FT readers: your favourite green spaces in Toronto
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This article is part of a guide to Toronto from FT Globetrotter
It might surprise the uninitiated to learn that Toronto, Canada’s financial capital, is one of the world’s best cities for enjoying the great outdoors.
Beneath the skyscrapers are more than 1,500 green spaces and parks in a metropolis that is nestled against the shores of Lake Ontario, one of North America’s Great Lakes. Visitors would be remiss to not to explore this aspect of the city. And whether doing so to you means tackling world-class hiking trails or trying out water sports — or simply picnicking in a sunny spot somewhere pretty — Toronto can tick all of your boxes.
For some starting points, we asked FT readers to share their favourite ways to enjoy the city’s great outdoors. These are your top tips.
The Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands aren’t a secret to locals, but visitors looking for green space on the water should definitely take a short ferry ride to them. You can cycle, walk, swim and simply relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is small amusement park for children, as well as a waterside restaurant, bicycle rentals and many walking paths. A great spot to spend a summer day . . . but to be avoided in the dead of winter!
— Ann Clavelle, retired HR professional, Toronto
The Toronto Islands are a serene escape from the city. Just a 10-minute ferry ride away, you can canoe, walk, bike and swim for hours on end. Didn’t bring a swimsuit? Hanlan’s Point Beach has a clothing-optional section tucked away for those interested for a 360 degree sunburn . . . I mean suntan.
— Michael Weinberger, lawyer, London
Toronto’s ravine system
The best way to explore Toronto is by walking and biking (visitors can use Bike Share Toronto, the citywide bicycle hire scheme). I highly recommend walking in the ravine system in Toronto. Start at Evergreen Brick Works and walk from there. The ravine system is incredible!
— Tori Hackett, investor, Toronto
Trillium and High Parks
Trillium Park — a naturalised park on an artificial island jutting out into the lake. It’s beautifully landscaped and planted to resemble natural Ontario beauty.
High Park is a grand urban park (à la Central Park). Think rolling landscape, beautiful gardens, mature cherry blossoms, sports fields, trails, great old trees, cafés.
Additional natural spaces worth checking out are the Scarborough Bluffs, Don River Valley trails and the Humber River and Valley.
— Matt Hyland, growth capital investor, Toronto
Grange Park is relatively compact but it has a nice grassy area for a picnic, a fantastic playground for those travelling with kids and lots of city attractions nearby. The Art Gallery of Ontario faces the park, and it’s next to one of my favourite buildings in Toronto: the Rosalie Sharp Centre for Design. Kensington Market, one of the most eclectic parts of the city, is also a short walk away.
Grange Park certainly isn’t of the scale of Central Park in New York or Stanley Park in Vancouver . . . but I go there to feel simultaneously a part of the city and among nature.
— Colin McCann, financial analyst, Calgary
Evergreen Brick Works
Evergreen Brick Works was once a quarry, but it is now the largest farmers’ market in Toronto with an associated park. This park system is unlike anything else I’ve seen in any other major city, much of it left natural and gently groomed by the city and a small group of dedicated volunteers. It feeds into the Don Valley ravine that runs north-south along the eastern edge of the city. Intersecting the ravine is another groomed trail called the Beltline, which was developed as part of the rail system but now used for walking/running/cycling. Exploring these trails is a great way to see the non-built environment of Toronto.
— Parambir Keila, physician, Toronto
An underrated part of the city is Riverdale Park. This park offers one of the best views of the Toronto skyline (especially at sunset) and is near Greektown. Cap off a sunset in Riverdale with a souvlaki dinner on the Danforth.
Another must-do is a visit to the Toronto Islands. While Centre Island is the most popular tourist attraction, Ward’s Island offers a much more relaxing experience with long boardwalks and coffee shops. Hope you enjoy!
— Anton Meier, management consultant, Toronto
Share your favourite Toronto green space in the comments.
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