Summer Essentials for Picnics, Beaches, and Parks


Travel + Leisure / Tyler Roeland

Every so often, it’s the perfect day outside. I’m talking no clouds in the sky, sunny but not broiling, a cool breeze in your hair — the kind of perfect that takes you by surprise and makes you want to grab your best friends and go for a picnic.

In Boston, we got one of these days recently. I was running through my local park, the Charles River Esplanade, and was so envious of everyone’s set-ups, with their picnic blankets spread out, coolers at the ready, and their park games in progress.

It was enough to inspire this travel editor to create her very own stockpile of summer park essentials — or as I like to call it, my “beautiful day outside starter pack,” so the next time an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air rolls around, I’ll be ready (and prepared for all my camping and beach outings, too).

There’s never been a better time to stock up on supplies, either. With Amazon Prime Day just around the corner on July 11 and 12 (and massive savings in store for Prime members) there are already great deals to be found, not to mention the promise of free two-day shipping so you can get out there fast. Here’s what’s on my sunny day packing list, starting at just $7 at Amazon. 

Zaze Picnic Blanket


Step one is to lay down the perfect picnic blanket for all my friends to gather ’round. I’ve tested this one on my own rooftop, grass in the park, and sand at the beach, and I 100 percent recommend it. It’s big enough to seat 8 people, lightweight, and durable, and thanks to its waterproof polyester construction, no dirt or sand ever makes its way into my apartment when I pack up and head home. Plus, it folds up like a burrito that velcros shut and has an easy carrying handle. I’m also a fan of the equally water-resistant Nomadix Festival Blanket that I’ve heard rave reviews about from colleagues at Travel + Leisure, but I’d recommend snapping the Zaze model up while it’s a whopping 50 percent off right now.

To buy:, $30 (originally $60)

Hydro Flask Wine Tumblers


Now, I’m not endorsing packing wine for the park, but I am saying that enjoying a cool beverage is just better with my Hydro Flask tumblers. When I’m on the go, I trust these handy stainless steel cups to keep my drink contained (they have a splash-proof lid) and — most importantly — icy cold, even if it’s toasty outside. I love that Hydro Flask’s tumblers are BPA-free and dishwasher-safe, too.

To buy:, $25

Sunflora Picnic Backpack


What will I use to carry all my picnic food, tumblers, blanket, etc? A picnic backpack. I find it much more useful than your average traditional wicker picnic basket (but this one is definitely for you if you’re shopping for the aesthetic). This best-seller not only has easy-carry back straps, but also side buckles to carry a picnic blanket. The interior is perfectly organized, with a spot for forks and knives as well as cups, plates, and food. It even comes with a bamboo chopping board to make all those charcuterie dreams come true, plus a wine opener, wine glasses, and a waterproof food compartment — pretty much everything you need for a perfect picnic.

To buy:, $68 (originally $100)

Ewedoos Women’s Tennis Dress


The perfect summer uniform does not exi… — oh wait, it does. And I’ve seen this best-seller so often in my city on sunny days that I know I need to take a hint and buy one or two while they’re on sale. I can picture myself playing spikeball in it now, and maybe even pickleball, shopping, and summer strolls. With its stretchy nylon spandex construction that keeps it cool and comfortable, I know I’m going to live in it all summer long.

To buy:, $40 (originally $50)

Yeti Hopper Flip 8 Portable Soft Cooler


For lighter trips when I don’t need the charcuterie board, wine glasses, and everything but the kitchen sink from that picnic backpack I’m eyeing, I know I can count on this portable Yeti cooler to get the job done. It’s perfect for beach and park days that don’t include a whole picnic set up because it holds just the right amount — about a six-pack of cans — but still keeps them refreshingly cold and has a leak-proof zipper too. But between you and me, you don’t have to shell out for a Yeti — If you’re looking for the same for less, check out this highly rated Maelstrom Collapsible Soft Cooler Bag for just $39.

To buy:, $200

Spikeball Standard 3-Ball Kit


I’ve dabbled in badminton here and played a game or two of volleyball there, but I have never seen friend groups and families laugh as hard as when they play this ball game that’s perfect for the park — so I think it’s high time I invest. Amazon shoppers love its “easy set-up” and say the “gen-Z game” is “fun for the entire family.” Another who swears by it for trips to the beach says it is “fun and portable” and “much easier than setting up a volleyball net [and] more compact than corn hole.” Well, I’m sold.

To buy:, $62 (originally $70) 

Alpha Being Inflatable Lounger


The first time I saw this inflatable couch in the park, my jaw dropped and my envy soared to new levels. It’s such a genius idea for portable, lightweight seating that’s easy to set up but comfy enough to lounge in all day long. It doesn’t need an air pump to inflate and it even fits in its own carrying bag with a shoulder strap, so it’s no wonder travelers are packing it for everything from concerts to camping and everything in between. Trust me, you’re about to see this portable seating everywhere.

To buy:, $37 (originally $46)

JBL Flip 4 Portable Bluetooth Speaker


What’s the perfect sunny day without some good music? I swear by my JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth speaker for providing chill vibes while park lounging, days by the pool, rooftop parties, and camping. It pairs to my phone easily so I can load up my favorite playlist, and I find that the sound is clear and carries well. It can last 12 hours on a single charge, and it’s waterproof so I’m not afraid it’ll get ruined if I’m by the water. I might even upgrade to the JBL Flip 6 speaker while it’s on sale.

To buy:, $84 (originally $111)

Portable, Reusable Utensils


I once packed a picnic and forgot the utensils — we could eat the sandwiches, sure, but my poor salad went uneaten. That’s why I recommend having a few of these cutlery sets on deck for picnics or camping. This set of four comes in bright colors so you don’t forget who’s using which set, and each comes with a fork, knife, spoon, and chopsticks that pack up easily into a small container that can be slipped into a picnic bag in no time flat.

To buy:, $7

Kelty Low Loveseat Camping Chairs


If you’re setting up for the day (and why not, since it’s sunny and beautiful?) and you want to have the most comfortable set-up out there, I recommend this camping chair loveseat that has room for two. I love that it’s easy to set up and has insulated beverage holders, plus since it’s from Kelty, you know it’s a durable, quality product that will last for summers to come.

To buy:, $120 (originally $140)

Sport-Brella Versa-Brella SPF 50+ Adjustable Umbrella


Even though you want to enjoy the outdoors, shade (and sun protection) is key to having the perfect day ever. I’m looking at you, my friend who always gets a sunburn. This portable, SPF 50+ umbrella conveniently attaches to the side of a chair and folds down into a carrying case with a shoulder strap. I’m especially impressed since it has more than 34,800 five-star ratings at Amazon.

To buy:, $30

Bladerunner Rollerblades


The last time I willingly wore rollerblades, I was eight and I ended up with a scar on my chin. I’m determined to try it again after seeing so many in my neighborhood with the breeze in their hair. It’s a good way to get some exercise and commute to the park quickly, too. I have my eye on this top-of-the-line pair that’s supportive and especially good for beginners, but I’m also tempted by these cool Bobicom Illuminating Roller Skates for Kids and Adults.

To buy:, $105

Kindle Paperwhite


I love a paperback book for solo days in the park or at the beach, but sometimes there’s just not enough room and physical books get heavy. So when I’m packing up for a day outside, I usually turn to my Kindle e-reader, which can hold 8GB of books — a little library — in one small device. The Paperwhite is especially ideal for outdoor use since it’s waterproof and there’s no glare off the paper-like screen. Oh, and you can adjust the font size, which you just can’t do with a real book.

To buy:, $140

Owala Water Bottle


I just can’t seem to stop buying water bottles, but thanks to this popular, insulated stainless steel one it looks like I won’t be stopping anytime soon. What? Hydration is key! I first noticed these brightly colored bottles because they’ve been taking over social media with more than 85 million views on TikTok alone, and people are raving that they not only keep your water cold but also have an easy-sip spout with a locking push-button that keeps it leak-free. Plus, unlike the Stanley Quencher I love, it also has a carry loop for easy transport.

To buy:, $25 (originally $28) 

Kootek Camping Hammock


My ideal day includes me lounging in a hammock set up between two trees, a view of the sunset over the water, and a book in my hand. This one with more than 23,800 five-star ratings from Amazon shoppers could just be the perfect one to try it out. One shopper raved, “I love this product because it’s so compact and so easy to set up. No matter how far away the trees are, it always seems like you can use this without a problem which is amazing.” At $12, it’s a no-brainer. Camping, park days, and backyard hangs, here I come.

To buy:, $12 (originally $30)

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