Picnics are a great way to get your family outside and exploring the city on a warm summer day. Here are our tips to make the most of your picnic adventure!
The Perfect Spot
The City of Calgary maintains a number of picnic and BBQ areas with garbage cans, fire pits, tables, and often toilets. If you’re looking for a picnic on “easy mode,” these are great spots:
Do you have a big group or need a specific site? You can book ahead online for a small fee.
If you’re willing to go a little off the beaten path, Calgary has a number of other great spots for a picnic lunch. We recommend:
Nose Hill Park - There’s not much shade, so don’t forget the sunscreen, but the views are unmatched anywhere in the city. Bring a nice thick blanket or mat
to sit on to protect you from the wild grasses.
Prince’s Island Park - Have an inner-city picnic! There are often performances going on here during the summer, and plenty of hungry ducks! Pack light, as it can be a long walk from the parking lot to your perfect picnic spot.
Scotsman’s Hill (along Salisbury Avenue SE) - This is a well-known spot for watching the Stampede fireworks, but it has a beautiful view of the Saddledome and downtown all year-round. It’s a popular spot for dogs and their owners, so bring Rover! Bring a mat and a blanket to eat on and enjoy!
Sikome Lake - This is a swim-friendly lake inside Fish Creek park, and it’s completely open to the public! Sandy beaches with a change room, concession, and a playground. Don’t forget to bring lifejackets if you feel like taking a dip! There are plenty of flat grassy areas in the park which make a great spot for a packed lunch.
Keep it Simple: It’s tempting to go out and buy one of those adorable wicker “all-in-one” picnic sets, but they often include full place settings that are rarely used when enjoying a picnic lunch. Don’t give yourself too much to carry! Reusable plastic plates and cutlery can be packed into a cooler with the food, and go right back in once you’re finished. No fuss, no muss. If you’ve made a real mess, just spray it all down with a hose when you get home. Everybody wins!
Keep it Comfy: The traditional picnic blanket is a simple tablecloth spread elegantly on the grass. This is fine if you’re eating on your front lawn, but if you’re planning to enjoy any of Calgary’s parks, you’ll want something a little more substantial. Consider a roll-up bamboo mat (or similar) which is firm enough to balance plates on and won’t bunch up from restless kids squirming around. Otherwise, a cheap comforter will do the trick, or a few layered sheets. Always think about how far away the car is when you choose your blanket!
Keep it Green: It’s tempting to pack paper plates and plastic cutlery which can be thrown away after you’re done picnicking. We’ve been there. Take a minute and think about what you want your kids to get from the experience of the outdoors - if the goal is to educate them about the importance of nature and to help them love being outside, consider taking this opportunity to teach them about the importance of sustainability by packing reusable items.
Keep it Safe: Make sure your cellphone is charged and has signal and bring tons of sunscreen! Don’t forget any allergy medications or first-aid items which might be necessary.
Hands-On Eating: You don’t have to spend three hours carefully slicing cucumbers into heart shapes to have a successful picnic. The food is secondary to the experience of being together as a family! You can bring anything from fast food to gourmet soup on a picnic, but we recommend something which can be held and eaten (sandwiches, wraps, finger food) and which doesn’t leave much packaging or mess behind.
Casual Dining: The less cutlery and dishware you use, the less there is to clean up later! Don’t be afraid to serve and eat out of Tupperware! Reusable plastic containers are an awesome option, since they seal themselves and can be easily tossed in the dishwasher once you get home.
Hydrate: Bring lots and lots of water. If you’re outside on a hot summer day, nothing else will do the job quite as well.
Allie is the Web Editor and Social Media Coordinator of Calgary’s Child Magazine.
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