Discover Outdoor Weekend Activities in Toronto

While some may think of Toronto as the CN Tower, Casa Loma and Ripley’s – the cities outdoor destinations have a lot to offer!  Many visitors, and even locals, are discovering the multitude of sprawling parks, eye-catching patios, and outdoor adventures in Toronto.

Our Toronto Tour Guide team has put together a list featuring 4 of our favourite outdoor weekend activities in Toronto for 2022.  Whether you’re visiting Toronto or looking for something new, our list should help you get your planning started.

 

Kayak/Canoe to the Toronto Islands

Toronto is one of the few North American cities featuring an island downtown. Ferries operate multiple times per hour but for the more adventurous, kayaking to the islands is a gratifying experience.  Canadians are known for their love of the outdoors and urban dwellers are no different.  Torontonians LOVE the Islands.

Just a few hundred metres from downtown Toronto at their closest, there are numerous streams snaking in and around the 15 islands. Along the way, you’ll discover different types of wildlife, two yacht clubs and some permanent houseboat residences.  If you’re a fan of outdoor adventure in a tranquil setting, this is one of the top weekend activities in Toronto for you.

Kayaking and Canoeing Toronto Harbour can get busy - make sure you choose the best route.

Kayaking and Canoeing Toronto Harbour can get busy – make sure you choose a route away from high-traffic boating areas.

Kayaking from Toronto Harbour or Cherry Beach to the Islands takes about 45 minutes and it’s easy to spend another 2 hours exploring the gorgeous waterways around the Islands.  In Spring and Summer there are incredible blooming flowers, droopy willow trees and all kinds of small wildlife popping in and out of view.  Pack a lunch or visit the iconic Toronto Island Cafe for some well-earned Fish and Chips with cake of the day for dessert. Make sure to check their live entertainment schedule – you might be able to catch some live tunes with dinner!

There is no cost to launch your own kayak, just make sure you’re well prepared. The Urban Paddler has a detailed safety and best practices guide here.  Paddle Toronto has a fantastic map of suggested routes here.  Need to rent a kayak?  Check out Paddle Toronto / Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Rental.

Kayaking or Canoeing to Toronto Island can be a lot of work but it's worth it for these sunsets.

Kayaking / Canoeing to Toronto Island is worth it for these sunsets.

 

Visit Geary Avenue

A long time destination for creatives and midnight ravers, the legend of Geary Avenue has grown in the last few years.  Now it’s a favourite spot for craft beer connoisseurs, foodies, bakers, and ice-cream aficionados.  The gritty exterior of the area will give you similar vibes to Kensington Market – with a fraction of the tourists.  If you’re looking for a chill afternoon in a cool neighbourhood, we recommend Geary Ave.

If you decide to take the trek to mid-Toronto, you’ll want to check out Parallel for either a morning treat or Israeli style brunch. The Parallel Manufactory has a built-in restaurant and cafe so you can enjoy a sunny patio while chowing down on Brunch. On your way out make sure you grab their famous Halva – it comes in a variety of flavours, including our favourite Chocolate/Black Sea Salt combo.

Discover Parallel, one of Toronto's premier Israeli Restaurants, on Geary Ave.

Discover Parallel, one of Toronto’s premier Israeli Restaurants, on Geary Ave.

Blood Brothers Brewing is an iconic spot on Geary Ave.  Whether you decide to chill in their space (it features a roll-up garage door) or grab a couple cans to go, you’re getting some of Toronto’s best beer.  Full disclosure, Geary Ave. is a little out of the way but if you’re looking for a local experience, this is it.  If you’re travelling from downtown, we recommend cycling or walking from Dufferin Subway station.

Between Dufferin and Ossington there are many curated second-hand clothing stores, cafes and bakeries – making a mid-town afternoon outing a fulsome part of your Toronto vacation.  Are you a HUGE foodie? We recommend the stellar Eating Through TO Geary Ave guide for even MORE Weekend Activities around the neighbourhood.

 

Rent a Bicycle and Explore Tommy Thompson Park

If you’re anything like our Tour Guides, you LOVE spending time outdoors.  For years, Tommy Thompson Park (aka The Leslie Spit) has been a refuge for Torontonians seeking peace and quiet.  While Tommy Thompson Park is a slight jaunt from downtown, you’ll love the greenery and dystopian landscapes.

Hiking and Biking are just two attractions at Tommy Thompson Park - you'll often find makeshift sculptures near the Lighthouse.

Hiking and Biking are just two attractions at Tommy Thompson Park – you’ll often find makeshift sculptures near the Lighthouse

Transit to Tommy Thompson park is relatively easy by car, transit or cycling.  Visit the parks website to get directions for all 3. You can rent bicycles downtown from Wheel Excitement if you prefer performance. Or you take advantage of Toronto’s BikeShare program, just keep in mind you need to check-in your bike every 30 minutes to avoid additional charges.

Once you’ve arrived, it’s recommended to turn off your phone and drink in the diverse natural habitat.  From the entrance gate it takes about an hour to reach the Lighthouse at the tip of the park. Keep in mind that motorized vehicles and devices aren’t allowed past the parking lot so you’ll either have to use your legs or cycle.  The Park is iconic for its dystopian vibes – the benefit of decades worth of torn-down buildings, street lamps and other non-toxic building materials being dumped by the City.  Recently it was the set for Jason Momoa’s See Series.

There are some notable spots near Queen and Leslie to check out afterwards.  Visit Hastings Snack Bar between 9-4pm Wednesday – Sunday for authentic Polish pierogies – and stay for their witty Instagram banter.  If you’re planning on heading to the Park later in the day, famous Toronto dive bar Betty’s has opened an Eastern outpost a short walk from Tommy Thompson Park.

Popular Restaurants and Drinks near Tommy Thompson Park:

Radical Road Brewing
Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant
Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

Other Outdoor Weekend Activities in Toronto

Our friends at Destination Toronto have the inside-scoop for everything you’d ever want to see and do in the city. If you’re visiting the city, there’s more than enough to do in our list above.  But if you’re looking for something different, the 3 articles below should give you some more ideas to fill out your weekend activities in Toronto:

12 Hours; Family Fun in Toronto’s Leslieville and Riverside
Explore Parkdale With a Self-Guided Street Art Tour
5 Spots to Indluge Your Curiosity in Queen’s Park

– Go Tours Canada
P.S. – If you’re visiting the Distillery District, read our guide: How to Spend a Day in the Distillery District.