Explore east-end Toronto’s waterfront community—it’s beautiful any time of year!
Whether you call it the Beaches or the Beach, this neighbourhood in Toronto’s east end feels like a secluded escape from the busier parts of the city. The idyllic setting sells itself: a quaint main drag of shops and restaurants with a small-town feel (Queen Street East between Coxwell and Victoria Park Avenues), steps from a wooden boardwalk and bike path that run parallel to Lake Ontario—and actual sandy beaches.
This stretch of lakefront also provides the perfect series of venues for outdoor events. If you’re heading to any throughout the year, consider taking the TTC 501 streetcar along Queen Street East (or riding your bike along the waterfront trail) as parking is always at a premium, and traffic during peak times can slow to a crawl.
Winter art & ice skating
Book some ice time at Kew Gardens’ (2075 Queen St. E.) outdoor rink—weather permitting, of course! Reserve ahead to avoid disappointment so you can lace up and do your laps—or double axels—on this sizable outdoor rink.
You may lean towards hygge on a frosty winter’s day, but it’s worth bundling up to admire the various Winter Stations along Kew-Balmy (2 Silver Birch Ave.) and Woodbine (1675 Lakeshore Blvd. E.) beaches. These temporary art installations contrast the stark seasonal surroundings and are the result of an annual international design competition.
Spring festivals & outdoor fun
How many places do you go to where your dog is the VIP (we’re talking very important pet)? The largest festival dedicated to canines in North America, the award-winning Woofstock (June 5 and 6, 2021) at Woodbine Park (1695 Queen St. E.) features hundreds of vendors catering to your four-legged friends.
If you love supporting local makers, Signatures Beaches and Crafts Show (June 12 and 13, 2021) held at Kew Gardens (2075 Queen St. E.), is for you. Its marketplace of handmade goods includes vendors of clothing, jewelry, art, children’s toys, eco-friendly items, artisanal food products and more.
The Beaches Runners Club (BRC) holds several races throughout the year, kicking it off in the spring with the Beaches Easter Day 5K (followed by others, like the Beaches Jazz Run and the Tannenbaum 10K). In 2020 the organization went virtual with the races, each one with race fees supporting various causes, allowing runners to submit their race times and other details online.
Summer arts & culture
Prepare to be entertained for four days and four nights by an eclectic collection of performers at Toronto International BuskerFest (2021 dates to be confirmed). From comedy to music, acrobatic feats to sleight of hand, it can all be enjoyed at multiple stages, at Woodbine Park (1695 Queen St. E.)—complete with your fave street foods.
Spread throughout the neighbourhood, the Beaches International Jazz Festival celebrated its 30th birthday in 2019. Visitors come from all over to boogie to a variety of solo artists and bands on various outdoor stages; past performers include Jane Bunnett, Matt Dusk and Molly Johnson.
Fall festivals & leaf viewing
Get a glimpse into the life of the artists who call this neighbourhood home—while admiring the fall leaves on the tree-lined streets—on the Beach Studio Tour, the longest-running of its kind in the city.
In the Upper Beaches, Bob Acton Park (45 William Hancox Ave.) is where the Beaches Fall Festival is typically held. Celebrate the autumn season by shopping from local vendors and bring the kids for activities like pumpkin carving.
Finally, don’t forget that great Canadian pastime of autumn leaf viewing. A great vantage point to take in the fall colours is from within the Glen Stewart Ravine with its elevated boardwalk. Under the vibrant tree canopy, you may even forget you’re still in the city!
Getting to the Beaches
- From Queen subway station, take the 501 Queen streetcar eastbound to Coxwell Avenue or beyond, up to Victoria Park Avenue