With the crisp smell of autumn in the air and a kaleidoscope of brilliant orange, red, and gold leaves, Toronto offers a beautiful backdrop for fall activities. The best way to make the most of this vibrant fall landscape is to do as the locals do and explore it neighbourhood by neighbourhood.
Hold on to your hat as you stroll the breezy waterside promenade at Harbourfront, and gaze at the jaw-dropping expanse of blue sky overlooking the Toronto Islands, an archipelago of greenery in Lake Ontario. One of the most popular places to visit in Toronto for fall activities, it’s filled with locals soaking up the season’s last few rays of sunshine on its sandy beaches, bike trails, and walking paths.
Feel the fresh air on your face and watch sailboats gliding past, then head to Amsterdam BrewHouse, a lakeside brewery specializing in locally sourced ingredients and hand-crafted seasonal beer. Here it’s easy to plunge right into the fall spirit as you sip a spicy pumpkin ale paired with hearty steak and ale pie, brimming with tender beef tucked inside flaky made-to-order pastry. It’s an afternoon guaranteed to fortify you for the imminent arrival of winter.
Evergreen Brick Works
When it comes to fall activities, there’s nothing more iconic than hearing the “Honk, honk” of a flock of Canada geese migrating south. It will fill your heart with awe and patriotic pride—even if you’re not Canadian. The best place to experience this natural wonder is at the Evergreen Brick Works, a huge city park created at the site of the former quarry of the Don Valley Brick Works, once the source of the brick that graces many of Toronto’s heritage buildings. Today, this former wasteland has been transformed into parkland featuring wetlands, wildflower meadows, and ravine forests.
Take a stroll along the wooden boardwalk that meanders through the valley’s marshlands and you might even see a mallard duck or two bobbing for food among the bulrushes. At the trailhead, tucked among the site’s historic buildings, is Toronto’s largest farmers market. This year-round mecca for foodies is one of the best places to visit in Toronto for an autumnal bounty of freshly picked shiny apples, sweet corn, and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Browse the food stands and sample the sweet, heady taste of rose petal syrup at Forbes Wild Foods, where you’ll find an array of products sustainably foraged from the Canadian wilderness. Or stock up on pantry essentials at Koslick’s Mustard, which offers 36 artisanal mustards, including a sweet mustard made with Ontario honey that’s perfect for slathering over ham or scooping up with a spoon.
Indulging in a leisurely weekend brunch is another popular fall activity. Evergreen’s Cafe Belong is headed up by one of Toronto’s most innovative chefs. So pull up a seat at one of the rustic tables, and sip a minty Niagara Peach Tea Whisky Smash while enjoying Eggs Be, a healthy twist on the classic Eggs Benny with kale adding just the right amount of crunch. You won’t be able to stop at just one of the steaming hot buttermilk biscuits slathered in sweet butter, so be sure to order extras.
The thriving industrial-chic neighbourhood known as The Junction, in Toronto’s west end, is another top place to visit in Toronto if you’re fascinated by historical architecture, avant-garde style, street art graffiti, and artisanal cuisine. As you walk along Dundas Street West, you can gawk at the impressive architectural remains of this neighbourhood’s proud past among the brick facades of the restored storefronts.
It’s also prime shopping territory with unique shops such as SMASH, an intriguing event space where vintage, salvage, and industrial materials, fixtures, and furnishings are reinvented, reused, and resold. Craftsmanship also abounds at Mjölk, where you’ll find sleek creations from Scandinavia, the UK, Canada, and Japan.
A popular local hangout is the nearby Indie Alehouse. Located in a former Sears catalogue drop-off depot, this neighbourhood brewpub serves up seasonal brews such as the Indie Alehouse Black Pumpkin Abbey, a bold beer with sweet aromas of caramel, chocolate, and spice that will have you toasting a warm welcome to fall.