Fort Needham Memorial Park
Every jerk likes a picnic. Steve Martin might suggest brownbagging some "tunafish on white bread with mayonnaise, a Tab and a couple of Twinkies," but if you're headed up to Fort Needham, you can stop by Caribbean Twist (3081 Gottingen, 404-3855) for some jerk of a different kind---jerk chicken and Jamaican patties will make for a spicy afternoon at one of the few off-leash dog parks in Halifax. And maybe add a little sugar to your spice by grabbing dessert at Julien's Pastry Shop (5517 Young Street, 455-9717). If you're bringing your dog to the park, buy some doggie desserts from Katie's Farm Organic Dog Bakery at henhouse (5533 Young Street, 423-4499) while you're at it.
What's the weekend without a trip to the Farmers' Market (Brewery Market, 1496 Lower Water Street, 492-4043)? Set your alarm on a Saturday morning and pick up breakfast goodies for a sunny brunch on the waterfront. Wipe the sleep out of your eyes, pack up a basket with some coffee mugs and cutlery and pick up Fox Hill Cheese House's delicious yogurt, fresh berries, Happy Gourmet Granola and some local honey or a croissant and preserves and park yourself on a pier. Or enjoy even more sea air with breakfast on the ferry or spreading it out at Ferry Terminal Park in Dartmouth when you get there.
Grab your red scrunchie, a slushie and some cornnuts at a nearby gas station, find three of your best colour-coordinated frenemies and set up a croquet set near some shade on the Common. To complete the Heathers homage, you'll want to motor to The Italian Market (6061 Young Street, 455-6124) to buy some pate and crostini for the picnic. Or, if you're cooking ahead of time, make some spaghetti with lots of oregano. It would make Veronica Sawyer proud.
Cobblestone isn't as comfortable as a soft mound of grass, but with a blanket and a few cushions, Granville Mall makes for the most urban of picnicking locations. Pick up some of Halifax's best coffee and savoury sandwiches from Sam's Macchiato (1903 Barrington Street, 420-2900) and enjoy the people watching. With The Split Crow (1855 Granville Street, 422-4366) right there, you can go from picnics to pints on the patio in the blink of an eye.
Public Gardens/Victoria Park
While you may have to stay off the grass through most of the Public Gardens, you can chow down on some lemongrass if you pop by Indochine Bahn Mi (1551 South Park Street, 407-1222) on the way to the park and pick up some Vietnamese subs to snack on. Cool down with a bubble tea smoothie, or grab an ice cream at Uncommon Grounds' summer location. With free concerts on Sunday afternoons in the summer, you can't ask for a better picnic spot.
Almost a literal hop and skip away from Pete's Frootique (1515 Dresden Row, 425-5700), you can feel like the king of the hill by going luxe with some Paris Toasts, crème fraiche and caviar from Pete's. Or just go for a creative sandwich with fresh, crusty bread. Try goat cheese and mango! Or prosciutto, apple and brie! All you need is a grocery bag and some creativity. And with Susie's Shortbreads (1589 Dresden Row, 406-7075) on your way to the hill, get yourself a tasty cupcake for dessert. Shade is a premium on the hill, so bring your sunscreen. And while you're at it, bring a kite!
Who says a picnic has to be a real meal? Indulge your inner five-year-old and have a candy picnic at Grand Parade. Freak Lunchbox (1723 Barrington Street, 420-9151) has everything you need to get the minimum daily requirement of all five gummy food groups: egg; berry; fish; bear and dinosaur. The only other thing you might need is an appointment with your dentist.
Bring a blanket or claim one of the benches and do a southern barbecue south-end-style by getting some takeout from Boneheads BBQ (1014 Barrington Street, 407-4100). When you drop by the Barrington Street Market (1075 Barrington, 492-3240) to pick up some extra wetnaps or paper towels, try watermelon, or biscuits strawberries and whipped cream for an on-the-fly dessert.
This urban wilderness is pretty much the ideal picnic spot. If you want to get a bit of culture, head down to the area around the Prince of Wales Martello Tower for one of Shakespeare by the Sea's productions, and keep it Elizabethan by having a ploughman's lunch of a crusty country bread, rich cheese, butter and pickles, which you can pick up at Sobeys (1120 Queen Street, 422-9884). And don't forget some beer---root or ginger, of course.
Stop by Two If By Sea (66 Ochterloney Street, 469-0721) for what is basically their all-day continental breakfast---a perfect cappuccino and pain au chocolat. The cafe's giant, buttery croissants might stop your heart, but you can give it a kickstart at Dartmouth's first outdoor GreenGym, right across the street from the Common. Or you can get a workout by playing with your pooch since the Common is an offleash park! Don't forget to bring a water bottle for you, and another one for Fido.
Lake Banook/ Sullivan's Pond
Whether your destination is the beach by Graham's Grove Park, or a spread on the lawn by Sullivan's Pond, a quick stop by the Atlantic Superstore (9 Braemar Drive, 463-4619) makes a picnic anywhere along Prince Albert Road a snap. Pack a blanket in a re-usable grocery bag and create your own charcuterie plate---salami, chorizo, pate and prosciutto are all in the deli, and just keep on adding everything from olives, peppers and gherkins to mustard, cheese and crackers until you're totally happy.