Marine layer in the morning, long lines at Disneyland, and concerts in the park (or the beach or pier) signal the official start of summertime in Southern California. Although there’s nothing we can do about overcast skies or wait times that feel like rush hour on the 405, there are plenty of ways to crank up your game when it comes to gathering gear for the perfect picnic.
Elevate your dining experience. Pack one table, or set two or three end-to-end for a larger group – depending on available space. Table-in-a-Bag, $49. Crate and Barrel
Forget the phone flashlight. See your food, set the mood. Solar Puffs are ultra lightweight, collapsible, origami-inspired cubes that glow with captured sunlight. $30. SoLight-Design.com
Take a load off. Wheel up to 150 pounds of food, supplies and kids in style. Collapsible steel-frame Coleman Camp Wagon with carry bag. $119.95. CrateandBarrel.com
Sound system/portable charger
The party doesn’t have to end when the band stops playing. The wireless, waterproof BoomBottle+ offers 360-degree sound, fits into a cup holder and has USB ports to charge other devices. $179.99. Scosche.com
Fill an insulated growler with a favorite beverage. (Whether it’s an adult beverage is up to you, and park rules.) Hydro Flask, a 64-ounce wide-mouth growler with double wall insulation and carry system. $64.95. HydroFlask.com
Upgrade the carryall. This rugged, waterproof Yeti Two 30 tote promises to keep ice cold for days without leaking, $349.99. Yeti.com
Lightweight, unbreakable acrylic plates have come a long way. Many styles are so beautiful it’s hard to tell them apart from their porcelain cousins. Make your tabletop the Instagrammable envy of the park. Pack a plastic bag to carry home dirty dishes. $120 for Floreale’s 12-piece Melamine dinner set with four appetizer plates. SurLaTable.com
Go for the gold or silver with disposable plastic knives, forks and spoons that look like the real thing. $2.33 for 24 silver plastic forks. Wal-Mart
Grill, baby grill
Smells like summer. Consider inviting a picnic-sized grill to the party. The Lotus Grill is a portable, travel-sized grill with carrying case that cranks up heat quickly using a battery-powered fan that ignites coals inside a closed mesh container. Make sure your venue allows grills before you go. $299. SurLaTable.com
Time for a picnic
Feeling inspired? There are plenty of summertime concerts and other happenings around Southern California. Start by checking with your local park services — and check any rules about what you can and cannot bring to the party. Then, pack a picnic and go. Here are just a few we found:
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Bonnie McCarthy contributes to the Los Angeles Times as a home and lifestyle design writer. She enjoys scouting for directional trends and reporting on what’s new and next. Follow her on Twitter @ThsAmericanHome