Nothing says “summer days” like a picnic basket brimming with locally-grown fruits, artisanal cheeses, craft beverages and shareable treats. Whether your picnic basket is a rustic woven basket, a trusty cooler, an insulated grocery tote or a cardboard box – this is your guide to building the BEST picnic for your friends and family (or for you and yourself, because “self-care” is an all-out picnic for ONE).
First thing’s first – hunt down the perfect spot to park your peach. YDH is chock-full of one-of-a-kind locations, whether you’re looking for somewhere insta-worthy, a quiet and peaceful retreat, a spot with space to play, or a great place to people-watch. Keep in mind: some of our local breweries and cideries allow off-site food if you’re enjoying their beverages in a licensed location. Both Market Brewing Co. in Newmarket and GoodLot Farmstead Brewing in Caledon do, PLUS they both have disc-golf courses on-site (book a time slot at Market Brewing Co in advance here).
Here are some of our fave suggestions for a memorable picnic spot:
The Museum of Dufferin – Work up an appetite learning about the history of Dufferin County’s most interesting (and sometimes notorious) settlers and soak up 4 floors of time travel. Beautiful grounds and gardens provide all of the inspiration you’ll need to pull up a corner of blanket and enjoy the surroundings.
McMichael Art Gallery – With over 100 acres of forested property providing musings for amateur and professional artists alike, this special place grounding, peaceful and inspiring. While the McMichael waits to re-open under the Provincial plan, why not book a virtual tour of Indigenous exhibition Early Days (Tuesdays 12:30 – 1:30pm) and coordinate a watching picnic on the Gallery’s stunning grounds.
Uxbridge’s Countryside Preserve – The “Trail Capital of Canada” is not a moniker earned overnight, so be prepared to return again and again to this outdoor adventurer paradise. Stroll 6km of beautiful trails and stop to lunch wherever inspiration strikes!
Wherever your location, we’ve assembled our list of must-have essentials to get you started:
- The “basket”: a basket, backpack, tote or cooler will do! Keep ice packs from sweating with a tea towel or cloth, and don’t forget reusable cups and plates!
- Salty, Sweet, Crunchy – picnics are all about finger food, and OH, the possibilities! Pick up a pre-made cheese board from Fromage in Orangeville, ooey-gooey butter tarts from The Maid’s Cottage in Newmarket or an assortment of freshly-made sandwiches from Willowtree Farm in Port Perry!
- Something cold and refreshing – watermelon, peaches or raspberries from one of our dozens of farmers markets PLUS a bottle of something delightful from one of our outstanding wineries, cideries and breweries. Adamo Estate Winery now offers select wines in personal-sized cans, Pine Farms Orchard shines with fresh, sweet apple cider, and The Second Wedge Brewing Company has loads of (h)options for your picnic 6-pack.
- Water – arguably the least exciting of YDH’s beverage options, but it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water before you even think “I’m thirstier than my office house plant”!
- Sunscreen – even overcast skies can make their mark after an afternoon outside! SPF is your BFF.
- Antibacterial hand wipes – clean up icky and sticky hands with ease before and after you eat – you never know where you might find somewhere to wash your hands.
- Blanket – nobody likes ants in their pants or grass-stained summer outfits. Plan to pack at least one large picnic blanket to make room for everyone and everything. Throw in some pillows and stay for the day!
A perfect picnic can be as simple as great local takeout on a picnic table, but here are some of our favourite ways to create that extra-special occasion alfresco:
Flowers – It doesn’t matter if your picnic is in the middle of a field, in your backyard or on a park bench, a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers adds a picture-perfect touch to a picnic-turned-photoshoot or a simple lunch date. Check out the region’s florists and flower farms in the YDH Virtual Market and pick up a picnic posey!
Games – Whether it’s tossing a baseball, hitting a croquet mallet or yelling “Go Fish!”, bringing along a fun group activity is a great way to work up an appetite and get the laughs flowing.
Books – Murder mystery, the latest celeb biography or even a summer school text book – lay back and unplug for awhile.
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s to savour the simple things. Friends, fresh air, fabulous food and fair weather – the perfect picnic is right around the corner with the help of the fine businesses of York, Durham and Headwaters!
Written by Emily Quinton