by Sheila Molloy –
We have a great picnic season on the Saanich Peninsula, and you can practically throw your blanket down in any green space and consider it a picnic spot. But if you have a big family, or a large group of friends you want to bring together, you may need more space, structure and conveniences.
Beach-side favourites like Island View and Gowlland Tod always come to mind, but we took time to explore other fabulous spots that feature views, charm and amenities for a picnic-perfect day.
Dominion Brook Park. 8801 East Saanich Road across from Panorama Recreation Centre. Created in 1913 as a demonstration arboretum and ornamental garden, the park has been caringly restored and kept by the Friends of Dominion Brook Park Society. It boasts open lawns, large trees, ponds, a stone bridge, tree carvings, gardens and fab ocean views.
Street parking out front. Picnic area and covered picnic shelter in proximity to the public toilets. The Society will even give tours. Learn more: www.dominionbrookpark.ca.
Gulf View Picnic Ground. 8705 East Saanich Road, right across from Dean Park Road. A one-hectare municipal picnic area that has been in continuous public use since 1936. Flat with a field of soft grass and clover surrounded by large trees and ocean views out to the southern Gulf Islands.
A great spot for privacy with only two picnic tables and a bench. The gravel parking area has a few spots. There are no toilets on site, but Dominion Brook Park is about a 10-minute walk away.
Coles Bay Regional Park. Between Brentwood Bay and Deep Cove. Take West Saanich Road to Ardmore Drive. Turn left on Ardmore, then left on Inverness Road to the park entrance. This is a spectacular park with old-growth forest, trails and a beautiful pebble beach. There is a large parking area from which it is a short walk to a clearing with several picnic tables set on a grassy, open area.
Accessible picnic tables and pit toilets, along with the short flat distance from the parking lot, make this one of the most accessible sites. The beach is a short hike from the picnic area.
Centennial Park. 7500 block of Wallace Drive, in Saanichton. This 18.42-hectare community park is packed with amenities! From lawn bowling and tennis to wide trails and a canopied forest, the options to include other activities with your picnic time is high.
The three picnic shelters can be booked on the Central Saanich website if you want a guaranteed date. Toilets are available and there is a large playground.