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Yogi Bear isn’t the only one who loves a picnic. The start of fall means it’s the perfect time for your family to pack up a meal and take it outdoors to enjoy. Whether you picnic in your backyard or on a hiking trail, they’re fun for the whole family.

Jennifer Robinson lives in Seneca with her husband Andy and children Bennett Ann, 5, and Carter, 3. They are big fans of picnics as a family. She said they try to keep their meals simple with sandwiches, fruit and popcorn. Her children love to bring refreshing lemonade along as well.

“We like PB and J, pimento cheese or turkey and cheese sandwiches. We try to keep it simple with little waste,” she said.

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If you are planning on being outdoors for a long time before you eat, especially on hot days, keeping foods the right temperature is vital. Cold foods need to be kept cold to prevent harmful bacteria from settling in. Freezing drinks (not full, of course) is a great way to keep food cool and have a refreshing beverage. Ice packs are also a good way to do this and have something for first aid if needed. Using a cooler is also vital, many come in easy-to-carry cases these days.

Parks and areas with a water feature are popular picnic destinations across the upstate. Lakes and waterfalls provide a perfectly beautiful backdrop for both the family meal and the romantic picnic for two.

For the Robinson family, picnics are often on the lake and also include going out in kayaks. She said they enjoy going all over the upstate for family fun.

“Picnicking in a kayak, with your favorites, in the most beautiful part of the state is priceless,” she said.

What would a picnic be without the perfect foods? A tasty pasta salad, simple sandwiches, cheese, and fruit kebabs are a great way to fill up with little effort while eating al fresco with children. Fun desserts like bear shaped cookies, or individual apple pies are the perfect ending for a memorable picnic.

Don’t forget the table setting, er, the blanket setting. Plates, napkins, any cutlery needed, and the biggest thing — the blanket! Even if you find a picnic table, you might want your blanket for a table covering. Be sure to pack a few extras, too, in case your five-year-old drops his fork in the dirt.

Robinson said they have a list of must-haves for any family picnic.

“We can’t leave home without a blanket to sit on, food for the ducks, and a fun playlist on the phone,” she noted.

Keeping clean up a breeze is also something to consider. Families don’t want to leave a food trail behind them for critters to follow. And keeping trash to a minimum is also important for the environment. If a trash can is not immediately available, never leave trash behind. Instead, take it with you to dispose of properly.

For snacking as you go, prepare each person their own bag of trail mix. It can be as simple as cereal, nuts, dried berries, and chocolate chips. Everyone can customize their bag to include the items they enjoy. This can help curb little ones from whining about being hungry, and can give parents that boost of energy they need.

Aside from the food, the activities are also key to creating memories for the whole crew. Frisbees, balls, and other easy to transport play items will give the group a chance to unwind and enjoy each other’s company.

Regardless of how you do it, picnics are fun for the whole family.

Great places to picnic in the Upstate

Greenville

Falls Park on the Reedy —This downtown park is perfect for family picnics, but the least crowded times are on weekdays. www.fallspark.com

Paris Mountain State Park — Paris Mountain is a nature-lover’s getaway, right inside the city of Greenville. It has picnic shelters, but you can also lay out a blanket along the lake’s edge. https://southcarolinaparks.com/paris-mountain

Lake Conestee Nature Park — There’s nearly 400 acres of natural habitat in this park, which features pedestrian bridges, walking trails, and diverse wildlife. Conestee Park offers a playground and picnic shelter, too. https://greenvillerec.com/parks/lake-conestee-nature-park

Spartanburg

Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve — This public botanical garden and woodland preserve offers plenty of spots to sit down and enjoy the view while you enjoy a family picnic. http://www.hatchergarden.org

Cleveland Park —You’ll find plenty of places inside Cleveland Park in Spartanburg to enjoy a picnic. https://spartanburgparks.org/facilities/facility/details/Cleveland-Park-169

Easley/Pickens/Clemson

Larry W. Abernathy Waterfront Park — This waterfront park offers picnic areas and lake access for families in or near Clemson. http://visitclemson.com/attractions/abernathy-waterfront-park/

Doodle Trail Park — This multi-use trail begins in Easley and heads toward Pickens, and it features picnic tables. https://www.easleyrec.com/doodle-park

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