Pitt Lake, Pitt Meadows, BC

Canadians will be celebrating long weekends across the country during the first weekend in August. The civic holiday themes include British Columbia Day (BC), Heritage Day (AB), Saskatchewan Day, Simcoe Day (ON), Natal Day (NS and PEI), New Brunswick Day and civic holidays in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.  In the Yukon a long weekend is celebrated during the third weekend of August.  Newfoundland and Labrador also have a civic holiday that falls on the first Wednesday in August.

Light Speed SPF 50 Tent

British Columbians are often portrayed in the Canadian media as living in affluent circumstances, which is a less than accurate assessment.  Most don’t retreat to a cottage or boat fit for an Eaton’s commercial during a long weekend.  Although many do go online early in the year so that they can book spots at camping grounds for annual meet-ups with family and friends.  A great alternative to a cottage by the lake is a supply of outdoor gear for on-the-go days out and about.   These days pop up sun tents; portable chairs; BBQs; and well designed picnic, water and outdoor game supplies are affordable and convenient. Most portable chairs, sun tents and some picnic gear, such as insulated picnic bags, come with shoulder straps.  You can easily carry a variety of gear around a park, to the beach or on transit.  This makes outdoor fun accessible to everyone.

Here at BCFamily our  favourite outdoor gear pieces are a Light Speed pop-up tent from Costco (less than $40!) and a classic, reversible Rachel Riley picnic blanket made of gingham and toile du jouy fabric.  It’s filled with a wool lining to give it weight.

Add in portable chairs from the Great Canadian Superstore (under $10), a kite from Big Wind Kite factory, a fully kitted, fabric lined wicker picnic hamper  and a collapsible Thule transport organizer and we’re good to go!

There’s nothing better than a long weekend experience outside with family and friends while enjoying a picnic and outdoor activities in a beautiful setting.  In the Lower Mainland a long weekend is the perfect opportunity to venture away from your usual spots nearby and head out to Bowen Island, locations on the North Shore and towards Whistler, or the suburbs and the Fraser Valley. If you don’t have access to a car and don’t belong to a car sharing programme, there are still plenty of locations that are accessible using transit.

In Pitt Meadows, Pitt Lake is an example of a stunning setting that includes the second largest lake in British Columbia and an ecological reserve.  As you make a sharp right turn just before the final stretch of road near the lake, stop at the metal fence on the left, go for a walk along the lake and feel like you are miles away from the city.  A visit to this location does require a car, so transit users might want to arrange a car pool. As a nice finish to your day out, why not stop at the West Coast Grill at Swan-e-Set Resort and Golf Club for a meal.  Reservations are not usually required; however, you might want to call ahead if you are a large group of diners.  They have high chairs and booster seats available and children three and under eat for free. Reservations are required, though, for the Pasta Nights on Friday.

If you happen to be downtown and want to extend your day out, head on over to St. John’s College at UBC by bus or car.  Park along the road by the entrance to the (clothing optional) Wreck Beach stairs and enjoy one of the best places to see expansive sunsets fill the sky. If the clothing optional scene isn’t to your taste, try visiting in September when the beach is quiet. By late evening the beach is pretty much empty and  the sunsets are spectacular.

What is your favourite gear for a day outside?  Where do you like to have a picnic or enjoy the outdoors where you live? We’d love to hear from you so don’t be shy! You can comment about this posting using the comment function below or visit us at our Facebook page.

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