Story by Sarah Deveau
EDMONTON, ALBERTA — Alberta’s capital city has more than its fair share of gorgeous picnic locales. Edmonton’s river valley is one of the largest areas of urban parkland in North America, featuring more than 20 major parks that are linked through a series of paths, over 150 kilometres of trails, open spaces, 11 lakes and 14 ravines. For visitors, these green spaces are ideal spots to plan a low-cost outing while exploring the city.
Here are a few must-visit Edmonton picnic spots:
Legislature Grounds: Home to the province’s politicians, the Legislature grounds are an expansive space with beautiful gardens, trees for shade, wading pools, a greenhouse and, of course, historical monuments that will act as the backdrop for your picnicking pleasure.
“My favourite place in Edmonton to have a picnic is at the Alberta Legislature grounds,” says Gillian Thomson of TheNoteworthy.ca, a blog about the hippest happenings in Edmonton. “My friends and I will grab a sandwich and coffee from Elm Cafe and perch ourselves on the steps around the pool or in the grass on the south side. There is always great people watching at the legislature.”
Constable Ezio Faraone Park: This park overlooking the river valley is small but busy, though you can find a quiet corner or two. It’s commonly used by athletic enthusiasts, and you may find yourself compelled to run the stairs after tucking away your lunch.
William Hawrelak Park: This sprawling 68-hectare park features a five-hectare lake (paddleboat rentals available) and plenty of open grassy areas. There is a playground and beach volleyball nets. The park is home to the Heritage Amphitheatre, making it a popular choice for festivals and events.
Royal Alberta Museum Grounds: Enjoy your picnic in a serene setting with the beautiful architecture of the Royal Alberta Museum as your backdrop. Be sure to visit the Korean pagoda if you need relief from the sun, or just to admire this wonderfully ornate structure.
Emily Murphy Park: Nestled on the south bank of the river, Emily Murphy Park is ideal for families, with plenty of spots to sit with excellent viewing of the play area. Bring your own canoe for a very Canadian picnic, or simply walk the trails and enjoy watching others paddle.
Borden Park: “Just east of downtown, Borden Park is a vast green space filled with sculptures and one of our favourite playgrounds,” says Lori Godin of FrugalEdmontonMama.com. “The unique treehouse-style structure, climbing bear and shaded area make for the perfect summer afternoon. When you’re finished lunch, you can walk around and explore the sculptures and paths in the area.”
Packing the Perfect Picnic
Sure, you can throw a few PB&J sandwiches into a sack and call it a picnic, but if the venue is free, why not splurge on the sustenance?
Perennial favourite Elm Café has delectable take-out sandwiches and sides, or find out where the S’WICH food truck is located. It serves fresh bread and charcuterie.
For a side of funny with your carbs, Farrow Sandwiches serves up creatively named works of edible art, like their Date Night sammie with bacon, blue cheese cream, swiss, date tapenade and arugula, and the Little Bunny Tofoo Foo with roasted tofu, miso “mayo,” seared bok choy and black sesame.