12 Things to Do Before Summer Ends in Toronto

The best ways to maximize your summer in the city

Ferry to the Toronto Islands
Ferry to the Toronto Islands. Image courtesy Tourism Toronto

Summer always feels like it’s too short, as if it flies by and you don’t know how it can be the middle of June one day - and the end of August the next. Because of the supersonic speed at which summer seems to pass us by, sometimes it can help to have a list of quintessential events and activities to help you feel like you’re maximizing the season. “Bucket lists” aren’t for everyone, but they can be a motivator when it comes to squeezing every last drop out of summer. If you’re looking for some mid to late-summer inspiration, here are a few things to try and make sure you see and do between now and the start of fall.

Take the Ferry to the Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands make for an affordable day trip from the city and even though you can still gaze out at the skyline once you’re there, the short ferry ride over still makes you feel as if you’ve gone much further. Once there, you have tons of options in terms of what you can do. If you’ve got kids, take them to Centre Island and hang out at Centreville Amusement Park, rent bikes from the bike shop near the Centre Island docks and explore on two wheels, catch some rays on ward’s Island Beach, or relax with a drink and enjoy lake views from the Rectory Café patio.

Catch a Baseball Game at Christie Pits Park

Catching a Toronto Blue Jays game is always a fun summer experience in the city, but there’s another (free) way to get your baseball fix. Make your way to Christie Pits Park, find a spot on the hill above the ball diamond, throw down a blanket and watch the Maple Leafs play ball. If you’re feeling ambitious, pack a picnic or some snacks to enjoy while you watch.

Feast at a Summer Market

More and more opportunities to eat delicious food outdoors have arisen in Toronto. Union Summer is one such example and happens outside Union Station through to September 5. Here you’ll find a roster of 20 food vendors plus a rotating group of mobile carts offering up everything from gourmet hot dogs and Japanese street food, to pizza and burgers. Another option for eating your way through summer at an outdoor market comes courtesy of Front Street Foods, on until August 5, or the Waterfront Artisan Market at HTO Park where you’ll find plenty of food vendors to choose from.

Shop a Farmers’ Market

Nothing says summer like taking home a haul of fresh, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables, something you can easily do at one of Toronto’s many farmers’ markets. Bring your reusable bag and stock up on the some of the freshest goods you can find, along with handmade and artisanal products like preserves, baked goods, honey, and cheese.

Walk Through Kensington Market on a Pedestrian Sunday

Exploring Kensington Market is one of those activities in Toronto that never gets old, but never is it more exciting than on a Pedestrian Sunday. The vibrant neighborhood gets closed off to cars on the last Sunday of every month through to the end of October wherein musicians, performers and food and craft vendors take over the streets.

Sunbathe Sans Bathing Suit at Hanlan’s Point Beach

Hanlan’s Point Beach is one of the nicest beaches in Toronto and it’s also a clothing-optional stretch of sand. So if you dare, hop on the ferry, find a spot on the sand and sunbathe in the buff. Jumping into the lake wearing nothing but your birthday suit isn’t for everyone, but it can be a liberating experience.

Go Stand-Up Paddleboarding on Lake Ontario

Stand-up paddleboarding is a great way to experience a warm summer day on the water and there are many places to do it on Lake Ontario whether you’re on Sunnyside Beach in the west, or Kew-Balmy Beach in the east. Not only are you getting exercise and fresh air, paddleboarding allows you to see the city in a whole new way. If you’re experienced, rent a board and go out on your own. But if you’re new to the sport there are many places in Toronto to take a lesson including via SUP Girlz and Toronto Island SUP.

Watch a Movie Under the Stars

Summer in Toronto means the chance to watch movies outdoors, under the stars at several parks across the city. Most are free and all you need to do is bring a chair or something soft to sit on and snack to eat while you catch a flick.

See Shakespeare Performed in the Park

Each summer High Park Amphitheatre plays host to Shakespeare in the Park presented by Canadian Stage. The play is different each summer and always attracts a healthy crowd of theatergoers. Canada’s longest-running outdoor theatre event is pay-what-you-can with a suggested donation of $20 and makes for a unique way to spend a summer evening.

Do a Craft Beer Crawl

Toronto is experiencing a craft beer boom and what goes better with summer weather than beer? Not much, so do yourself a favor (if you’re a beer fan) and check out some of the breweries popping up all over the city. Three easy ones to hit in a summer afternoon or evening thanks to proximity include Halo Brewery, Henderson Brewing Co., and Bandit Brewery.

Head to the CNE

One of the best ways to cap off the summer is with a trip the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). The long-running fair began in 1879 as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition and is now one of the largest fairs in North America. Whether you’re looking for live music, rides, games, food or kid-friendly events and activities, you’ll find it at the CNE. Even if you visit the CNE every year there’s always something new to see, do or eat.

Do Some Free Yoga in the Park

Summer in Toronto offers several chances to practice your yoga poses for free in the park. Times and teachers vary, but it’s a good bet that you can find free (or pay-what-you-can) summer yoga in High Park and Dufferin Grove. Most classes require you to bring your own mat.