All parks are not created equal. Some are big, some are small, some are focused on playgrounds and swing sets, while others are more geared towards picnics and spending quality time with kids and pets. Whether you’re looking to play or watch sports, swim, hit the beach, hang out with the family, hike or even camp, there’s a park in Toronto to suit your needs. Ready to find out more and ideally check out a few of the city’s best-loved green spaces? Here are eight parks to explore by interest in Toronto.
Toronto's largest public park is also one of its most popular thanks to the wide variety of activities it offers as well as how easily accessible the park is via pubic transit. High Park offers hiking trails that make it feel as if you’ve left the city, multiple sports facilities, a beautiful waterfront area at scenic Grenadier Pond, an off-leash dog park, a zoo, playgrounds for kids, a public pool and picnic areas.
Best For: Families; Dog-Walkers; Hiking
You might not think about being able to camp, fish or take a long hike right in the city, but you absolutely can in Rouge Park, Toronto's largest park, which is also soon becoming Canada's first national urban park. The haven for nature enthusiasts will stretch from the Oak Ridges Moraine to the shores of Lake Ontario and cover over 40 square kilometers. Within this vast area, you’ll find Canada's largest wetland, fishing areas, National Historic Sites, wilderness areas and a beach where you can swim or canoe. Rouge Park is only about 30 minutes east of downtown Toronto and accessible by TTC.
Best For: Camping; Hiking
Toronto Music Garden
If you’re looking for a place to relax in the heart of the city, look no further than beautiful Toronto Music Garden, inspired by the music of Bach and designed by internationally renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma and landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy. It’s a serene spot to simply walk around or sit quietly on a warm day, or you can also learn about the garden's design and history on a free, 45-minute guided tour led by a volunteer Toronto Botanical Garden guide. In the summer, take advantage of Summer Music in the Garden, free classical music concerts that take place most Thursdays at 7pm and Sundays at 4pm (weather-permitting) from late June to mid-September.
Best For: Music Lovers; Quiet Contemplation
Dufferin Grove Park
Park green space and part community hub, this 5.3-hectare park on Dufferin Street just south of Bloor Street West has something for just about anyone, especially those looking to get to know the people in their neighborhood. Dufferin Grove boasts a multipurpose sports field, a basketball court, a picnic area, a wading pool, two fire pits, a children's playground, native plant beds, native tree groves, vegetable gardens and a naturalized savannah garden. If that weren't enough, there’s a drop-in garden club wherein anyone interested can help maintain the park's gardens. Here you’ll also find an artificial ice rink in the winter and a year-round farmers’ market. Bonus: From the beginning of June to end of August, head to the park to make your own pizza in the outdoor oven. Each person gets a ball of dough, tomato sauce and cheese to make a pizza. Bring any other favorite toppings with you.
Best For: Families; Community Interaction
Christie Pits Park
Conveniently located right across from Christie subway station, you’ll find multifaceted Christie Pits Park. This large patch of green space has a lot going for it and is justifiably popular all year round thanks to the Alex Duff Memorial Pool (complete with water slide) in the summer and toboggan-worthy hills in the winter. The park is also home to three baseball diamonds, a multi-sport field, basketball and volleyball courts, an artificial ice rink, a children's playground and labyrinth, a splash pad, a wading pool, and a community garden. This is also where you can come stake out a spot on the grassy hill above the ball diamond to catch a Toronto Maple Leafs baseball game and enjoy a free film in the summer at the outdoor Christie Pits Film Festival.
Best For: Baseball Fans; Film Buffs; Families
Located in the west end of Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario is Sunnyside Park, one of a series of parks along the city’s scenic waterfront. There’s a boardwalk for pedestrians and the Martin Goodman Trail for cyclists and anyone on rollerblades, making this an excellent park for walkers and joggers, or anyone who wants to get moving outdoors. If you get hungry or thirsty (May to mid-September) Sunnyside Pavilion has a sprawling beachfront patio, and if you need to cool off, do it in Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool or jump in the lake (depending on water quality). Playgrounds, picnic tables and food vendors round out the large, multipurpose park.
Best For: Beach-Goers; Swimmers; Walkers/Joggers
Beautiful Bluffer’s Park is one of eleven parks along 15 kilometers of the Scarborough Bluffs, the towering 20-story white cliffs that soar above the park and that make this an ultra-scenic spot to hang out. Bluffer’s Park is also where you’ll find one of the best beaches in Toronto, as well as picnic areas, walking trails, photo-worthy lookouts, a boat launch and a full-service restaurant and bar at Bluffer's Park Marina.
Best For: Swimmers; Scenic Walks
One of Toronto's busiest parks, Centennial Park is located at the northwest corner of Toronto and ideal for sports enthusiasts. The large park is home to the Etobicoke Olympium, Centennial Park Ski hill and Chalet, Centennial Arena, Centennial Park Conservatory with its three greenhouses covering 12,000 square feet, Centennial Park Stadium and a BMX bike park. Still looking for more? Centennial Park also has a number of playgrounds, sport fields, baseball and softball diamonds, a Frisbee-golf field, picnic areas and a good sized wading pool.
Best For: Sports Fans; Families