Spend an action-packed day at Ontario Place with this summer itinerary.
Summertime fun at Ontario Place isn’t just a thing of the past. While revitalization plans are in the works to bring it back to its former glory, there are actually a lot of things happening at Ontario Place to warrant a full-day visit to the waterfront property. From exploring the grounds on a Segway to cruising the waterways, below is a list of activities to keep you and the whole family entertained for an entire day.
Explore Ontario Place and Lake Ontario on a jet ski
Kick off your day at Ontario Place with a brand-new activity launched this year—guided jet ski tours. These tours are offered by 416 Navy Jet Ski Tours, the only licensed operator in the city to do so. And they have made the process super simple and fun to do.
Owners Ryan, Katrina, and Cooper take you through all the safety precautions and how to operate the jet ski before heading out on the waters. You’ll get a lifejacket, whistle, sunglass straps, a protective pouch for your phone and a radio so you can all stay in contact out on the waters.
The tour is slow-paced and gentle, perfect for those who’ve never jet skied before. You’ll be guided through the inner harbour before passing through the break wall and out into Lake Ontario. Comfort is the number one priority for 416 Navy Jet Ski Tours, so you’ll spend a little bit of time on the lake before returning to the inner harbour to see how everyone is feeling.
Looks can be deceiving and the water can be a lot choppier than it appears from the shore! If you find it’s not quite your jam, they’ll gladly bring you back and offer a full refund. But, if all is good, you’ll head back out into the lake and be guided around Ontario Place, the Toronto Islands, and if time permits, the Humber Bay Arch Bridge. There are also lots of opportunities for picture breaks!
Tours are offered seven days a week and run about 1.5 hrs including safety training on land. No boating license is required to participate, you’ll just need to be 21+ years of age and have a valid driver’s license to drive the jet ski. Passengers are welcome and must be 19+ years of age.
You will get wet, so bring a towel, a change of clothes and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Location: West Island just over Bridge 6
Cruise around Ontario Place on a pedal boat or kayak
Prefer something a little slower-paced? Rent a pedal boat or kayak from Lake Shore Boat Rentals and cruise around Ontario Place. Pedal boats come in either two- or four-seaters and only single-occupancy kayaks are available.
You’ll need a little manpower to get around (great if you’re looking for a little workout too!) but since Ontario Place is sheltered, the waters are smooth and calm. The pedal boats and kayaks really allow you to get around Ontario Place and up close to many things. You can travel through lagoons, narrow waterways and even through tunnels. Bring your camera (in a protective case of course) and snap some photos from some truly unique angles.
Lake Shore Boat Rentals operates from Thursday to Sunday, reservations are recommended. You can rent for one or two hours and lifejackets are provided.
Location: West Island by the Cinesphere
Check out the art installations
Over the years, Ontario Place has showcased a number of art installations from Winter Light Exhibitions to the In/Future immersive art exhibition. This summer, there are two art installations worth checking out.
On the West Island, you’ll find Over Floe, five iceberg-like pieces floating in the lagoon. Created by Toronto-based contemporary artist John Notten, the pieces are made almost entirely out of Styrofoam salvaged from a Toronto demolition site.
The material is meant as a juxtaposition to the natural element of icebergs. The pieces take on additional meaning when viewed from the other side. Five symbols of society (a bank, house, factory, truck and school) all seem to be sinking in the water, a commentary on how they all have an effect on and are affected by their natural environment.
Location: West Island Lagoon
Further east, near the South Marina, you’ll find the Wigwam Chi-Chemung. This floating art installation celebrates the Indigenous presence of the Anishinaabe peoples who’ve lived on the land, waters, lakes and stream in the Toronto Port Lands and surrounding territories.
Wigwam Chi-Chemung, which translates to “Big House Canoe”, is a converted houseboat painted in a series of Indigenous themes and murals. It was created by Elder Duke Redbird to share the rich heritage of the land from an Indigenous viewpoint. Stop by and learn more about the art, the peoples and meet Elder Duke Redbird himself.
Location: Ontario Place South Marina
Grab lunch at the Vista Eatery
After a full morning, refuel at the Vista Eatery. This cafeteria-style eatery offers your typical concession stand options, including jumbo hotdogs, cheeseburgers, nachos and Kawartha Dairy ice cream. Order at the counter, grab a table on the patio and enjoy the views of Lake Ontario.
Location: 955 Lake Shore Blvd.
Ride around Ontario Place on a Segway
You might need a little bit of time to digest your lunch, so a great way to explore the Ontario Place grounds with minimal physical exertion is to join a Segway tour with Go Tours Canada. These tours are great for experienced riders but if you’ve never ridden a Segway before, fret not! It’s easy and quick to learn.
The tour will start with a quick lesson on how the Segways work. They operate on a self-balancing system through sensors in the footpads. Lean forward or backwards to move in that respective direction and tilt the handlebars left or right to turn that way. Once everyone is comfortable, your guided tour of Ontario Place begins.
You’ll cover a lot of ground, visiting both West and East Islands, lookout points, the Sunken Ships and Trillium Park. You’ll learn about the history of Ontario place, ride over a variety of terrain, including paved walkways and wooded areas, and you’ll stop for lots of photo opportunities.
Tours run Friday to Sunday, participants must be 12+ years of age and reservations are required.
Location: East Island, just east of the Vista Eatery
In addition to the tours and rental activities, there are a number of public recreational areas which are free to use. Choose from basketball courts, table tennis, beach volleyball and even a skate park. Facilities are open daily and available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
After dark activities
The fun doesn’t stop once the sun goes down! In fact, one of my favourite spots to catch the sunset in Toronto is right from Trillium Park. The view of the CN Tower and skyline make for an impressive view as the sky turns various shades of orange, pink and purple. Stay after dark with two additional options—the Drive-In and Fire Pits.
Throughout the summer months, Ontario Place features a diverse lineup of movies to enjoy at the Drive-In, supporting local film and arts organizations. The Drive-In is located on the East Island and concessions can be purchased at the Vista Eatery.
Nothing says summer nights like a crackling fire! Roast some marshmallows and cozy up at one of the fire pits. There are four fire pits to choose from (Trillium Park, Lakeside, and North and South Cedar Cove) all of which must be booked in advance. You have to provide your own wood, but nearby Hotel X Toronto is making things easy and convenient with Firewood and S’Mores Packages.
In the Firewood Package, you’ll get a bag of wood, kindling and a BBQ lighter (a carrying buggy is also available with a deposit). The S’Mores Package includes homemade marshmallows, dark chocolate and ruby chocolate discs, graham crackers and bamboo sticks for roasting. Grab a group of your friends and have some laughs around the fire.