Whether you're unpacking thoughtfully prepared snacks from your bike basket and setting them up just so on your red and white gingham blanket, or sitting on your sweatshirt, drinking wine from a travel mug and scarfing down a slice of yesterday's pizza, there's something classically summer about a spontaneous outdoor meal. Pack up the potato salad and follow the trail of ants to these top-notch picnic spots in the city.
The Dartmouth Common's perfect for lax picnickers who prefer warm food (and not the left-out-in-the-sun kind). This huge green space offers room for privacy and access to an oven. Near Park Avenue's entrance to the Leighton Dillman Park find the Park Avenue Community Oven—a wood-fired cob oven celebrating its second season of cooking. Check out parkoven.ca for how to get trained to cook, or plan around open oven sessions from 11:30am-4pm on Saturdays. If you're more into hot beverages, make the trip to the trails of Shubie Park (Locks Road, off Waverley Road), where your PB and Js can be washed down with fresh java from Cafe Brea—its second location opens at the park's Fairbanks Centre on July 1.
Oh, Fort Needham Memorial Park (Novalea Drive and Hennessy Place) we love the fact that we can plop ourselves down pretty much anywhere on you and not fear getting smoked in the head by a rogue softball, never mind the amazing sunsets to be seen from your grounds. Too lazy to prepare your outdoor potluck? Poke your head into Highland Drive Storehouse (5544 Kaye Street) or Julien's Patisserie Bakery & Cafe (5517 Young Street) and you'll be in picnic heaven.
While slightly out of town Sandy Lake Park (115 Smiths Road, off Hammonds Plains Road) is perfect for those who prefer to pair their picnic with a swim, but don't prefer to pair their sandwiches with sand. Devour your grub on the grassy knoll (or at a proper picnic bench if you please) and then take a dip in the perpetually warm (and perpetually knee-deep) Sandy Lake.
Halifax's west end is home to some real diamonds in the residential rough for frisbee throwing, sunbathing and making dream dates happen. The queen of green, Flinn Park (between Quinpool Road, Flinn and MacDonald streets) is an under-used, neighbourhood picnic location, that boasts lots of room for simultaneous cheese eating and book reading. Conrose Park (Jubilee Road and Connaught Avenue) is a close second in this 'hood, with slightly more sporting to compete with.
Think of the Dingle as a picnic beacon, standing tall as a reminder that there are many peaceful outdoor meals to be had at Sir Sandford Fleming Park (260 Dingle Road off Fleming Drive, off Purcells Cove Road). This serene spot plays second fiddle to its bigger neighbour across the pond, Point Pleasant, but offers comparable greenery galore, accented by the front row view of the sparkling Northwest Arm.
If you're downtown and keen to fill that picnic basket with chips, dips and fruit, and prefer petals to privacy, scope out the family lawn—AKA the only spot you dare step foot on the grass—at the Public Gardens. Too crowded? At least you're close to Citadel Hill, where sunburns and snacks go hand-in-hand, people watching is primo and you're guaranteed a spot. (Note: Do your obligatory log rolls down the hill PRE-lunch, dummy.) If you're up for exercise, and fending off fur babies looking for food, hit ol' reliable Point Pleasant Park (5718 Point Pleasant Park Drive) for plenty of spots that cater to the range of picnic needs, like sun, shade, ocean, historical content, boat watching, stinky beachfront, makeout privacy...you know, the essentials.