Stroll this lakeside neighbourhood for its rich history, frosty views and proximity to restaurants offering Polish classics like perogies and borscht.

Sunnyside is an obvious summer draw, but locals know the west end neighbourhood has got plenty of winter appeal, too. The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail offers history and recreation in equal measures — and the winter chill makes it even sweeter to get warm and cozy afterwards. Layer up, pull on a toque and let’s go to the lake!

Got a dinosaur-obsessed kid? They’ll be delighted with the big concrete dinosaurs they can climb onto at Budapest Park, located just east of Sunnyside Pool. There’s also a seesaw, a rope climber and swings. After active playtime here, your mini-me will definitely sleep well later. (Translation: extra downtime for you!)

The vibrant, art-covered Roncesvalles Pedestrian Bridge does triple duty in Sunnyside. First off, Chicago-based artist Justus Roe’s colourful murals provide a satisfying jolt of colour on cold grey days. The mural is also a symbol of cultural exchange between Toronto and its sister city, Chicago. Finally, stroll the bridge for a fantastic bird’s eye view of the lake; it’s a particularly spectacular vantage point at sunset.

If you have a thing with bridges in Toronto, make your way to the west end of Sunnyside to the Humber Bay Arch Bridge. This stunner of a pedestrian-cyclist bridge was built in 1994 as part of the Martin Goodman Trail. The bridge’s design is a tribute to the site’s location along the historic Carrying-Place Trail, a former Indigenous trade route. Its geometric pattern was inspired by the Thunderbird, a spirit in First Nations culture. The Montgomery Sisam design is equally captivating from afar and up close, with the interesting shadow play created by the arch’s lines.

Although its boardwalk café is closed in winter, Sunnyside Pavilion is worth a visit to drink in the architectural beauty of its Art Deco exterior. Its striking design is by Alfred Chapman, who also designed the distinguished Princes’ Gates entrance to Exhibition Place. Snap some photos of this white concrete stunner as it turns 100 in 2022.

Your wintery walk may stir up an appetite for carbs, so walk to Roncesvalles Avenue’s Café Polonez for a plate of soul-satiating perogies. This local favourite has been serving up homemade Polish classics for more than 30 years, so you can trust their perogies, borscht and goulash are legit. 

Next, enjoy coffee and dessert at one of Roncy’s many indie cafés. Get a comforting cup of piping hot cocoa, tea or coffee at Lit Espresso (which sources beans from local roaster Two Bears, along with sweet treats like caramel popcorn pie from New Pie Co.). Or try Cherry Bomb Coffee; they house-roast their beans in small batches and bake their own croissants and ginger molasses cookies onsite.

Ready for supper in Sunnyside after your winter adventure in the ’hood? You can’t go wrong with the comfort-food classics at homey joint The Ace. The restored 1950s diner space features intimate booths to cozy up in as you dig into juicy fried chicken with braised collard greens, or steak frites served with an addictive aioli.

 

Getting to Sunnyside:

Take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to Queen station, then catch the 501 Queen bus westbound to Roncesvalles Avenue.

Or take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Dundas West station, then catch the 504 King bus southbound to Queen Street West.

The 501 Queen and 504 King streetcar routes have been impacted by track and road construction. Visit ttc.ca for more details.