Notable Toronto Urban Oases

Sometimes it seems like there’s no seeking refuge from this concrete jungle we call home. Of course we wouldn’t be in Toronto if we didn’t love it, but downtown Toronto is the last place you’d want to find yourself in the midst of one of many summer heat waves. And, with temperatures reaching the mid-40’s this week, let us recommend a few spots to take you away from our congested urban setting.

Toronto Islands
This is about as close to Muskoka as you’re going to get without leaving the city. A short ferry ride from the harbourfront at Yonge Street brings you to 600 acres of parkland with five beaches (one of them clothing optional), bike and running trails and, of course, a patio for some drinks.

Don Valley Trail
The Don Valley is home to Toronto’s most extensive network of running and bike trails. A mix of paved, gravel and dirt paths lead you through over 20 km of forested landscape just east of the downtown core, with stretches along the Don River (it gets surprisingly nice north of Gerrard). This mini haven can take almost 10 degrees off the normal outside temperature.

The Beaches
The Beaches are Toronto’s hot spot (or cold spot, for that matter) every summer for good reason. Located in the east end, the beaches stretch all the way from Coxwell to Victoria Park along the shores of Lake Ontario. Though Woodbine beach at Ashbridge’s Bay Park is usually crowded with tourists, nearby Kew beach and Balmy Beach offer the perfect getaway for those looking to spend some time on the water.

High Park
This is our answer to New York City’s Central Park. By far the biggest natural escape in Toronto, High Park features 400 acres of gardens, food vendors, sporting facilities and ponds. At the centre of the park is Grenadier Cafe, the perfect stop for some food and drinks. If you’re planning to spend an entire day outside, make sure it’s at High Park.

Photo by MusMs/Flickr.