All it takes is a blanket, food, friends and the outdoors to enjoy picnics.
In honor of National Picnic Day on April 23, students share their picnic experiences in Austin. Nursing senior Madison Leonard said she picnics at least once a month and enjoys the outdoors aspect of it.
“It’s a fun way to be in nature and still have quality time with friends or yourself,” Leonard said. “(It’s) just getting to do something, like eating, with friends that you do all the time but doing it outside.”
Leonard said she often visits the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Zilker Metropolitan Park or St. Edwards Park. Sydney Colon, UT international relations and global studies alumnae (‘18), said for spontaneous picnics, the destination usually depends on her shoes.
“If I’m wearing cute shoes, then (I go to) Zilker because it’s not a hike,” Colon said. “If I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll go to Mount Bonnell or 360 (Bridge Overlook).”
Corporate communications sophomore Will Sheehan said the time of day decides where he picnics. He said during the daytime, he prefers going to Zilker, but enjoys Mount Bonnell or the 360 bridge for sunset picnics.
Although the three said food was a necessity, Sheehan said the time of day determines what he brings. For sunset or late-night picnics, he said he’ll bring a flashlight or lantern, but for daytime picnics a football or speaker will do.
Aside from picnic essentials, Leonard said picnics are easy to plan.
“It feels like you’re not just sitting at home and doing nothing,” Leonard said. “You’re doing something but it’s easy, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort.”
In a similar way, Colon said picnics differ from restaurants in that there’s less pressure. With picnics, people avoid the possibility of high costs or holding tables for too long. She also said it lessens pressure for dates.
“If someone (went) on a picnic and it’s the first date, it’s low-key because it’s public enough to where if you’re like, ‘I gotta get out of here,’ there’s a lot of options,” Colon said.
She also said birthday picnics are helpful because they act as a potluck and people don’t have to worry about cleaning their house.
With less pressure, Sheehan said minimal distractions lead to more quality time with others.
“You’re removing yourself from other people with a group of people,” Sheehan said. “Anytime you do that, it fosters a unique intimacy for conversation.”
Sheehan also said picnics provide new experiences. As opposed to Chick-fil-A, where people expect the same experience each time, he said picnics give him the chance to escape that stability.
“(Picnicking) is different every time,” Sheehan said. “The sunset’s going to look different every time, the weather is going to be different and the scene changes throughout the seasons.”
Despite the changing scenes, Leonard said a major challenge accompanying picnics is the unpredictable weather.
“I’ve been before (when) it started raining,” Leonard said. “We had to leave because you can’t really do anything about it.”
Regardless of the supplies, activities or destination, Sheehan said picnics matter because of the people.
“I would never picnic with my boss, that would be weird,” Sheehan said. “But going on a picnic with a girl you really like or some of your closest friends — that’s the best. A picnic is only as important as what you make it out to be.”