July is National Picnic Month and it’s the perfect time to visit a Rhode Island park for fun with friends and family. Sharing a picnic lunch is a perfect way to relax, but you need to take special precautions to keep food safe while away from home. Follow these precautions to keep everyone safe and check out one of Rhode Island’s best picnic spots for a little adventure.
Maintain Food Temperatures
If you want to eat hot cooked food or refrigerated food on a picnic, it is very important you store food properly. Food must be either hot or cold to stop bacteria growth. If food temperatures reach between 40F and 140F you risk food borne illness.
Pack cold perishable foods such as raw poultry, seafood, meat, and eggs into an insulated cooler just before you’re ready to leave. Keep cooked foods and cut fruit cold, too. Ensure you add plenty of ice or several ice packs; then close the lid tightly and do not open it unless absolutely necessary. Keep the cooler out of the sun while you drive and when you arrive at your picnic spot.
If you intend to grill meats at the picnic site, use a meat thermometer to check it’s cooked sufficiently. Freshly cooked or reheated meat requires an internal temperature of 165 F. Don’t leave cooked meat off the heat for more than two hours either. If it is above 90 degrees, reduce the time to an hour.
A common cause of food borne illness is contamination. Ensure you have clean water available and wash your hands with warm soapy water or moist toilettes before and after handling food.
Be sure to seal raw meats and poultry well so their juices do not drip into the cooler and contaminate other foods. Cover any cut items with plastic wrap or store them in individual containers.
Pick a Park
You may already have a preferred spot for a picnic, but if you want to explore a new location. Here are 5 picnic gems you might want to consider in Rhode Island.
Waterplace Park, Providence
If you live in Providence and want to stick close to home, Waterplace Park is the ideal setting for a picnic because it’s in the middle of the city. Spread your blanket out on the lawn overlooking the water and enjoy a bit of tranquillity, or have an evening picnic and watch the flames on WaterFire nights.
Fort Adams State Park, Newport
Fort Adams State Park offers an exceptional panoramic view of both Newport Harbor and an extensive area for picnics. You can see Jamestown as well as several lighthouses in the distance. The historic fort is a magnificent backdrop for a mini-getaway and during the summer you can also take in many concerts.
Colt State Park, Bristol
This is a great family park with plenty of shade, clean restrooms, and beaches, marshes, and grassy fields for the kids to run free. Pack the picnic basket, sunscreen, and beach pails and make an afternoon of it.
Green Animals Topiary Garden, Portsmouth
This is one of the oldest topiary gardens in the country and an excellent spot to view whimsical creations and escape the Newport crowds. You can get a map from the Preservation Society of Newport County, find all the animals, and then settle down for a peaceful lunch overlooking the water. It’s amazingly tranquil and the ideal location to wind down after viewing the mansions.
Chase Farm, Lincoln
This is a great place to bring the kids and your dog, and it’s only 15 minutes outside of Providence. It’s no longer a working farm, but the town bought the land and kept the name. It has two hill areas perfect for picnics, a freshwater pond, and walking trails that pass large open fields, a garden, and a tunnel of trees.
Mowry Conservation Area, Smithfield
If you prefer to stay out of the sun, Mowry Conversation Area is picnic heaven. This forested area features a wooden bridge, ponds, streams, and the ruins of an old mill. You can wander one of the two hiking trails after your picnic to unwind and burn off a few calories.
Rhode Island has hundreds of picnic spots for short getaways. Store your food properly and find a park. You don’t have to go far, but a pleasant picnic can leave you feeling rejuvenated and it’ll get you out into the fresh air.