Picnic Paradise

What heat? Houston named one of America's best cities for an outdoor picnic

What heat? Houston named one of America's best cities for a picnic

Menil Collection Park
Houston was ranked No. 10 on Travel+Leisure's list of America's Best Cities for Picnics, citing Menil Park as a great location for outdoor dining. The Menil Collection/Facebook
Barton Springs
Austin, ranked No. 15 on the list, was lauded for Barton Springs as a cool place to relax outdoors. Panda Boxes
Menil Collection Park
Barton Springs

Given that Houstonians are currently experiencing 100-degree-plus temperatures virtually every day now, it probably will come as a shocker that the Bayou City has recently been named on Travel+Leisure's list of America's Best Cities for Picnics.

As part of the magazine's annual America's Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 38 cities on urban indicators such as luxury shopping, cocktail lounges and hip food trucks. To help calculate which cities are the best for picnics, the magazine examined several "outdoor-feast-friendly" rankings, including parks and gardens, gourmet markets, delectable sandwiches, quality wine purveyors and accommodating weather.

 Coming in at No. 10 on Travel+Leisure's list, Houston is the most highly rated picnic destination in Texas.  

Coming in at No. 10 on Travel+Leisure's list, Houston is the most highly rated picnic destination in Texas. List author Katrina Brown Hunt cites "picnic-friendly gourmet markets and deep wine selection" —  recommending a visit to Revival Market in the Heights — as reasons for the city's high ranking. Although Hunt mentions that summer temperatures "may have you looking for shade and a breeze," she recommends the newly renovated Buffalo Bayou Park as Houston's "best new picnic spot." 

Noting the city's high rankings for art (No. 5) and burgers (No. 5) on the magazine's America's Favorite Cities list, Hunt also highlights the Menil Collection for its "picnic-magnet lawn" — as well as the "promise of air-conditioned bliss" inside the museum — and suggests nearby slider joint Little Bigs for some park-appropriate eats.

One other Texas city made the list, with Austin coming in at No. 15. Hunt suggests a picnic at Zilker Park's Barton Springs — "since you can always cool off in the 68-degree water" — and at the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria. With a top 20 ranking for gourmet grocery stores, Hunt recommends Austin-based Central Market, as well as salumeria Salt and Time and sub shop Thundercloud, as ideal spots for picking up delicious picnic treats.