A day in the park

Published 7:50 pm Monday, May 21, 2012

Todd and Lauran Harrell relax during a picnic at Sleepy Hole Golf Course. There are plenty of great picnic spots in Suffolk, if one knows where to look.

Few activities are more likely to result in lasting memories of warm springtime fun than the traditional picnic.

Whether it consists of a peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich meal followed by an hour on the playground or a made-to-order affair with food provided by one of the city’s locally famous markets followed by a romantic sunset over the Nansemond River, a picnic in Suffolk can provide a great opportunity for family bonding or even the blooming of a summertime romance.

Since Suffolk has the distinction of being a growing suburban community in a vast rural setting, at any given time there are countless couples and families looking for a chance to get outside and enjoy some time together.


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Following are some of our favorite picnic spots around the city.

Bennett’s Creek Park

Bennett’s Creek Park features 57 acres, packed with three boat ramps that access the Nansemond River through Bennett’s Creek, as well as tennis courts, restrooms, covered shelters for reserved use, a nature trail, open fields, a disc golf course and a crabbing and fishing pier with handicap access that is currently being rebuilt. A new skate park opened there in 2011. You’ll find plenty of places to spread out a blanket and enjoy the day.

Lake Meade Park

This 69-acre park is centrally located near downtown Suffolk. The park includes the largest children’s playground in the city, KidsZone Community Playground, and Howard Mast Tennis Complex (10 courts, four of which are lighted). Other amenities include parking, covered shelters for reserved use, restrooms, a walking loop, a skateboard spot, picnic tables and benches. If you want your kids to burn off some steam after lunch, this is just the place to take them.

Lone Star Lakes Park

Lone Star Lakes offers 11 lakes for freshwater fishing, nature trails and picnic areas with tables and grills. There’s also a playground, a four-mile horse trail, archery range, model airplane flying field, fishing and crabbing pier, shoreline fishing areas, and plenty of flora and fauna. Lone Star Lakes is one of the best and most accessible places in Suffolk to go and sit quietly while waiting to see some wildlife. It’s not unusual to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle soaring high overhead.

Sleepy Hole Park

Sleepy Hole Park is home to a variety of natural areas, 12 picnic shelters available for reservation, volleyball areas, horseshoe courts, a children’s playground, restrooms, open space and breathtaking views of the Nansemond River. There’s a pond for fishing, wide open spaces for just about any family sporting activity one could imagine and great trails where the kids can imagine they’re exploring the wilderness.

Lake Cohoon

Culpepper Boats now operates the Lake Cohoon Fishing Station, located off Pitchkettle Road at the dam that separates Lake Cohoon and Lake Meade. There are several picnic tables available, including some for the handicapped, and a great view of Lake Cohoon to be had from any of them, but the main attraction is the fishing. Day passes are available for folks who want to fish from the shore after having lunch, and boats and motors can be rented for those who’d like to take their fishing — and maybe their picnic, too — on the water.

Other parks in Suffolk with picnic areas include:

  • Coulbourn Park, 321 E. Constance Road
  • Cypress Park and Pool, 2001 Arizona Ave.
  • Holland Park and Athletic Fields, 6720 Ruritan Blvd.
  • Ida Easter Park, 724 Brook Ave.
  • Lake Kennedy Park, 1300 Blythewood Lane
  • Magnolia Park, 4600 Magnolia Drive
  • Mary Estes Playground, 220 Hunter St.
  • Planters Park, 414 York St.
  • Pughsville Park, 5041 Townpointe Road