Hidden Gem Picnic Spots in the Waterloo Region

The sun is shining, the clouds are puffy, and the sky is a beautiful blue. It's summer, and there's no better way to take advantage of the warm weather than by going on a picnic. Even when things are 'locked down' due to COVID-19, you can still enjoy the great outdoors!

There are numerous locations throughout the Waterloo Region where you can enjoy a delightful meal al fresco. Some of them are well-known, such as Victoria Park or Rockway Gardens in Kitchener, Riverside Park in Cambridge, or Waterloo Park. These locations are well-known for their beautiful landscaping and elegant settings.

But there are plenty of lesser-known but equally delightful spots around the region: hidden gems that offer a chance to explore a part of the region, discover a new favorite hiking spot, or find a quiet respite from the stresses of life.

We've compiled a list of lovely spots to enjoy an open-air lunch or a delectable supper. Check them out: you might discover a new spot, learn about local history, see some wildlife, or come across a meadow of wildflowers nodding in the sun.

Laurel Creek Nature Centre

The nature centre features excellent trails through the woods and wetlands near Laurel Creek, as well as a top-notch bullrush-lined pond teeming with frogs that will keep kids entertained for hours. There's an observation tower to climb, a wetland dock, and plenty of water birds to see.

Kolb Park

Kolb Park in Kitchener is nestled between the Grand River and busy Victoria Street, with a small parking lot off Centennial Court. Longer walks along the river are possible on the Walter Bean Trail. The park, which was once a gravel pit, features two ponds with a variety of fish and wetland plants. Garbage cans are available, but there are no benches or tables, so bring a picnic blanket.

Lakeside Park

With Shoemaker Pond and its many water birds and basking turtles, Lakeside Park is a haven of peace in the city. The pumping station, which was built in 1912, is a historic site. The site is where the first municipal wells were drilled to provide clean, fresh water to what was then the Town of Berlin.

A grassy area with gnarly old willows, a playground, and benches are all available, but there is only one picnic table. Parking is available at 20 Greenbrook Dr. or a small lot off Lakeside Drive, and walking paths connect to other nearby parks.

Willow Lake Park

Willow Lake Park, where Schneider Creek flows into the Grand River, is a peaceful spot on the site of Adam Ferrie Jr.'s five-story grain mill. In the early 1800s, the creek was dammed to power the mill, creating a lake that was a popular swimming spot.

The lake is no longer there, having been washed out by a storm in 1968, but there are remnants of the mill that could be used as a romantic backdrop for photographs. The park connects to walking trails along the Grand, but there are no picnic tables, so bring a blanket. The park is located at Pinnacle Drive and Old Mill Road in Kitchener. Parking is scarce along Old Mill Road.

Moyer's Blair Landing

Moyer's Blair Landing in Cambridge is a shady spot on the Grand River's banks where canoes slip by all the time in the summer. The site's history is explained by interpretive signs, and the footings of the 1913 Blair bridge can be seen. Parking and benches abound, but there are no picnic tables. If you want to combine a hike or a bike ride with your picnic, take Fountain Street over the river to the Cambridge hiking trail. The park's well-marked entrance is located just east of the river on Fountain.

Riverbluffs Park

Riverbluffs Park, a full-service park tucked alongside the Grand River in Galt, is a real find. You can eat under the shade of tall trees, gaze across the river at Galt Collegiate, which looms like a medieval castle, hike along the Grand, and visit the wildflower pollinators' garden. The entrance is located at 251 George St. N. in Cambridge, near James Street.

Cambridge Sculpture Garden

The Cambridge Sculpture Garden is a little-known sliver of a park with a number of sculptures, both permanent and temporary, strewn about a beautifully landscaped space beside the Grand. There are no washrooms, but there are benches and tables. At the south end of the Barnacle Bill's Fish and Chips restaurant lot, you'll find the park at 47 Grand Ave. S.