Things to do on Toronto’s Waterfront
TO's beaches range in size from the humble Sugar Beach to the sprawling (and busy) Woodbine Beach. Just make sure you check the water quality before jumping in.
- Bluffers Beach
- Kew Beach
- Woodbine Beach
- Rouge Beach
- Center Island Beach
- Cherry Beach
- Gibraltar Point Beach
- Hanlan's Point Beach
- HTO Park Beach
- Ward's Island Beach
- Sugar Beach
- Marie Curtis Beach
- Humber Bay Park
You’re guaranteed a great view when you visit any of Toronto's picturesque lakeside patios. Enjoy views of the water, tall ships, sunset and the Toronto city skyline.
Rectory Cafe (Ward's Island)
Island Cafe (Ward's Island)
Amsterdam Brewery (249 Queens Quay West)
Against the Grain (Corus Building, 25 Dockside Drive)
Boxcar Social (Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West)
Radisson Admiral Rooptop Pool and Patio
The Goodman Pub
The Keating Channel Pub
Sunnyside Pavilion Cafe
Firkin on the Bay (68 Marine Parade Dr)
The lake is lovely to view from the shore, but it’s even lovelier to view atop the deck of one of the city’s many cruise ships. A fixture on Lake Ontario throughout most of the year (some all-year round), these ships glide across the water while guests enjoy gourmet meals and amazing views.
Toronto Boat Cruises and Tours:
Tall Ship Boat Tours
Modern cruises may be fun but they don’t quite match the feeling of being aboard a tall ship from the 19th century. These nautical tours offer brief sails around the Toronto Harbourfront or longer voyages along Lake Ontario.
Strolling the Scarborough Bluffs
This 15-km sedimentary escarpment offers a dramatic backdrop for a series of green spaces that culminate in the neighbouring Scarborough Bluffs Park, Bluffer’s Park and Cathedral Bluffs Park. Here you’ll find one of Toronto’s longest and nicest sandy beaches, a network of walking trails and marsh-crossing boardwalks, as well as an expansive marina that’s home to various fishing charters and the panoramic patio at Bluffer’s Restaurant. Either drive there or ride the seasonal 175 Bluffers Park bus.
- Guild Park and Gardens
- Cathedral Bluffs Park
- Rosetta McClain Gardens
- Scarborough Heights Park
- Scarborough Crescent Park
- Cudia Park
- Sylvan Park
- South Marine Drive Park
Smell the roses in the Music Garden
World-famous cellist Yo Yo Ma and landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy collaborated with the City of Toronto to produce this glorious amalgam of greenery and sound structured around the six movements of Bach’s composition. During the summer, the nearby Harbourfront Centre offers free guided tours and six-dollar self-guided audio tours, with a free concert series running most Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.
It’s ON at Ontario Place!
Come and explore this iconic waterfront location in Toronto, as there is more to see and do all summer long.
The park is open daily from 5am – 12am.
Rock out at the Budweiser Stage and Echo Beach
The Budweiser Stage, which replaced the Forum in 1995, offers 5,500 reserved seats under a 25-metre-high roof, 3,500 open-air seats, and another 7,000 general-admission lawn spots. Then there’s the newer and more intimate Echo Beach, which opened 16 years later in a converted volleyball court that holds 5,000 fans.
Savour the Sunnyside Pavilion
This glorious art-deco masterpiece has undergone several facelifts since it opened in 1922. Today, there’s the casual Sunnyside Café, which serves up pub grub beside the Martin Goodman Trail, the enormous Gus Ryder public pool right next door, and plenty of beaches, parkland and parking all around.
Try some new tricks at the Sunnyside Bike Park
The first substantial, city-sanctioned BMX park in Toronto opened in the summer of 2014 less than a minute’s pedal east of its namesake pavilion. The clay-and-dirt expanse of ramps, bermed corners, logs and jumps is designed for all ages and skill levels.
Butterfly-spotting in Humber Bay Park
The two spits at the mouth of Mimico Creek would be perfectly pleasant without the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat. But this ecological restoration project puts the park over the top (and onto this list), what with the many native and migratory butterfly species it attracts with specially designed gardens and wildflower-filled meadows. Interactive signage helps visitors identify species, while a “Home Garden” area offers tips on creating backyard butterfly habitats.
Not to be confused with boats that require you to carry around lengthy paddles, these small two-person vessels use light peddling to take you along the water. Suited for older kids, or those with small children, these boats are best enjoyed on days when the water is calm, letting you glide across it with ease.
Beach volleyball in Ashbridges Bay
The sands widen at the western end of The Beaches neighbourhood, forming a 35-hectare waterfront park that includes three softball diamonds, a rugby pitch, an outdoor swimming, diving complex and a series of public boat launches along the Martin Goodman Trail and Woodbine Beach boardwalk. The sporty action gets especially heated when dozens of beach volleyball courts spring up on the sands from May to October, and the annual Heatwave fundraiser, billed as “the world’s largest beach volleyball tournament,” takes over in the middle of July.
Biking the Leslie Spit
Getting out of the concrete jungle is surprisingly easy on this 500-hectare man-made peninsula, which juts five kilometres into Lake Ontario. Technically part of Tommy Thompson Park, the Leslie Spit is a serene haven of wildflower meadows, cottonwood forests, coastal marshes, cobble beaches and sand dunes, with abundant traffic-free paths and roads connecting it all. There’s plenty of wildlife to be spotted here, too, from migrating birds and butterflies to muskrats and coyotes.
Get cultured at the Harbourfront Centre
Whatever your cultural tastes, they’ll be satisfied at this sprawling multipurpose facility at the foot of Lower Simcoe St. The 10-acre waterfront site is home to more than a dozen individual venues, ranging from the 420-seat Enwave Theatre and outdoor WestJet Stage to the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and the Natrel outdoor skating rink. More than 4,000 events are spread across these spaces each year, with hundreds being free of charge.
When the waves are a little less gentle and the wind is a bit bolder, you can grab a surfboard and try to tame the aquatic wilds of Lake Ontario. Windsurfing and kite surfing are available, depending on the type of excitement you’re searching for.
- iKite.ca (kite surfing)
Canoeing and Kayaking
Try your hand at exploring Lake Ontario on this classic style of water transportation.
Once it was the fastest way to get from port to port with massive crews hauling precious spices from distant lands, now sailing is more suited to smaller groups looking for fun along the waves with scenic views of the landscape. Some sailing trips even include the chance to learn how to be an able hand aboard a sailing ship.
Standing up to paddle might seem counter-intuitive, but this method of travelling along the water is a more active experience than other forms paddling, making you feel like you have full control of where you go next. Also available, though less common, is dragon boat paddling.
- Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club (lessons)
- Sunnyside Paddling Club (includes dragon boat rentals and coaching)
Lot of Toronto’s parks lie along its shoreline. There are large and small space alike, many with views of Lake Ontario, and facilities like fire pits, splash pads, off-leash areas for dogs and many other fun things to. Some of the city’s biggest parks also happen to be along the lakeshore and located in the Toronto Islands.
- Centre Island
- Corktown Commons
- Trillium Park
- HTO Park
- Mimico Waterfront Park
- The Guild Park
- Sherbourne Commons
Cycling, Running, and Walking Along the Waterfront
There are many paths along our waterfront perfect for long walks, excursions atop a bike or even a brisk run. While you can do any of those things in other parts of the city, there are few spots that are quite so picturesque.
- Waterfront Trail Map (Hamilton to Toronto section)
- Ontario By Bike
Waterfront Artisan Market
Schedule some time every weekend throughout the summer to enjoy the food and crafts at this HTO Park marketplace. Over 50 different vendors rotate throughout each weekend of the market, giving you reason to check it out each week from June to October.
Tour the Lagoons of Toronto Island
Rent a canoe, pedal boat or kayak from the Boat House on Toronto Island and explore the hidden lagoons in the archipelago of tiny islands where swans, geese, 35 fish species, turtles and other amphibians make their home. The Boat House is located near the Centre Island dock. Call (416) 397-2628.
Explore the Humber River by Kayak, Canoe or SUP Board
Picture yourself floating downriver and sighting a blue heron right within the city. Toronto Adventures offers guided tours (or you can rent watercraft for a self-guided outing), as well as lessons for newbies. Two outings to consider: The Humber River tour involves a gentle paddle to the mouth of the river on Lake Ontario and there’s also a sunset tour down the Humber that takes paddlers out along the shore of Lake Ontario to Sunnyside Beach. Tours launch from King’s Mill Park a few minutes’ walk from the Old Mill subway station.
Canoe the Rouge River
The Rouge National Urban Park is the largest urban park in North America. There’s almost 80 square kilometres teeming with wildlife and plant species – plus an urban campground. The gentle Rouge River is ideal for canoeing. There are several entry spots to the Rouge Park but if you plan on canoeing, use the campground entrance at 1749 Meadowvale Road, Scarborough.
TIP: Visitors can rent canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at Mountain Equipment Co-op’s North York store (784 Sheppard Avenue East). Mountain Equipment Co-op's downtown location (440 King Street West) rents out SUP boards.
Yoga on Water in the Beaches
Combine your love of yoga with stand-up paddle boarding. Experience the energizing moves, tranquility and full-body workout during a yoga class on water in the Beaches area of Toronto. Sign up for Gentle Wave SUPYoga or Pilates SUP. Classes are held at the Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club or Hubbard location, right on the boardwalk.
Cathedral Bluff Paddle Tour
Join the folks at Osha Osha on Mondays (or book a private tour) for a five-hour paddling outing. Experienced participants meet at Kew-Balmy Beach and paddle all the way to Bluffers Park. The views are magnificent, and there are some good eateries at Bluffers Park in order to fuel up before paddling back to the starting point. Another Monday option for experienced SUP boarders is the 15-km paddle from Budapest Park (on Lake Shore Boulevard West) that crosses the open waters to Hanlan’s Point, Toronto Island.
Paddling Tour of Bluffers Park /
Paddle Board Addict
One-Of-A-Kind (Short) Paddling Tours of Bluffers Park
Paddle Board Addict offers a one-hour “Bluffs Tour” that affords paddlers lakeside views of the beautiful Scarborough Bluffs – as well as a quick pass through the Float Home community in Bluffers Park, where scores of boaters live year-round. The Paddle Board Addict also offers a 1.5-hour Night Light SUP Board Tour on specially-designed paddleboards with built-in lighting.
Paddle Toronto /
Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre
A True Canadian Experience
Paddle Toronto caters to beginner, intermediate and experienced kayakers, SUP boarders and canoeists. To mark Canada’s 150th birthday, experience a Canadian heritage moment on water – the Voyageur canoe. The Friday sunset tours in replica Voyageur canoes (that seat up to 17) require no paddling experience. A 30-minute safety and paddling demonstration is part of the 2.5 hour outing. Weekend tours are at 2:00 pm.
Sail on Lake Ontario
Never been sailing? Gone Sailing Adventures’ 3 Hour Sailing Experience (on Lake Ontario) requires no previous experience. Spend some time learning the art of sailing with friends and family on the 41-foot Australian Kiss.
Learn the Craft of Lake Kayaking
The Complete Paddler, based in the west end of Toronto, offers various tours and instructional programs. The day-long Introduction to Kayaking Lake Course is held on designated Saturdays (book ahead).