Whether it’s part of a day at the lake or a trip to a local park, a delectable picnic is as easy as a visit to one of Central Alberta’s many specialty shops to stock up on ready-made gourmet treats.

Whether it’s part of a day at the lake or a trip to a local park, a delectable picnic is as easy as a visit to one of Central Alberta’s many specialty shops to stock up on ready-made gourmet treats.

Central Alberta is a picnicker’s paradise

Your guide to finding your picnic-perfect ingredients

Central Alberta is filled with lakes and trails perfect for picnics.

And if you’re planning ahead and worried about the weather, the City of Red Deer also has a number of picnic shelters that can be reserved through the city website.

For many of us, picnics evoke nostalgic memories of a quick refreshment break between swims or a chance to pause during a hike to sit and enjoy the view.

The food was often a hastily prepared cooler or backpack filled while we rummaged for bathing suits or shorts, made for sustenance rather than a gourmet experience in its own right.

While we can think fondly of the warmish cream sodas and PB&J sandwiches, with today’s slowed-down world and renewed appreciation for everything local, it’s time to take another look at our picnic fare and give it the upgrade it deserves. Whether it’s part of a day at the lake or the reason for a trip to a local park, it’s as easy as a visit to one of the many specialty shops in the area to stock up on ready-made gourmet treats.

Here are just a few of the plethora of choices available in Central Alberta:

Bergen Farm Market Make a day of it and head to Bergen Farm Market just south of Sundre. Open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., from mid-June to mid-September at the Bergen Community Hall in Bergen Alberta, the market promotes healthy, sustainable agricultural products from area growers. You’re sure to find locally produced foods to take your picnic game to the next level.

Sylvan Star Cheese If you’re a cheese fiend, make sure you stop in at Sylvan Star Cheese and visit its well-stocked shop. While renowned for their additive and antibiotic-free gouda, the family-run farm has a large selection ranging from blue and Raclette to Monterey and goat cheeses. They also carry a great selection of crackers and honeys and a well-curated sampling of cured meats from Valbella Gourmet Foods in Canmore, including hard-to-source Bündnerfleisch.

Ranch Gate Market Located in Sylvan Lake, Ranch Gate Market has everything you need for a barbecue picnic, including locally sourced meats and accompaniments. And if you’re a jerky fan, they have a great selection to toss into your backpack to eat while you’re on the trail.

Central Alberta Co-Op One stop shopping at its finest, Central Alberta Co-op has a great selection of picnic basket items. Pick up a selection of charcuterie, fresh veggies, dips and breads to satisfy your hunger.

Local breweries – If you’re confining your picnic to your backyard, drop by one of the many craft breweries in Central Alberta for a growler of your favourite quaff. Red Hart Brewing and Troubled Monk in Red Deer and Snake Lake Brewery in Sylvan Lake are all great choices with beers that make the most of the area’s malt barley.

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