sunsets and much more. Stage your spread in one of the Civilian Conservation Corps-built kitchen shelters before you trot out to one of the 38 miles of hiking trails. Keep your eyes peeled for the native rhododendrons, sunshiny monkey flower, unusual Indian pipe and cheerful aster

Columbia Hills State Park


Columbia Hills will hit you like true love—squarely between the eyes. With the eye-popping beauty of vivid arrowleaf balsamroot blooming across the shrub-steppe environs under blue skies, it’s no wonder this is one of the most loved and photographed parks in the state. Have your picnic down by Horsethief Lake (maybe even bring a rod, reel and fishing license and catch your lunch) before you snap some shots of the lavender lupine, freckle-faced clarkia, shooting star, and dozens of other flowers native to the Columbia River Gorge.

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Shooting Star CCFKR Jerry Kirkhart
Discover your lucky...shooting star! You won't want to forget your camera when you visit parks now. You might want to capture images like this one of shooting star flowers blooming in a verdant field. Photo by Jerry Kirkhart.

These are but a few samples from the smorgasbord of possibilities for delightful picnic spots and perfect spots to hunt for botanical beauty.



Want to plan your own picnic? 

It takes a few minutes but it’s not hard to do! First, choose a park from the State Parks website. Check the address to determine what city and county it is located in. Next, visit the Washington Native Plant Society where you will find dozens of resources, including a listing of good wildflower areas by county. Many of these listings include the state park or parks of the region. Click on the link, which will give you a printable sheet you can use with your field guide. Or you can use your smart phone. Many plant and flower identification apps are available for download!

Have a state park spring adventure story or some great wildflower photos?

Tell us about it, and upload your photos here! We may use them in our blog!