9 Perfect Picnic Spots for Day-Trippers
Pack your basket and hit the road to these picturesque picnic destinations. Southern Manitoba’s abundant parks and beaches make for a great respite from the city. Whether you’re a long-timer or making your first sojourn to the province, we’ve designed a perfect summer day escape.
Birds Hill Park
Home to the renowned Winnipeg Folk Festival, Birds Hill Park is a nature-lover’s paradise just 20 minutes north of Winnipeg. With an aspen and oak forest, blankets of wildflowers, prairie grasslands and a cedar bog, this three-and-a-half hectare park isn’t short on bucolic beauty. (Head north on Main Street, take Hwy 59 and follow signs.) Find a secluded spot to spread your blanket and don’t forget a soccer ball for a post-picnic match. Make a pit stop at Pineridge Hollow just south of the park to peruse the gift shop, wander the wildflower gardens and grab an ice cream. Round out your day trip with a meal inside the restaurant, which specializes in innovative regional cuisine sourced with ingredients from nearby producers.
Location: Birds Hill Park, St. Clements, MB; Pineridge Hollow 67086 Heatherdale Rd 25E, Oakbank, MB
Follow the north-flowing Red River up from Winnipeg and you’ll find yourself joining the summer throngs to Lockport, Manitoba. The site of the St. Andrew’s Lock and Dam, the only Camere curtain-style dam in North America, this charming area is perfect for a summertime stroll and a light outdoor meal. Claim a picnic table or lay out a blanket on the grass facing the locks and take in the sights and sounds: water lapping, pelicans flapping, and fishermen casting. The town has several local favourite eateries for those who prefer takeaway, like retro Half Moon Drive-In and famed hot dog stand Skinner’s.
Location: North of Winnipeg, Provincial Trunk Hwy 44
Lower Fort Garry
Located in St. Andrews, Lower Fort Garry is a gem in Canada’s park system (Head north on Main Street past Lockport and watch for signs). The national historic site has the largest number of original 19th century fur trade buildings in the country. The fort served as a supply station for explorers, traders and merchants. Today, costumed interpreters wander the fort re-enacting life during that era. Spread a blanket on the riverbank for a fresh-air feast with superb views.
Location: 5925 Highway 9, Saint Andrews, MB
Oak Hammock Marsh
For a wetlands adventure, start by heading north on McPhillips Street. The 36-square kilometre marshland is home to 300 species of birds. Spot the winged wildlife perched in the tall grasses as you stroll down the boardwalk. The tall, grassy maze opens up to the ground squirrel park, located next to a picnic area. Or pack your lunch and head upstairs to the interpretive centre’s grass-covered roof for a bird’s eye view of the wetlands. Wander the property for free or visit the interpretive centre.
Location: 1 Snow Goose Bay, Stonewall, MB
Established in 1906 on the Winnipeg River, Pinawa Dam was the province’s first hydroelectric generating station. Long closed in deference to the Seven Sisters Dam downstream, the stately ruins situated in a provincial heritage park now make an intriguing background for a swimming hole. Explore the dam and take a dip next to rocky outcroppings that meld into old cement structures, or reach the dam by river via rented inner tube. After working up an appetite, the serene setting has plenty of places to perch for a picnic.
Location: Northwest of Pinawa, Provincial Rd 520.
Known for its elegant atmosphere and stellar prairie-sourced menu, Pineridge Hollow is a rustic venue, gift shop, and restaurant set inside a country estate. The lovely onsite restaurant serves dishes like beet chips and signature mushroom perogies, with some ingredients sourced from its own garden. Those looking to dine outside can explore food vendors, cafes and bakeries in the newly opened Village shops or onsite farmers’ market (Fridays and Saturdays).
Location: 67086 Heatherdale Rd 25E, Oakbank, MB
Souris Swinging Bridge
Pedestrian bridges spanning over water, rainforests and between mountains are tourist attractions the world over, offering scenic views and thrills to adventure seeking hikers. Right here in Manitoba, Souris Swinging Bridge holds the record for the longest suspension bridge in Canada. Today’s spectacular bridge, rebuilt in 2013, spans 184 meters and is accessible to people of all abilities. At night, the bridge is illuminated, delivering Insta-worthy photo opportunities. Two riverside picnic tables offer premiere seating to nosh on a gourmet pizza from nearby Woodfire Deli. Ambient squeals and laughter are provided by bridge crossers of all ages.
Location: Souris, MB R0K 2C0
Spruce Woods Provincial Park
Every summer, hikers flock to Spruce Woods Provincial Park to walk the Spirit Sands trail, a fascinating route unlike any other in Manitoba. Winding through five square km of desert sand dunes – towering 30 metres above the prairie – and down through cool wooded areas, the trail leads to the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a unique group of ponds formed by underground streams. The trail offers many unique and beautiful vistas at which to stop for a bite, and the self-guided route can be hiked at varying lengths or seen by horse-drawn carriage. Avoid mid-day hikes in the heat of summer.
Location: Northwest of Winnipeg, off Provincial Trunk Hwy 5
Suit up for a trip to Winnipeg Beach, a cottage and beach-lovers’ enclave on the west side of Lake Winnipeg. Stroll the waterfront boardwalk or grab some grass while listening to an open-air concert at the bandstand. Head 10 minutes north on Hwy 9 to Gimli, where a thriving Icelandic community livens this fishing village and vacation destination. Walk the long pier at town centre and check out the murals painted on the breakwater. Take a dip in the lake, wander the shops or pick up some freshly caught and battered pickerel with chips from Kris’ Fish and Chips (78A 1st Ave, 204-642-8848).
Location: Gimli, MB (North of Winnipeg on Hwy 9)