First published on 19 Mar 2012. Updated on 7 Jun 2012.
Northside: Edinburgh Gardens are the most obvious choice to plonk down a blanket, hamper, and a couple of Rekorderligs. Expect the occasional errant frisbee and hungover hipsters ironically sunning their skinny-jeaned frames. It’s only a cricket-ball’s throw from Fitzroy staple Piedemontes as well as a slew of excellent cafes and bars, so you’ll never be short of locally sourced food and kicking-on hotspots.
If that’s too mainstream for you, hit up Princes Park. It’s incredibly fixie-friendly, and the further you stray toward Parkville, the more hilly and picturesque it gets.
Otherwise, the triumvirate of Treasury/Fitzroy/Carlton Gardens are all you need – each park manages to pull off tree-lined serenity even though they’re bordered by the city’s main arteries.
Southside: Elwood Park is a standout of St Kilda’s range of awesome coastline parks. It can get pretty busy on the weekends, but if you’re after a sunkissed meal/people-watching sesh, you can’t go past this beautiful waterfront spot. It’s got the added advantage of being right next to the best of St Kilda’s nightlife.
If it’s privacy you’re after, try St Vincent Gardens in Albert Park. It’s fairly small, but totally suburban-idyllic and accessible by tram. It’s the perfect Sunday morning park – a short walk from the South Melbourne Market. Further south and just a little inland is Alma Park. You’re guaranteed privacy in this under-appreciated wee gem.
Though they straddle the Yarra, the Royal Botanic Gardens truly belong to the South. Along with a ton of riverside spots, the Gardens boast the gorgeous Ornamental Lake and a bunch of flora and fauna (in the form of like-minded picnickers). It’s packed with vistas and history alike, and you’ll never struggle to find a peaceful spot.
The champion: South