By Allrecipes Editors
August 09, 2015

Autumn is the best time for picnics. Cool temperatures, colorful leaves, and sparse crowds make for a perfect excuse to get out and enjoy Mother Nature. So let's pull on our sweaters and hit the road! We've got recipes and tips to make your fall picnic perfect, whether you're traveling to a local park or further afield.

Fall Picnic Menu

Enjoy the changing of the season with a hearty autumn picnic. We've gathered together a fall-friendly menu featuring comforting soup, a gourmet sandwich, seasonal dessert, and simple snack.

Recipe creator John says, "This is a classic Italian sub sandwich with three kinds of meat and provolone cheese. The kind you get in a mom and pop pizza joint. You'll be glad you tried it!"

Reviewer Renee Ridgeway adds her tips: "Here's what you need to do to make these more authentic.... In step one, omit the lettuce, as it will only get soggy anyway. Instead of adding your dill pickle slices at the end of the recipe, chop them up along with the onion and tomatoes and add them here. After you let it sit and marinate in the fridge for an hour or so, you get this super delicious relish type of spread for your subs. Its the perfect match for the real Italian cold cuts!"

Italian Subs Restaurant Style
Photo by bd.weld

Serve Italian Subs with:

Picnic Stuff in the Back of the Truck
Pack up for the picnic | Photo by Meredith

Picnic Prep

The night before your picnic, make these simple preparations:

Assemble sandwiches and refrigerate. These hearty sub-style sandwiches get even better after they've had a chance for all the flavors to meld.

Make a seasonal dessert -- It's apple season! And you can't go wrong with apple bar cookies. Make and bake a batch of each at the same time. Let them cool overnight and cut in the morning.

Clean out and prepare a cooler or backpack. Stow sandwiches and any cold snacks or beverages in the fridge to chill overnight. Make or buy ice. Clean out the thermos so it is ready to fill in the morning.

Put ingredients for a fall soup in the slow cooker. Instead of cooking it on HIGH for 4 hours and LOW for 2 hours, just turn the dial to low right before bedtime, and cook while you sleep. Pour it into thermos in the morning.

Stock a galvanized tub or cooler with seasonal drinks. Break out the hard cider, pumpkin ale, or Oktoberfest beers.

Mix up some snacks. Trail or party mixes always tastes better when they're made from scratch. Also, a simple cheese board with crackers, fruit, chutneys, and assorted cheeses is always a winner in autumn.

For more ideas on pulling off the perfect autumn picnic, check out how to Create a Stylish Go Anywhere Anytime Picnic Kit, which includes tips on building a grab-and-go picnic kit.

See how to make these simple apple bars featuring apple butter, apple pie spice, and plump raisins.

On the morning of the picnic, you're in good shape. Cut your cookie bars and pack them in zip-top plastic bags or foil. Pack a cooler with ice and rearrange foods so everything stays cold. And fill up your Thermoses with hot soup.

This soup boasts a richly spiced broth filled with lentils, ham, and veggies. "Pair it up with cornmeal muffins and you have a great meal," says queendiva1.

Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup
Slow Cooker Lentil and Ham Soup | Photo by TTV78

Perfect Picnic Strategies

To enjoy autumn colors, drive the scenic back roads and rural routes. Getting there is half the fun.

Pick your perfect picnic spot. If the terrain is hilly, search out a high spot where the views are panoramic and set up your picnic. Check out national parks and local open space areas with walking or hiking trails. Pack your picnic in a backpack and hike to a scenic spot.

Picnic in the park. If you're staying in town, walk, bike, or take the bus to a local park and enjoy your picnic there. Sign up for a guided bus tour of a popular leaf-peeping route.

Scrapbook the memories. Have the kids collect different kinds of leaves to press and keep in a scrapbook. Bring along a pocket-size guide of local outdoor plants to help identify leaves. Lightweight binoculars come in handy, too, and remember to pack your camera and a waterproof picnic blanket.

Check out our collection of Picnic Recipes.