7 Perfect Spots for a Summer Picnic

A picnic area at Mount Diablo State Park
A picnic area at Mount Diablo State Park. Photo by Alexander Broom

Mount Diablo State Park 

Mount Diablo State Park has dozens of places to pull in and enjoy the outdoors, and they all offer their own unique beauty. If one area is full, there may be another right around the corner to enjoy. 

Oak Knoll Picnic Area table and Valley oaks, Mount Diablo State Park. Oak Knoll Picnic Area, Mount Diablo State Park. Photo by Alexander Broom

Civilian Conservation Corps Picnic Areas 

Many of the picnic areas and other built environments of Mount Diablo State Park were constructed just after the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  

The park website has a dedicated page about these efforts with maps and historical information. 

Rock City

hikers on the trail through time at rock city in mount diablo state park Leaving Rock City on the Trail through Time. Photo by Scott Hein

Rock City is an extremely popular area of Mount Diablo State Park with a ton of geologic beauty and shade perfect for enjoying nature without the intense bite of our summer sun. This site is in the lower elevations of the mountain along South Gate Road. 


Muir picnic area below a California Bay, Mount Diablo State Park. Muir Picnic Area, Mount Diablo State Park. Photo by Alexander Broom

Named after the naturalist John Muir, this spot has been said to have been one of his favorite corners of the mountain.  

Located near the summit of Mount Diablo, Muir should be a good bit cooler than the lower areas. It offers less shade but more views. 

The Pines

Shady spot at the Pines Picnic area, Mount Diablo State Park. The Pines Picnic Area, Mount Diablo State Park. Photo by Alexander Broom

This area is a more private piece of paradise on the side of Mount Diablo with just two spots and a tight loop off the summit road past the junction.

It’s surrounded to the east by chaparral and grassland to the west, but still offers good shade and a great deal of tranquility.

Oak Knoll 

Oak Knoll Picnic Area table and valley oaks, Mount Diablo State Park

Oak Knoll Picnic Area table and valley oaks, Mount Diablo State Park. Photo by Alexander Broom

A larger day-use area, Oak Knoll has plenty of good spots to enjoy, with some tree cover. It’s a great place to stop and explore. 

Contra Loma Regional Park 

Loma Island Picnic Area tables and cottonwoods Loma Island Picnic Area, Contra Loma Regional Park. Photo by Alexander Broom

For those looking to recreate in east Contra Costa County, Contra Loma Regional Park has many great lakeside picnic areas with good shade cover.  

Contra Loma’s picnic areas make a perfect stop after a stroll around the reservoir, with plenty of opportunities to view birds and other wildlife. 

There are six large picnic areas available for reservation at Contra Loma. You can expect the park to stay quieter this year than in typical summers because the swim lagoon is not currently open (it needs repairs).  

For more information on Contra Loma Regional Park, view the park website. For specific picnic information, head to the picnic page. 

Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area 

Glassy reservoir with crisp reflections of clouds sky and vegetation. Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area. Photo by Alexander Broom

Bethany Reservoir, operated by California State Parks, is a bit off the beaten path but easily accessed for those near Livermore and Tracy.  

It’s often quiet and serene and features a number of areas with shade to enjoy the outdoors. For more information, please head to the park’s website.

Frank Raines Minniear Day Use Area 

Frank Raines Regional Park Del Puerto Canyon The picnic areas sit down below in Frank Raines Regional Park and Del Puerto Canyon. Photo by Scott Hein

Frank Raines is a part of the Stanislaus County Parks system and sits in Del Puerto Canyon along Del Puerto Creek. 

It’s a great stop during a day trip along Highway 130, which runs between the City of Patterson (along I-5) and San Jose.  

Del Puerto Canyon is some of the most scenic, remote land you can reach just outside the Bay Area.  

The Minniear Day Use Area offers a number of different recreation opportunities, but don’t forget how remote the area is. Water and cell phone service may not be available, so please plan accordingly. 

For more information, please head to the park’s website. 

More Picnic Opportunities 

These spots are just a few of the picnic opportunities on and around Mount Diablo. To explore more of the Mount Diablo region, please visit our site to download a copy of our free Mount Diablo regional trail map.

Join us to save the remaining natural lands of Mount Diablo!

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