When the weather starts warming up and the grass becomes greener, explore the beauty of nature and share a picnic with a dose of vitamin D. With a multitude of outdoor options around the White Bear Lake area, enjoy the watery and woodsy scenery with a perfectly packed basket. We have rounded up the best places to visit and tastiest items to pack with you.
Picking the Perfect Park
Located on the north end of White Bear Lake, White Bear Lake County Park is the quintessential spot where you will want to lay down a blanket and relax with a picnic and an ideal view of the lake horizon. If you forgot a blanket, set up your lunch on one of the many picnic tables scattered across the park, then let the kids enjoy the large playground on the edge of the park.
Park hours: 30 minutes before sunrise, 30 minutes after sunset; 5050 Lake Ave., White Bear Lake; 651.748.2500
Starting at the swimming dock on Seventh Street to the Matoska gazebo south of the Manitou Island Bridge, Matoska park covers four acres of White Bear Lake shoreline. Wander the walking paths in the tree-shaded park with opportunities to view the historic Giest Gazebo and the Speiss landing marker, or take the paved trail to the bridge.
Park hours: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.; 4810 Lake Ave. N., White Bear Lake; 651.747.3650
Popular for its pavilion, Bossard Park is an open green space best for walks and observing the nature that surrounds the area. The petite pavilion holds four picnic tables placed near a playground, a water fountain and restrooms encompassed within the wooded area.
Park hours: 6 a.m.–10 p.m.; 3765 Bellaire Ave., White Bear Lake; 651.747.3650
Spanning five acres, Jack Yost Park features a capacious pavilion, new asphalt trail, a playground and a baseball field.
Park hours: 8 a.m.–6 p.m.; 1856 Florence St., White Bear Lake; 651.747.3650
This delightful 80-acre park has a range of activities for energetic folks, including a playground, a 100-foot zip-line, hiking trails, a boardwalk, a pavilion, two large fields for soccer or lacrosse, and three sets of shelters housing picnic tables and grills that border a baseball field. If you need to relax after all of the bustle around the park, there is an all natural amphitheater with a charming view of Handlo’s Pond—a DNR-stocked fishing pond.
Park hours: 7 a.m.–9 p.m.; 2110 Orchard Lane, White Bear Lake; 651.747.3650
Packing the Perfect Picnic Basket
Once you decide on a picnic location, pack your picnic basket with foods that are both delicious and nutritious. Culinary and branding director for Kowalski’s Market, Rachael Perron offers tips on what to pack straight from the grocery store aisles.
Make your picnic an elegant French affair by packing “a great baguette or loaf of artisan bread, some soft ripe cheese [and] some ham.” Perron says, “Kowalski’s Brie is rich, buttery and the perfect size for tossing in your basket.” Swing by the wine shop to grab a bottle of wine, and you are ready to go! (Just be sure your picnic locale allows alcohol.)
“There are [also] nearly endless Grab & Go options in [Kowalski’s] deli department—sandwiches, wraps and picnic-size salads (including potato salad, slaws and pasta salads),” Perron says. She recommends picnic-goers stop by the specialty cheese case to pick out a delicious cheese and cracker combination. Or, swing by the meat department for some smoked salmon and fully cooked cocktail shrimp.
Be sure to add some healthy fruit and vegetables to your basket, including “prepared melon spears and cut mango because they’re easier,” says Perron.
As for vegetables, the “mini sweet peppers with Kowalski’s sriracha dip” are Perron’s favorite. And don’t forget sweet treats like Kowalski’s chocolate chunk cookies or sea salt caramel brownies.
If your taste buds are feeling adventurous, try Kowalski’s Ka-Pop!—“it’s a popped sorghum snack that’s all natural, invented by [Dustin Finkel], a former Minnesotan,” says Perron. While her personal favorite flavor is salt & vinegar, Perron says that the cheddar “tastes exactly like puffed cheese snacks you ate as a kid.”