You wouldn’t know it standing at King and Bay Streets, but Toronto is quite well endowed with green spaces. From city parks where you can relax with a snack and a book, to multi-kilometre stretches of wooded parklands perfect for a walk or a cycle, this is my list of the 10 finest places to get some peace and quiet. Spring and fall are especially good times to visit our parks when the flowers are in bloom, or the foliage is changing colours.
Toronto is also home to the biggest network of ravines of any city in the world. Hidden between the streets of residential neighbourhoods, they provide natural wooded areas cut off from the city’s din. If you prefer manicured lawns and flower gardens, we’ve got that too. And then there are the more unusual parks: how about a cemetery, or an old brick quarry?
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
High ParkToronto, CanadaThis is Toronto’s largest public park. You can spend most of a day wandering around. For about a week in late April or early May, cherry blossoms blanket High Park. Keep an eye on their website to know the exact time. Most of the cherry trees (sakura) are near Hillside Gardens, between the restaurant and the pond. Bring a picnic. Or come early to avoid the crowds. Fall is also beautiful with the trees changing colours. #park #sakura #cherryblossom #trees #picnic #fallcolours #walking
Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Mount Pleasant CemeteryToronto, CanadaDon’t let the tombstones fool you. This cemetery is really a park in disguise! You’ll see walkers, joggers, and cyclists on the paths that weave through carefully manicured lawns with trees and flowers. It’s the perfect place for contemplative exercise. At the back of the cemetery, a dirt trail through the forested Moore Park Ravine leads to the Evergreen Brick Works (also found in this list). #cemetery #park #walking #jogging #cycling
Trinity Bellwoods Park
Trinity Bellwoods ParkToronto, CanadaLocated along trendy West Queen West, this large park is really popular with young locals on any warm sunny day. People sit alone or in groups on the grass, reading, chatting, or playing with their dogs. Grab a coffee from across the street, find a bench if you prefer, and crack open that novel. #park #relaxing #reading
E.T. Seton Park
E.T. Seton ParkToronto, Canada3 parks in 1! E. T. Seton Park and Wilket Creek Park link Edwards Gardens with Taylor Creek (described elsewhere in this list). You can combine both trails together for a total of 10 kms. In spring and summer, Edwards Gardens are landscaped with floral displays. Wilket Creek and E. T. Seton Park have paved paths, lawns, and lots of trees featuring abundant bird life. #walking #cycling #garden #birds #flowers #fallcolours
Evergreen Brick Works
Evergreen Brick WorksToronto, CanadaThis is a former brick quarry and industrial site located in the Don River Valley. The site has been converted into a city park featuring several naturalized ponds, while the buildings have been restored as a community and cultural centre focusing on the environment. There is a cafe on site, and some really amazing foliage colours in the fall. #park #ponds #oldbuildings #fallcolours #walking #cafe
Saint James Park
Saint James ParkToronto, CanadaThe largest green area in Old Town, St James Park (adjoining its namesake church) has one of the prettiest English gardens in Toronto. A cast-iron fountain and benches provide a nice rest stop among the flowers. Plenty of trees offer shade and the wide lawns are perfect for spreading a blanket. The tulip displays in May are especially stunning. #park #garden #fountain #flowers #relax
Toronto Island Park
Toronto Island ParkToronto, CanadaBicycle, rollerblade, or walk from one end of the Toronto Islands to the other, over 6 kilometres of car-free paved paths. This is where those postcard photos of the city skyline fronting the lake are taken from. Bring a picnic or stop at one of the two cafes on Ward’s Island and enjoy your green surroundings. Besides large swaths of parkland, you’ll find several beaches, an amusement park for kids, and boat clubs. The ferries leave from the foot of Bay Street for the 5 to 7-minute ride (more frequent in summer). #walking #cycling #park #views #beach
Taylor Creek Park
Taylor Creek ParkToronto, CanadaAround mid to late October, Taylor Creek Park offers one of the best displays of fall colours in the city. Known almost exclusively to locals, a 5-kilometre paved path starts near Victoria Park subway station, then follows a creek through forested parkland. You’ll share the space with bicycles and people pushing strollers. Bring water. Washrooms are often locked. #walking #cycling #park #fallcolours
Scarborough Bluffs Park
Scarborough Bluffs ParkToronto, CanadaCliffs in the city? This escarpment rises to 90 metres at its highest point and is about 15 kms long. A park with flower beds and views over Lake Ontario welcomes you at the top. A nice walking trail below the bluffs leads through more parkland and then follows the lakeside. #park #garden #flowers #cliffs #lake #walking
Guild Park and Gardens
Guild Park and GardensToronto, CanadaThis unusual park on the edge of the city acts as an outdoor museum for 70-odd columns, sculptures, and building facades rescued from the demolition of historical buildings during the post-WWll building boom in Toronto. Some pieces measure 20 feet in height or weight several tons. #park #sculpture #architecture #history