Fresh air, blue skies, the feeling of grass between your toes, and a basket full of goodies! Roll up the checkered blanket, pack up some treats, and don't forget the bug spray! With the warm weather upon us, picnic season has officially begun! Now more than ever, this classic pastime has become the latest trend in spending some quality (socially distanced) time together.
Hosting a picnic can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. For essential items, there's the blanket, basket and all-important bevvies. Sure, the menu can range from sandwiches to cheese and crackers or a full-on MasterChef feast, but the most important element of a perfect picnic is the location. Parks are a great go-to destination for finding a spot on the grass, but if you want to add a little extra pizzazz to your picnic game, check out our picks for the best areas to enjoy a fun afternoon in the shade or sun.
THE CLASSIC PICNIC PARKS
Trinity Bellwoods – Hip and happening, it's officially and literally a scene of social circles with lots of space to spread out your blanket, catch some rays, make a splash in the wading pool, or simply keep a lookout for the park's infamous white squirrel.
High Park – Discover a natural haven with over 400 acres, in Toronto's largest and oldest park. Explore extensive hiking trails, visit the museum or zoo, and then find your perfect spot by the pond, under a cherry blossom tree, or in 18 designated picnic areas.
Withrow Park – Located just off the Danforth in Greektown (grab some souvlaki to go) this park is a hub for celebrating culture. Fully stocked with baseball fields, outdoor tennis courts, a volleyball court, a wading pool, an off-leash dog area, and a playground. In addition, there's the very popular "Dusk Dances" to enjoy – an enchanting outdoor dance festival that makes people picnic at dusk.
AN ISLAND GETAWAY
Ward's Island Beach – Hop on the ferry with your picnic essentials and head over to the easternmost part of Centre Island. Here you will find a charming, quiet island community vibe, with a lengthy sandy beach that invites a refreshing dip in the lake.
Scarborough Bluffs – Set a place to picnic amongst some of the area's most breathtaking scenery, with wildflower meadows and incredible views of the escarpment and lake. Wander the pathways through nine parks along the bluffs, making sure to stop at Bluffer's Park and score one of the few picnic tables along its sandy beach.
THIS WAY TO THE BEACHES
KEW - Balmy Beach - KEW Garden is a lively public venue in the Beaches neighbourhood, with lots of grassy spots and a central bandstand. Just a few feet away, KEW Beach connects with Balmy Beach, inviting a picturesque sandy escape featuring man-made rock "fingers", reaching out into the lake to preserve the narrow beach.
Woodbine Beach – Picnic while witnessing a great serve! This active waterfront beach is home to over 90 beach volleyball courts, with plenty of sand for sunbathing and swimming too!
Cherry Beach – Pet-friendly picnics welcome! This part of the waterfront has more of a grassy presence with picnic tables and grills. There's plenty of sand, and the water's great for SUP and surfboarding post picnic.
HIKE, BIKE & BASKET
Etienne Brule Park – Work up an appetite for your picnic by cycling the trails along the Humber River in Toronto's west end. Find the perfect spot to fish before heading to one of the many picnic points.
Don River Valley Park – Find the perfect forested spot along this 200-hectare trail that runs alongside the river from Pottery Road south to Corktown Common. Hop off at the Evergreen Brickworks and pick up some fresh food from the farmers' market as you continue on the trails.
A GARDEN PICNIC
Toronto Music Garden –Nothing says romance like a garden setting with classical music. Enjoy both as well as beautiful views of Lake Ontario, in this picture-perfect place for a picnic date. Artistically landscaped to reflect Bach's work, the park hosts summer music in the garden as well as guided tours.
BEST SUNSET VIEWS
Riverdale Park East – Perfect for picnics and late-night lounging under the stars, cuddle up hillside or grab a bench at the top of this famous hill, and take in one of the best sunset views of the city skyline.