Picnic Pairings: Goodale Park + North Market

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

Goodale Park

Union troops used to camp in Goodale Park during the Civil War. Now, one weekend out of the year, the oldest park in Columbus hosts a wilder and more colorful army called ComFest.

With shade trees galore, tennis courts, a gazebo, movie and concert programs, Downtown views and convenient Short North proximity, this beautiful, history-rich swath of urban greenery is practically screaming for you to picnic in it. Plenty of tables will accommodate this.

Frankly, I prefer pitching a blanket under a tree near the amoeba-shaped pond. There, while gazing at the layer-cake fountain capped by two giddy elephants shooting water from their trunks - another witty Malcolm Cochran creation honoring the once-huge Sells Brothers Circus (the Sells Mansion is just off the park) - your everyday routine will evaporate into a rejuvenating getaway that takes only as long as a sweet little lunch. Sometimes that's enough.

The North Market

Both pioneering and old-school, the North Market - where Jeni Britton Bauer got her once-humble start - was nothing less than the incubator for our local food revolution. It still sets the standard for Columbus markets. And it's a great place to load up for a delicious, "I'm lazy" picnic.

Start with a market circuit to pick up: beverages from Barrel and Bottle; superior Curds and Whey cheeses (try a soft and buttery/brie-like d'Affinois offset by a fabulous, salty and firm - if still creamy - Pecorino Toscano); soft and chewy handmade Brezel Pretzel Twists; a beautiful baguette (for mini-wiches) along with a light yet lush creme fraiche cheesecake piece from Omega; spicy tuna roll from Nida's; and Pam's awesome, awesome, awesome Cheddar and Caramel popcorn.

Then head to North Market Poultry and Game - one of the best picnic stations in town - for: superlative, meaty and mayo-restrained chicken salads (variously enlivened by curry, leeks and lemon zest, Buffalo sauce, caramelized onions and barbecue sauce - all phenomenal); tangy and up-there-with-the-best baked beans; oniony slaw; mac-n-cheese (think artisanal Creamettes); and shouldn't-be-this-good pasta and macaroni salads.

Then call me. I can meet you under that tree near the Goodale pond in 10 minutes.

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Photos by Meghan Ralston

North Market Poultry & Game

Sides: $3

Chicken salads: $6

Omega Artisan Bakery

Creme Fraiche Cheesecake: $4

Baguette: $4

Pam's Chicago Style Popcorn: $5

Brezel pretzel sticks: $1/each

Nida's Spicy Tuna Roll: $6.50

Curds & Whey cheeses: prices vary

Cover: Picnic Pairings: North Market

North Market + Goodale Park

Distance: .2 miles

Drive time: n/a (park once and walk!)

Walk time: 5 minutes