Photo: Sunset picnic at Burnaby Mountain. Source: Kyle Pearce via Flickr.
It’s quickly becoming picnic season! Looking for the best picnic sites to take your family? We’ve selected 15 of our favourite picnicking locations based on our experiences and your feedback.
1. Shannon Falls Provincial Park- Squamish:
If you’re driving between Whistler and Vancouver, Shannon Falls Provincial Park makes a perfect picnic spot. I always like to stop here on my drive up the Sea to Sky, but it also makes for a great scenic drive destination in its own right! Situated just south of Squamish, Shannon Falls is the third-highest waterfall in BC. The park itself is situated in the rain forest with easy paved trails – great if you’re bringing along a stroller. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the forest, and they even have a little gift shop/snack shack if you want to buy an ice cream. If you’re feeling ambitious after your picnic, you could tackle the steep Stawamus Chief trails, or for something a bit more leisurely, follow your picnic with a visit to the nearby Britannia Mine Museum.
2. Garry Point Park – Richmond:
The City of Richmond describes Garry Point Park as offering “some of the best views of the Fraser River and Gulf Islands. From virtually anywhere in this wide-open park you can experience fantastic summer sunsets, watch commercial fishing and transport vessels on the working Fraser River, and see a variety of wildlife including shore birds and jumping salmon in the River. Stroll the perimeter trail to see Scotch Pond Historic Moorage site, the south end of Sturgeon Banks and sandy beaches with picnic areas to the south side of the park.” This is one of my favourite places to watch the sunset, and although you can’t light bonfires here anymore, you can certainly have a beach BBQ. Although, with Pajo’s Fish & Chips and Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt on site, you don’t even have to bring your own food!
3. Derby Reach Regional Park – Langley:
Did you know that Derby Reach is one of the oldest colonial settlements in British Columbia? I discovered on this blog that Derby Reach Regional Park was the original site of HBC’s Fort Langley before it was moved 4km further away. This is back in the early-mid 1800′s of course. (Of course!) Situated along a picturesque stretch of the Fraser River, Derby Reach offers hiking, equestrian, and cycling trails, as well as unserviced camp sites. In fact, it’s the only regional park in Metro Vancouver to offer camping! If you love picnicking in natural environments, this is a great spot, especially when you combine it with a visit to nearby Fort Langley. By the way, Derby Reach and Fort Langley are connected by the historic Fort to Fort Trail – an easy 4.6km walk.
4. Belcarra Park – Port Moody:
As a kid, Belcarra Park was one of my favourite places for a family picnic because it combined all the elements that I loved into one location – forested trails to hike through, rocky shoreline along Burrard Inlet to explore, a playground to play on with my sister, and a dock where we could watch people fishing. I still love visiting the park today and typically come here once a summer for an escape from the city. Situated at the other side of Indian Arm from Deep Cove, Belcarra feels like you’re on an island far away from the city. With covered picnics sites along the water, the facilities couldn’t be better set up for families. I highly recommend going for a walk after the picnic as the trail is relatively easy, and it takes you from the picnic sites along the coastline and down to the water. Needless to say, this is an ideal picnic site for nature lovers.
5. Whytecliff Park- West Vancouver:
We recently featured Whytecliff Park in our Scenic Drives and Rain Forests blog post last month, but it certainly deserves to be in our picnic list as well. Located a 5 minute drive from Horseshoe Bay Village, Whytecliff offers panoramic views over the Georgia Strait and Howe Sound, a perfectly manicured garden, picnic facilities, and access to the the rocky shore for beach combing. If you have kids who love climbing up rocks and exploring nooks and crannies, this is definitely a fun place despite the park’s small size. Local blogger Venture Vancouver recently visited and told us that they were on the rocks, “when a bald eagle flew by no more and two meters away! Low tide is great too [for viewing] starfish and eels.”
6. Second Beach – Vancouver:
You can argue that Stanley Park is simply one gigantic picnic site, and I don’t think anyone would disagree. But if you had to narrow down just one location within Stanley Park as the perfect picnic spot for families, Second Beach would be my pick. With a giant playground, a public swimming pool, a concession stand, a sheltered sandy beach, and Lost Lagoon nearby, it’s the ideal picnic destination on a warm sunny day. Find Family Fun are big fans of the swimming pool here. They say, “Second Beach Pool is perfect for families like ours that have little kids and big kids. The little kids can sit and splash if they want to, while the big ones go down the slide and dive for quarters in the deeper water.”
7. Centennial Beach – Tsawwassen:
Centennial Beach at Boundary Bay is one of the nicest beaches in the Lower Mainland, if not for the warm-as-a-bath water, but for the shallowness of the water and that at low tide, the sandbar-laden beach appears to go on forever! If you’re a beach comber, Centennial Beach is amazing and worthy of a visit just for that. What I personally love about Centennial is that the water is clear and the abundance of marine life that thrives here is unlike anything else that I’ve experienced in the Lower Mainland. Expect to find snails, sand dollars, jellyfish, swimming scallops, clams, flounders, and crab. With a concession stand, a playground, volleyball nets, a baseball field, and miles of sandy beach, Centennial’s been a popular family picnic site for generations. As Find Family Fun says, “Centennial Beach is definitely worth the drive if you live far away, and if you don’t live far away—what are you waiting for?!”.
8. Porpoise Bay Provincial Park – Sechelt:
The Sunshine Coast has ample of marine parks and coastline, but where would a family go for a picnic? Sunshine Coast Tourism recommends Porpoise Bay Provincial Park for its nice beach on Sechelt Inlet, easy trails, picnic area, and playground. You can also dig for clams or rent kayaks! SunshineCoast-BC.com specifically recommends Porpoise Bay for its sandy beach. They say, “Great for little ones, there is a marked swimming area, washrooms, picnic tables and ample parking in the park. Sun is mid-morning through early evening. The waters on the inlet are typically very calm in comparison to the outside water.”
9. Burnaby Mountain Park – Burnaby
I once attended a wedding at the top of Burnaby Mountain, and the panoramic views were spectacular – better than I expected, even. I can only imagine what it would be like to picnic there. Family bloggers Find Family Fun rate picnicking on Burnaby Mountain as one of their top 20 activities of all time, so I’m thinking that it must be pretty good. Their kids discovered that you can slide down the hills there on giant pieces of cardboard (kind of like toboganning) as long as the grass is dry enough. Tourism Burnaby also features Burnaby Mountain as an ideal picknicking destination. They write, “The mountain, water and city views from high atop Burnaby Mountain make this a popular picnic location for locals and visitors alike. Whatever you do, make sure to bring your camera as you’ll want to capture the park’s natural beauty – and its spectacular views.”
10. Memorial Park – Hope:
Many people stop in Hope before they travel further afield, but how many spend the time to picnic in beautiful Memorial Park? Travel the Canyon writes, “The Memorial Park is complete with a series of chainsaw carvings, children’s play areas, the friendship gardens, picnic areas in both large open grass areas, and towering evergreen trees. The park is open year round and is close to many local activities like the Hope Museum, the artist guild, Hope Theatre and more.” Our tip? Head to the Blue Moose Cafe and grab a sandwich to go, and eat it at Memorial Park. Thanks to @advantageHOPE for putting this on our radar.
11. Alexandra Bridge – Fraser Canyon:
If you love BC history and you’re planning to travel through the Fraser Canyon this summer, I’d recommend stopping for a picnic at Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park. This is a small park centred around the site of the original Cariboo Wagon Road bridge over the Fraser River. There’s a great writeup about the park in a blog called Beautiful Nature where they thoroughly explain the history of the park – from the 9000 years of Nlaka’pamux and Sto:lo First Nations settlement of the area, to the construction of the Cariboo Wagon road and the CPR, to the natural history. Local mommy blogger Balsam Roots brought her family here last year in April, although the park was closed at the time (it opens May 15th every year), it looks like they had a great time! Thanks again to @advantageHOPE for putting this on our radar.
12. Island 22 Regional Park – Chilliwack:
We weren’t initially familiar with Island 22 Regional Park until @advantageHOPE told us about it. Located along the Fraser River, Island 22 is both a park and an equestrian centre with one of the largest boat launches in the Fraser Valley. The Fraser Valley Regional District writes, “Many people enjoy walking the trails scattered throughout the park and seeing what nature has to offer. An incredible amount of migratory birds move through the park in the late summer providing excellent viewing opportunities. Many bald eagles perch in the park’s trees during the winter months. Often, one can spot a harbour seal swimming in the river and if very lucky, see a white sturgeon jump. A large designated dog off-leash area allows dogs to run and play with more freedom in the old campsite area of the park.”
13. Jericho Beach – Vancouver:
I name Jericho Beach, but you could easily include Spanish Banks and Locarno Beach in this mix, as they exist as one continuous coastline between Kitsilano and UBC. Jericho Beach provides families with picnic and BBQ facilities, plenty of green grass for playing, beach volleyball, and some of the best swimming conditions in all of Vancouver. That is, the water’s relatively shallow and therefore it’s usually much warmer than at other beaches. Although Jericho Beach is only a 10 minute drive from downtown Vancouver, it feels like you’re far away from the city. For a leisurely relaxing family picnic destination, Jericho Beach has always been my family’s favourite.
14. Lightning Lakes – Manning Park:
Whenever my family planned trips to the Okanagan, we’d always drive there via Hwy 3. It was almost a tradition to stop off for a picnic in Manning Park. My favourite place out of the park was Lightning Lakes – about 11km off of the Crowsnest Highway, but well worth the minor detour. Whether it was the tranquility of being on a lake in the mountains, or having Whiskeyjacks eat out of our hands, those picnics at Lightning Lakes made us feel like we were in the heart of the wilderness. Lightning Lakes has well-maintained picnic tables set up in grassy fields by the lakes so it really makes for a no fuss picnic. The highlight of the picnic for me was going for a short walk on the Lightning Lakes Loop trail after we had eaten. It was a great way to stretch our legs before getting back in the car.
15. Willingdon Beach – Powell River:
If you find yourself in Powell River, both Sunshine Coast Tourism and Tourism Powell River recommend a picnic at Willingdon Beach which is situated alongside the Willingdon Beach Trail. Trailpeak explains that Willingdon Beach Trail was once a rail bed used to haul logs to the Powell River Company Mill. As a result, the trail is wide and easy to hike or bike. They say, “The area also includes forestry and First Nations artifacts so a short hike can end up quite a bit longer if you take the time to stop and check it out. The trail has many access points that will take you down to the beach and you’ll find excellent swimming and places to picnic along the shore. The trail is accessible year round and is very popular.”
Did we skip your favourite picnic spot? List it below by leaving a comment!