Plan The Perfect Picnic | Tasting Table CHI

Savor warm weather with an outdoor spread

Fall may be just around the corner—and we may have just gone through a bit of a cold spell—but let's take advantage of the last summer-ish days we have left.

And by "take advantage" we mean have a picnic in one of our sprawling green spaces.

What to bring? A sturdy basket and a big blanket are no-brainers, but we've rounded up the best provisions to make sure your spread looks like a pro's. Here's your game plan.

The Perfect Spot

In addition to housing one of the world's greatest collections of astronomical scopes and instruments, the Adler Planetarium (1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.) is also home to a sweeping front lawn prime for picnicking and jaw-dropping views of the Chicago shoreline. Find a place for your blanket that faces toward the city and take it all in. Lincoln Park's expansive Oz Park (2021 N. Burling St.) is easily accessible by public transportation, and great for family-friendly fun. Statues of Wizard of Oz characters are scattered around the park; plan a post-meal stroll to find them all. And given its quiet, somewhat secluded nature, Promontory Point (5491 S. Lake Shore Dr.) is one of our favorite under-the-radar places for a romantic picnic. Snag a bench with city views.

The Perfect Spread

Whatever you do, don't picnic without a bottle of bubbly from Provenance Food & Wine. The selection is curated but thorough, so pick a favorite or ask a staff member to point you in the direction of something that suits your tastes.

What's a picnic without good, hearty bread? Swing by Little Goat Bread to pick up a loaf of something crusty and carb-y, like the aptly named Fat Bread ($4) laced with smoked duck fat, pickled mustard seed and beer, or the rustic olive country bread ($6).

Whether you gussy up your bread sandwich-style or pair it with a cheese and charcuterie spread, you're going to need two things: meat and cheese. Visit Pastoral for its selection of artisanal cheeses; we'd go for a bit of heady, funky Colston Bassett Stilton ($14), Montgomery's Farmhouse Cheddar ($14) and smooth Cravera Parmigiano Reggiano ($17). To round things out, stop by Publican Quality Meats and ask the on-staff butcher for his cured meat recommendations that day; their inventory changes frequently and never disappoints.

For fruits and veggies, nothing beats buying locally. Make a quick (or not-so-quick) trip to Green City Market on Saturday to pick up some seasonal produce (of-the-moment apples travel well).

The final touch? Something sweet from Sweet Mandy B's, like cupcakes ($1.50 to $4) or chewy, coconut-y Ranger cookies studded with chocolate chips ($2 to $4).