Dining al fresco is hard to beat. One of the best ways to enjoy the fresh air and get your appetite going is to plan a picture-perfect picnic in one of our gorgeous parks in the region that are easily accessible by GO Transit. Whether it’s summertime when the days are warm and hazy or even during crisp and sunny mild days in late spring and early fall, one of the best things to do is find a great spot to put a blanket down or snag a picnic table to tuck in and take in the view. It’s a safe, free and easy way to get the family together for a change of scenery or to meet up with friends for a different kind of outing. Start by checking out this list of some of the best parks and beaches in the GTA for your grand day out.
Enjoy unlimited travel to any of these great picnic spots with the purchase of your $10 One-Day or $15 Weekend pass for each Saturday, Sunday and Holiday you're looking to travel!
Picnic at Toronto Centre Island – Toronto – Union Station
➡️ 10-minute walk ➡️ 13-minute ferry ride
They say it’s always sunny in Toronto’s Centre Island so it’s only natural this is where you’ll find some of the best picnic areas! Exploring this famous fun park is a tradition among Torontonians and visitors, where there are lots of things for both kids and adults of all ages to do and see. Pack your picnic basket with your fave foods or bring your own charcoal and fire up some delicious BBQ at stations across the park. If you really want to take it easy, grab a bite, a beer or a coffee at one of the restaurants on the Island.
✔️ Must-see: For a really fun-filled family day out, don’t miss all the rides, attractions and fooderies at Centreville Amusement Park!
Pro tip: If you’re having a gathering of 25 or more people, you’ll need a City of Toronto picnic permit. Remember to check out all the details involved with your permit, it’s no fun when you get in trouble for breaking the rules.
Picnic at Sunnidale Park in Barrie – Allandale Waterfront GO
Photo credit: @redlinia
➡️ 50-minute walk ➡️ 30-minutes on Barrie Transit + short walk ➡️ 8-minute rideshare
For picnic grounds that are both beautiful and unique, plan your daytrip out of Toronto and explore Sunnidale Park in Barrie. Sit back and relax while you dine as you admire the gardens and trees sprawling across the park, then pack it all up and take a leisurely stroll after lunch. For family fun, let the kids go on an adventure at the fire-fighter themed park or let your furry friend have a fun run in the 7-acre Sunnidale Dog Off Leash Recreation Area (or DOLRA for short).
✔️ Must-see: The Barrie Arboretum is a 15.5-acre nature lovers’ dream and the ideal picnic grounds. It’s located in the northwest corner of Sunnidale Park and is a great place to park yourself for a picnic or promenade through the scenery which includes trees, shrubs, butterfly bushes and rose gardens.
Pro tip: If the 50-minute walk from Allendale GO isn’t quite your speed, you can cycle to Sunnidale instead! Remember, you can take your bike on GO Transit on weekdays (anytime except during rush hour), weekends and statutory holidays, but if you’ve got a foldable bike you can take it on GO anytime.
Picnic at Bayfront Park in Hamilton – West Harbour GO
➡️ 9-minute walk
If you think the best picnic area is one with a with a spectacular waterfront view (and really, whose isn’t?) then this park is for you. Conveniently located just a short walk from Hamilton’s downtown core, this park is a great idea for a picnic date where you can either plant your blanket down amongst the beautiful gardens or grab a picnic table or bench to enjoy the scenery. To get up and about afterwards, there’s an amazing waterfront trail where you can walk, jog, cycle or in-line skate.
✔️ Must-see: Check out the public boat lunch or the natural grass amphitheatre, located in the park. With new and improved service to West Harbour GO station, getting there is a breeze.
Pro tip: Here’s a great picnic food/beverage idea. Everyone wants cold beverages when eating outdoors. Make sure to freeze water bottles and your drink packs ahead of time in a cooler. This way, as they day goes on, your drinks will melt, and you’ll have cool and refreshing beverages during your meal.
Picnic at HTO Park – Toronto – Union Station
➡️ 17-minute walk ➡️ 10 minutes on the TTC
There’s nothing cooler on a hot day than hanging out a one of the hippest picnic grounds right in the heart of Toronto! HTO Park is an amazing urban beach that feels like an oasis in the city—perfect for enjoying a bite as it’s an ideal picnic area in Toronto, a place to savour a refreshing drink or serene spot to take a break from work! Since it's so close to the downtown core, located in Toronto's Inner Harbour, this tranquil space, with its sandy beach on the water’s edge and relaxing grassy hills, will make picknicking in the city a real treat!
✔️ Must-do: Enjoy a casual picnic lunch and have a seat under one of the shady umbrellas in a comfy Muskoka chair overlooking the shimmering lake or take a promenade around the grounds.
Pro tip: Leave the picnic area as you found it. Bring along garbage bags to clean up at the end of your picnic and look for waste bins in the area.
Picnic at High Park – Toronto – Bloor GO
➡️ 14-minute walk ➡️ Short TTC Subway ride
One of the best picnic spots in Toronto has got to be High Park! This major green space—all 161 hectares of beautiful gardens, amazing wildlife habitats and fun attractions— takes you out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into areas where you can enjoy nature while you nosh. There are 18 designated picnic grounds in a variety of areas, so every time you visit you can change the scenery. If you want try some takeout to take into the park, check out some of the restaurants in Roncesvalles Village – it’s only a 10-minute walk away!
✔️ Must-see: When it comes to picnic areas it’s all about location, location, location. Let the kids blow off some steam and grab a table near the amazing Children’s Adventure Playground, complete with an incredible climbing castle. Or, if you’re looking for a tranquil time while you tuck in, find the picnic area next to Grenadier Pond.
Pro tip: Don’t forget cutlery, plates, napkins, and a blanket. These items are essentials that will help you be fully equipped for your adventure.
Picnics are awesome and our region is chock-full of perfect parks to choose from. We hope that you’re inspired to get outside and explore some of the great things mother nature has to offer in our great region. Before you head out, don’t forget to check your schedule. If you found this helpful, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.