For those of us who are tired of scouring Trinity Bellwoods for a patch of grass to lie down on that’s far enough from that raucous game of hacky sack and the resident drum circle, or who’d just like to drink a casual Urban Sangria (FYI – that’s white wine in a slushie) without being harassed and ticketed by a never-ending stream of nosy cops, here is a comprehensive list of the best parks Toronto has to offer that aren’t our old standby, TB.
Toronto’s largest park, High Park is very easily accessible by subway, and is home to well-known and much-loved staples of our city like Shakespeare in High Park, a zoo, access to the waterfront, an off-leash dog park, and of course the blossoming of the Cherry Trees each season. You could get lost in this thing for days. It’s the ultimate in PARK.
Check out a kickass concert or festival, play some light sports, or go for a nature-y walk. Downsview Park is one of Toronto’s most varied outdoor spaces. Although a slight trek from downtown (okay, like a pretty big trek), the size and diversity of this park make the trip well worth it. Plan your day around this excursion and head back downtown when it’s dark out to have a drink somewhere familiar.
Riverdale Park East
This park hosts several baseball diamonds, tennis courts, soccer fields a running track, not to mention a woooooonderful view of Toronto’s skyline. If you’re into sports, this is the park for you. The nearby brickworks are an added bonus for Sunday strolling.
Toronto Music Garden
If you’re looking for a quaint outdoor area that is ideal for catching a local dance or musical performance, you’re going to want to check out this garden that was inspired by Johannes Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007. What’s cooler than a cultural park inspired by music? Check out the performance schedule here.
For those of us who actively try to avoid Scarborough (home of my childhood), Rouge Park is perhaps the best thing the area has to offer. Wonderfully overrun with an abnormal amount of wildlife for a suburb, this heritage park is filled with all kinds of nature trails for you to bike or hike along. The further you delve into the wilderness of the area, the more you forget you’re still in Scarborough!
Well worth the $6 ferry ride (or $10-20 water taxi), Toronto Island is a great place to take any little ones, or to remind yourself what it’s like to be a big kid. Centreville, Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, and the Franklin Children’s Garden are wonderful attractions. There are also several parks scattered throughout the other islands as well, so if you’re looking to peel off and enjoy a quiet afternoon out of the downtown core, this is your best bet.
If you’re in the East end of the city, Ashbridges Bay Park is located right near the waterfront. With a great view of Lake Ontario, this park is also home to Woodbine Beach. A great place to picnic and swim!
I’ll be on rotating picnic blankets at every one of these parks at some point over the next 3 months. See you there, bring a slushie!