Take Your Meal Outside!

Five local picnic spots for some fine outdoor dining


Illustration by Teresa Aguilera

According to Cheryl Fisher in Counseling Today, picnicking can be therapeutic because It may foster excellent social interactions, allows you to develop acceptance and commitment, promotes cognition, and has the potential to encourage healthy eating.

Agrizha Puspita Sari, Beaver's Digest Contributor

Spring has sprung! The best time to reduce your stress is when the sun is out, and one fun way to do that is by having a picnic.

In Corvallis, Ore., we have experienced a long spell of cold and rain. The dreary weather is not the greatest in supporting a sunny mood. Now that the sun is making a more consistent appearance, it’s time to spend some time outside! Although there are many green, grassy spots scattered around campus, why not give these local sites a try for the most unforgettable picnic experience? 

Beaver’s Digest has curated a list of the best picnic spots around Corvallis:

Avery Park 

Makayla Hecker, a fourth-year student studying zoology and sustainability at Oregon State University, thinks that any of the green spaces around campus are great picnic spots—“but Avery Park would be my first off-campus choice because Avery Park is a natural area super close to campus that has open, grassy fields and covered picnic benches. In spring, the flowers at Avery are gorgeous and lovely to sit amongst to enjoy a picnic with friends,” Hecker said. 

According to Hecker, the best time to go on a picnic at this recommended spot is when spring comes along—though there isn’t a bad time to picnic at Avery Park. Late morning or early in the afternoon, when the sun is fully out, is the best time to sit outside and appreciate the weather.

Hecker also shares her memorable picnic experience at Avery Park. 

“I have a number of memories at Avery Park from the past few years,” Hecker said. “Because the location is very close—my friends and I would go there frequently to just get some outside time, especially during the pandemic. I love to just sit and talk with friends, but we usually bring some sort of art and craft supplies with us as well. I love to bring painting materials to pass the time. It’s also always fun to bring along a slackline, frisbee, spike ball or other activities to get people up and moving.”

McNary Field

This open, grassy park is a great spot to have a picnic, not to mention, it’s close to the OSU campus. McNary Field is a local favorite—perfect for feeling the sunshine, setting up your hammock, taking a nap or reading your favorite book, and, of course, laying out your picnic blankets and snacking with your friends. 

This location is also great for activities like playing frisbee and popular among dog owners. The ample space of this grassy park can accommodate a large number of people who want to do various outdoor activities.

Bruce Starker Arts Park

This park is one of the nicest spots to spend your day outside. This verdant park’s wide area is ideal for you and a group of friends to enjoy a variety of activities, such as picnics, playing frisbee, meditation classes and other group activities. There are a few long benches facing the heart of the park where you can sit and relax while admiring the beauty of the duck pond and the cherry tree as it blooms this spring. There is also a children’s playground near the park, as well as an amphitheater that is generally used for dancing, group workouts and live music. This park is about 1.4 miles away from campus.

Bald Hill Natural Area

Bald Hill natural area is a great spot for hiking, picnics and climbing. According to summitpost.org, because the peak is so close to Corvallis, it receives equally as much interest as the five-times-larger adjacent summit of Mary’s Peak. However, to avoid erosion, the major paths to the peak are restricted to hikers only during the wet season. It should also be remembered that throughout the winter and spring, these pathways may be muddy.

Chip Ross Park

Chip Ross Park has lovely views of the towns around Corvallis, as well as the city of Corvallis itself, from various vantage points at the park’s crest. This park is ideal for picnics, hiking and climbing. There are a variety of pathways of varying lengths and intricacy. This park features a superb restoration of the area’s native oak and with views of the surrounding area, this park is incredibly tranquil. Chip Ross Park is highly recommended for picnics with loved ones. It is located 3.2 miles away from campus.

Picnicking while the sun is shining is a great way to get away from your daily stressors. It doesn’t matter whether you are alone or with companions, a picnic is a great way to relax and unwind under the sunshine—just don’t forget your sunscreen! According to Cheryl Fisher in Counseling Today, picnicking can be therapeutic for the following reasons:

  1. It is a form of nature therapy.

Through the outdoor setting of picnicking, natural environments can help reduce cortisol and blood pressure while raising serotonin levels.

  1. It may foster excellent social interactions.

Picnicking gives you the opportunity to connect with friends and family away from electronic gadgets like smart phones and video games.

  1. It allows you to develop acceptance and commitment.

You may gain patience and tolerance for the realities of picnicking—such as sharing your picnic blanket with ants—while enjoying the many other parts of outdoor dining that are less bothersome.

  1. It promotes cognition.

The slower pace of outdoor eating encourages a more focused experience. It is one that makes room for silence and meditation.

  1. It has the potential to encourage healthy eating.

The beauty of the outdoors might inspire you to pack foods in your picnic basket that come directly from the earth. The combination of fresh air, green space and a delicious meal can also create an excellent sensory experience.

“I think getting outside each day is so important for our mental and physical health,” Hecker said. “When we were intensely quarantining during the pandemic, I realized how much I benefited from getting outside every day. I always feel happier, more at peace and more connected to nature when I spend at least 30 minutes outside each day. Picnics are definitely a simple way to have outside time. Technology is so ingrained in every aspect of our society that it can be hard to find a break, but I think getting outside is a good reminder to take it easy and enjoy the nature around you.”

Going for a picnic provides considerably more than simply an occasion to brush off your picnic blanket and wicker basket. According to Sunshine House, time spent outside is beneficial to our physical health. Breathing in fresh air is very useful for people who suffer from respiratory issues such as asthma. A picnic on a sunny day also offers vitamin D and subsequent calcium absorption from the sun, which aids in the development of healthy bones and teeth and the prevention of health complications.

“I think picnics in Corvallis are so enjoyable because of how gorgeous the area is,” Hecker said. “You can go almost anywhere in Corvallis and feel like you’re in a forest. I also love the weather here year round. Though it can be hard to avoid rain at times, the temperatures are usually moderate and enjoyable.”

Picnicking is not only a great outdoor activity to socialize, it’s also a relaxing setting to bond with friends and family through yummy snacks and quality time. Hecker recommends simple snacks such as fruit and chips, but it can be fun to have a fancier picnic with a charcuterie board.

“I think picnics are a wonderful way to spend time outside, especially as we reach spring,” Hecker said. “However, any means of getting outside is awesome! There are so many hikes and sites to see around Corvallis that I love encouraging people to explore.”

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