Looking for the perfect place for a family picnic? You’re in luck. The area in and around Mesa features a wide range of outdoor spaces ideal for rest, relaxation, and family bonding. Whether you want a picnic spot surrounded by some gorgeous desert scenery, a shady area to cool off, or a place that ensures kids stay busy thanks to trails or playgrounds, you’ll find your new go-to picnic spot close to home.

Crème de la Crème of Mesa put together this list to get you started the next time you’re planning a picnic. Check out these five amazing spots for your family outing.

Desert Arroyo Park

Food set out on a blanket for a picnic near Mesa, Arizona

aerial photograph of foods and plate” used with permission via Unsplash by britt gaiser

Head over to northeast Mesa whenever you’re in the mood for a family picnic. That’s where you’ll find Desert Arroyo Park, a popular local park designed with kids in mind. Five shaded picnic ramadas take the guesswork out of planning a comfortable outing, no matter how sunny it gets. The park also boasts three short trails to take the outdoor experience to the next level, including two dirt trails with signs that give insight into the plant and wildlife and offer hiking and biking possibilities. You’ll also find a wheelchair-accessible trail connecting the ramadas.

An outdoor classroom area transforms your picnic into an educational adventure for the kiddos. Children can learn more about the history, landscape, and wildlife in Arizona. The area even offers Wi-Fi connection! When it’s time to play, a playground close to the ramadas take your picnic to the next level. This unique playground features crawl tubes to simulate mammal dens, wind chimes that sound like birds’ songs, and more. Whether your kids want to get active or you just want to relax in the picnic area, Desert Arroyo Park has you covered.

Usery Mountain Regional Park

Usery Mountain Regional Park offers another great opportunity for picnicking right here in Mesa. The park, situated in northeast Mesa, makes planning a day out and about a breeze thanks to the variety of trails suited to all ages and abilities. If you park around the largest parking lot, known as the horse staging area, you’ll see a few ramadas that include picnic tables. Each ramada includes a basic charcoal barbecue grill, perfect for grilling treats like hot dogs and hamburgers while you’re enjoying the great outdoors.

After all, Usery Mountain Regional Park boasts some awesome views. Look for Pass Mountain and the Cat’s Peak hills. You can also see the Superstition Mountains’ iconic silhouette off to the east in the distance. When you’re not relaxing, you can explore starting from one of the four trailheads located around this parking lot. You can go for intense hikes or leisurely strolls here depending on your mood. This fun spot is close to home while still offering a picturesque desert setting ideal for group picnics.

Riverview Park

Mesa’s Riverview Park is one of the city’s premier destinations, and you’ll see why the minute you set foot inside. A renovation project transformed the park into a top place for outdoor fun. Riverview Park is home to the Spring Training facility for the Chicago Cubs, and it offers an amazing place for recreation no matter the season.

You’ll find multiple playground areas, two huge climbing and rope structures, a children’s splash pad, and more right in this Mesa park. Better yet, shaded picnic areas including tables and reservable shaded picnic ramadas mean Riverview Park is the place to go for organized gatherings and impromptu picnics alike. The park also boasts tons of open grass space, so you can easily spread out a picnic blanket and enjoy the weather on milder days.

When you’re not indulging in the delicious meal you packed, kids will love the playgrounds and climbing towers here. Many areas are also shaded. There’s even a spray ground with multiple water features to make your picnic outing even more fun. With so many activities to enjoy and spaces to explore, Riverview Park makes another great choice for a picnic close to home.

Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch

Make the quick trip to neighboring Gilbert to visit the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, yet another local place that makes the ideal setting for a family picnic. Seven large ponds plus over 100 acres of desert and marshland, not to mention the 4.5 miles of trails throughout the area, make Riparian Preserve an oasis from the bustle of daily life.

The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is popular with families from Mesa, Gilbert, and other surrounding areas. You can fish in the ponds, walk along the trails, or just look for local wildlife before enjoying your picnic meal. The preserve is close to the Southeast Regional Library, and you’ll find ramadas with picnic tables near the library. Thanks to peaceful trails situated in the middle of the city, this spot is a unique choice for a picnic.

When it comes to birdwatching, this preserve can’t be beat. You can spot nearly 300 different bird species here. You might also catch sight of cottontail rabbits — or coyotes during evening hours! All in all, if you’re seeking a picnic spot complete with desert fauna, birds, and wildlife, you’ll want to add the Riparian Preserve to your list of nearby places to check out.

Butcher Jones Recreation Site

Butcher Jones Recreation Site, located in Tonto National Forest, is a great spot when you’re looking to plan a picnic by the water. The popular recreational site boasts huge mesquite trees that offer shade. You can also find some picnic tables and picnicking units with designated grills, though there are no shade ramadas. The area can get very busy on the weekends, but if you have a free weekday morning for a picnic, you can find some more quiet here.

The water starts shallow and deepens gradually, offering an ideal spot for younger kids to enjoy the water. Butcher Jones is one of the rare spots in our state that lets you feel like you’re on the beach, all without requiring a long drive.That concludes Crème de la Crème of Mesa’s list of great picnic spots close to home. Do you have a favorite park, preserve, or other picnic area we missed? Let us know so we can add it!