The San Francisco Bay Area has many great picnic locations and it is difficult to narrow them down to one or two. Still, there are some sites every one in the area should visit, even if you are not a big outdoor person.
One of the best but not maybe the easiest to park a car at on weekends is Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Running the length of San Francisco, this park has ample picnic areas and enough to do so that you can see something new each time you come. The park is not overflowing with shops or dining establishments, but you can find something if you don’t bring your own meal. You have a choice of seeing the Conservatory of Flowers, the DeYoung museum, the Japanese Gardens, carriage rides, and the Academy of Science. The park has numerous trails, bike, skate and other rentals, a lake to paddle boat around in, playgrounds, and a concert site. Anyone will find something to like here.
Tilden Park is another wonderful park in the San Francisco Bay Area. Running from Berkeley into Oakland it is surrounded by upscale neighborhoods that you forget upon entering the park. This park has group camping areas, a petting farm, botanical garden, a terrific visitors center with a flush toilet, wedding reception area, bocce courts, shooting ranges, archery fields, tennis areas, a lake with a beach and snack bar, a miniature railroad, and a terrific playground with a great old-fashioned merry-go-round. There are plenty of hiking trails, riding trails and horses, and bike paths. The park has numerous picnic areas, but they can fill up fast on the weekend. The park is spread out, so unless you are really good at hiking or biking, I would suggest bringing transportation.
Mount Talmapias Park is located near San Francisco and extends out to the Mill Valley Area. This is a true park like setting with trails and great views. There is plenty of parking at the trailheads. At this park you can see the area before man added his cities complete with forests of redwood trees and mountain views. Mount Tam has trails that can be difficult for the new hiker. Camping is available free for charge on a first come basis. The park provides wooden bases for you to set up your tents on. The park has a great visitor’s center and provides tours and lectures to visitors. This is a fun place to spend the weekend if you like the outdoors.
For those who want nature keep somewhat a bay, a great place to picnic is the Happy Hollows Park in San Jose. The park offers many picnic areas, a zoo with up close animals, an amusement park area with rides and puppet shows, and a great park to visit. During the summer family and group camping is available. Picnics are encouraged at this park.
Coyote Hills is another area park to visit that has abundant camping. This park is nestled in the Bay Area marshlands and has ample wildlife from these areas to views. The large visitor center discusses the area and the life of the native Ohlone Indians from the area. Numerous displays are available, including Indian canoes. A large butterfly garden is adjacent to the visitor centers. The park has many pathways down to the shore for hikers to explore. Bird watching and orienting groups make this park their home. A group camping site is available.
Lastly, an overlooked park is Garin Park in Hayward. This park features turn of the century farming, blacksmith demonstrations, a display of animal drawn farm equipment, trails, several bridges and a lake you can fish in. With picnic tables under the trees near the lake, this is a great spot for a relaxing afternoon with family or friends. Many residents near the park fish the lake for dinner.