Photo by Michelle Huegel
Edna Balz Lacy Park
700 Greer St.
Amid the sand volleyball, shuffleboard, and bocce ball courts, this petite urban park in Fletcher Place offers a gazebo and multiple picnic tables on two acres across from the downtown Eli Lilly Corporate Center. Diners tote in carryout gourmet from Amelia’s (658 Virginia Ave., 317-686-1580) as well as Impossible Burgers and other healthy eats from Pure Eatery (1043 Virginia Ave., 317-602-5724). Wildwood Market (1015 Virginia Ave., 317-737-2653) conjures up a daily sandwich creation and sells convenient charcuterie packs—basically grown-up Lunchables. Nearby General American Donut Company (827 S East St., 317-964-0744) supplies grab-and-go breakfast and fried-chicken sandwiches at lunch.
5301 E. St. Clair St.
Designed more than 100 years ago by George Edward Kessler, one of the country’s foremost park architects, Ellenberger is your picnic destination on the east side. It contains two playgrounds, baseball and softball diamonds, tennis and sand-volleyball courts, and walking paths. Numerous shelters and picnic benches are placed throughout the grounds. Claim a patch of grass here with your breaded-tenderloin baskets from Historic Steer-In (5130 E 10th St., 317-356-0996) and chili dogs from Garcia’s hot dog cart (corner of 16th Street and Emerson Avenue, 5102 E 16th St., 317-289-5593). Chicago Beef and Dog (5402 E. Washington St., 317-359-2333) also sells its authentic Chicago dog with all the fixings nearby. Bring the whole crew and drop by Golden’s Fish and Chicken (5102 E. Washington St., 317-375-7550) for an enormous pan of family-style fish, wings, and fries.
Irvington Circle Park
236 S. Audubon Rd.
This tiny little-known public space tucked into the historic homes of Irvington provides a few coveted stone benches where you can balance a small meal on your knee—perhaps some carryout from Strange Bird (128 S. Audubon Rd.), a local joint so under the radar that you have to stop by to place your order. You might also sip your cold-brew from Percolate (5543 E. Washington St., 317-986-6102), or polish off a waffle cone from Wyliepalooza (5535 E. Washington St., 317-351-0275).
Garfield Park Sunken Garden
2505 Conservatory Dr.
Another timeless park built by the renowned George Kessler, the Sunken Garden encompasses three acres of classic, European-style lawns with much of the same architecture as designed a century ago. Have a seat on one of the many grassy areas with your picnic blanket and a massive sub from Greiner’s (2126 Shelby St., 317-783-4136) or a sandwich from 1718 The Bates-Hendricks Housebar (1718 S. East St., 317-744-0004).
1100 E. New York St.
Established in 1898 on the east side just off of I-65, this four-acre park rests at one of the highest points in Indy and offers a view of the skyline you won’t get anywhere else. The lush green grass and shelters are the ideal spot for enjoying your King Dough Pizza (452 N. Highland Ave., 317-602-7960) fix, with selections like wood-fired pizzas, wings, and sandwiches. Snag whatever Mexican food you’re in the mood for—seriously, they have it all—at La Parada (1642 E. New York St., 317-917-0095), or splurge on the carry-out creations at Beholder (1844 E. 10th St., 317-419-3471).
George E. Kessler Park
2500 N. Pennsylvania St.
This cozy parkland is wedged between Fall Creek Place and Meridian Street, with a short walking trail around its circular lawn. Though it be but little, this petite park just north of downtown and right off Fall Creek is worth seeking out. Pack that picnic basket full of Batali, Goose, or James Baldwin sandwiches from Goose the Market (2503 N. Delaware St., 317-924-4944) or classic American fare from Baby’s (2147 N. Talbott St., 317-600-3559). Keep an eye out for the park’s tiny parking lot off of Pennsylvania Street. If you blink, you might miss it.
3130 E. 30th St.
Work off that meal in this northeast 128-acre urban park, which includes a playground for the kids, basketball courts, a disc golf course, hiking trails, a creek, and a lake. Tuck yourself into the lush greenery with some seriously savory fare from Stacey and Rick’s Soulfood (3399 N. Sherman Dr., 317-541-1929) or grab a tray of seafood and chowder from Chef Oya’s The Trap (3355 N. Keystone Ave., 317-762-6172).
10 E. Smith Valley Rd., Greenwood
This longstanding park on the south side encompasses 27 acres of playgrounds, tennis and volleyball courts, and walking paths, conveniently located next to the Greenwood Community Center off of Meridian. Bring your Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza (401 Market Plaza, 317-883-8993) or test out fresh and authentic American cuisine from Revery (299 W. Main St., 317-215-4164) beneath one of the park’s shelters, generously shady trees, or the gazebo.
115 S. Elm St., Zionsville
Complete with baseball and softball fields, trails, a tennis court, and a playground, Lions Park is a trove of picturesque community views on Indy’s north side, a short distance from interstate 465 and 865. The 18 acres of land includes multiple picnic areas, including a large and shaded gazebo, for your dining pleasure. Quality American meals from nearby Cobblestone (160 S. Main St., 317-873-4745) is ideal for an extravagant takeout experience, or try the Salty Cowboy (55 E. Oak St., 317-344-0926) for fresh, Tex-Mex inspired selections. Those on the search for more finger-food-friendly grub might swing by Zionsville Pizzeria (255 S Main St., 317-873-2878) for a local pie or sandwich.