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Best spots for a summer picnic in Des Moines

These parks are good to keep in your pocket whether you're looking to enjoy the summer weather or trying to avoid the lunch rush inside your favorite restaurant.

DES MOINES, Iowa — EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video is from May 20

There's nothing like enjoying a good meal in the great outdoors. 

Whether you're planning a family outing for the weekend or looking for a place to perch with pretty scenery over your lunch break, having a list of picnic spots in Des Moines can help you make the most of the warmer weather. 

Here is a list of some of the best spots in or near Des Moines. 

To find more, visit the Des Moines Parks Directory or Polk County's list of Parks and Trails.

Ashby Park

Ashby Park, located in the Beaverdale neighborhood, is our first stop on this picnic tour. This city park is a great spot for any group with kids, given the large playground, tennis courts and splash pool. 

Seating includes an open-air shelter with picnic tables and plenty of green space to spread out a blanket if that's more your style.

3200 38th St, Des Moines, IA 50310

Bates Park

Bates Park, in the River Bend neighborhood, is another great picnic spot. While the grounds are on the smaller side, there are still plenty of amenities between the accessible playground and basketball courts. 

Seating includes an open-air shelter with picnic tables, plus plenty of places for a picnic blanket.

330 Clark St, Des Moines, IA 50314

Chamberlain Park

Chamberlain Park is in the Sherman Hills neighborhood just across from the Woodland Cemetery. There is a small playground for kids. 

Seating includes an open-air shelter with picnic tables and a lot of sunny grass for a more traditional picnic set-up. 

2134 Woodland Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312

Easter Lake Park

Easter Lake Park, located in the Bloomfield/Allen neighborhood, offers a beautiful stretch of lakefront to sit at and enjoy. This is a county park with no playgrounds, but its location a little farther from the city proper makes it a quieter, more secluded nature spot. 

Just take the turn off of Watrous Avenue and grab a picnic table along the water. 

2830 Easter Lake Dr, Des Moines, IA 50320

Columbus Park 

Columbus Park, within the McKinley School/Columbus Park neighborhood, is just across the Racoon River from downtown Des Moines. This very sunny park has an accessible playground, basketball and tennis courts and a sprayground. 

It offers an open shelter and picnic tables for seating. 

1921 SE 1st St, Des Moines, IA 50315

Witmer Park

Witmer Park is located on the edge of the Beaverdale neighborhood and offers some great shady spots to spread a blanket down. 

There is a playground, but the main attraction is the pond on the southeast edge of the grounds. Also included are some picnic tables for seating.

1610 34th St, Des Moines, IA 50310

Greenwood Park 

Greenwood Park is in the Westwood neighborhood. On the larger side for the Des Moines Parks, it includes a wide variety of facilities, including an accessible playground and tennis courts. 

However, the best parts for picnic purposes are the gorgeous gardens and water features; you can set up shop with a blanket on shaded or sunny greenery or take one of the available picnic tables. 

4500 Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50312

Greenway Park 

Greenway Park, in Altoona, is another great picnic spot on the edge of the Des Moines metro area. It's a long, skinny green-way that ends around a pond, with picnic tables and plenty of flexible green space for those wanting to spread a blanket down. 

The corner of Adventureland Dr. and 9th Ave. NW, Altoona, IA 50009

For more information on the City of Altoona's parks, use their parks grid.

Hawkeye Park

Hawkeye Park, in Ankeny, features accessible playground equipment and a small pond. Seating includes an open-air shelter and picnic tables around the pond, plus enough green space to sit on a picnic blanket by the water. 

400 NW Lakeshore Dr, Ankeny, IA 50021

For more information on the City of Ankeny's parks, see its online list of parks and their amenities.

Dewey Park

Dewey Park is a nice wooded area in Johnston, with an open air shelter and picnic tables.  There's also plenty of space for a blanket if you're looking to set up a class-style picnic. 

5225 NW 64th Pl, Johnston, IA 50131

For more information on the City of Johnston's parks, see its online list of parks

Raccoon River Park

With 631.61 acres of park land, Raccoon River Park is the crown jewel of the West Des Moines park system. Snag a picnic table, reserve a park shelter or lay a blanket down on the beach or in the ample green space. 

Have some extra time? Check out the nature trail, take a dip in Blue Heron Lake or go fishing off the pier. 

2500 Grand Ave, West Des Moines, IA 50265

For more information on the City of West Des Moines' parks, see its online list of parks and amenities

Centennial Park

Centennial Park in Waukee is a perfect family-friendly location for your next picnic. Lay down a blanket on the vast green space or take your pick of the picnic tables. 

In addition to being a perfect picnic spot, Centennial Park also offers recreational activities such as a disc-golf course, a Gaga ball pit and two sand volleyball courts. 

1255 Warrior Lane, Waukee, IA 50263

For more information on the City of Waukee's parks, see its online list of parks

Think we missed a great spot?  Text your favorite places to picnic in Des Moines to 515-457-1026.

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