Cozy season is here! Visit these amazing parks in Toronto where you can soak in stunning fall foliage, plus visit local coffee shops to indulge your #PSL fix.
At nearly 162 hectares (400 acres), High Park is one of Toronto’s largest and most popular parks. With its mature tree canopy, scenic pond, playgrounds, sprawling off-leash dog park and meandering network of trails (both paved and not), it’s a fave for locals and visitors alike.
Fall vibes: Experience a riot of fall colour as it spreads through savannahs, woodlands and mixed forest. Deciduous trees include Manitoba and silver maple; red, black and white oak; eastern hemlock, birch, beech and countless others for a fiery and extended display.
Local coffee picks: The park’s eastern border is a short walk from family-friendly Roncey Village’s stellar coffee shops, including Cherry Bomb Coffee and Fantail Bakery. Bloor West Village beckons to the north with European cafes and luscious lattes from Cosette Coffee.
Humber Bay Park
West-end Etobicoke is home to Humber Bay Park, a 121-hectare (300-acre) nature retreat known for its diverse wildlife and breathtaking views of the city skyline, Lake Ontario and Humber River.
Fall vibes: This restored wildlife area features meadows and short grass prairie planted with native trees, wildflowers, shrubs and grasses (in other words, expect fall colours galore!). Migrating birds and butterflies use this area as a staging point before flying south in September and October, and the fall salmon run up the Humber River extends into November.
Dufferin Grove Park
Also in the west, Dufferin Grove Park is a fiercely guarded local secret. The 5.8-hectare (14.4-acre) neighbourhood park sits beneath a canopy of mature trees, boasting gardens, a playground and designated campfire circles.
Fall vibes: This peaceful park is the perfect spot for a relaxed autumnal coffee klatch under colourful falling leaves from oak, maple, walnut and aspen. At eye level, dogwood and elderberry shrubs enhance the fall colour.
Local coffee picks: While parents will find the shopping mall across the street convenient for washrooms, the best coffee can be found south of the park on College Street. Locals swear by The Common, or for South Indian filter coffee, head southeast of the park to Madras Kaapi.
Edwards Gardens & Toronto Botanical Gardens
Home to the 17 groomed, themed gardens of the 1.6-hectare (4-acre) Toronto Botanical Gardens and the urban wilderness of the adjacent Wilket Creek Ravine, Edwards Gardens is a horticultural gem in Toronto’s east end.
Fall vibes: Besides fiery tree foliage, a trip to the Toronto Botanical Gardens ensures you can take in the last of autumn blooms, including goldenrod, asters, Peegee hydrangea, Chinese witch hazel and monkshood.
Local coffee picks: No need to stray from the gardens for snacky indulgence. Visit the onsite TBG Bloom Cafe for sweet sips and baked goodies.
Rouge National Urban Park
Also in the east is North America’s largest urban park, the 79-square kilometre (nearly 20,000 acres) Rouge National Urban Park, which has a rich cultural history dating back over 10,000 years.
Fall vibes: This is Toronto’s biodiversity hotspot, with the Rouge River, expansive marshes, ponds, meadows and forests galore. Nestled in its protected territory are almost 1,000 different plant species, mixed woodlands and the endangered native butternut tree, which can grow up to 30 m (98 ft) tall.
There’s so much to train your camera lens on during the colourful fall leaf season, but it’s also a year-round bird nerd paradise. Photograph 247 avian species, including owls, hawks, bobolink—and if you’re lucky in the colder months—a few hearty bluebirds overwintering in the park.
Local coffee picks: If you need your Timmy’s fix (as locals refer to Tim Horton’s, the popular national coffee chain), there are multiple options a short drive away. Try Lamanna’s Bakery for Italian bombe, sfoglia or cannoli with your espresso for a more local take.
Guild Park & Gardens
Another eastern pick, the 35-hectare (88-acre) Guild Park & Gardens is like catnip to photographers, offering technicolour foliage alongside architectural relics and epic Lake Ontario views from atop the Scarborough Bluffs.
Fall vibes: This is the place for contemplative walks and moody, atmospheric photos. Mature deciduous trees, compact shrubs and majestic evergreens provide the backdrop to the park’s sculpture sanctuary, which includes a Greek theatre, arches, columns and statues dating to the 1800s and mid-1900s.
Trinity Bellwoods Park
A verdant enclave in downtown’s trendy Queen West, Trinity Bellwoods easily fits into even the busiest, event-heavy weekend.
Fall vibes: Mature deciduous trees in full display, boisterous playgrounds and a well-trafficked off-leash dog park (in the park’s deep ravine) make this bustling big-city park a winner, especially when it comes to capturing autumn in the downtown core.
Local coffee picks: This park may well have the city’s highest density of cafés per one-block radius—it’s in the top five for sure. Pair your takeout java with a macaron (Nadège), breakfast sandwich (White Squirrel Coffee Shop) or Aussie-style berry toast (Found Coffee). Take your time noshing in the park: If you’re lucky, you may spot one of its famed white squirrels.
A wonderful reclaimed natural space in the core’s Old Town, overlooking the Don River, what Corktown Common lacks in mature trees, it makes up for with native shrubs, plants and 766 healthy young trees which sequester approximately 8,400 lbs of atmospheric carbon per year.
Fall vibes: Human-made woodland, meadow and marsh ecosystems combine to provide habitat for native plants, and small wildlife and to protect the neighbourhood from flooding and noise pollution. Result: a stunning array of micro-environments—including an aspen grove—alongside playgrounds and recreation space.
Local coffee picks: Grab an autumnal latte and muffin from the nearby outpost of local chain Dark Horse Espresso Bar, or stretch your legs and walk another few minutes to the Distillery Historic District for Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, Arvo Coffee or Arena Coffee Bar.