The 15 Best Picnic Spots in Illinois!

Illinois offers a diverse landscape with endless opportunities for experiencing unspoiled nature. With so many parks and beautiful areas available throughout the state, picnickers have abundant options for enjoying a relaxing picnic. Most parks have picnic tables and shelters available, but visitors can throw down a blanket anywhere to experience up-close wildlife and nature. 

1. Starved Rock State Park, Utica, IL

There’s nothing like a relaxing picnic surrounded by nature. Starved Rock offers developed picnic areas with tables, drinking water, and nearby restroom facilities. Either shelters are available for larger groups of people. 

2. Giant City State Park, Makanda, IL

Known for its giant sandstone rock structures, Giant City State Park offers unlimited exploration through stunning natural landscapes. Numerous picnic facilities are available throughout the park and they include fire grills, tables, and water. Large groups can reserve one of the five shelters, as well. 

3. Millennium Park, Chicago, IL

Millennium Park downtown Chicago offers pristine landscaping, gorgeous urban gardens, and fascinating architectural exhibitions. With so many places to picnic, you’ll always be surrounded with beautiful urban views. You may even catch a live music performance at the park. 

4. White Pines Forest State Park, Mt. Morris, IL

As one of the most serene locations in Illinois, White Pines Forest State Park is the perfect picnic spot for nature lovers. Picnickers can relax at the shaded picnic areas or under the gorgeous white pines for a peaceful day of wildlife watching. 

5. Meadowbrook Park, Urbana, IL

Meadowbrook Park is newly restored park featuring recreated native tallgrass prairie landscapes, paved and unpaved walking trails, organic garden plots, creek corridors, tree groves, and even a farmstead. This park also features a large play structure for kids. Pavilions, grills, restrooms, and drinking fountains are available for picnickers. 

6. Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rockford, IL

Although closed in winter months, the Anderson Japanese Gardens offers a tranquil and serene picnic experience surrounded by Zen-like natural beauty. This inspiring outdoor setting features lush gardens, waterfalls, and Japanese-inspired structures. 

7. Margaret T. Burroughs Beach and Park, Chicago, IL

The Margaret T. Burroughs Beach and Park is the perfect spot for a white sand beach picnic. Visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Swimming, walking trails, food concessions, and restrooms are available for picnickers. 

8. Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby, IL

Picnic in a geological paradise at the Matthiessen State Park. View the beautiful rock formations, abundant wildlife, and unusual vegetation around the park. Picnic tables and shelters, water fountains, restrooms, and playgrounds are available at the Dells and Vermillion River areas. 

9. Mississippi Palisades State Park, Savanna, IL

The Mississippi Palisades State Park is known for its limestone caves, intriguing rock formations, and steep cliffs. Visitors can utilize the many picnic tables and six shelters, three of which can be reserved. This park is also rich in Native American history. 

10. Garden of the Gods, Herod, IL

Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee Hills formed 320 million years ago from the Earth’s natural movement and erosion. Visitors can now marvel at the rock formations and panoramic views. A picnic area is available with a nearby campground and observation trail. 

11. White Pines Forest State Park, Mt. Morris, IL

White Pines Forest State Park is a scenic haven and perfect picnic spot. With magnificent trees and moss-covered cliffs, this colorful park is ideal for wildlife-watching. Four shelters and several shaded picnic areas are available near Pine Creek and include fireplaces, water, and tables. Playgrounds are nearby, as well. 

12. Kankakee River State Park, Bourbonnais, IL

The unspoiled setting of Kankakee River State park makes it one of the most treasured areas in Illinois. The clean Kankakee River flows through the park and is a popular fishing destination. Visitors can picnic anywhere in the park and enjoy nature as it was hundreds of years ago. 

13. Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton, IL

Enjoy spectacular views of the Illinois River at Pere Marquette State Park. Visitors can also view up-close wintering bald eagles and take hosted tours of the woods or river bluffs. Plenty of convenient picnic areas are provided with tables and grills. 

14. Illini State Park, Marseilles, IL

With plenty of picnic areas to choose from, Illini State Park offers beautiful river views and ample wildlife. This park is also rich in history as it was once inhabited by Native Americans. 

15. Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve, Galena, IL

Experience stunning views of the Mississippi River from an archaeologically significant site. Not only is Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve beautiful, hundreds of pottery fragments have been produced from the mounds at the location. Although there are no picnic tables, it’s a peaceful and interesting picnic spot. 

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Find Picnic Spots Near You
Find Picnic Spots Near You
4201 Shabbona Grove Rd, Shabbona, IL
Just miles west of Chicago, off U.S. 30, urban landscape gives way to 1,550 acres of rolling prairie and a 318.8-acre man-made fishing lake. Shabbo... Read More
20100 Hazlet Park Rd, Carlyle, IL
It seems appropriate for one of the largest campgrounds in the Illinois state park system to be located on the largest manmade lake in Illinois. El... Read More
4301 S. Lake Dr., Chester, IL
Randolph County State Recreation Area is a mecca for outdoor recreational activities. Fishing, hiking, picnicking, boating, hunting and camping are... Read More
4532 North 725 East Road, Mc Lean, IL
Mission: The mission of Sugar Grove Nature Center is to provide a place where individuals can experience, study, and enjoy the environment and his... Read More
3 Stover Road, Barrington, IL
Over a thousand acres of rolling, glacier formed landscape in northwest Cook County has been set aside as Crabtree Nature Center. Before 1830, this... Read More
7318 Harlem Road, Loves Park, IL
Chiseled out of the state's far northern region is Rock Cut State Park in Winnebago County. Nearby are other "rocky" landmarks - the mighty Rock Ri... Read More
235 Giant City Rd, Makanda, IL
With its breathtaking natural beauty and unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation, a trip to Giant City State Park near Carbondale is sure to... Read More
401 Ottawa Street, Morris, IL
History buffs, nature lovers and sportsmen will thrill to the sights and sounds of the 96-mile route of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Along its ... Read More
8763 E. Canyon Road, Apple River, IL
Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep r... Read More
Weinberg-King State Fish and Wildlife Area is an area of rolling hills with a meandering creek in western Illinois. The 772-acre State Fish & W... Read More
10981 Conservation Road, Baldwin, IL
Baldwin Lake, located within the Kaskaskia River State Fish and Wildlife Area, is a 2,018-acre perched cooling lake in Randolph and St. Clair Count... Read More
R.R. #1, 2803 E. 3300 N. Rd, Beaverville, IL
Iroquois County State Wildlife Area is situated in a low glacial outwash plain associated with the Kankakee River Valley that consists of marshland... Read More
1812 Grinnell Road, Belknap, IL
Mermet Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area is an old cypress southern Illinois swamp managed as one of the state’s most outstanding waterfowl h... Read More
5314 W Rte 102, Bourbonnais, IL
On land treasured for centuries - first by Native Americans, later by traders and farmers, and as early as the 1890s by recreation seekers - Kankak... Read More
13921 U.S. 150150, Brimfield, IL
Jubilee College State Park is a 3,200-acre facility, located in Peoria County between the towns of Kickapoo and Brimfield, just off U.S. Route 150.... Read More
19721 N. US 24, Canton, IL
Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area is located approximately 25 miles southwest of Peoria on U.S. Route 24 and is protected from the Illinois... Read More
19721 U.S. 24, Canton, IL
Providing a stop-over area for migrating waterfowl, Rice Lake and the surrounding areas provide an excellent opportunity for wildlife observation. ... Read More
25302 W Story St, Channahon, IL
Channahon State Park is the official trailhead for the Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail. Channahon is an Indian word meaning "the meeting ... Read More
12949 S Avenue O, Chicago, IL
William W. Powers State Recreation Area, located on Wolf Lake on Chicago'​s far southeast side at the Illinois-Indiana state line, offers opportuni... Read More
4734 Weldon Springs Rd, Clinton, IL
Located just southeast of Clinton in DeWitt County, Weldon Springs State Park is a 550-acre park for all seasons. Weldon Springs' recreational agen... Read More
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