If you’re like me, you’re looking at the calendar these days wondering how to get the most out of the final drops of summer. The vacay is over, the fireworks are shot, the pool has perhaps lost its charm, but still… freedom! There’s only a few weeks left until school! So what to do?
Something we do as a family to soak up the season is dine alfresco, whether on our own deck, a patio when we eat out, or just taking some take out to a park. It’s simple, it’s “duh,” but it’s also something we definitely don't do in October (or because it's Tennessee, whenever the cold weather decides to hit).
Local spots offer great ways for families to take it outside come mealtime with a fun place to ramble before and after. Whether you want to pack it up yourself or take advantage of food trucks onsite, check out these four unique places for picnics.
1. Morning Glory Orchard
If you haven’t taken the short drive to Nolensville in a while, you’re missing out on this roadside gem. Known for golden peaches in summer and a wonderful variety of apples in fall, Morning Glory Orchard is a delightful hub of homegrown goodness including honey, juices, fresh jams and homemade donuts. Their “Picnic in the Orchard” series on Thursdays-Saturdays allows families to take in the lush beauty of the property while enjoying a customized charcuterie board, fresh fruit slushies, fruit-infused waters, and even the organic bug spray and board games! Reservations are required, and they fill up quick! Tickets start at $90/two people. Find available days and tickets at morninggloryorchard.com.
2. Arrington Vineyards
Sometimes I mentally still associate Arrington Vineyards with date night, but the reality is that it’s perfect for the family. Pack up the picnic basket or bring the takeout, or choose from their ample charcuterie options in their shop. You can also pick from the gourmet Southern bites at Simply Living Life on the property to go along with a glass of Red Fox Red, Stag's White, or a tasting flight. With the meal taken care of, hang out in the main concert area for jazz or head over to the barn for some of the best Bluegrass in the state. And yes, kids and dancing are encouraged! Kick off your weekends with food truck Fridays featuring fine cuisine like Il Forno and Chang Noi Thai-Lao Fusion. Get the updates on their Facebook page or at arringtonvineyards.com
3. Hop Springs
This beer park has made a name for itself with its signature brews and stellar outdoor amenities. The rumors are true and family members of all ages and breeds (four-footed family members can enjoy the bark park!) can all get in on disc golf, corn hole, fire pits, and hiking on the rolling hills. Don’t imbibe? No problem. Try the homemade root beer on tap or grab other bottled drinks from the fridge to pair with dishes from frequent flier food trucks like Rickenbacher Pizza, My Roots Curbside Culinary, I Take It, and more. Check out their calendar for who will be on stage this month or plan around one of their game nights on their Facebook page or at hopspringstn.com.
4. Friday Night Market in the BORO at Cannonsburgh Village
I know take-out and a movie at home is a great Friday night, but why not mix it up? This weekly food truck event has to be one of the happiest local happenings to come after Covid, with music, food trucks, and a locally-made market held every week at the city’s historic pioneer village. Choose dinner from a host of meals on wheels favorites and spread out on a blanket or table. Peruse the merchant stalls awhile and clap along to the tunes. Don’t forget to tour littles around to the Rawlings Tractor Shed or go for a climb on the CSX freight car. Find out who's dishing each week by following the event on Facebook at https://fb.me/e/2YwJN3FOc.
Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama and Murfreesboro native who lives in the Blackman community with her husband and two children. Follow her at @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram. Got a column idea? Email her at email@example.com.