How To Plan a Family Bike Picnic Adventure

There’s no sweeter way to spend a Saturday afternoon than a bike picnic.

There’s no sweeter way to spend a Saturday afternoon than a bike picnic.

It doesn’t really matter what we bring with us as long as we bring enough food. As my good friend Darcy – who is also a mother of four – always says, “The fun lasts as long as the snacks.”

When my daughter, Anna Sierra, was small, she learned to love the bike trailer. Getting into the trailer meant going for a picnic, crawling around in the grass, playing in the sand and maybe even going for a swim.

My husband and I later moved our picnic supplies into panniers. Except for the times we were bringing watermelon for a crowd or bathing suits, beach towels and a sun umbrella. Then we’d reattach our trailer for extra storage space. I also appreciated having the trailer at the beach. We could lock up our bikes off the sand, detach our trailer and tow all our supplies to a shady spot.

What I love about bike picnics with the kids is how fluid these different systems are. Now both our kids are strong and steady on their very own bikes, so when we’re planning a picnic ride, we choose the route through our neighborhood more carefully than we used to when the kids rode on our bikes. And we think about how long we’re going to be out and how tired the children, especially Jasper, will be for the ride home.

I love a bike ride that leads to some good climbing trees, a raspberry patch, the rocky islands where all the seagulls hang out or somewhere else where we can do something a little bit different and a little bit special. In the spring we’ll bike to the first patch of trilliums or bluebells. In the summer we’ll choose a waterfall destination.

Wherever you’re going, biking and picnics are a great kid-friendly combination because they are outside. There’s no need for sitting still or using an indoor voice. And there are always plenty of snacks.

Great Picnic Destinations

The river. It’s always fun to throw stones into water.

The beach. A great dinner picnic spot – make sure you have shade so there’s less chance of sunburn.

A park with a big grassy hill. Kids LOVE rolling down hills and running up hills. I’ve seen toddlers endlessly amuse themselves on a big grassy hill while their parents lounge, eating watermelon.

Anywhere with trees to climb. Because who doesn’t love to climb trees?

Anywhere with sticks to collect. Sticks are to a kid’s imagination what coffee is to a parent’s morning.

Packing Your Picnic Lunch

I use lots of plastic containers so food doesn’t get wet or squished. One big water bottle and reusable plastic glasses for each person is lighter than packing a water bottler per person. The kids often snack a little, play a little and snack a bit more, so food that you can grab and gobble tends to appeal.

Usually we like simple, portable food:

  •  hard-boiled eggs
  •  carrot sticks and hummus
  •  sandwiches
  •  oatmeal cookies
  •  orange, pepper, cucumber or apple slices (we bring a paring  knife with us so the produce doesn’t get squished)
  •  muffins, bagels or pitas

Sometimes we get fancy and pack forks for everyone so we can enjoy:

  •  cubed watermelon with fresh mint
  •  cubed cantaloupe
  •  pasta salad

Picnic ride gear must-haves

  • Rain gear (if there’s a chance of showers)
  • Blanket or towels to save space
  • Wet wipes or facecloths
  • Hats
  • swimsuits towels (we find two towels between four people are enough)
  • Ball
  • Mini-first aid kit (Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, antibiotic ointment, tweezers for splinters, tensor bandage, sterile gauze, medical tape, mini-scissors)

I’ve been making these easy, delicious oatmeal cookies since I was 12.

Oatmeal Cookies

  • 2 cups of packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup of butter, softened (or oil) 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup of milk (soy milk is fine)
  • 4 cups of oats
  • ¾ cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder


Mix brown sugar, butter, vanilla and milk. Stir in oats, flour and baking powder. You may need to use your hands to finish mixing the ingredients. Shape batter into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.


1 cup of chocolate chips; 2 teaspoons of ginger; 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Kathleen Wilker recently had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Fraser University’s Meghan Winters for a Canadian Geographic article on Winters’ Bikeability Index – the first of its kind in Canada.

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