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8 Ways to Enjoy Picnics & Parks in Ames
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8 Ways to Enjoy Picnics & Parks in Ames

Nothing’s better than a picnic in the park! From the east side of Ames to the west side, and every green space in between, check out these pairings of local eateries and nearby parks. Share a meal with your family, friends, and pets, while enjoying the great outdoors! 

The CaféMoore Memorial Park

Turkey & Avocado, Café Club, Cashew Butter & Jelly are only a few of the delectable sandwiches you can grab from The Café Deli. Homemade potato chips and a treat from the bakery case will complete your selection. You’ll want to make sure to grab a fresh-squeezed lemonade or iced coffee to pair with your sandwich.

Once you wind through the Northridge neighborhood, you will stumble across a hidden gem called Moore Memorial Park. Home to one of the largest shelters in Ames, the Big Bluestem Shelter can fit 100+, has electrical outlets, grills, plenty of picnic tables, and space to play.

Treats On A LeashAmes Dog Park

Picnics are great, but they are even better with your dog. Pack up your picnic basket and your pooch and head to Treats On A Leash on Main Street. Whether you are looking for a new toy, a bag of tasty bulk treats, or a festive bandana, there is something for every hound in this local shop.

A quick drive down Duff Avenue will take you and your pup to the Ames Dog Park. Take that new toy you bought and enjoy some off-leash fun. The park has both small and large dog areas, a walking path, and doggie drinking fountains.

North Grand Farmers’ MarketAda Hayden Heritage Park

If you are feelin’ a picnic on Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning, the North Grand Farmers’ Market is the perfect place to load up your basket. You will always find a selection of fresh veggies, honey, salsas, kettle corn and baked goods and might even get lucky and find some fresh, local meat you can throw on the grill!

Head north just a few minutes to Ada Hayden Heritage Park to enjoy your farmers’ market picks. Find picnic areas right near the entrance or take a stroll and find one that is a little more secluded. If you are a photographer or simply like nature, Ada Hayden is full of wetlands, lake views, native birds and wildlife that you can enjoy. Aside from the breathtaking views, you can also go fishing, biking, canoeing/kayaking and enjoy the miles of paved and crushed rock trails.

Erbert & Gerbert'sEmma McCarthy Lee Park

Ames’ newest sandwich shop, Erbert & Gerbert’s is quick, tasty and convenient. Pick your favorite meats, cheeses, and toppings and find your new favorite flavor. Make it a meal by adding a savory soup that you can’t find at your average sandwich shop.

Nestled in the middle of the woods in West Ames, Emma McCarthy Lee Park is off the beaten path, but a path you will want to check out! The park has multiple shelters and picnic areas where you can set up your spread while the kids play basketball, tennis, sand or volleyball. There is also walking paths and river that will lead you to create your own adventures.

Dutch Oven BakeryDurham Bandshell

Dutch Oven Bakery is a family-owned and operated scratch bakery that not only serves up cakes, pastries, and Dutch letters, but has a menu of homemade soups and sandwiches to fill your belly. You could also pick a pastry before heading to the Bandshell for Yoga in the Park on summer Saturday mornings. Because you know you’ll deserve it after sweating and stretching!

In the heart of downtown Ames, Durham Bandshell Park is the park where you can bring your own instrument and pretend you are in the Municipal Band! The site of weekly outdoor concerts during the summer, Bandshell Park is a hometown favorite. Not only can you catch some tunes in the evenings, it’s convenient location is close to many cafes and coffee shops where you can pick up a quick bite.

Wheatsfield Co-opBrookside Park

The Wheatsfield Deli Grab & Go and Deli Case is full of freshly prepared whole food organic dishes. Enjoy a large selection of salads, pasta, vegetables, dips, roasted chicken and more. Don’t forget to grab a flavorful, organic smoothie or juice made fresh and named after Ames’ historic streets and community parks.

Within walking or biking distance of the co-op, Brookside Park is a local favorite. Brookside has everything you would expect from your favorite park. Picnic tables, covered shelters available to rent, multiple playgrounds, wading pool, walking trails, tennis and sand volleyball courts are just the beginning. While you are there, make sure to snap a pic of the kids on the big red fire engine, a park staple.

Arcadia CafeIowa State Central Campus

Choose from a daily rotating selection of scones and muffins or pick up a fresh baguette and some local or regional cheeses at Arcadia Café on Welch Ave. Any of these choices pair perfectly with a coffee or other unique drink from their menu to enjoy on your picnic.

Especially in the summer months when there are fewer students, Iowa State’s Central Campus is ideal for relaxing. Alongside the typical picnic blankets, you will often find a group intermixed with the trees hanging out in hammocks. There are cozy, hidden spots to relax all over campus, so feel free to discover your own!

Depot Deli & Cookies, etc. - River Valley Park

What goes well with a sandwich? A freshly made cookie! Located in the former Northwestern depot on Main Street, you will find a menu of made-from-scratch sandwiches, soups, deli, salads and desserts perfect for a picnic. Plan ahead and they are happy to prepare box meals with your choice of specialty, vegetarian or build-your-own sandwiches a deli salad and cookie.

Head to nearby River Valley Park where you will find ball fields, sand volleyball courts, horseshoes, and two shelters where you can enjoy your feast. The shelters at this park would be ideal for a family reunion or summer birthday party!

Pick your park and pack your picnic. There are options galore to find your perfect outdoor dining experience. Try one, then try another, all summer long! For a full list of things to DO, STAY, EAT, and SHOP in Ames and the surrounding community, check out our event calendar at

Leave a Comment

  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    We love these perfect picnic pairings! Thanks so much for the post!
    Log in to reply.


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