Where: Mountain Lake Park
What to Do: This is one of my very favorite parks. It has a lakeside path and a well-equipped, sandy playground. You should be prepared to wander a bit to find an appropriate spot to spread your picnic blanket. And though you should not, of course, drink from the lake, it supplied all of San Francisco’s water from 1852 to 1870.
Picnic Pick-Up: Delis are getting harder to find in San Francisco--almost as hard as a parking space. Try tiny Say Cheese in the Haight-Ashbury near Golden Gate Park. It has more than 300 kinds of cheese, plus sandwiches, salads, pâtés, crackers, cheese spreads, and fresh cookies.
Where: Stow Lake, in Golden Gate Park
What to Do: Rent a boat and head out for a quiet cove to enjoy a memorable picnic on board (or wait for that until after the ride). Don’t feed the seagulls because I think they are capable of sinking the boat with enthusiasm (also it is against the rules). This is the largest of the park’s 11 lakes, and the water is shallow. Note that boats are often wet inside so bring a blanket to sit on.
Picnic Pick-Up: See above. Also, a cafe here serves typical fast-food items, including hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice cream.
Where: Palace of Fine Arts
What to Do: Said to be the world’s largest artificial ruin, this classical structure was designed by architect Bernard Maybeck in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition. A paved path leads around a lagoon teeming with wildlife--ducks, swans, turtles, and more. Benches and grassy areas provide the perfect perch for a scenic picnic.
Picnic Pick-Up: Very close by in the Marina District, Lucca Delicatessen www.luccadeli.com has been owned by the same family since 1929. Among the goodies you can get here are made-to-order sandwiches, housemade salads, handmade bread sticks, and a large selection of Italian wines.