The leaves have burst and everyone in the city seems to be walking a little lighter. Eye contact is less intimidating in the absence of winter grimaces and strangers who forgot strangers can smile are making small connections.
Large volumes of people flock to the city’s greenspaces every chance they get. The west end’s Trinity Bellwoods is one very popular destination for those toting acoustic guitars, beers and picnics. The park is so popular that nearly 28,000 people joined a Facebook page titled “Trinity Bellwoods Block Party 2015” that sprung up about a month ago. ICYMI, Blog T.O. pointed out in a recent article that this and similar pages are likely schemes to allure people with the idea of a free outing and later rope them into attending paid events. Unsurprisingly, we’re still awaiting those “details coming soon” for the July 5th event.
With its luscious lawn, shade or vitamin D sucking options, and (my favourite) the dog bowl, Trinibell can be great, but the city has a lot more to offer. Here are five other cool spots to check out as the weather improves.
Toronto’s largest public park located south west of the Bloor and Keele streets intersection has so much to offer. The 161 hectare park has 18 designated picnic areas, sports fields, a pool and kilometers of hiking trails traversing forest and water’s edge. If you want to get your oxytocin fix by staring into some pups eyes, spend some time in the off-leash dog zone. To see some other four-legged friends, walk through the outdoor High Park zoo in the south east end of the park which features llamas, yaks and wallabies to name a few. If you missed this year’s infamous cherry blossom bloom, not to worry, at least ten people in your Facebook feed didn’t. High Park has everything. Including ice cream.
The Sunnyside beach and boardwalk can be accessed by crossing a pedestrian overpass at the base of Queen St. W and Roncesvalles Ave. The boardwalk ties into the waterfront trail system popular with joggers and cyclists that stretches from Mimico to the mouth of the Don River. Follow this boardwalk west and you’ll see grassy expanses, a playground and a couple of dinosaurs (RAWR) on your right. No one is too old to get on that dino’s back or take a ride on the swing set overlooking the water and Etobicoke skyline. This backdrop makes the area popular for photographers often seen capturing subjects posing at the shoreline. The beach is also popular with ducks, geese and swans. Keep walking west and you’ll pass the Sunnyside pool, the historical Sunnyside pavilion and some docks jutting out into the water. You might catch a rowing team practicing out on the water and if you’re feeling adventurous yourself you can rent a canoe or kayak from Toronto Adventures. Sunnyside is a good place to be on long weekends when fireworks can be seen all along the shore far in the distance east and west.
Dufferin Grove Park
Dufferin Grove Park is located just south of Dufferin Station, across the street from the Dufferin Mall. The park is great for a variety of daytime activities. You can bring some instruments and a picnic and take it easy or choose to get a little more active on the basketball court or volleyball net. A weekly farmer’s market on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. around the rink house offers plants and local foods. Bread is often baked during the market in the two on-site wood ovens near the basketball courts. If you were thinking of venturing out post-sunset, the park also has two campfire sites that you can book year round.
More ice cream! Start your trip to Christie Pits off right by getting an ice-cream cone at Baskin Robbins at Christie and Bloor streets. Like all these other great places, Christie Pits has plenty of space ideal for throwing down a blanket or just your bums and chilling out with whatever preoccupation your heart desires. If you’ve got some energy to burn, the park has a baseball diamond, basketball and volleyball courts and a multi-sport field. Do you like the sound of all this sunny daytime activity but in reality you turn into a nocturnal creature during the summer months? The Christie Pits pool is popular with pool hoppers. Go on any sweltering night and you’ll likely find a small crowd. In case you were wondering, no the “Christie” in Christie Pits does not come from Mr. Christie who makes cookies, this Christie was a tanner who worked close by when there were still sand pits being quarried there in the 19th century.
If you want to get far far away from the west end altogether and you’re looking for a slightly more secluded spot, go to this hidden beach. This is an ideal spot for smaller groups or solo expeditions. Walk to the east end of the Beaches beach and cross the lawn of the RC Harris water filtration plant. You’ll find a pathway leading down to a little cove sheltered by trees. Direct your gaze to the sparkling blue water or scan the shore for stones to skip. The entrance to a creepy drainage tunnel can offer a cool escape from the sun and some fun echoes. This beach is not technically a public space but there is no signage warning trespassers. Explore at your own risk.