Slow the pace and explore this midtown wonderland of parks, cafés and quiet snowy streets.
Venture beyond marquee attractions like the CN Tower and downtown shopping, and you’ll find the relaxed charm of Toronto’s midtown neighbourhoods. One that’s a little off the visitor path — but still easily accessible — is Wychwood Park, located near St. Clair West subway station.
Wychwood’s main drag along St. Clair Avenue West boasts cafés, bakeries, family restaurants and independently owned shops. Its borders are also home to an abundance of city parks. Whether you have kids in tow or just want to explore a chill neighbourhood packed with low-key attractions, snowy parks and all-season playgrounds, head to Wychwood.
But first, coffee
Start by getting caffeinated with an espresso and almond chocolate chunk biscotti from Leah’s, a cheery take-out bakery.
Or if you want to sit down and nosh, cozy up to an oat-milk Nutella latte and egg-and-cheese waffle sandwich at family-friendly café CocoaLatte.
If cold-pressed juices and green smoothies are more your speed, fuel up at Thrive Organics with a Magic C lemon-pineapple-orange juice or the Blue Moon smoothie with blue majic (spirulina extract), hemp seed oil and almond milk.
Go exploring on a scenic walk
From St. Clair Avenue West, head south to Artscape Wychwood Barns. It’s the heart of this neighbourhood and a former circa-1913 streetcar barn, now converted into artists’ lofts, public space, an art gallery and playground.
In the winter — weather permitting — there’s a Canadian-backyard-style skating rink on the grounds. BYOS (bring your own skates) or simply sip your coffee and cheer on the shinny hockey players.
On Saturdays, explore the year-round farmers’ market and grab an impromptu lunch of Tibetan momos or an herb and cheese croissant from De La Terre bakery.
From “The Barns,” as they are nicknamed in the neighbourhood, keep walking south through Wychwood Park, one of Toronto’s few private enclaves (pedestrians are permitted), for the manor-style old-house architecture.
A snowy, crisp day is particularly beautiful for ambling around this quiet neighbourhood. Its heavy tree canopy means you’ll see branches glistening with snow, a sleepy, iced-over pond, and ample bird-watching opportunities (woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays are some winter birds you can spot here).
If park-hopping is in the cards, cross Christie Street to nearby Hillcrest Park, a two-hectare multi-purpose park at the top of the hill at Davenport Road. From here, you’ll get a sweeping view of downtown, including the CN Tower. Kids monkey around on the newly refurbished play structures even in the winter, and neighbourhood teens play pick-up basketball in this quiet green space. There’s even an off-leash area for your furry friends.
Urban hikers might enjoy walking straight south (it’s all downhill) to Koreatown, or due north for a nature walk in Cedarvale Park, which features a ravine nature trail that will deposit you conveniently at St. Clair West subway station.
Check out the local playgrounds & parks
Parents pushing double strollers, boisterous tweens on their school lunch breaks and strolling neighbourhood denizens of all ages mean Wychwood is child-friendly and always bustling...and lots of fun for little kids owing to the many parks (and bakeries with cookies) in the immediate area.
The above-mentioned Artscape Wychwood Barns and Hillcrest Park both have fun play structures, but the best park for the under-5 crowd is Humewood Park, on the north side of St. Clair Avenue West (and technically the Hillcrest neighbourhood). Kids and their caregivers won’t care about the distinction!
This gem of a playground has little rolling hills sparkling with snow, postcard-perfect trees and toddler-size play structures including a teeter-totter, accessible swing and sandbox.
Make the most of a snowy day by crafting a snowman or fort. You can find snow-brick makers and snowman kits at Playful Minds, an independent toy store with everything from baby toys to books for older kids. Don’t forget to stock up on games and puzzles for the trip home. You’ll also find the season’s hottest toys and perennial faves like Lego and Duplo.
Getting to Wychwood:
Take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to St. Clair subway station, then catch the 512 St. Clair streetcar westbound to Wychwood Ave.