When the city is sweltering, everyone hankers for a beach break. Surprisingly, you don’t have to venture far to find a sandy spot in Toronto. Check out these four beaches in Toronto, ideal for summer activities, such as family picnics, volleyball matches, and swimming, or just chilling out.
Feel the warm sand between your toes as you walk along the lakeshore, and listen to the rhythmic sound of the softly lapping waves. Overhead, a bird suddenly swoops down and plucks a fish from the water. It’s hard to believe you’re still in Toronto, but this is Rouge Park, Canada’s first national urban park and a great place for summer activities. On any given day here, you’ll find visitors fishing, kayaking, hiking, and biking.
It’s also a prime spot for you to embrace your inner beach bum. Aside from the rich wetland, there’s a crest of sandy shore that perfect for sunbathing in tranquility. Pack a picnic lunch, spread out your blanket, and bask in the sun. Later, wander the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail, or follow the scenic path that zigzags along the marsh’s edge.
When it’s scorching hot, hop aboard a Harbourfront ferry to “the Islands”—a cluster of breezy isles boasting four different beaches. It’s only a 15-minute journey by boat, and you can avoid long lines at the kiosk by buying your ferry ticket online.
For a family-friendly spot, there’s Centre Island Beach, a stretch of sand near changing rooms, picnic areas, concession stands, and the ferry docks. If the kids are hungry for summer activities, bike and boat rentals are just down the road, as well as an amusement park.
Looking for summer fun? Out of all the beaches in Toronto, you can truly let loose at Hanlan’s Point. Here, you find tanned bodies sprawled on the sand; friends huddled on blankets, swapping snacks and swaying to tunes; and people tossing Frisbees. Some wear bathing attire while others strut their stuff in the buff. That’s right—Hanlan’s Point is a clothing-optional beach that’s especially popular among Toronto’s LGBTQ community.
No matter which beach you choose, why not treat yourself to a dinner cruise in the Toronto Harbour afterwards? It’s the perfect way to wrap up a leisurely day.
Kew, Woodbine, and Balmy Beaches
Stepping off the Queen East Streetcar, you inhale a balmy breeze and follow the boardwalk to a strip of white sand. Here, teams are batting a volleyball around while spectators cheer them on from the sidelines. Others are licking ice cream cones or playing fetch with their pooches in the fenced-in dog park.
Although considered separate beaches, Kew, Woodbine, and Balmy beaches are connected by three kilometres of boardwalk, each section with its own vibe. Woodbine is one of the busiest beaches in Toronto, attracting hordes with its ample picnic space, full-service restaurant, food stands, and the best spot in the city for beach volleyball. Out on the water, you may see people shakily balancing on stand-up paddle boards as a handful of Toronto companies offer lessons here.
Kew Beach is a bit more leisurely—friends and families cluster on oversized beach towels, making sand castles and swimming in the lake. In July, you’ll find the nearby park buzzing with life during the Beaches International Jazz Festival, an annual 16-day celebration of jazz culture and music.
Seeking peace and quiet? Follow the boardwalk to Balmy Beach, the most secluded of the trio. Or saunter along Queen Street East, ducking into funky shops, sidewalk cafés, and ice cream shops.
Toronto’s west end offers more than just beach—it’s also saturated with history. Located between the Humber River and Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, this beach has been a popular destination since the 1890s, and was once considered the “Coney Island of Toronto.”
The mid-century glamour may have faded, but you can still spot relics from Toronto’s past: the white-walled 1920s Pavilion; the long-forgotten amusement park grounds; and Palais Royale, once a dance hall for swing music. Today, the beach is a favourite place to soak up the sun, as well as enjoy summer activities, such as biking, rollerblading, and skateboarding along the boardwalk.