10 Tips for a Perfect Summer Picnic

The Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect place for outdoor family fun. You can hike and bike and watch wild animals in their natural habitats. You can also take your family on a perfect summer picnic! If you’ve never planned a picnic before – or you just need a little extra help — here are 10 tips to help make your next picnic as smooth and enjoyable as possible. But remember, the most important thing is just to be together and have fun!

      1. Buy local, fresh produce at the farmers market. The perfect picnic begins with the perfect food. Check out the Gatlinburg Farmers Market before you pack your picnic lunch. The locally grown produce just might inspire you to try a new recipe, like collard and cabbage slaw, that will wow your family and delight your taste buds!
      2. Bring a water-repellant blanket. Although the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has plenty of picnic tables, you may want to enjoy your picnic the old-fashioned way by spreading a blanket on the ground. If so, we recommend a water-repellant blanket so neither you nor your goodies get wet from the grass. A blanket is also great for laying on the table — this way you can eliminate germs and make for an easy cleanup when you’re done.
      3. Take your time finding the perfect picnic spot. In the Smokies, there are literally hundreds of picnic spots you can choose from. Cades Cove, the Chimneys, and Greenbrier are just a few of our favorites. Take some time to check into your options ahead of time so you can make sure your Smoky Mountain picnic is exactly what you were hoping for!
      4. Serve finger foods so you can ditch the utensils. There are so many things to pack when you’re getting ready for a picnic – food, ice, drinks, napkins, a blanket. Do yourself a favor and plan for easy-to-handle finger food, like pre-made sandwiches, deviled eggs, chips, cookies, and fruit. That way you can scratch utensils off your list.
      5. Check the weather before you leave. Rainstorms in the Smokies can sweep in when you least expect them. Even if the weather seems nice in the morning, it’s still a good idea to check the forecast before you leave. Bring umbrellas or possibly a pop-up shelter/awning to put over the picnic table.
      6. Pack extra bottles of water, just in case. You definitely want water bottles for drinking, especially in the heat of the summer, but it’s also a good idea to pack some extras in case you want to rinse or wash something. A quick splash of water can help fix even the stickiest situations.
      7. Serve bottled drinks, not cans. Don’t make the mistake of sipping from an uncovered can in the great outdoors. Bugs can easily slip in, and let’s just say they don’t enhance the flavor! Serve bottled drinks instead, and keep the lid on while you’re not drinking them.
      8. Bring non-perishable food items so you don’t have to tote a giant cooler. The more refrigerated items you bring, the bigger cooler you will need. So try to think of non-perishable items that you can pack instead, like homemade trail mix, chips, and crackers.
      9. Use all-natural bug repellants. Nothing ruins a good family picnic quicker than a bunch of ants crawling all over your food. But you don’t want to bug-be-gone all over your food either. The solution? Try all-natural bug repellants like garlic and lemons. Yes, they really work!
      10. Leave electronic devices in the car. More than anything else, what will make your Smoky Mountain picnic perfect is just being together. So really enjoy your time by unplugging and experiencing the beauty of the great outdoors. Go for a hike. Check out a swimming hole. You might be surprised to find that you won’t miss your phones or your tablets one little bit!

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