10 Best Parks in Toronto
Toronto's parks come in all shapes and sizes. Amazing waterfront parks complete with sandy shorelines and boardwalks jostle for top spot with parks that are historical in nature, while others come with special features like zoos and gardens. No matter where your interests lie, a Toronto park is out there just waiting for you.
Access to most of Toronto's best parks is easy. For several of them, all you need to do is hop on the subway - many of the parks have their very own stops. Alternatively, step onto a street car and stop anywhere along Queen Street East and in minutes, you'll be on one of Toronto's best beach parks.
A majority of the parks have comfort stations, playgrounds, walking trails, and concessions or food trucks nearby selling all kinds of snack food and ice cream. Find your patch of green with our list of the best parks in Toronto.
1. High Park
Toronto's High Park is one of the largest and most popular in the city and for good reason. Stretching from Bloor Street down to The Queensway, this huge park is someplace you can explore for days and still not see everything. In fact, one third of the park remains in a natural state.
High Park is full of wonderful walking trails that follow the contours of the land as they wind their way through large trees and along burbling brooks. Two of the best are the Spring Creek and West Ravine. Or, for something more sedate, follow the trails that lead down to Grenadier Pond, one of the best places to fish in the city.
Sports enthusiasts love High Park for its extensive tennis courts, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds. In the winter, an artificial ice-skating rink operates. The outdoor swimming pool is huge and very popular on hot summer days, listen for children's shrieks of delight, and you'll know you've found the splash pad.
Another popular destination in the park for families is the High Park Zoo. This small zoo has a variety of animals, some of the more popular include sheep, bison, capybara, yaks, reindeer, and colorful peacocks.
A great way to get around the park is to take the High Park Trackless Train. The route takes 30 minutes to complete; you can exit and re-board the train once. If you find yourself in the park in the spring, be sure to check out the incredible display of blooming cherry trees.
2. Toronto Islands Park
A visit to Toronto Islands Park is not unlike a pleasant trip to cottage country several hours outside of the city. The islands are a shady, pleasant place, with large lawns, beautiful gardens, and some of the best beaches in Toronto.
Easily accessible from downtown via a short ride on regularly scheduled ferries, the islands are the perfect destination for a family outing. Wide-open parks with picnic tables and playgrounds are the ideal place to set up the BBQ and have a picnic in the park. Should the kids need a bit of entertainment, head on over to Centreville Amusement Park. Here, you'll find over 30 rides and attractions to delight the young ones.
Another excellent option for those with small ones is a visit to Far Enough Farms. Over 40 animals are just waiting to be visited and, in some cases, petted. Residents include pot-bellied pigs, peacocks, Billy goats, guinea pigs, ponies, mini horses, and a friendly alpaca.
If you just want to head over and stroll hand in hand with your loved one, or bike the miles of walkways these are great options as well. When you find yourself wearing out, stop in at one of the full-service restaurants, many with patios, to rest and recharge with a fine meal.
3. Bluffer's Park
Bluffer's Park is one of the best places to see Lake Ontario's famous Scarborough Bluffs. This large waterfront park is a delightful escape from the city. Home to another of the best beaches in Toronto, the park is aquatic-focused. A huge marina houses hundreds of sailboats bobbing gently in the breeze. Walking and biking trails wind their way along the lakeshore providing wonderful views out over the water.
The trail to the Scarborough Bluffs lookout is located in the southern end of the park; take the first exit at the bottom of the big hill and park in the main lot. If you are visiting the park to hit the beach, continue past this turn and follow the road until it dead ends at a parking lot. The beach is a short stroll from here.
Picnic tables and BBQs are spread out through the park. You'll also find a concession selling fast food and drinks, along with changerooms and washrooms.
4. Kew Park
Kew Park, located in The Beaches neighborhood of Toronto, is a delightful tree-shrouded park with large lawns and lots of green space. Layer on a fantastic beach at one end and a few historical structures throughout the park, and you have one of Toronto's finest parks.
All contained within this 6.5-acre park are the following: tennis courts, a baseball diamond, lawn bowling, a wading pool, spectacular gardens, a concession stand, and a covered picnic area. Although not a massive park by Toronto standards, this park, with all its features, delivers on so many levels. In fact, the park even has a library on the grounds; swing by and pick up a good book and settle in under a tree or on the beach for a delightful day. Time it right and stay long enough, and you may even see a summer concert take place in the historic bandstand.
Perhaps the only downside of the park is that parking is extremely limited. You may be able to snag a spot on the street if you are very lucky. A Green P city parking lot on Lee Avenue off Queen Street East is another option. Fortunately, the Queen Street East streetcar runs right past the northern end of the park. Alternatively, just park in one of the large lots at Woodbine Park, and walk just over a kilometer along the boardwalk by the beach.
5. Rouge National Urban Park
Rouge Park is Canada's newest national urban park. Spread out over a vast area approximately 19 times the size of New York's Central Park, this new protected area follows the watershed of the Rouge River as it meanders its way down to Lake Ontario. In the park, you'll find a vast array of fun things to do. These range from hiking, biking, and bird-watching to kayaking, canoeing, and camping. At the southern end, you'll find beautiful Rouge Beach on Lake Ontario, one of the best beaches in Toronto.
The park is undergoing a massive development from its current form. Hiking and biking trails are being improved, and new ones planned, and two new visitor education centers are being built. The campground, originally some of the best camping in Toronto, is being completely renovated and reconstructed to provide the amenities that today's campers have come to expect.
6. Sunnyside Park
You may have wondered what that beautiful looking beach park is off to your right as you drive (or crawl in traffic) along the Gardiner Expressway into downtown Toronto. This is Sunnyside Park, once the site of a massive amusement park from 1922 to 1950. Today it's a recreational oasis for Torontonians.
Although the entire waterfront area is generally referred to as Sunnyside Park, in fact two other parks are embedded in the area as well: Sir Casimir Gzowski Park and Budapest Park.
Sunnyside has three beach areas, all protected by an offshore seawall ensuring that the waves never get too large and that the protected water warms up nicely. You can choose to hit the beach, splash about at the Budapest wading pool, or enjoy a lap or two at the outdoor Sunnyside/Gus Ryder pool.
Back from the beach is a long boardwalk that is part of the Waterfront Trail. Pack a picnic lunch and set up at any one of the numerous picnic tables, or grab a slice of pizza from the concession. For a more relaxed bite to eat, hit the café located in the Sunnyside Pavilion. Their patio is one of the best beachfront dining spots in the city.
If you've brought the family, the park has innovative and fun playgrounds. Dogs are welcome at the park and even have their own off-leash area at the west end. Parking is easy here in any one of the large lots just off Lakeshore Blvd.
7. Christie Pits
Back in the early 1900s, this park was once a huge sand pit. As the city grew around it, the commercial operations ceased, and a park was created. Today it's one of Toronto's favorite parks due to the sheer number of things to do spread across its nearly nine-hectare space.
In the summer, the park comes alive with the sound of baseballs cracking off bats, laughter from the splash pad, and the slap of volleyballs. Other sports venues in the park include the wonderful Alex Duff Memorial outdoor pool, a children's labyrinth, a playground, wading pool, basketball courts, bike trails, a wide-open green space for multiple sports, and even a community outdoor kitchen. Cook a meal here or with the shops of Bloor Street nearby, grab a coffee, donut, or take-away food to the park, and set up at a picnic table and soak up the atmosphere.
Come winter, the park becomes one of the city's tobogganing hot spots with the sloping hills. Ice skaters also love the park for the Sid Smith Artificial Ice Rink, which is lit at night. Parking can be a bit tricky along the streets that line the park. The Toronto subway has a dedicated stop for the park.
8. Don Valley Brickworks
The Don Valley Brickworks is one of the city's newer parks. It was formerly a quarry and brickworks operation dating from 1889, but today the furnaces are quiet, and the site is reverting back to nature. Here, you'll find 15 biking and walking trails along with four ponds, an off-leash dog park area, and washrooms.
Just south of the park is the Evergreen Brickworks environmental park. This wonderful privately run operation is home to one of the city's best Saturday farmers markets, and the on-site Café Belong serves up tasty local specialties.
9. Trillium Park
This brand new 7.5-acre park is right on the water at the eastern edge of Ontario Place. Thoughtfully constructed, the park has walkways that wind their way through the rocks and near pebble beaches. A rock climbing area with a sandy base is the perfect place for those with excess energy (i.e. children) to burn it off.
A small forest has been planted, and interpretive signs dot the park providing insight on the history of the area. For good views out over the park and the Toronto skyline, walk over the main elevated bridge. Parking is easy at one of the massive lots on nearby Ontario Place.
This is a good place to start a walk along the Martin Goodman Waterfront Trail. From here, you can walk all the way into downtown, passing through some of Toronto's best waterfront parks.
10. Edwards Gardens
Edwards Gardens is an optical tour de force. Each year, the park bursts into bloom with a carefully tended assortment of flowers in artfully displayed garden beds. In the spring, the tulips create a riot of colors followed by the lilies and roses, and by early June, the rhododendrons showcase their giant blooms.
A small stream flows along a rocky bed through the park and an idyllic arched bridge spans the water.
The park is right next door to the Toronto Botanical Gardens, so consider a visit here for more exotic flowering specimens.