20 Best Places For a Picnic or Barbecue in Calgary and the Mountains
Pack a lunch, bring the bug spray and enjoy dining alfresco while it’s nice outside.
Picnic in Olympic Plaza this summer.
Image courtesy of Tourism Calgary
Editor's note: This article was updated on June 1, 2017.
Picnic and barbeque season is here and Calgarians are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating outdoors. There are at least 3,211 picnic tables in the city, as well as 416 barbecue sites.
Here are 20 of our favourite spots to enjoy eating outdoors while the weather is warm, both in the city and a short drive away.
Where to have a picnic or barbecue in the city
Bowness Park is a favourite picnic spot that is now fully open. It has seen numerous redevelopments recently, including a new central square, new fire pits and improved lighting, signage that celebrates the history of the park and a wading pool that is set to open in mid to late June. Pick up items from lunch from the Seasons of Bowness Park market or let the restaurant put together a picnic basket for you. After eating, walk the paths and admire the lagoon. You can even rent a canoe from the Boat House (scheduled to open June 9) and enjoy an afternoon of paddling. Or if kids are with you, take them for a ride on the mini-train.
8900 4 Ave. N.W.
Also known as North Capitol Hill Park, Canmore Park is located in Charleswood. There's plenty of open space to set up a picnic blanket, but there are picnic tables and benches here too. There are also tennis courts, ball diamonds and a spray park here, or you could take a walk to the nearby Confederation Park.
2836 Canmore Rd. N.W.
This picnic spot is ideal for those looking for a quiet spot where they can really appreciate nature. There are multiple man-made lakes to admire and you can birdwatch — the area is home to a variety of different waterfowl such as Belted Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons. Bring your fishing poles if you’re interested in trying to catch a bite — no swimming here, though — or go for a paddle down the river in your canoe.
67 Riverview Dr. S.E.
It’s central, it’s family-friendly and it’s a great place for a picnic. Edworthy Park has numerous picnic sites, shelters and gazebos as well as fire pits and barbecue stands. You can book a picnic site at this park, too. Bring the dogs and go for a walk along the pathways after enjoying your sandwiches alfresco. And, be sure to save room for an ice cream cone from Angel's Cappuccino and Ice Cream.
5050 Spruce Dr. S.W.
After using the picnic tables or barbecue stands at this park, take the family for a leisurely bike ride through the beautiful trails here.
7305 Crowchild Tr. S.W.
If such an award existed, this park would win the award for being the most romantic picnic site. Park at the base of the hill, slap on some sunscreen and hike to the top. Your lunch won’t be your only reward for making it to the top — you’ll also be rewarded with spectacular views of the entire city. There are benches scattered along the top of the hill, so try to find one to sit on as you eat lunch.
Currently the City is working on updating the trails and pathways at this park, but that won't stop you from having an enjoyable summer picnic.
5620 14 St. N.W.
This venue is ideal for a mid-week picnic. Eat your lunch on the garden bistro chairs or tables, or choose to sit on the concrete steps instead. You might even catch a live performance on the park's stage.
228 8 Ave. S.E.
Picnicking here will make you feel as though you’ve escaped the city. Home to the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery and a 15-hectare reconstructed wetland, this is the place to soak in the beauty of nature while eating at one of the picnic sites. Visit the Bow Habitat Station after lunch to go fishing in the trout pond or walk through the interpretive wetland.
1440 17A St. S.E.
There have been big improvements to this park and is now a must-visit park this summer. Now, the park has a range of amenities including a zipline, tennis and basketball courts, a new playground, a cricket pitch and a scooter bowl. There is even a wading pool and lazy river (scheduled to open in June) for cooling off on hot summer days. Bring a picnic to enjoy at the updated picnic and barbecue area — you can get creative with your picnic, since there's a tandoori oven here now. Prairie Winds Park reopened at the end of May.
223 Castleridge Blvd. N.E.
Enjoy your picnic while watching the ducks on the pond or the newest Shakespeare by the Bow performance. Or, set up in the grassy area in front of the Enmax Stage — there's plenty of room for popular summer yard games like croquet or bocce ball.
4 St. and 1 Ave. S.W.
Located right in Calgary's inner city, this picnic spot is just down the hill from SAIT and up the road from the hustle and bustle of Kensington. Buy some picnic supplies from Sunnyside Natural Market and spend the whole day in the park. There's a wading pool for kids, a cricket pitch for the sports fans, a playground and flower and rock gardens.
800 12 St. N.W.
Bring the whole family for an afternoon picnic at the sheltered spots. The picnic shelter, barbecues and fire pits have been updated and improved. Kids will like the playgrounds (and they're only going to get better — the City is working on playground upgrades here) and adults will appreciate the views and close proximity to Britannia. Visit Britannia's Village Ice Cream for a cone before heading home.
4500 1A St. S.W.
This is where the athletic come to picnic. Pack a lunch and enjoy a full day of activities here: bring tennis racquets, baseball gloves and the soccer ball and organize a majorly competitive afternoon. Cook up some hot dogs and burgers on the barbecue afterwards.
4900 Monserrat Dr. N.W.
Spend the morning at Heritage Park, pick up some cheese buns and cinnamon rolls from the bakery and take them to South Glenmore Park to eat at the sheltered picnic tables. If you're feeling energetic afterward, walk to the Weaselhead Natural Area or, if you know how to sail, rent a boat from the Glenmore Sailing School.
90 Ave. and 24 St. S.W.
This 21-hectare park has a range of amenities to enjoy during a social picnic including tennis courts, a sports field and an outdoor swimming pool and wading pool. There's also raft access to the Elbow River and the Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Club is located right in the park.
4011 1A St. S.W.
Where to have a picnic in the mountains
Reserve a campsite here and enjoy eating several meals outdoors. Spend an entire weekend canoeing, kayaking, rafting and hiking. There are also several picnic spots for day use, including Barrier Dam, Barrier Lake and Widow Maker.
Bright blue water, incredible mountain views and plenty of hiking trails, this glacially fed lake is a picturesque spot for a picnic. The picnic area here has eight tables, two kitchen shelters and even flushing toilets.
For a picnic by an impressive waterfall, head to Sheep River Provincial Park. Sheep Falls is just a short walk from the day-use area and is a cool site to enjoy lunch outdoors.
Located about 12 kilometres outside of Banff, this picnic spot is a great but popular area. If you're brave, go for a dip in the water or rent a canoe or standup paddle board. Or, just admire the mountain views from the shore. There are eight picnic tables here as well as two fire rings.
Drive to Canmore with picnic basket in tow and get ready to enjoy an entire day at the sandy beach. With gorgeous mountain views and pristine water, this is the place for a good, old-fashioned picnic. There are no fire pits here.