In the Spotlight: Riverdale Farm

Have you ever visited a farm in the middle of a city? Riverdale Farm is a hidden gem in the northeastern Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto. Just because this farm is in the middle of an urban centre doesn’t mean it’s any less of a working farm—the 7.5-acre functioning farm is home to livestock, crops and vast fields to explore.

With free admission and activities taking place year-round, Riverdale Farm is the perfect place to spend a sunny weekend in Toronto. The farm is connected to Riverdale Park, home to tons of exciting activities like the Cabbagetown Farmers’ Market, the Toronto Necropolis cemetery, sprawling walking trails and even a dog park.

Things to see at Riverdale Farm

There is absolutely no shortage of things to see at Riverdale Farm. Whether you’re after a picnic lunch in a scenic park or you’d like to learn all about the farm animals that live in Canada’s biggest city, Riverdale Farm has you covered.

Start out by exploring the farm itself, where you could spend hours exploring the inner workings of Toronto’s only functioning urban farm. With several paddocks and pens offering spacious homes for the likes of sheep, goats, horses, pigs, chickens and cows, you’re welcome to explore on foot. Keep in mind that because Riverdale Farm is a functioning farm, you shouldn’t pet or feed any of the livestock.

Don’t miss Riverdale Farm’s impressive barn spaces, like the historic Francey Barn built in 1858. This old-timey barn was relocated to Riverdale Farm in the 1970s, but it looks as if it’s been there forever, with genuine stonework and low wooden ceilings throughout. It’s still a functioning barnhouse too, with animals living in the lower level and storage up top.

The Donnybrook Ruin—the remains of a two-storey building that will remind you more of Rapunzel than a city farmhouse—is another can’t-miss structure on Riverdale Farm’s sprawling property. Each and every building on Riverdale Farm is historic, with a long history waiting to be discovered by new visitors—like the Residence, built by early 1900s prisoners and used as a temporary morgue for the Necropolis.

Speaking of, don’t forget to take a stroll to the humbling and hauntingly beautiful Toronto Necropolis. This Gothic burial ground started in 1850 and has since been the afterlife home of many famous Toronto natives, who rest in impressively designed tombs. Stroll around to find the final resting places of important Torontonians like William Lyon Mackenzie and Anderson Ruffin Abbot. Don’t forget that the Toronto Necropolis is still an active cemetery, so be respectful of anyone mourning at the site.

In addition to farm animals and historic cemeteries, Riverdale Farm has three kilometres of walking trails so you can explore it all. The trails wind past the duck pond and all of the farm buildings and offer easy access to the rest of the park. Continue your stroll to Riverdale Park West, where you can wade in cool water or catch a game of baseball at the baseball diamond nearby. There’s also a dog park here where you can let your four-legged friends get some exercise.

Places to eat near Riverdale Farm

From fresh farmers’ market finds to hot meals at sit-down restaurants, there’s plenty of scrumptious food to eat near Riverdale Farm. 

Cabbagetown Farmers’ Market

In addition to farmers’ market staples like fresh produce and artisan cheese, there are plenty of options for grab-and-go snacks and meals at the Cabbagetown Farmers’ Market. Enjoy a Mexican treat from Mad Mexican or try a fresh kombucha flavour at the Boochin’ booth. The market is open on Tuesday afternoons during the summer and autumn months.191 Winchester St.

Park Snacks

Right at the entrance of Riverdale Park, this convenient and charming snack stand is your go-to for classic concessions. Grab a burger or a hot dog and a cold soda to enjoy while you peruse the park. 161 Winchester St.

Shalom Ethiopian & Eritrean Restaurant

At Shalom, you don’t have to worry about getting something disappointing because everything on this menu is downright delicious. Pick from any number of incredible savoury dishes eaten with moist, perfectly cooked injera and flavoured with only the best Ethiopian and Eritrean spices. 587 Parliament St.

House on Parliament

If you’re craving a pint after your jaunt about town, take a trip to House on Parliament. This British pub features tons of local beers, but you can also find your go-to brew on their extensive menu. Don’t overlook the menu, either, since they’ve got a slate of upscale, perfectly done classics crafted with a signature House-on-Parliament twist. 454 Parliament St.

Fun facts about Riverdale Farm

  • Riverdale Farm was built by the city of Toronto
  • Riverdale Farm opened in 1978, but the land was originally owned by a Toronto settler named John Scadding
  • The old Riverdale Zoo was located at the site of the Riverdale Farm
  • The Residence was once the home of Riverdale Zoo’s zookeeper
  • The Toronto Necropolis is one of the oldest cemeteries in Toronto
  • Riverdale Farm’s Wood Oven is used to cook up treats for visitors during certain times of the year
  • Riverdale Farm is home to a large range of poultry and livestock, like domesticated waterfowl, chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows, horses, sheep and goats
  • Riverdale Farm has free-range poultry that you can see roaming the farm on your visit
  • The Residence was built by prisoners in 1902

How to get to Riverdale Farm

Located right in the city of Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood, Riverdale Farm is easily accessible from anywhere in or outside of the city. 

By car: From the north, take the Don Valley Parkway to the Bayview Avenue exit. Then, take Bayview Avenue to Riverdale Farm. From the city, take Queen Street East toward the Don River. Turn left onto River Street and drive until you reach Riverdale Farm. Please note that parking may be limited at Riverdale Farm.

By streetcar: Take the 306, 505, or 506 streetcar to Gerrard and River streets. Walk north on River Street to reach Riverdale Farm. 

By subway/bus: Take Line 2 to Castle Frank. Then, take the 65 bus to Parliament and Winchester streets. Walk along Winchester Street to Riverdale Farm.

By bike: There are two Bike Share Toronto racks at Riverdale Farm. Please note that bikes are not permitted on farm property, but there is ample bike parking out front.

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