Parks & Green Spaces
You’ll find more than a good spot for a picnic.
Amongst the towering buildings, multicultural neighbourhoods and shoreline of Lake Ontario are a multitude of green spaces and parks. Over 1,500 in fact.
They range in size, amenities available and ambiance within them. For those who are looking to get active or to simply spread out and relax, these green spaces are highly sought after, now more than ever. With hiking trails, splash pads, tennis courts, and picnic areas, there’s a green space or park for everyone. Looking for a few suggestions? Below are 10 of the best green spaces and parks in Toronto.
Located in Toronto’s west end, this 400-acre mixed-use park can really make you feel like you’ve left the city while remaining in the heart of Toronto. With forested areas, recreational facilities and wildlife spotting opportunities, there’s something for everyone at High Park.
Take a stroll along the many walking trails, let your dog run free in the off-leash dog areas, enjoy the tranquillity around Grenadier Pond (the largest pond in Toronto), take a dip in the public pool in the summer months or skate around on the outdoor ice rink in the winter. There’s also a large playground and a small zoo for the children, baseball diamonds and tennis courts, and even a full restaurant, The Grenadier Café, where you can grab a bite to eat.
Colonel Samuel Smith Park
As one of the city’s largest waterfront green spaces, Colonel Samuel Smith Park sits on 195 acres of land, along the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto’s west end. With various trails, ponds and wetland areas, Colonel Samuel Smith Park is most popular for spotting wildlife. It’s one of the top birding hotspots in Toronto.
It’s also one of the best spots in the city to photograph the sunrise over the skyline, so you’ll often see photographers roaming the park.
The park boasts a variety of features including a number of trails, rocky beaches, lookout points, a playground, an off-leash dog area, a football field and a yacht club. In the winter months, you can also enjoy an artificial skating trail (the first of its kind in Toronto) that loops it way through the grounds next to the Power House Recreation Centre.
Humber Bay Park
This is another great waterfront green space in Humber Bay Shores. Located close to Colonel Samuel Smith Park just west of downtown Toronto, Humber Bay Park is divided by Mimico Creek, creating an East and West Park. It too offers nature opportunities along with skyline views of Toronto. Frequented amongst locals who enjoy leisurely strolls or relaxing by the water, both sections of the park jut out into Lake Ontario but offer slightly different experiences.
The bigger of the two is Humber Bay Park West. A single paved road runs the length of the park with parking lots available throughout. Here you can enjoy a number of lookout points, rocky beaches and an off-leash dog area.
Humber Bay Park East has one large parking lot and from here you can connect to a 2.5km loop trail, a butterfly habitat, a large rock beach and lookout spots perfect for snapping your Toronto skyline shot.
Continuing along Toronto’s waterfront is the city’s newest green space Trillium Park. This man-made park is built on the former grounds of a parking lot, measures 7.5 acres in space and is perfect for those who enjoy walking, jogging, cycling, or a spot to sit and relax and watch the planes come and go from Billy Bishop Airport.
The main feature of Trillium Park is the William G. Davis Trail. This 1.3km trail weaves its way through the park and connects to the larger Martin Goodman Trail that runs the width of the city and beyond.
When you first enter the park, you’ll pass through the Ravine, which features large stone walls engraved with a moccasin to honour and celebrate First Nations’ culture and heritage. From here you’ll pass by a large open-air pavilion, a communal fire-pit, stacked boulders and rocks designed for spontaneous play and rolling hills, perfect to sit and enjoy the sunrise or sunset.
Trinity Bellwoods Park
One of the city’s most popular green spaces, Trinity Bellwoods Park is a 36-acre multi-use green space located west of the downtown core. Bordered by Dundas Street West in the north and Queen Street West in the south, Trinity Bellwoods Park is frequented by those living in the surrounding neighbourhoods looking to stretch their legs and get social.
The park itself features baseball diamonds, tennis and volleyball courts, an off-leash dog area, a picnic area, a wading pool, a children’s playground and an artificial ice rink in the winter.
But it’s the strong community aspect of the park that sets it apart from the other green spaces in the city. Throughout the year, various events are organized and take place in the park including farmer’s markets, artisan markets, movie nights, yard sales and even the Toronto Vintage Bicycle Show.
Covering an area of about 22 acres, Christie Pits is centrally located at the intersection of Bloor Street West and Christie Avenue. Originally called Willowvale Park, the area was nicknamed Christie Pits after the Christie Sand Pits which were housed here until the early 1900s.
The park features a unique layout, sunken down below street level with sloping sides. About half the park is dedicated to picnic and play areas, while the rest is reserved for recreational activities including three baseball diamonds, a soccer field, basketball and volleyball courts, a skateboard park, swimming pool and splash pad and an ice rink in the winter.
Drawing visitors from the nearby neighbourhoods, Christie Pits is also a community hub where you’ll often see events and activities organized to bring people together.
Located south of Danforth Avenue and spanning both sides of the Don Valley River, Riverdale Park offers recreational facilities, natural habitats and a skyline view that brings people flocking during sunsets. Covering an area just over 100 acres, Riverdale Park is split into an east and west section and is connected by the Riverside Park Bridge that crosses the Don Valley Parkway, Don River and the train tracks.
Riverdale Park West has four baseball diamonds and the Riverdale Zoo, while Riverdale Park East has the majority of recreational facilities including a running track, outdoor public pool, baseball diamonds and bike trails. Riverdale Park East is also where you’ll get that iconic skyline view, so situate yourself up on the hill by the northeast part of the park, pack a picnic and enjoy the sunset.
Sunnybrook Park was once the country estate of Joseph Kilgour, a prominent businessman back in the 1800s. At the time, it was known as Sunnybrook Farm, a 175-acre property that featured country homes and horse stables. When Kilgour passed away, his wife Alice donated the property to the city with only one requirement, that it be turned into a public park.
Today, it is a mixed-use green space with recreational facilities, including cricket, rugby, and soccer fields, walking trails and picnic areas. The original stables have been preserved and currently serve as a public riding school and further strolls through the park and surrounding grounds will reveal some of its historic past.
There are eleven parks found within the Scarborough Bluffs but Bluffer’s Park is one of the most popular spots for locals and visitors alike. Situated right at the foot of the Bluffs, the park offers walking trails, lookout points and picnic and beach areas.
The landscape surrounding Bluffer’s Park makes this location ideal for those who love to feel like they’ve escaped the city. On one side you get incredible, unobstructed views of Lake Ontario, while the other side features the towering Scarborough Bluffs, in all their rugged glory, perfect for both professional and amateur photographers.
Paid parking is available on-site and the TTC runs a bus service right into the park entrance.
For a green space worthy of a full-day visit, head to Centre Island. Located just a short 15-min ferry ride from downtown Toronto, Centre Island is part of the larger collection of islands, collectively known as the Toronto Islands.
A popular destination during the summer months, Centre Island has something for everyone. There are picnic areas, restaurants and snack bars, beach areas, walking and cycling trails, the Centreville Amusement Park for kids, a large pier with 180-degree views of Lake Ontario and some of the best skyline views of Toronto.
You can also explore the neighbouring islands of Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point, which house a residential area (yes, people live on the islands!) and additional beaches. Spanning a whopping 820 acres in total, there’s lots of space to roam and enjoy the outdoors without feeling cramped when you’re on the Toronto Islands.