Summer in the city marks the unofficial start of park season.
With a population of commuters and avid cyclists, the variety of Toronto parks accessible by TTC or two wheels can make for a great afternoon. When a vacation or a day trip isn’t in the cards, packing a picnic, planning a hike, or hopping on your bike for a little cruise makes for a sweet staycation.
This man-made peninsula by the waterfront is a great spot for hiking or cycling. The largest existing natural habitat on the Toronto waterfront, you’ll find sand dunes, cottonwood forests, marshes, and cobble beaches. Enjoy fishing or bird-watching? You can do that too. Plus, it’s a great place to get that iconic Toronto skyline shot while the Island is off limits.
Canada’s first National Urban Park has a ton to offer. It hosts the only campground in Toronto, so bring your tent and sleeping bags along with your hiking boots for the trails, or your bathing suit for the beach—and don’t forget your canoe for a paddle through the marshes. Need an intro to the outdoors? They offer a ton of programming through the summer, including guided hikes, and a learn to camp program for those easing into their inner adventurer.
A list of city parks can’t be complete without Trinity Bellwoods. Over the years, this park has become a cultural hub. Hosting picnics, flea markets, and park games, weekends here usually mean you’ll be sharing the space with a lot of people. And a lot of puppies.
You can easily spend the whole day in High Park if you wanted to. Check out the zoo (including the two new capybara babies named after Canadian band Rush), cool off in the outdoor pool, or bring a picnic. Unlike Bellwoods, there’s lots of shady areas, and while it’s still a high-traffic park, it’s much, much bigger. Plan your day so that you can check out Shakespeare in the Park later in the evening (this summer is showing King Lear and Twelfth Night)—you’ll need some cash for entry, a blanket, snacks, and bug repellent for an optimal time.
Brickworks is another great spot in the city where you can spend the whole day. The park and community space offers a ton of programming: from the locally grown produce available at the Saturday farmer’s market, to guided walks and hikes through the area. If you’re looking for a nice relaxed afternoon, grab lunch at Café Belong and go for a walk through the Don River Valley Park.
Bluffer’s Park, now called Scarboro Crescent Park, in Scarborough is definitely one of the more scenic spots to hang out in Toronto. Relax by the beach, hike up to one of the lookouts, or take the Bluffers Park Trail. Note that this area has seen some eroding due to all the rain this year, so be cautious and follow signs if you’re hiking.