How to Plan the Perfect Bayside Picnic in San Diego

Volleyball game at Bayside picnic

San Diego’s 40,000 acres of park space beckon residents and visitors to play outside year-round. If you’ve ever picnicked in any of these parks, you’d understand why they have been recognized as some of the best picnic spots in America.

Whether you are planning a small social gathering or a large corporate picnic, our full-service picnic team with over 30 years of experience will be there to ensure a successful day, from beginning to end.

Here’s some insight into what you should know about making your next San Diego social or corporate picnic unforgettable!

Planning a San Diego Picnic Near the Water

Picnics aren’t just for families. Companies often choose to have annual picnics as well. Gathering employees outside to enjoy delicious picnic food and bonding activities aids in strengthening team morale, among other benefits of hosting a company picnic. And with Picnic People by your side, logistics can be a breeze.


Picnics by the bay and on local beaches are ideal locations. A few favorites are:

Mission Bay
The largest man-made aquatic park in the country, this is a waterfront enthusiast’s heaven! With white sand beaches, warm water and playgrounds, picnic locations within Mission Bay Park are fun for the whole family.

Torrey Pines State Beach
Located in La Jolla, this beach spans 4 ½ miles and is famous for its sandstone cliffs and secluded location. Although dogs are not allowed anywhere on the premises, you can enjoy surfing, fishing, walks on the beach and any other planned picnic activities.

Shoreline Park
Enjoy the sunset and watch boats pass by during your picnic at this bayside San Diego park. Guests will enjoy the soft winds and great views of the downtown area while munching on delicious picnic food!

You can also reference this list of desirable picnic locations. Not all picnic locations have water access. Be sure to decide your event priorities before obtaining a permit, as you don’t want guests bringing bathing suits and beach towels to a party in the grass.

Day of the Week

Sundays are great days to picnic during the busy summer season. There are typically fewer people, which means more open space for your festivities. If you’d rather have a picnic on a weekday, that’s no problem. We operate 7 days a week! Fridays tend to be the most popular weekday. Knowing you get to play near the water at the end of the week can motivate you through any work challenges.

If you want a Saturday picnic, we can arrive as early as 4 AM to secure a picnic area. Unless a permit specifies an exclusive location, the rules stand as “first come gets the best spot.”


The City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department requires that all picnics have a permit. The rules and regulations are different for each park district. We are happy to take care of all the legalities for you.

Preparing for a Bayside Picnic

Besides getting your guests hyped up for their San Diego picnic by the water, there are a few other elements to plan.

Traditional Picnic Food

A picnic wouldn’t be complete without the grill going. Our three BBQ menus always include the freshest ingredients and only the best USDA Grade A choice beef. Beside the traditional Grill-Out BBQ Menu, consider the Country Menu with its mouth-watering Carolina hand-pulled BBQ pork sandwiches. We also have the Hawaiian Menu with tender boneless and skinless Hawaiian chicken thighs marinated in tangy teriyaki sauce and finished on the grill with a sweet teriyaki glaze.

If you are imagining something different for your picnic by the bay, choose one of the nine menus from our “summer favorites” collection.

Importance of Safety

Whichever food you decide to serve, be sure to keep food safety in mind. Hot food should stay hot, and cold food should stay cold. For more detailed information on how to maintain picnic food safety, take a look at Lisa Richards tips in Catersource Magazine.

If you want us to grill with charcoal, we will dispose of the coal properly. Burying coals in the sand or placing them on the ground is forbidden for obvious safety reasons.

Picnic Clean-Up

This is an important part of the planning process, as you don’t want to get a fine for improper waste disposal. Recycle bins tend to be few and far between. It’s common to haul out your recyclables and put trash in the park dumpster. Remember to tie it well to prevent seagulls from spreading trash in the grass. Your fellow picnickers and the nearby bay and ocean will thank you!

Picnic Tents and Pets in the Parks

Bring a pop-up tent for some shade and be sure to bring four weight bags to prevent the wind from blowing your tent into the water. Most parks only allow leashed pets during certain hours—usually early morning and dusk. Rangers will write tickets during peak hours. Check with your professional picnic planner about animal policies or look up the park rules online for information.

Enjoying Your Picnic Near the San Diego Bay

Free beaches and bayside parks are popular places for some fun activities. Remind guests to bring a bathing suit, towel, and sunscreen, because your bayside picnic with water access will certainly tempt most people to try out the water. Paddleboats, aqua cycles, sail boats and paddle boards are a few favorites.

For land dwellers, these grass and sand games will bring out everyone’s competitive edge:

  • Frisbee golf in the sand
  • Sand castle building competition: Seashells, seaweed and driftwood add a beautiful seaside touch to the masterpieces
  • Bocce ball
  • Cornhole and volleyball are allowed (and encouraged) at a bay picnic

If you want to plan a San Diego bayside picnic for 25 to 25,000 guests but can’t imagine how you’d do it, we are here to help. Our friendly, professional staff takes all of your obligations and gives you time to have fun!

To start planning your bayside picnic in San Diego, contact us online or call us at 858-586-1717.

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