Your Guide to a Perfect Picnic

Food and the great outdoors, what’s not to like? Picnics are one of the simplest and most enjoyable ways to spend time outdoors.

The key to a great picnic is to be prepared! That’s why we’ve put together a list of some simple tips to ensure you have a great picnic experience at HCA!

Where to go?

As you could’ve guessed by now, HCA has many places to set up a picnic. With thousands of picnic tables and open areas, it really just depends on what your preference is. The most ideal  places for a picnic? We suggest trying Christie Lake, Valens Lake, Westfield Heritage Village, Fifty Point, or Confederation Beach Park. These areas offer the most space and variety of places to set up – you can have a totally different experience just by choosing a different spot each time you visit!

Getting set-up

Will you picnic at a table or on the ground? In either case, you’ll want a fresh surface to picnic on, and possibly something to picnic under.

  • Table cloth: A reusable table cloth is the way to go and an easy way to cut down on post picnic trash. Simply throw it in the wash when you get home. Don’t forget clips to hold it to the table and prevent it from flapping around, or blowing away completely.
  • Blanket: If you’re going the blanket route, get something nice and big, preferably with a liner, to prevent any moisture from getting through. If you plan to stay a while, you may want to bring along some pillows or cushions for a little extra comfort while you’re here.
  • Shade: Maybe you’ll get a perfect spot under a tree, or maybe not. Even still, the shade moves as the sun does so you may want to consider if you need shade. A small pop up tent can bring some relief if you plan to be picnicking for a long period of time.

If you are having a larger gathering, HCA has many pavilions and group areas available for rent throughout our areas.


  • Prep! Keep it simple and do the prep work at home! The last thing you’ll want to do once you get here is to get out a cutting board and prepare your meal. Finger foods like sandwiches can make your picnic even easier, and will save on clean-up too! If you do want to do some barbecuing, have all those burgers formed, or other items already marinated and ready to hit the grill. Barbecuing is allowed at most areas, except at Confederation Beach Park, or on any of our beaches.
  • Packing: Choose items and containers that make packing and unpacking easy. Containers with proper lids to keep moisture out, or in, is key. When packing your cooler, remember, the fuller it is, the cooler it will keep. The more open space, the quicker it’ll warm up, so fill that baby up with food, drinks and ice!


Don’t forget something to eat on, and to eat with. Plates, utensils, napkins and cups will all likely be needed. Keep it sustainable and bring reusable items that won’t end up in a landfill. There are many great items on the market that you will have for many picnics to come! Fabric napkins will help cut down on your waste too, and you can just toss in the wash with your table cloth or blanket when you get home. Bring a bag to transport all your dirty items home to the sink.

Bring the fun!

Eating is great, but bringing an activity keeps the fun going! Bring a ball to toss around, maybe some bocce, frisbee, bubbles, ladder ball, or simply a deck of cards.

Pack in – pack out

One of the most important steps to any day out, is to pack out what you pack in. As mentioned, bringing reusable items makes this easy. Bring your own garbage bag(s) too, to keep cleanup easy during your picnic. Even if you’ve been as sustainable as possible, you’ll still need a spot to toss your banana peels and watermelon rinds. Check out our blog on packing in and out for some more tips.


A picnic doesn’t have to be complicated, so keep it simple and keep it fun. Visit our conservation areas page for more ideas on where to go and we hope you enjoy your next day out at HCA!



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