When people think of Toronto, they usually assume it’s a land-locked city. Since Toronto is not on the coast, they have a hard time believing that Toronto actually has a harbourfront and beaches.
However, people forget that Toronto is on the shores of Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes of North America. Though the lake is the smallest of the five Great Lakes, it’s still quite big having a surface area of 7,340 sq. mi.
Lake Ontario provides Toronto with many sandy beaches, a group of islands that can be accessed by ferry and a lively harbourfront. You can reach the harbourfront if you walk down to the lake from downtown anywhere from Yonge Street to Spadina Avenue.
The harbourfront is a great place to visit for both locals and tourists. Especially during the summer months, there’s a range of activities and festivities at the harbour. Read on and find out how you can enjoy the harbourfront during your visit to Toronto.
10 Things To Do At Toronto’s Harbourfront
#1. Enjoy A Musical Evening At Toronto’s Harbourfront
Every weekend during the summer, music concerts are held at the concert stage at Harbourfront Centre and Toronto’s Music Garden. The music events feature not only upcoming local artists but some well-known names as well. On Thursdays, there’s a dancing on the pier event where you get a chance to groove to live music. The cherry on the top is that all these events are completely free! So, check out the schedule posted at the Harbourfront Centre website to find out what events are on this week.
#2. Visit An Art Gallery
Toronto has many art galleries and museums. However, they are quite expensive to visit. Not so, with the Powerplant gallery at the Harbourfront. This contemporary art gallery is free to visit all through the year and displays some of the most interesting and current trends in art.
#3. Watch A Movie at the Harbourfront
You can also catch a free movie on Toronto’s Harbourfront. Starting in August, free movies are screened at the floating cinema screen at Sugar beach. You can either watch the movie from the beach or watch it from your anchored boat in the lake, if you own a boat.
#4. Activities With Kids At Toronto Harbourfront
Kids can also have a lot of fun at the Harbourfront. The Simcoe Wavedeck is especially popular with them. Kids love running up and down this deck shaped to look like a wave. They’ll also love to float on the paddle boat at the Natrel Pond. The paddle boat rental is priced at $10/ person for a 15 minute float on the pond.
#5. Take A Ferry Ride/Water Taxi To Toronto Islands
Take a break from the hustle-bustle of the city and escape to Toronto Islands. Toronto has a group of islands not far from downtown. The smaller ones are inhabited by permanent island dwellers. Centre Island, which is the largest, is the main attraction for visitors and tourists. The islands have a number of beaches including a clothing optional one. You can board the ferry that takes you to the islands at Jack Layton Terminal on Queen’s Quay.
The queue to the ferry can get very long during holidays and weekends. If you don’t have the patience to wait or would like to take a private boat ride, there are water taxis available. These water taxis are not too expensive. They cost around $10 per person one-way. Remember, the ferry ride from the island to the main land is free. So, for the return journey, you can board the ferry.
#6. Rent A Kayak
You can also experience the water by renting out a Kayak. You can spot the Kayak rental place just opposite the Rogers centre at Queens Quay. A Solo kayak will cost you about $40 for upto 2 hrs on the water.
#7. Take A Dinner Cruise On The Lake
The Harbourfront is also one of the coolest locations for a date night. You can start out your evening with a romantic walk along the boardwalk. Then, you can board the Mariposa Dinner cruise for 3 hours of cruising, dinner and music. If being on a boat makes you queasy, you can also catch a dinner or late-night grub at the many restaurants and bars that line the Harbourfront.
#8. Stay Active At Toronto Harbourfront
The harbourfront has facilities for you to pursue an active lifestyle. There are dedicated cycling and skating trails along the waterfront. So, you can take advantage of the water views while keeping up a healthy lifestyle.
If you don’t own a bicycle, you can easily rent one at the bicycle rental stand. All you need is your credit card.
There are also green spaces like the HTO Park and the musical garden, where you can go Yoga in the park, practice Tai chi or meditate especially during early mornings when the area is the peaceful.
#9. Get A Tan At An Artificial Beach
Toronto has a lot of natural sandy beaches on Toronto Islands and to the east of downtown. However, if you would rather not travel away from Downtown, then Toronto has a solution for that too. There’s an artificial beach right at the harbourfront. It’s known as the Urban Beach. Sure, the area is not extensive. However, the pretty yellow umbrellas and the water views make up for the lack of a real beach.
#10. Attend An Exhibition Or A Food Festival
Toronto has a diverse population. To celebrate its diversity, many cultural events, food festivals and exhibitions are held throughout the year at the Ann Tindal Park, the park just behind the Concert Stage, and HTO Park. The harbourfront is also the place for big event celebrations. Who can forget the giant rubber duck that made an appearance at Canada’s 150th year anniversary.
Whatever, the reason or season, the harbourfront is a must-see when you visit Toronto. If you are visiting Canada for the first time, check out my complete Canada travel guide for all the information you need.
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Guest Author Bio
Pari is a Ph.D. graduate, an adjunct college professor, and a travel enthusiast. She believes in slow travel, where she explores the travel destination by living like a local. She writes extensively about the places she has visited in her travel blog where covers topics about travel destinations, food and fashion around the world.
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