Plan an Inexpensive Outdoor Picnic Date in Western Pennsylvania

Plan an Inexpensive Outdoor Picnic Date in Western Pennsylvania

Nothing screams summer more than a scenic outdoor picnic.

Take your sweetie on an outdoor “date” for an outdoor experience that won’t break the bank.

Outdoor-inspired destinations abound in Western Pennsylvania, and those looking for an adventurous date are sure to find the perfect picnic spot.

So pack a picnic, hop in the car, and take a road trip to one of these Pittsburgh-area spots for a date filled with a dose of nature.

A picnic card

The good thing about a picnic is that the menu can be customized for each person.

Aspinwall-based food and lifestyle expert Sarah Zimmerman Tuthill is the owner of EZPZ Gatherings, which specializes in custom-made gathering boxes and boards.

Zimmerman said finding a place to picnic is half the fun.

“There’s something romantic about fresh food and fresh air, but for a date-worthy picnic there are some simple things you can do to make it feel special,” Zimmerman said.

Picnic essentials include a picnic basket or cooler, serving utensils, a blanket, pillows, cloth napkins, a trash bag, paper towels, bug spray/sunscreen, and a bouquet of fresh flowers.

Suggested food options include finger foods such as cheese and cold cuts – small bites and foods that can withstand warmer temperatures such as fruit, crackers, chips, cookies and hummus.


Joyce Hanz | TribLive

Sarah Zimmerman Tuthill, owner of EZPZ Gatherings in Aspinwall, shows off one of her custom charcuterie boards.

“Pre-cut and pack several of your favorite cheeses, some salami or prosciutto, nuts and olives, and you’ve got a simple but elegant picnic,” Zimmerman said.

Don’t forget to take photos of the picnic to commemorate the date and use a cell phone to listen to music.

Allegheny Observatory, Riverview Park


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The grounds outside the Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park.

Be amazed on the grounds of the Allegheny Observatory of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physics and Astronomy in Riverview Park.

The spacious grounds offer shade trees, open picnic areas, and an up-close view of the building built between 1900 and 1912.

The three domes house two independent refractors and a telescope.

The neoclassical observatory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Reservations are required for free tours of the public observatory, offered most Thursdays and Fridays through August, and can be made by calling 412-321-2400.

The observatory is located at 159 Riverview Ave. in Perry North.

Loyalhanna Creek


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Loyalhanna Creek near Ligonier.

Loyalhanna Creek is a 50-mile-long tributary of the Kiskiminetas River that runs from Ligonier to Saltsburg in Westmoreland County.

The creek allows easy access for nearly 10 miles in the Laurel Highlands from Ligonier to Latrobe.

Popular for trout fishing, kayaking, and swimming, the creek offers great rock options for the more adventurous picnic-goer. Sightings of bald eagles are common.

Don’t forget water shoes and comfortable footwear for this picnic, as the rocks at the bottom of the creek are known to be slippery.

Public water trail access sites can be found online at

Bushy Run Battlefield


Joyce Hanz | TribLive

An information marker along a trail at Bushy Run Battlefield in Jeannette, Westmoreland County.

Add a side of American history to your picnic at Bushy Run Battlefield, a historic site that focuses exclusively on the Pontiac War, one of the most important Native American conflicts in American history.

The battlefield encompasses more than 200 acres in Westmoreland County. Self-guided trails, tours and interpretive exhibits are available.

Sue Sherman of Greensburg recently visited the historic battlefield and was amazed by the spacious grounds.

“I love that it’s a big open space and you can find lots of places to go, sit and explore,” Sherman said. “It’s really peaceful and quiet here and perfect for a picnic.”


Joyce Hanz | TribLive

Sue Sherman of Greensburg visits a memorial at Bushy Run Battlefield in April.

Sherman visited the Battle of Bushy Run monument placed at the site where the first day of battle began on August 5, 1763.

The monument features three bronze statues representing the American, British and Native American forces who fought.

“The fact that it’s become this beautiful memorial site is inspiring and I love all the trees and the walkability factor,” Sherman said.

Numerous walking trails include the Iroquois, Flour Sack, and Edge Hill trails.

The park grounds are open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Bushy Run Battlefield is located at 1253 Bushy Run Road in Jeannette.

Hartwood Acres Park


Joyce Hanz | TribLive

The mansion at Hartwood Acres in Indiana Township.

More than 600 acres await at Hartwood Acres Park in Indiana and Hampton townships.

As part of Allegheny County Parks, Hartwood Acres includes a historic mansion, dog park, meadow, grove, and abundant trails for hiking, hiking, horseback riding, and more.

Explore the Carol R. Brown Sculpture Garden and its 14 large-scale sculptures.

The park is home to the 1929 Tudor estate designed for John and Mary Flinn Lawrence.

Mary Flinn Lawrence sold 400 acres to the Allegheny Parks Commission in 1969. After her death in 1974, the new park opened to the public in 1976.

Book a guided tour of the mansion ($12 for adults) by calling 412-767-9200.

Hartwood Acres Mansion is located in 200 acres of Hartwood in Indiana Township.

Keystone State Park


Courtesy of Keystone State Park

The beach area of ​​Keystone State Park in Derry.

Head to Derry and explore more than 1,000 acres of Keystone State Park and its main attraction, the 78-acre Keystone Lake.

Several areas of the park offer picnic tables, parking, and restrooms.

Two pavilions have charcoal grills and electrical outlets, and unreserved pavilions are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The public beach area is a great option for a picnic on hot days.

Keystone State Park is located at 1150 Keystone Park Road in Derry.

Northmoreland Park


Joyce Hanz | TribLive

Isabelle Ziegler, 64, of Lower Burrell launches her kayak at Northmoreland Park in Allegheny Township.

Tucked away in rural Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County, Northmoreland Park offers more than 500 acres and is the largest park in the county.

The jewel of the park is the popular Northmoreland Lake, stocked with warm-water fish and trout.

The 17-acre lake offers plenty of picnic spots, and free kayaking and canoeing are allowed from May to October.

A 1.1-mile paved trail circles the lake and offers great views of the lake.

Northmoreland Park, open daily from 9 a.m. to dusk, is located at 280 Markle Road in Apollo.

Joyce Hanz is originally from Charleston, SC and is a reporter covering the Pittsburgh region. She majored in media arts and graduated from the University of South Carolina. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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