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Picnics: A Great Way to Spend a Summer Day

A picnic is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and summer’s fresh produce.

Location, Location, Location

Peterson Park (4300 Peterson Park Rd. in McHenry, 815-363-2168) is a large park with much to offer. Located on McCullom Lake, the park has two playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, horseshoes, picnic shelters, grills, public restrooms and is near Peterson Park Beach.

Veterans Memorial Park (3400 Pearl St. in McHenry, 815-363-2168) is located near Green Street in McHenry. The park has a large playground, picnic shelter, public restrooms and a gorgeous white gazebo that can be rented for weddings.

Main Beach (300 Lake Shore Dr. in Crystal Lake, 815-477-5404) has it all—a beach, playground, picnic tables and grills.

Veteran Acres (Rt. 176 and Walkup in Crystal Lake, 815-459-0680) boasts many outdoor athletic fields and recreation areas, restrooms, picnic shelters, a playground, two lighted tennis courts, a basketball court, horseshoe pit, hiking trails, scenic pond and nature center.

Woodscreek Park (Golf Course and Ackman roads in Crystal Lake, 815-459-0680) is home to Crystal Castle, a large, community-built, wooden playground. The park also has soccer practice areas, a bike path, restrooms, Memorial Walkway and fishing pier.

Emricson Park (898 W. South St. in Woodstock, 815-338-4363) hosts five picnic shelters, some with water and electricity, as well as nearby restrooms and many picnic tables.

Jaycee Park (Silver Lake and Cary Algonquin roads in Cary, 847-639-6100) includes a beautiful pond and nature conservation area, as well as a fishing pier, picnic shelter, horseshoe courts and restrooms.

Lions Park (Beach Way Dr. in Fox River Grove, 847-639-3170) is located on the Fox River and has a playground, a picnic shelter and grills.

Picnic Grove Park (Birch Ln. in Fox River Grove, 847-639-3170) is on the Fox River and has plenty of room for a crowd. Barbara Key Park (9191 Pyott Rd. in Lake in the Hills, 847-960-7400) has a picnic shelter, grills, running water, a playground, horseshoes, basketball courts, fishing and hiking trails.

Cornish Park (Harrison St. and Rt. 62 in Algonquin, 847-658-2700) is the newest of Algonquin’s parks and has picnic tables with kid and adult-friendly amenities including fishing, historical memorials and convenient access to the downtown area.

Towne Park (100 Jefferson St. in Algonquin, 847-658-2700) is near the heart of Algonquin and has a baseball field, picnic shelter, basketball court, restrooms and the city’s largest playground, Angel Park playground.

Deicke Park (11419 S. Rt. 47 in Huntley, 847-669-1504) has four shelters and a playground. A walking path and pond also make this park a great place to spend the day. Betsey Warrington Park (12209 Lois Ln. in Huntley, 847-669-1504) is right by Stingray Bay Family Aquatic Center and has soccer fields, a walking path and is home to Huntley’s original homestead and other historical buildings.

Moraine Hills State Park (914 S. River Rd. in McHenry, 815-385-1624) has ten picnic areas with convenient parking. Many areas are handicap accessible and have covered and open-air tables, grills, public restrooms and water pumps. Alcohol is banned in the park.

The McHenry County Conservation District maintains 18 sites with picnic areas. Shelters and picnic areas are available by reservation or on a first come, first serve basis. To reserve a site, complete a permit and pay any necessary fee to the MCCD’s main office at least ten working days in advance. Permits are required for parties of 16 or more or to guarantee the use of an area. Call 815-338-6223 or visit for more information.

Pack for the Perfect Picnic

Before you head out, make sure you have everything you need. Use this checklist as a reference.

  • Plates
  • Napkins
  • Forks, Knives, Spoons, etc.
  • Corkscrew
  • Trash Bags
  • Cups
  • Blanket and/or Folding
  • Chairs
  • Flashlights or Lanterns
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent
  • Extra Layers of Clothing
  • And, of course, your meal!

Take Out

If you’re not in the mood to make and pack your own meal, pop into one of these markets and get a meal to go.

Le Petit Marché (19 N. Williams St. in downtown Crystal Lake, 815-477-3296) offers everything you need for a French-inspired picnic: wine, cheese, freshly baked bread and pastries. With their menu changing daily, this “little market” has variety of unique flavors.

Flatlander Market (125 S. State St. in Marengo, 815-568-3528) has a premium deli, specialty foods produced in Illinois, wine and gourmet coffee for your outdoor dining.

Shamrock Subs & Smoothies (4103 W. Shamrock Ln. in McHenry, 815-363-6095) offers a wide variety of sub sandwiches as well as tasty smoothies.

Orchard Prime Meats (133 W. Main St. in Cary, 847-639-3991) is more than a butcher shop. Stop in for a salad, sandwich and a bottle of wine.

Algonquin Sub Shop (105 Filip St. in Algonquin, 847-658-0680) is located near downtown Algonquin as is known for its tasty sub sandwiches. They also offer a variety of salads.

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