A picnic is a great way to relax and unwind. It doesn’t matter if you’re making a romantic day of it with your partner, getting out into the fresh air with your family or just grabbing some much-needed downtime on your lunch break, all you need is sun (hopefully), the sounds and sights of nature, a blanket on the grass or a bench in a park, tasty food and good company. Anyone familiar with Bristol will tell you that the city is full of picturesque spots for a picnic. Here are a few of our favourites:
Located in Clifton, to the north of the city centre, Clifton Down and Durdham Down are known collectively by Bristolians as ‘The Downs’. Together they make up the most popular spot for locals when the sun is shining. If you fancy some activities before your picnic, the Downs have plenty of options, including Bristol Zoo, plenty of nature and history-themed walking trails and lots of open areas for a quick kickabout, frisbee or cricket. Picnic options are similarly bountiful. There’s a barbeque area on Ladies Mile if you fancy something hot and smoky, and benches and picnic areas are scattered throughout. There’s also a cafe if you’ve come underprepared. Find a spot with a view of the suspension bridge or Avon Gorge and you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to think of anywhere else in Bristol as perfect for taking advantage of the great outdoors on a sunny day.
St Andrews Park
Just a short stroll from Gloucester Road – the longest stretch of independent shops in Britain – is the green expanse of St Andrews. It’s a big hit when visiting Bristol during the summer months because of its kids’ paddling pool and playground, but it’s not all screaming children vying for control of the monkey bars. For a city centre park, it’s a remarkably tranquil spot. Lay your blanket out on the park’s gentle green slope in the shade of one of its giant trees and you can easily forget you’re anywhere near a city. This is one of those picnic spots that can very easily turn a quick bite to eat into a four-hour picnic.
Near Park Street in Bristol’s West End is Brandon Hill, a stunning park dominated by the imposing and iconic 105ft-high Cabot Tower. The park is the oldest in Bristol, while the tower was built in the late 19th-century to commemorate John Cabot’s 15th-century voyage from Bristol to America. The park has no shortage of picnic spots and its hill offers gorgeous views out over the city. The higher you climb, the better the view. But for the best possible view, climb the tower (free to enter) and prepare to have your breath taken by its panoramic view of Bristol. If your picnic is doubling up as a romantic date, you can’t go wrong with Brandon Hill. Watch out for picnic interlopers though as Brandon Hill’s squirrels are particularly friendly and won’t think twice about coming up to you in search of food.
Ashton Court Estate
Just ten minutes’ drive west of Bristol city centre is Ashton Court, an expansive and impressive Grade 1-listed mansion house that stands on an estate comprised of 850 acres of luscious, green parkland. It’s the ideal destination for those wanting to take advantage of fine weather and keen for a break from the hum of the city. Lying on the grass at Ashton Court Estate, sipping some chilled white wine, watching hot air balloons take off, it can be very easy to forget that you’re just two miles outside the city. Before or after your picnic, you can explore the nature reserve, play some disc or regular golf or enjoy a ride on the miniature railway or a hot air balloon.
There isn’t much castle left to see at Castle Park and what remains of the once-great medieval castle is mostly underground. That said, what you will find is a gorgeous park right in the heart of the city and a perfect spot to pause and escape the hustle and bustle of Bristol. The park is bordered by Bristol’s shopping district on one side and the harbour on the other, making it ideal for a mid-spree outdoor lunch by the water, overlooked by the ruins of St Peter’s Church. If you don’t feel like bringing your own food from home, this is a perfect location as the surrounding streets offer some incredibly tempting food spots where you can grab lunch to go.
Our Bristol Grand Hotel is located on Broad Street, just around the corner from Castle Park, the perfect location for history enthusiasts.