With travel restrictions this summer due to Covid-19, a number of Canadians living in Toronto are resorting to staycations and day trips to explore more of Toronto and the surrounding area.
Below are some recommendations for places to go and things to do. It is a working list, so I will be continuously adding to the list throughout the summer.
Beach Day-Sugar Beach/Woodbine Beach/Cherry Beach/Toronto Centre Island
There are a number of beaches throughout the city. While they don’t compare to the Caribbean or Asia, they work well for Toronto. You may or may not be up for heading into Lake Ontario but you can certainly enjoy soaking up the sun, having a picnic and other activities like tossing around a Frisbee.
Picnic at Trinity Bellwoods Park/Riverdale Park/ Stanley Park/along Lakeshore
Hanging out in parks have become the new social spot, especially with many bars and restaurants closed at the beginning of the pandemic. Trinity Bellwoods went so far as so draw circles to promote social distancing. Packing some food & drinks and meeting up with friends has become the summer activity of choice in the city. It’s a great way to enjoy the summer weather (and cheaper).
Walking through U of T downtown campus
Some have said that Toronto isn’t a city known for architecture, but with U of T being my alma mater, I am biased. St George Campus, which dates back to 1827, is the perfect place to explore the architecture, especially during the summer months when it is visibly less busy. If photography is your jam, then I highly recommend checking out the various buildings near King’s College Circle.
Paddle Boarding – Toronto Centre Island/ Woodbine Beach
Paddle boarding is a great activity to work the core, enjoy some sun, and be in the water without getting soaked (hopefully). Toronto Centre Island and Woodbine beach offers rentals throughout the summer.
Biking along Lakeshore
This summer the city of Toronto has been closing down Lakeshore Blvd from Strachan to just prior to Humber River, for use exclusively to bikers and joggers (no cars allowed). If you don’t own a bike, Bike Share has been set up all over the city so you can easily rent one.
Scarborough Bluffs / Bluffs Beach
It’s not a bluff- the views from here look like the Caribbean! You can enjoy a short hike to get a panoramic view of the region, or you can head down to Bluffs Beach.
Cheltenham (Caledon) Badlands
Located in Caledon, about an hour outside of Toronto, the badlands are a natural unique site to see . Recently conservatives built a boardwalk, so you can no longer walk along the Badlands, making the trip comparatively shorter than previous years. However, you can take a hike throughout the surrounding forest or you can add on another place like Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, which is half hour away.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Located in Orangeville, just an hour outside of Toronto, this park is the perfect place to go for a hike. It has multiple trails so you can even loop around if you would like to get some decent steps in.
Dundas Peak and Tews Waterfall
With Hamilton being the waterfall capital of Canada, it should come as no surprise that there are multiple ones in the area. If you are looking for a decent hike, Dundas Peak is great to check out with various lookout view points of Spencer Gorge Conservation Area and waterfalls including Tews Fall. But beware- this area is well known for ticks so be careful!
This is one of my favourite waterfalls, also located in Hamilton. While it is easy to find, to access the falls directly so you can walk into them is a bit of a challenge. It does require a bit of a trek, and one should proceed at your own risk. It is currently closed due to Covid and physical distancing, but please check Hamilton’s Tourism website for regular updates.
Another beautiful waterfall located in Hamilton. But this one is not easy to get to. It requires hiking and climbing. And it is also not easy to find. Do not trust google maps. It is best to go with someone who is familiar with the location, but beware- you are going at your own risk. Be careful!
R.C.Harris Water Treatment Plant
This historic building is located in between Woodbine beaches and Scarborough Bluffs. The grounds provide the perfect spot to have a mini picnic, while overlooking the Lake. To me, it has an East Coast feel to it.
Elora Gorge (& Quarry)
Close to Kitchener, about an hour and 20 minutes outside the city of Toronto, you can visit Elora Gorge. The Elora Quarry is a stunning area that looks like the Caribbean, but unfortunately it is closed this summer due to Covid. But you can visit Elora Gorge. You can hike the area (about an hour), dip your feet in the gorge and visit the small European like town.