Let's go have a picnic: top spots for dining al fresco
Posted May 20, 2020
| Author Jillian Recksiedler
Grab your picnic basket and blanket and hit the road on a day trip to one of these recommended picnic spots.
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You can easily while away the afternoon feasting, basking in the sun, being out in nature, learning about our province...and maybe even supporting a small business or attraction along the way.
Victoria Park, Souris
This charming town in southwestern Manitoba does a wonderful job of welcoming visitors each summer. Victoria Park is located below Crescent Avenue where the winding Plum Creek meets the Souris River. It's the perfect spot to set up a picnic – either on the spacious lawns of 'the bowl' or under a shelter beside the playground. Before digging into your outdoor feast, take a dip in the community pool at the campground – one the most popular in the region. Make time to go on a short hike to the ‘Old Oak Tree,’ believed to be over 600 years old, or the Lookout Tower (insider tip: go via the hidden sand hill route). Keep an eye out for Victoria Park’s most famous resident: a small group of proud peacocks. Just beside the park is Souris’ most iconic attraction: the Souris Swinging Bridge. A visit is not complete without a stroll across this Manitoba Star Attraction that spans the Souris River.
St. Boniface, Winnipeg
Spend the afternoon soaking up the ‘passion et histoire’ of one of Winnipeg’s iconic neighbourhoods: Francophone Saint-Boniface. Start at Fromagerie Bothwell on Provencher Avenue to load up on local goodies from small Manitoba producers. Then head to La Belle Baguette to add fresh baked goods to your basket. This old neighbourhood has plenty of green spaces where you can set out your feast. Popular spots include the expansive lawns of Provencher Parc or Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum. We recommend setting up on a bench along the new riverside Belvédère Foot Bridge.
The Island, Portage La Prairie
Located in an oxbow of the Assiniboine River, this pretty park feels like you're transported away from the city to a hidden island – hence its name. Many families and friends from across the central region make The Island their destination for fresh air activities. Picnic tables and shelters abound, and other activities include feeding the ducks and geese on Crescent Lake and an up-close visit to two roadside attractions: a Dutch-style windmill and a CT-133 Silver Star fighter jet. Leave time after your picnic to visit Splash Island, an outdoor waterpark, which is a huge hit for the kids.
Whitemouth Falls Provincial Park, Seven Sister Falls
This tiny picnic spot is often overlooked by daytrippers travelling along PR 307 focused on exploring popular spots in the north Whiteshell. Do yourself a favour: as you enter the town of Seven Sister Falls, and look for the signs to Whitemouth Falls Provincial Park. Turn north onto the gravel road that leads past captivating views of the mighty Seven Sisters Generating Station. It ends at the park, where the Whitemouth River empties into the Winnipeg River with a set of scenic rushing rapids that are perfect for fishing, hiking, and, of course, having a picnic.
Camp Morton Provincial Park, Gimli
When you visit Camp Morton, a tiny provincial park tucked away 8 km north of Gimli on PR 222, it’s easy to understand why the spot was chosen for a Catholic Church children’s summer camp in the 1920s. Arrive early to claim one of the exclusive picnic tables set under pine trees and perched on the rocky cliff overlooking Lake Winnipeg. The lulling sounds of waves, the smell of verdant lawns and the bounty of fresh air makes Camp Morton an idyllic spot to unwind in nature. After your picnic, save time to play on the public beach and explore the remnants of the camp’s ornate buildings that are left behind and well preserved. If weather is not on your side, the camp's former chapel is converted into a covered picnic shelter perfect for an escape from the elements.
LaBarriere Park, St. Norbert
This park located just southwest of Saint Norbert along the La Salle River offers ample of open space to spread out on the lawns or tuck under a picnic shelter to gather with family. At LaBarriere, get lost by crossing the red footbridge over the river and wander along the loop that leads alongside a field of canola and through the forest. Breakaway from your picnic and spend some time fishing the fast waters of the nearby dam. If you own a canoe, the meandering La Salle is also one of the most adored paddling routes by Winnipeggers.
Lockport Provincial Heritage Park
Likely the most historic and scenic drive in the province, River Road Heritage Parkway is located between St. Andrews and Lockport along the west side of the Red River. Not only does it offer the best river vistas (which make you realize how mighty the Red really is) it also takes you past historic 19th century buildings that showcase original Red River architecture such as St. Andrew’s Rectory and St. Andrew’s-on-the-Red Anglican Church. Complete the drive with a picnic at Lockport Provincial Heritage Park, 5.5 acres of lawn that overlooks a more modern engineering feat: the St. Andrews Lock and Dam, the only lock of its kind on the Canadian Prairie. Keep an eye out for flocks of pelicans and anglers that love to hang out at the dam waiting for a bite.
St. Vital Park, Winnipeg
This summer, suss out a Winnipeg park that is a little off the beaten track for a picnic. St. Vital Park is quieter compared to big sisters Assiniboine and Kildonan, but it offers lovely views and walking paths along the Red River. A boat launch even allows you to get out on the water. Picnic shelters and bonfire pits dot the grounds, and nearby play structures keep the kiddos entertained in between bites. The duck pond is a central piece of the park, so be sure to head over there to view the ducklings.
Quarry Park, Stonewall
Quarry Park is a hidden gem, familiar mostly to those who have a relationship with the town. Located only 35 minutes northwest of Winnipeg, Quarry Park covers 80 acres and is a tribute to Stonewall’s origin as a quarry and processor of limestone used in many of the province's turn-of-the-20th-century buildings. The park offers free walking trails through the forest and around a pond, but the coolest spot to lay down your picnic blanket is on the lawn in the shadows of the historic kilns. For a small fee, you can cool off after lunch with a dip in the nearby man-made Kinsmen Beach.
Lake Minnewasta, Morden
This recreational hub on the western edge of Morden bustles with outdoor activity all summer long. Lake Minnewasta is a hotspot for mountain biking, golfing, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, but if you’re more inclined to sunbath, swim and picnic, head straight to Colert Beach to set up near its beautiful boardwalk. Don't let a picnic be your only reason to visit Morden: the city has destination-worthy attractions such as the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, the Stardust Drive-In Theatre, and nearby Hywire Zipline over the Pembina Valley.
About The Author
Hi, I'm Jillian, a marketer, communicator, traveller and Manitoba flag waver. Growing up rurally during the '80s means I have a penchant for daytrips, maps (the paper kind), and prairie sunsets. I never tire of exploring and sharing stories about my home.