Whether you’re visiting Toronto for a month or only for the weekend, the city has a wealth of leisure activities available throughout the year.
1. Leisure activities in Toronto are particularly bunched together in the downtown waterfront area. The Harbourfront Centre is a hot spot for such activities, as well as regular music, arts and food festivals, especially in the summer. Canoe and kayak rentals are available there, where rates run from $3 for a short canoe ride to a full day at $60 for a canoe and $85 for a two person kayak. Other boat rentals are available, such as sailing or power boats, but require booking ahead of time.
2. Also in the downtown waterfront is the area known as Polson Pier. Just a few minutes east of the Harbourfront Centre, the large entertainment complex includes facilities for miniature golf, go-carting, rock climbing and beach volleyball. There is also a driving range, which converts into a drive-in movie theatre at night during the summer.
3. In addition, the Harbourfront area also serves as the gateway to the Toronto Islands. A ferry runs across to the islands regularly, with a return ticket costing $6.50 for adults, $4.00 for students and seniors, and $3.00 for children under 12. Once on the island, there are many activities including boat rentals, bike rentals, beaches, volleyball nets and even a disc-golf course (also known as Frisbee-golf, or “frolf”).
4. When looking for somewhere to cool off on a hot day, Toronto Islands are a great spot, but it’s not the only place to enjoy the water. On the eastern side of the city, Ashbridge’s Bay Park and the area known as The Beaches are popular summer hangouts for locals and tourists alike. On the Lakeshore West area there are a series of beaches as well, although that area is more popular for sunbathing and biking along the waterfront.
5. During the summer, the city of Toronto operates dozens of public swimming pools that are free to the public. Some of the best spots include the pool at High Park, which features a popular water slide, as well as the Sunnyside-Gus Ryder Pool, which is located in the Lakeshore West area right on Lake Ontario, and is the city’s largest pool.
6. Also located along the downtown waterfront is Ontario Place, a seasonal entertainment venue and amusement park. One of the complexes main attractions is a large water park, known for its water slides and raft ride. If you’re willing to travel a little further from the downtown area, there are also large water parks located within the amusement parks at Canada’s Wonderland, north of the city, and Fantasy Fair, west of the city near the airport.
7. At first glance, Toronto may appear to be a rather urban city, but it also has many parks and trails which are great for hiking, biking and nature watching. One of the distinctive features of the city’s geography is a series of forested deep ravines that have almost entirely escaped development. The city maintains a sprawling network of trails that follow these ravines throughout much of the city.
Just east of the downtown core, the Don Valley is the most prominent of these forested ravines, with a series of trails that run for over 8km in a valley along the Don River. For those on a road bike or roller-blading, there are paved trails, while those on mountain bikes or on foot can try off-road trails of a variety of difficulties.
8. There are numerous locations throughout Toronto where you can rent bicycles. Depending on your cycling plans, you can rent by the hour, by the day, or by the weekend/week. Daily rates tend to range from about $25 to $40. Popular cycling locations within the city, such as High Park and Toronto Island, generally feature bike rental facilities on site or nearby.
9. For those looking for something a little different, Segway rentals and tours operate out of the Distillery District on the east side of downtown. There are several different tours available any season of the year, including a Segway ‘Ghost Tour’ in the evening.
10. In the winter, a popular outdoor winter activity is ice skating on one of the city’s many outdoor ice rinks. Toronto has over 50 rinks, operating from mid-November to early March. The rink at Nathan Phillips Square and the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre (Canada’s largest artificially cooled outdoor rink) are the most popular, and both have skate rentals available for visitors. The Natrel Rink also offers regular skating lessons for all skill levels.
11. Another classic Toronto winter activity is tobogganing. There are many parks throughout the city that offer great hillsides, and during the winter season there is rarely any shortage of snow. Popular spots include Christie Pits, located on Bloor Street West, and Riverdale Park, on the eastern edge of the Don Valley. You can purchase cheap sleds at any local sporting good store, although you can also rent toboggans through the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.