Want to romance your sweetheart with a picnic on Lake Erie? Here’s where to go and what to pack.

Pack a picnic and wow your date on the shores of Lake Erie.

The concept is deceptively simple: a little food al fresco. But a picnic shows your thoughtfulness. Add a plaid blanket in a classic basket, and you’ve got a picturesque setting that will make your Instagram followers swoon.

We haven’t quite reached beach season in Northeast Ohio. But a warm spring weekend is perfect for an afternoon of lounging, to kick off your shoes, uncork a bottle of wine (where park rules permit alcohol, of course) and enjoy the scenery and each other. Bike to your destination. Or take a stroll on the sand after you eat. Or picnic at sunset and watch the oranges and pinks stretch across the sky.

You can do classic turkey sandwiches, a bunch grapes and a bag of kettle chips. Or to really impress, how about a crusty baguette and a round of Brie? You want something hearty, food that tastes good cold, that you can eat with your hands without too much fuss (or muss).

Suggestions for classic picnic fare:

  • chicken salad sandwiches
  • fried chicken
  • potato salad
  • broccoli salad
  • veggies, especially carrot sticks, pea pods and cherry tomatoes
  • hummus or ranch dip
  • strawberries

For dessert, who could resist chocolate chip cookies? Or if you’re really ambitious, a slice of rhubarb or apple pie?

Romance the Lake is a monthly  RocktheLake series brought to you by Peter & Co. Jewelers in Avon Lake.  Throughout 2018, we’ll bring you the most swoonworthy stories of love on the lake. Because Lake Erie not only rocks, it romances.

Pack your food in sturdy plastic ware, to avoid broken glass or smushed Ziplock bags. Bring plastic plates to make it easier to share. A few other accoutrements to show off your picnic-planning prowess.

  • A waterproof blanket, or tablecloth
  • Wine or beer opener
  • Napkins. Make them cloth to perfect the presentation.
  • Utensils
  • Travel salt and pepper shakers
  • An ice pack
  • Plastic bags for garbage
  • Bug spray and sunscreen

Now, where to go for your romantic meal? Here are six parks we suggest, plus spots to pick up a picnic to go, if you’re short on time (or culinary talent).

1. Lakeview Park, Lorain: A favorite picnic spots since the 1920s, the park offers picnic shelters, and a beach.

Get takeout: Check the longest full-service meat counter in the United States at Fligners Market, 1854 Broadway Avenue. Just know they close at 2 p.m. on Sundays.

2. Huntington Beach, Bay Village: Pick out a shady picnic table on the grassy bluff, or spread out a blanket near a breakwall on the Cleveland Metroparks beach. Finish off your afternoon with Honey Hut ice cream from the concession stand.

Get takeout: Pick up salads and sandwiches, plus craft beer and wine at Gitta’s Table and Wine Shop, 32457 Lake Road in Avon Lake.

3. Lakewood Park, Lakewood: This 31-acre park features the Sunset Steps along the lakefront, the perfect spot to sit at the end of the day.

Get takeout: Constantino’s Market, 18120 Sloane Ave. in Lakewood, has organic produce selection, fresh baked goods and a large selection of vegan/vegetarian options.

4. Voinovich Park, Cleveland: Watch the downtown skyscrapers shimmer in the sunset where the city meets the lake. Take a cute selfie with the Cleveland sign or combine your date with a ride on the Goodtime III.

Get takeout: Order a flight of guacamole from Nuevo Modern Mex, right on the park, or order sandwiches from the All Access Cafe at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

5. Sims Park, Euclid: Sit in the shadow of the historic Henn Mansion, or take your picnic to the pier.

Get takeout: Order pizza, calzones or burgers from Beach Club Bistro, 21939 Lakeshore Blvd. in Euclid.

6. Lake Erie Bluffs, Perry Township: Stroll two miles of lakefront, watch for birds and climb a 50-foot observation tower before or after your picnic.

Have another favorite spot to picnic? Tell us on Facebook.