Toronto boasts parks of various shapes and sizes, from stunning waterfront parks with sandy shorelines and boardwalks to historically significant ones. Some parks offer special features like zoos and gardens. Regardless of your interests, there’s a Toronto park waiting for you.
Accessing most of Toronto’s premier parks is convenient. For many of them, simply hop on the subway, as several parks have their stops. Alternatively, board a streetcar and alight anywhere along Queen Street East to quickly reach one of Toronto’s top beach parks.
The majority of these parks are equipped with comfort stations, playgrounds, walking trails, and nearby concessions or food trucks offering a variety of snacks and ice cream. Discover your piece of green paradise with our list of the best parks in Toronto.
1. High Park
High Park in Toronto, among the city’s largest and most popular parks, offers compelling reasons for its widespread appeal. Extending from Bloor Street to The Queensway, this expansive park provides a venue for exploration that could span days without covering everything. Remarkably, one-third of the park remains in its natural state.
The park features delightful walking trails that meander through the landscape, following the contours of the land alongside lush trees and babbling brooks. Notable trails include Spring Creek and West Ravine. Alternatively, those seeking a more relaxed experience can follow the paths leading to Grenadier Pond, a premier fishing spot in the city.
High Park caters to sports enthusiasts with its abundant tennis courts, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds. In winter, an artificial ice-skating rink operates, while the vast outdoor swimming pool is a hot favorite on scorching summer days—listen for the joyful shrieks of children to locate the splash pad.
Families often flock to the High Park Zoo, a small yet popular destination housing various animals, including sheep, bison, capybara, yaks, reindeer, and vibrant peacocks.
For convenient park exploration, hop on the High Park Trackless Train. The 30-minute route allows passengers to exit and re-board once. Operating on weekends during spring and fall (April, September, and October) and daily in the summer, the first trip starts at 10:30 am and concludes at dusk.
During spring, visitors can marvel at the breathtaking display of blooming cherry trees in the park.
2. Sunnyside Park
As you drive (or inch along in traffic) along the Gardiner Expressway into downtown Toronto, you might have questioned the identity of the picturesque beach park on your right. That delightful spot is Sunnyside Park, formerly the location of a massive amusement park from 1922 to 1950 and now a recreational haven for Torontonians.
While the entire waterfront area is commonly known as Sunnyside Park, it’s important to note that two other parks, Sir Casimir Gzowski Park and Budapest Park, are nestled within the vicinity.
Sunnyside boasts three beach areas, all shielded by an offshore seawall to ensure manageable waves and pleasantly warm water. Whether you prefer basking on the beach, frolicking in the Budapest wading pool or doing laps in the outdoor Sunnyside/Gus Ryder pool, there’s something for everyone.
Parallel to the beach is an extensive boardwalk that forms part of the Waterfront Trail. Consider bringing a picnic lunch to enjoy at the numerous tables or grabbing a slice of pizza from the concession. For a more laid-back dining experience, the café in the Sunnyside Pavilion is one of the city’s premier beachfront spots.
Families will appreciate the park’s imaginative and entertaining playgrounds, while dog owners can take advantage of the designated off-leash area at the west end. Parking is available (for a fee) in the ample lots just off Lakeshore Blvd.
3. Toronto Islands Park
A trip to Toronto Islands Park is akin to a delightful excursion to cottage country located a few hours away from the city. The islands offer a serene and pleasant atmosphere, featuring expansive lawns, exquisite gardens, and some of the best beaches in Toronto.
Accessible with ease from downtown through a brief ferry ride on regularly scheduled ferries, the islands make for an ideal spot for a family day out. The open parks equipped with picnic tables and playgrounds provide a perfect setting for a barbecue and a relaxing picnic. For entertaining the kids, Centreville Amusement Park offers over 30 rides and attractions.
Another wonderful option for families with young ones is a visit to Far Enough Farm, where more than 40 animals, including pot-bellied pigs, peacocks, Billy goats, guinea pigs, ponies, mini horses, and a friendly alpaca, await visitors and some can be petted.
For those seeking a romantic stroll a bike ride along the miles of walkways, or a leisurely walk hand in hand on the pier, Toronto Islands Park offers excellent choices. And when you need a break, numerous full-service restaurants, many with patios, are available to help you rest and recharge with a delicious meal.
4. Trillium Park
Situated at the eastern edge of Ontario Place, this recently established 7.5-acre park is located right by the water. Meticulously designed, the park features winding walkways that meander through rocks and alongside pebble beaches. Those with surplus energy, particularly children, can expend it at the rock climbing area with a sandy base.
A small forest has been planted within the park, and interpretive signs are scattered throughout, offering insights into the area’s history. To enjoy panoramic views of the park and the Toronto skyline, take a stroll over the main elevated bridge. Ample parking is available in the vast lots at nearby Ontario Place.
This serves as an excellent starting point for a walk along the Martin Goodman Waterfront Trail. From here, you can traverse into downtown, passing through some of Toronto’s finest waterfront parks.
5. Bluffer’s Park
Bluffer’s Park stands out as one of the prime spots to witness the renowned Scarborough Bluffs along Lake Ontario. This expansive waterfront park serves as a delightful retreat from the city, featuring one of Toronto’s finest beaches with a strong aquatic focus. The park hosts a vast marina where numerous sailboats gently sway in the breeze. Scenic walking and biking trails meander along the lakeshore, offering splendid views of the water.
To reach the Scarborough Bluffs lookout, head to the southern end of the park and take the first exit at the bottom of the prominent hill, parking in the main lot. For beachgoers, continue past this turn, following the road until it culminates in a parking lot, with the beach just a short stroll away.
Throughout the park, picnic tables and BBQs are strategically placed, and amenities such as a concession stand providing fast food and drinks, as well as changerooms and washrooms, are conveniently available.
6. Rouge National Urban Park
Canada’s newest national urban park, Rouge Park, spans an extensive area approximately 19 times larger than New York’s Central Park. This recently designated protected area follows the Rouge River watershed as it winds its way down to Lake Ontario.
Within the park, a diverse range of recreational activities awaits, including hiking, biking, bird-watching, kayaking, canoeing, and camping. At the southern end, the picturesque Rouge Beach on Lake Ontario stands out as one of Toronto’s premier beaches.
Currently undergoing significant development, the park is enhancing its hiking and biking trails, with plans for new ones underway. Two new visitor education centers are also in the works. Additionally, the campground, originally recognized as one of Toronto’s top camping spots, is undergoing a comprehensive renovation and reconstruction to meet the expectations of today’s campers.
7. Earl Bales Park
Nestled in the heart of North York, Earl Bales Park stands as a verdant oasis. Its rolling hills adorned with tall trees and tranquil wetlands create an ideal setting for a leisurely stroll or an invigorating jog along the meandering paved walkways.
During the summer, families gather here to secure one of the sought-after picnic tables for a festive cookout. Children revel in running up and down the hills, engaging in games of tag, and exploring the Splash Pad or playground.
As winter sets in, the park transforms into a haven for snow sports enthusiasts. A modest ski hill equipped with two chairlifts, a rope tow, a rental shop, and a ski school has long been a favorite destination for individuals of all ages.
8. Don Valley Brickworks
The Don Valley Brickworks is among the more recent additions to the city’s park system. Originally a quarry and brickworks operational since 1889, the site now rests in quiet repose as the furnaces have ceased their operation, allowing nature to reclaim the area. The park offers 15 biking and walking trails, four ponds, an off-leash dog park area, and restroom facilities.
Located just south of the park is the Evergreen Brickworks Environmental Park. This privately operated gem hosts one of the city’s finest Saturday farmers markets, and the on-site Café Belong serves delectable local specialties.
9. Edwards Gardens
Edwards Gardens is a visual spectacle, showcasing an annual burst of meticulously curated flowers arranged in beautifully landscaped garden beds. Spring ushers in a riot of colors with vibrant tulips, followed by lilies and roses. By early June, the park is adorned with the giant blooms of rhododendrons.
A charming small stream flows through the park along a rocky bed, complemented by an idyllic arched bridge spanning the water.
Adjacent to the Toronto Botanical Gardens, Edwards Gardens provides an opportunity for visitors to explore more exotic flowering specimens. Consider a visit to the nearby botanical gardens to enhance your floral experience.
10. Kew Park
Nestled in Toronto’s Beaches neighborhood, Kew Park is a charming, tree-shaded haven boasting expansive lawns and ample green space. Enhanced by a splendid beach at one end and several historical structures scattered throughout, it stands out as one of Toronto’s premier parks.
Within this 6.5-acre park, a diverse array of amenities awaits, including tennis courts, a baseball diamond, lawn bowling, a wading pool, breathtaking gardens, a concession stand, and a covered picnic area. Despite its size not being on a grand scale by Toronto standards, the park, with its myriad features, offers a delightful experience. Notably, the park even houses a library; feel free to drop by, grab a good book, and relax under a tree or on the beach for a pleasurable day.
With good timing and a longer stay, you might catch a summer concert at the historic bandstand.
One potential drawback is the limited parking, with street parking being a fortunate but scarce option. Another alternative is the Green P city parking lot on Lee Avenue off Queen Street East. Luckily, the Queen Street East streetcar conveniently passes the park’s northern end. Alternatively, park in one of the spacious lots at Woodbine Park and take a leisurely over-a-kilometer stroll along the boardwalk by the beach.
11. Riverdale Park
In search of a park that offers a comprehensive experience? Your quest concludes at Riverdale Park, a haven encompassing a swimming pool, playgrounds, sports courts, and even a functional farm with free admission, where the animals eagerly await children’s affectionate pats.
Spanning 161 acres along the Don River, this park ranks among Toronto’s largest, providing ample space for various activities. Whether it’s a family picnic, a soccer game, or some personal time beneath a tree with a captivating book, Riverdale Park caters to diverse preferences.
Regardless of your chosen activity, don’t miss the opportunity to appreciate the breathtaking views of the Toronto skyline from the park’s vantage point.
Q: Are these parks free to enter?
A: Most of Toronto’s parks are free to enter, offering affordable recreation for all.
Q: Which park is best for a family picnic?
A: Sherwood Park and High Park are excellent choices for a family picnic, providing spacious and scenic areas.
Q: Are there guided tours available in these parks?
A: Some parks, like Rouge National Urban Park, offer guided tours for a more immersive experience.
Q: Can I bring my dog to these parks?
A: Many parks are pet-friendly, but it’s essential to check individual park rules for specific regulations.
Q: Do these parks host events throughout the year?
A: Yes, several parks, such as Centennial Park and Dufferin Grove Park, host events and activities year-round.