Provided hay fever hasn’t gotten you down, there’s nothing quite like stretching out on a lawn with friends to share a couple of drinks. Punters are allowed to consume alcohol (responsibly) during daylight hours in most city parks and gardens, so why not follow our Outdoor Mixing recipes and head to some of these top spots with a rug, food, drink and friends.

North

Carlton Gardens
You’ve clocked off work and want to catch the last of some glorious afternoon sun. If you’re staring out the window of a CBD office, bolt for Carlton Gardens. Situated smack bang between the CBD and Fitzroy, there are enough shady spots and open grassy areas to keep everyone happy. Meet your friends at the fountain for a Friday evening tipple, then head for Gertrude Street and beyond for a meal.
1–111 Carlton Street, Carlton

Edinburgh Gardens
Sure, it gets rowdy at the start of the New Year, but Edinburgh Gardens endures for a reason. It’s one of the best in the inner city. Easily accessible from any direction, dog friendly, bike friendly, equipped with barbecues, toilets, a skate bowl, heck, there’s even a ping-pong table. Bring your pets (or befriend those of other park-goers), batch up some cocktails and kick back on a lazy Sunday, surrounded by a few hundred folks doing similar.
Alfred Crescent, Fitzroy North

Street picnics
Come spring time, you’ll find Melbourne’s denizens picnic-ing on nature strips across the inner city. There are a number of wide, leafy nature strips in the Carlton and Brunswick East area, but the best spots are on Canning Street (AKA the bike highway) and Drummond Street between McPherson and Pigdon Streets in North Carlton. It’s a perfect option for an impromptu drink, especially for those in the area who don’t have a backyard.

South

Queen Victoria Gardens
Spend the morning perusing the NGV, then cross over to Queen Victoria Gardens to catch a talk on art and design at MPavilion. The architectural event hub is running between October to February 2016 and is a prime spot at which to make the most of Melbourne’s arts programs over sandwiches and a champagne cocktail.
St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Royal Botanic Gardens
A leisurely stroll from Flinders Street Station and a brief walk past the morning joggers will find you in a 36-hectare oasis. Head straight to one of the lawns surrounding the lake. Pack a cheese plate, some gin and fresh fruits, or stop by Shannon Bennett’s Jardin Tan for some fancy banh mi. There’s a plethora of open spaces at which to camp out for the day here – bring a Frisbee and a good group of friends.
Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne

St Kilda Botanical Gardens
Whether counting down the Triple J Hottest 100 or kicking the footy with your mates, St Kilda Botanical Gardens feels more like a well-kept neighbourhood park than a tea-sipping type of garden. Bring an Esky, a couple of beers and watch the sun set.
Blessington Street, St Kilda

East

Fitzroy Gardens
Fitzroy Gardens often gets overlooked for the nearby Carlton Gardens, but the endless lawns in East Melbourne are just as beautiful. Pack some Pimm’s, grab an ice cream or two at Spring Street grocer by Parliament House, then hot foot it to a space here. Wander through the photogenic Conservatory (built in 1930) where you can take in the season’s blooms, or just use it as a photo-op.
Parliament House, East Melbourne

Studley Park Boathouse
According to popular wisdom, spring is the season for love, new life and all the other corny stuff that happens when flowers bloom. So if a lover’s picnic is what you’re angling for, we suggest Studley Park Boathouse. Hire a rowboat and head down the Yarra, all the while feeding your significant other canapés and champagne (and ultimately make everybody else sick from how adorable you look).
1 Boathouse Road, Kew

West

Footscray Park
With the Spring Racing Carnival just around the corner, Footscray Park is in prime position to accommodate racegoers. With views of both Flemington racecourse and the Maribyrnong River, it’s best to get in early to claim your space. Outside of the races, Footscray Park is a great place for a stroll after you’ve stuffed yourself silly in town.
South bank of the Maribyrnong River, Footscray