Catch The Last Summer Rays and Have a Picnic: Where to go & What to bring

Maybe you think of picnics as an unpacked basket, a cloth on the ground, laden with culinary delights, and a scenic and sunny view all around you. That is a wonderful thought, but a picnic doesn’t have to be that exact scenario. The point is that a picnic is a way to share a meal that is both a pilgrimage, and a break from your regular routine.

Of course Arbutus Cove is magnificent. There is plenty of shade under the old trees, there are views of the ocean, and there is all that beach and swimming to be had. Beacon Hill Park, and along Dallas Road? Wonderful. There is the Ocean and even Peacocks to try and nab some of your food (it makes for nice variety from the seagulls, crows, and pigeons).

But the main point of the picnic is the notion of the pilgrimage, and the chance to dine some place a little more off the wall. I’ll give you some suggestions in a moment (although, really, the fun is in finding your own spots!). In the meantime I want to give you a few ideas for what to stuff in your basket or backpack.



What to Bring:

You don’t necessarily need a picnic basket, but it does add to the romance of the whole affair. Personally I usually work with a couple of canvas grocery bags, and possibly as small fabric cooler if I have some beverages I’d like to keep chilled in the great outdoors.

Definitely bring a bottle opener, a corkscrew, and some forks, knives, and spoons. Bring a plate or cutting board to cut stuff on, and bring cups to share your beverages. All this is dependent on what you are doing with your picnic, of course. If you are just bringing sandwiches that are already made then you don’t need too much in terms of extra cutlery.

Bring a cloth to sit on, too. The cloth defines the picnic space. You will note that even in Manet’s famous painting “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe”, the pretentious French gentlemen and their naked models have taken the time to place their foodstuffs on a cloth in order to make sure that they are at an official picnic, and not just some random orgy in the grass.


I divide picnics into two categories, social and romantic. At a social picnic, you announce where the picnic will be, set out the hours that it will be occurring, and then allow people to come and go when the please. People who show up should bring food and share it. This way a wide variety of items will come and people will get to try an assortment of different things. Friends who bring chips are being lazy.

At a romantic picnic, one either surprises one’s would be lover with a delicious spread, or the two intertwined paramours pick things together. I personally favour a more Mediterranean style where bread, meat, olives, cheeses, fruits, drinks, and salads are all served as parts of a spread. In this way, anything you can pack and carry, you can eat. The smaller items the better. It’s a lot easier to manage cutting a salami up with a knife, or working with cold chicken parts than carving a whole roast, for example.

As I said, though, a more English style, with premade sandwiches is perfectly fine. English people often bring bread, cheese, cold cuts, and mustard (probably cucumber, too) and make their sandwiches when they arrive at their spot. Italians bring antipasto and wine. There are a million was to do it. In India people roll up chapattis, and bring homemade tins of curry. The main thing is to bring portable food and eat it outdoors.

Be sure that you respectfully pack out everything you packed in. Leave things nice for the next person and clean all your garbage and waste up.

I chose a few unexpected and random spots I’d like to share with you. The actually picnic I photographed was up in Summit Park, which is on the hill just above Quadra Village. It is at the corner of Summit and Fifth St. The park offers lovely vistas of the whole city, and is in an old Garry Oak meadow. The meadow is ecologically sensitive, so you need to stick to the beaten paths and rocks, but this still leaves many places to sit. Plus the park is usually empty. Don’t tread on (or pick!) the camas flowers, and clean up your trash. Cheers!

The Gorge crosses at Admirals Road, and there is a place there called Craigflower Schoolhouse and Kosapsum Park. The park stretches from the somewhat uninspiring edge of Admiral’s road, down a gentle hill and toward the waterside. There are some elegant old trees, and a number of quiet places to sit by the water. There are a number of good spots all along the Gorge waterway, of course, but to me this is the nicest.

Fernwood Beach, as it is casually known by the locals, is the set of rising bleachers overlooking the field at Vic High. Naturally, during the school year, as there will be many school-age teens around, this isn’t a great place for a picnic. On the Weekends, though, and all summer long, the field becomes a dog run. You can sit up in the stands and get a good sun bake, or watch the sun set over the city. It’s quite lovely. It’s an unusual spot for a picnic, but it is also a true social gathering spot for the few remaining weirdoes of Fernwood not yet swept out be gentrification. You can meet some real oddballs there.


The top of the parking garage at Yates and Langley might seem like an odd choice, but hear me out for a second. If you go up to the 8th floor, there is a strange ramp to nowhere that seems to imply that there was going to be a 9th floor, but that the plan was scrapped. If you go up this ramp, where no car can park, you get spectacular view of the whole city, the mountains, and the sea. Still, sitting on the hard asphalt isn’t that appealing. I suggest bringing a TV table, two folding chairs, and a small table cloth. Set up an informal, formal, little meal on the fly, and have fun!

As I said, the real pleasure is in finding your own picnic spots. However, you now know a few of the off the beaten track ones I like. Get out there and have fun. Fall picnics can be wonderful, and Victoria is actually quite temperate and pleasant all year. If it’s too cold or rainy, you can always have an indoor picnic someplace like Atrium, or the foyer of the Public Library. Why not?


Written By:

Born and raised in the mysterious East (by which I mean Ontario and Quebec, not Asia), Adam migrated out to British Columbia in search of adventure and fortune. He had been at different times a scholar, a musician, a poet and a ...

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