How to Picnic in The Park

Nearly 150 picnic areas, along with picnic shelters and pavilions, are available for rent throughout Milwaukee County. If you’re counting on having picnic tables for your party, or plan on drinking alcohol, grilling, or putting up a tent or bounce house, you'll need to reserve a site. Otherwise, set down your blanket and open that picnic basket!

Here's our guide to #MKEthemost of picnics in the park

How to reserve a picnic area

  • The Picnic Season runs May 1 through Oct. 15
  • You must have a permit if you want to reserve picnic tables, drink alcohol, grill, or set up a tent, bounce house, petting zoo, or pony rides.
  • A minimum of seven days notice is needed to reserve a site.
  • Your rental permit reserves your site for a full day, from 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Rental rates are based on the size of your group. 
  • Get details on the sites and call (414) 257-8005 to check availability.

Prime picnic sites go quickly, so start planning! Visit our website here to learn about reservable picnic sites, their capacities, and park attractions.

Picnics with a Brew
or "King of the Grill" Picnics

Picnic permits allow for alcoholic beverages to be served (to those 21 years+ only!) but not to be sold.

For a cookout, bring your grill to your reserved picnic site (any site except Cool Waters). You can also have an above-ground pig-roast (just no digging). When you’re through grilling, have water on hand to douse hot coals before putting them in the hot-coals barrel available at each reserved picnic site.

Rain-Proof Outdoor Picnics

If you need a back-up plan for poor weather, or you want easy access to restrooms, rent one of the picnic sites with a shelter and adjacent restrooms, such as the new shelters at Doctors #1 and Kern #3 (pictured above), or the historic shelter at Grant #5A (complete with carvings by WPA artists). Restrooms are open to the public during your rental. An alternative is to bring a tent to your reserved picnic area and secure it with sandbags, weights, or water barrels—no staking is allowed.