Centre Island comprises 600 acres of parkland off the shore of downtown Toronto. Just a few minutes away by ferry, Centre Island is home to Centreville Amusement Park and other family-friendly attractions, loads of green space, bicycle paths, eateries and more.
Centre Island is also known as Toronto Island and actually is a many islands that are home to more than 250 residences and the Toronto Island Airport.
Centre Island is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, especially so for families with children 12 and younger.
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Getting to Centre Island
Centre Island visitors catch a ferry at the foot of Bay St. at the Toronto Ferry Docks, a 5 - 10 minute walk away from Union Station. Tickets for a round trip cost $3.50 - $7.25. Children under 2 are free. Prices as of 2016.
The ferry leaves every 15 minutes in the summer, less frequently in colder months. Check the ferry schedule for a complete listing.
Strollers, wagons and bicycles are allowed on the ferry, but visitors must leave their cars behind. Parking is available 1 block north at Lakeshore and Bay, 1 block west on Queens Quay between Bay and York Sts, 1 block east opposite Toronto Star building adjacent to Captain Johns restaurant.
Alternately, drive to a GO station, park there for free, and take the GO Train into Union Station and walk to the dock.
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When Should You Go to Centre Island?
Centre Island attractions are open from May to October. In the colder months, the island reverts to a sleepy residential community. The ferry operates year-round - more frequently during the peak summer months.
Visitors are free to go year-round, but there isn't a lot to do when the attractions are closed down. That does not means it can't be an enjoyable trip. The ferry ride itself gives an perspective of Toronto from the water at little cost. In addition the island neighbourhoods are attractive and make for an enjoyable walk around. Fall colours can be glorious and crowds are non-existent.
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How Much Time Should You Spend on Centre Island?Families will easily be able to make a day out of Centre Island; allow two hours minimum.
Keep in mind the Centreville Amusement Park opens daily at 10:30am from June 1st to September 1st and all weekends in May and September, weather permitting.
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Centre Island's most popular attraction is the Centreville Amusement Park, which features more than 30 rides and games. The best part of this park - at least for parents with young kids - is that it is geared towards kids under 12. All rides are appropriate for kids of this age, although some height restrictions require adult accompaniment. Seven rides are specifically intended for children under four and a half feet to ride alone.
The rides are geared more towards amusing rather than scaring kids, so no crazy roller coasters here; instead, you'll find an antique ferris wheel, pony rides, a carousel, bumper boats and more.
Day passes for children are $25 - $35 (as of 2016), depending on height and an unlimited summer pass is only $60.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Other Centre Island Highlights
Aside from Centreville Amusement Park, some other Centre Island attractions include:
- Franklin Children's Garden - a park inspired by the popular children's storybook,
- Far Enough Farm petting zoo (open 365 days a year and FREE),
- Frisbee golf course,
- wading pools,
- bicycle paths and bike rentals.
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Where to Eat at Centre Island
Several restaurants and fast-food kiosks, like Subway and Pizza Pizza, are on Centre Island. As with so many public attractions, the food is generally overpriced and menus are limited (read: chicken fingers and fries for the kids). We ate at the Carousel Cafe, which had a pretty waterside setting and was not extravagantly priced. The waiter was attentive and supplied colouring for the kids. The food came quickly, but in the end, a so-so lunch for two adults and two children cost $75 (2016) - not great value.
The Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co. is a choice spot to take in a great cityscape view. The expansive patio seats 500 people. The menu is typical fare, including burgers, nachos, sandwiches and a selection of beer, wine and cocktails.
Visitors should consider bringing a picnic lunch and spreading out on some of the abundant green space. You may also bring along a small portable charcoal operated hibachi BBQ or use one of the island's BBQ stands if available.
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Tips for Visiting Centre Island
- Little legs will get tired on car-free, public-transit-free Centre Island. Consider bringing a stroller or wagon.
- Bring your own water bottles to fill up at the public fountains instead of spending money on bottled water.
- Tickets for the amusement park are cheaper online.
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While You're in the Area......
Other attractions that are close to the Toronto Ferry Dock that you may wish to visit before or after visiting Centre Island include:
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- The Harbourfront Centre, a not-for-profit cultural centre with lots of free stuff to do
- The Royal York Hotel, a central place to stay or pop by for a cocktail or afternoon tea