Build your perfect summer-in-Toronto picnic with these essentials from local businesses (and a few ready-to-go options for impromptu picnics!).
Summer is such a magical time in Toronto. The city feels vibrant and people clamour to get outside and bask in the glorious warm days while they last. And given we have another summer that needs to be physical distancing-friendly, this is the summer of the picnic.
To make all your Toronto picnic dreams come true, we’ve rounded up the essentials you need—all from local vendors and businesses. Then you'll just have to pick your perfect picnic location and get ready for a sun-filled day eating alfresco.
Essential #1: the picnic blanket
It all starts with the blanket! You’ll want one big enough for your group or to space out, so make sure you double-check the sizing. If you can find an option that folds, or rolls up neatly you’ll already be winning at the picnic game. One that has a waterproof bottom? Even better.
Good Neighbour: Portable Blanket
Good Neighbour is one of our top go-to stores for these kinds of things. Filled with unique finds from clothes to tableware and tons of things you didn’t know you needed to have—it’s that kind of store. And they don’t have a shortage of chic, comfy and rollable blankets—complete with a leather strap to keep things neat and tidy. It’s easy to roll out for your picnic and cleaning up is a cinch. Bonus, it’s incredibly convenient to carry back home. $169, goodnbr.com
The Bay: Stripes Picnic Blanket
Nothing says Canadiana more than the iconic stripes from The Hudson’s Bay Company. Pack this blanket kit up for Canada Day weekend, add in some Canadian-inspired foods (poutine from Smokes, anyone?) and bring on the Canadian flags. Did we mention it also folds up into an easy-to-carry tote? Oh, and it has a waterproof back, so no more dampness when you’re sitting. $20, thebay.com
Neat: Round Blanket
Make sure no one feels left out with this circular blanket from Neat. The Love Rugs are perfect for a picnic – just put all the goodies in the middle and have everyone sit around the blanket (spaced out if needed). It’s also super handy for beach picnics and its signature water repellent fabric means you don’t have to worry about spills, and it’s easy to clean. Thinking of everything, it’s also padded, has a waterproof underside and comes in funky, fun prints. Picnic on the islands, anyone? $215, neatspace.ca
Essential #2: picnic baskets & bags
Next up on your essentials list—whether a traditional picnic basket, a picnic backpack (for a very easy and convenient way to carry all your things) or a tote bag.
Tuck Shop Trading Co.: Tote Bag
Keep it super simple, but stylishly ready for Instagram photos with a straw tote from The Tuck Shop Trading Co. These straw bags have become a Toronto staple—for those who want to cottage it up in Muskoka or those who head to the beach for a sunny afternoon. But they also fit just enough in them for a small picnic for two. And don’t forget, not too far away from the shop is a great, quiet picnic area, Craigleigh Gardens. $210, tuckshopco.com
Moss: Picnic Wallet
Moss Garden & Home on the Danforth is the go-to for all things picnic related. They have so many options to choose from. First up, the tiniest picnic version you can slip into any bag is this little picnic wallet. It comes with all the reusable essentials for two you need for digging into your fave picnic foods, plus a napkin and a mini-board and bottle opener. Impromptu picnics are definitely welcome with this handy set. $26.99, mossgardenhome.com
Moss: Picnic Backpack
The next level up from Moss’ is this picnic backpack. The easiest way to get all your picnic essentials from downtown to the westside or to the eastside is with this backpack. This backpack unfolds to reveal everything you need for a hearty picnic for four including wine glasses, cutlery sets, a cutting board, salt and pepper shaker, cloth napkins and a bottle opener. $119.99, mossgardenhome.com
Moss: Picnic Basket
Go traditional and old school with a straw, square picnic basket. Tip: look for one that has a cloth, or insulated lining to keep things cool, and one that has pockets or straps like this to keep things tidy, organized and to make sure your food doesn’t get squished. This two-person set comes with glasses, plates, cutlery and has a leather handle for easy carrying. $99.99, mosshomegarden.com
Essential #3: picnic utensils
We’re all about an eco-friendly option for picnics. Especially if we’re spending so much time in our city parks this summer, we want to keep them clean and green. Opt for reusable or recyclable options, these are a few of our faves.
Easy Tiger Goods: Reusable Plates
Make your picnic setup even more Instagram-friendly with beautiful, hand-painted plates that are durable and easy to carry from Easy Tiger Goods in Little Portugal. An added bonus? These ones are made from bamboo and are 100% biodegradable and free of melamine and plastic, plus they also have a great selection of bowls. So your picnic in Trinity Bellwoods can be colourful, bright and eco-friendly. $45 and up, easytigergoods.com
Juxtapose Home: Paper Cups
Keep things cheerful thanks to brightly-hued and patterned cups from Juxtapose Home in the Annex. These paper options will make any drink or food look instantly pretty. If you’re looking to up your photo ops, these will do the trick and can help turn your picnic into a garden party at the same time. $12.95, juxtaposehome.com
Pretty Clean Shop: Stainless Steel Lunchbox
If you plan on packing your own food for your picnic instead of picking some up, opt for a portable, leak-free, easy stainless steel option. This has three compartments so you can bring a variety of foods with you to nearby High Park—and keep things separate for food sensitivities, likes or dislikes. $24.50, prettycleanshop.com
Other picnic accessories
Once you have the basics ready to go (blanket, utensils, basket), you can add fun elements to make your picnic day even better.
If a beach picnic is in your future (Toronto does have some beautiful beaches perfect for a little picnic!), or even if you’re doing a park picnic and can’t find tree shade, this umbrella will come in handy. Just make sure you have the means to transport it! This one is an investment but if you’re a beach lover and a picnic lover you’ll get double the duty. $425, neatspace.ca
Spruce Toronto: Edison Mini Lamps
Take your picnic from afternoon into evening thanks to a few rechargeable mini lamps like these Edison Minis. These minis last for six to 12 hours depending on setting and use a USB charge, so they’re super portable. They offer up some soft light, a bit of romance for sunset and when you can’t do fairy lights, they are a great option. $199, sprucetoronto.com
Pre-made picnics to-go
Want the easiest picnic ever? Yes! For an impromptu picnic, or if you just want to support some local restaurants, try one of these cute, filling and down-right delicious picnic baskets to-go options.
Cheese Boutique Picnic Basket
Cheese is always a good idea when it comes to picnics! And Toronto’s famous Cheese Boutique in Swansea has a pretty delicious made-to-go cheese picnic basket that will delight. But it’s more than just cheese. Also in the basket are meats, olives, cornichons, grapes, crostini, chips, dips and some non-alcoholic beverages to whet your whistle between cheese bites. Plus $4 from each purchase will be donated to the Mental Health Promise Fund at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. Pre-ordering is required, so plan ahead! $62, cheeseboutique.com
Mattachioni Picnic Basket
A picnic basket dream is what this is. There are two options—a lunch picnic basket or a charcuterie basket—both packed with so many goodies from chips to cookies, sparkling water, cheeses, salad, olives and more. Oh, and did we mention it comes with playing cards, a frisbee and cutlery?! You can even add on wine/negroni mix/beer and a picnic blanket. Sold! $65-$80, pre-order or walk-in http://www.mattachioni.com/
XO Bisous Picnic Baskets
Talk about a classic picnic experience! XO Bisous (near St. Lawrence Market) offers up an ideal picnic with a choice of sandwiches (for both meat and veggie lovers), iced tea, homemade cookies, a harvest salad, fruit salad (to balance out those cookies!) and some crunchy chips. It’s a mix of all perfect park foods with something for everyone. $40 for two people, $80 for 4 people. Pre-order at xobisous.ambassador.ai
Aviator Danforth Picnic Basket
Tempt your sweet taste buds with an Afternoon Tea picnic curated by Aviator on the Danforth. Available on Saturdays you can pick up your picnic tea complete with scones, chantilly cream and jam, mini tea sandwiches, egg salad, mini desserts and more. They even have a Teddy Bear Picnic just for kids with fruit salad, mini sandwiches and a cupcake—how sweet! They also have regular themed picnic options that change weekly—don’t bypass the Italian option! $18 plus tax, pre-order, https://www.aviatordanforth.com/