Serenity Now, Serenity Now!
As I was putting together my long awaited 48 Hour Toronto Itinerary, for some reason, more than usual, I really felt like the cities wall of glass was closing in on me. The hustle and bustle has always been crazy but lately it feels like it’s getting more intense.
DLSR Camera, iPhone with Selfie Stick and Drone in hand, I worked my way through the city filming, flying and taking pictures. It wasn’t till I started walking along the Philosopher’s Walk (one of Toronto’s hidden gems) that I noticed a change in ambience. I noticed it again when I strolled through the University of Toronto campus.
What I found (I admit I wasn’t looking for) but it was something I didn’t know my senses craved. The peace and tranquility of nature, which seems to effortlessly drown out the honking cars, the flashing lights and the rushing crowds. This inspired me to seek out the best parks to find peace and quiet In Toronto.
Evergreen Brickworks & Todmorden Mills
Surrounded by the Don Valley Parkway, the Bloor/Danforth off-ramp, the Bayview Extension and all the ramps connecting all three is a piece of serenity often missed. Most people, myself included have driven by the Evergreen Brickworks (probably in a rush)
At the Evergreen Brickworks you have the Sunday market, the farmers market and the garden market. The farmers market takes place every Saturday, and all year round while the Evergreen garden market is a shop where you can buy native plants and organic gardening resources.
Not far from a Evergreen Brickworks you’ll find Todmorden Mills. A museum, theatre, and an art gallery can be found at the Todmorden Mills Heritage Museum and Arts Centre.
Scarborough Bluffs | Bluffers Park
Located on the East end of Toronto, the Scarborough Bluffs have nine parks along them, while the Bluffers Park is the only one that has access to the beach. The Bluffs along with it’s beautiful cliffs offers recreational hiking and walking trails. It also has tables for picnic lovers, fire pits, and tons of places for camping. Coming by boat? It has a large marina and boating club. It also has enough parking spaces for people like me with a car.
Queen’s Park & The University of Toronto Campus
Named after Queen Victoria of England, Queen’s Park was established in the eighteenth century and designed in an English style. Beautiful and peaceful with numerous trees that offer their shade so you can hm have a quiet moment to contemplate the world or simply study for your mid term. It is surrounded by the University of Toronto (which also has a beautiful campus that provides rest and relaxation. Amongst many other statues there is an equestrian statue of Edward VII in the park.
HTO Park & Toronto Music Garden
HTO Park is theoretically a beach but not in the traditional meaning. Like Toronto’s Sugar Beach a little further East beside Redpath Sugar’s office and refinery has sand and beach chairs (Muskoka Chairs to be exact). Sure you can sun tan but there is no ocean, only a lake, Lake Ontario (hence the cities newest moniker “Urban Beach”.) Although it is perfect, peace, quiet, relaxation, reading and catching some rays its also home to the waterfront artisan market. It will pull you out of the concrete jungle and drop you in the amazon of shopping and vendors. Through the sale of local products you can really see Toronto’s beautiful diversity come together.
The Toronto Music Garden is another very beautiful park with lovely gardens. It boasts summer concerts, eco-programs, and great views of Lake Ontario. You can also listen to music to help you calm down and relax.
Allan Gardens Conservatory
As an Early Childhood Educator I would bring the children here for 4 reasons; 1. It’s free. 2. With tons of flowers and plants it’s a great science learning tool. 3. Although it’s a park the conservatory is indoors. 4. It has a children’s playground. Allan Gardens, founded in 1858 makes it one of the oldest parks in Toronto. In addition in its Conservatory you’ll find rare tropical plants from all over the globe, nurtured inside five greenhouses covering 16,000 square feet. Talk about being one with nature.
In the centre of the OCAD U (Ontario College of Art and Design University) Campus is Grange Park, which I often refer to as the Art Park. It is the closest green space to were I live and has a awesome Henry Moore sculpture, the Weston family fountain, playgrounds, inscribed granite paving stones, a dog area, seating areas and public washrooms. You can always find peace and quiet here (unless I’m out flying my drone around).
Trinity Bellwoods Park
Trinity Bellwoods Park has always been an interesting spot. Now when I say interesting I’m thinking; eclectic, hippie-ishhh, Woodstock circa 1960s type of vibe. Everything from tightrope walkers and flame jugglers to the youth sitting in groups and dogs running free. In addition to the general free spirit vibe, the park has a farmer’s market, playground, greenhouse, green space for gardeners and an adopt-a-tree program (No not a tree hugger program) The adopt-a-tree program allows you to plant a tree in the park.
Riverdale Park (East, West & Riverdale Farm)
Before I moved closer to the downtown core this was my park. It is know as one of the best spots to get beautiful Toronto skyline views. In fact you often catch news reporters going live-to-air as well as several movies being filmed. The park is one of the most popular tobogganing spots in Toronto and in addition to its skyline views, it has an ice rink, sports fields (soccer and baseball), a tennis court, a track and a swimming pool. Although divided East & West by the Don Valley Parkway, its large park spans and connects to the Lower Don River (which has a beautiful walking trail). There is a hospital at the east corner, and Riverdale Farm located at the West end of the park.
Located in the West end of Toronto, High Park is the largest park in Toronto and it could be compared to New York’s Central Park. It is so large that it has numerous hiking trails, sports facilities, a beautiful pond, a zoo, a children’s playground castle, a dog park, eateries, picnic areas, greenhouses and diverse vegetation. It also has an easy access to public transit and parking space.
Nothing says peace and quiet better than literally watching the city fade away as you ride a ferry to Toronto Islands. Toronto Islands is a group of 15 islands that are inter-connected by pathways and bridges and to get here you need to take a ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal on Toronto’s mainland to 1 of 3 docks (Ward Island, Centre Island & Hanlan’s Point) Not only are the islands inhabited, scattered across the islands kids and adults of all ages can find something to do or see.
There are 3 beaches (including a Clothing Optional Beach on Hanlan’s Point!), sports facilities, bike, canoe and kayak rentals, a boating marina, large grassy fields for picnics, a theatre and nature paths. You also will find: EMS and fire station, restaurants, an amusement park called Centreville on Centre Island, a pier, a boardwalk, artists retreat and a 200 year old haunted lighthouse called Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.
Do not miss a great video from Christopher about The Best Toronto Parks For Piece & Quiet
About the Author:
Using the latest travel apps, technology, and gear, I take a city; see the sights, taste the food, smell the roses, hear the stories and feel the love. All in 48 hours. Then, using videography & editing, photography and writing I retell and share those stories with my readers and viewers.
I’m Christopher Rudder and welcome to Rudderless!