Parks of Note

There are few better places to spend the summer in Toronto than in one of our beautiful, family-friendly parks. We’ve picked eight favourites below with all their events and attractions.

And number nine? We’ll let you explore family-friendly event listings from parks all across the city and pick a favourite of your own!

Dufferin Grove

875 Dufferin Street, South of Bloor Street
416-392-0913

The Grove is a large, stunningly treed 5.3-hectare park with a wonderful playground, picnic tables, a snackbar and a shade-dappled wading pool. There are washrooms, a clubhouse and a multipurpose sports field, basketball, volleyball and tether ball courts, outdoor table tennis and even a reflexology footpath. Dufferin Grove is a deeply-loved community institution that has led the way for many other parks to rethink how they engage with their neighbourhood.

Programming at the park includes a Farmer’s Market on Thursdays from 3-7pm. The market website is a terrific resource for events in Dufferin Grove including Art Hive, Word on the Street pop-ups and the Repair Café.

The drop-in Skate Park is open from May to October all day and includes many different ramps and obstacles of varying difficulty. Skaters can ride and test out the quarter-pipe, rails and box jumps. The Skate Park is maintained by community members, recreation and parks staff.

Friday Night Suppers run throughout the summer from 6-7:30pm. Look for impromptu happenings such as yoga in the park or book a group campfire for your own special evening. Bake your own lunch on Pizza Days – Wednesdays and Sundays from 1-2pm! The Cobb Café program operates in June and September on weekends only, and July to August all week from 11am-5pm.  Sample freshly baked muffins, cookies, salads, hot dogs, juice, coffee and more. 

The Adventure Playground is open every day from May to October at the south end of the park.  This playground allows children to create, excavate and explore with shovels and natural materials, under a beautiful tree canopy.  The water source provides a unique opportunity for children to play and create water tunnels, cavities and bridges. The wading pool is open every day from June 29 to September 2nd from 10am to 6pm.

Two events of particular note at the Grove this summer are Day of Delight with Clay and Paper Theatre on June 17 and Figment on August 18-19.

kew gardens

Kew Gardens

Friends of Beach Parks
2075 Queen Street East

The beach and boardwalk are right next door but Kew Gardens’ wading pool (open from June 30) is a great place for toddlers (and their families) to chill out and meet new friends. The park is easily reached via the 501 streetcar or by bicycle on the Martin Goodman. Kew has a wonderful mix of expansive lawns, flowering gardens and lovely trees for shade; there are handy washrooms and well-loved play equipment – including a castle! There’s even a bandstand. Take a picnic and meander down to the boardwalk to skip some stones or take a dip.

Kew is home to a great many events and festivals: Slobberfest starts things off on June 2. On June 9 & 10, Kew Gardens is  home to the Beaches Arts & Crafts Show and from June 11-17, Bard in the Park presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Kew Gardens. Performances are PWYC. On alternate Wednesday nights, starting on July 4, you can catch a family-friendly Outdoor Movie in the park.

On Canada Day, Kew is a great place to burn off energy while you’re waiting for the fireworks to begin. Music in the Park in Kew Gardens runs Sundays from 2-4pm with family-friendly entertainment from July 8 to August 26 and on July 14-15 and August 28-29 there will be special Saturday music programming from 12 to 4pm. Walk up tree-lined streets to any number of cafés and restaurants. Ed’s Real Scoop at Beech and Queen is a crowd-pleaser and we love the lattés at Oscars. Stroll past 1905’s Kew Beach Fire Hall to catch a glimpse of the big red engines or pop into the Beaches Library for a little relief from the sun. The library has an exciting roster of children’s events this summer and if thunderclouds threaten to spoil the day, take heart and check out the schedule at The Fox – they often have a kid-friendly matinée.

High Park

High Park Ave, S of Bloor St W

One the many attractions of this beautiful and vast urban greenspace is the community-funded castle playground on the eastern edge of the park. There’s also the drop-in program at the Children’s Garden near Colborne Lodge on Thursdays. Summer hours for tours of Colborne Lodge are 12-5pm every day except Monday for $5-8 from July 3 to August 31.

The High Park Zoo is open every day 7am to dusk and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, they open the llama pens for an up close experience. Find out more from the Friends of the High Park Zoo.

The wading pool at the north end of the park is open from June 30 until September 3 and the swimming pool is open from June 23 to September 2. Hop on the trackless train for a 30 minute ride around the park or take a break at the snack bars, food truck or the Grenadier Café. There are washrooms and perfect picnic spots throughout the park. The High Park Nature Centre makes its home in High Park and runs family-friendly programming all year round. Check our calendar for the latest Family Nature Walk. And book your cushion on the hill for Shakespeare in the Park from June 28 to September 2nd.

Christie Pits

Friends of Christie Pits
Bloor Street West at Christie Street

The Pits is a large bowl of a park with a swimming pool, water slide, wading pool, playground, picnic tables, a baseball diamond and basketball courts all next door to the Christie subway station. The park gets all day sun but has plenty of trees for shade. It’s a great place to roll down a hill, enjoy a picnic or catch a baseball game.

Once a month, on Thursdays at 6pm, the park hosts a lively community dinner with local food vendors, Libretto pizza in the bake oven and a wonderful gathering of the  neighbourhood – all in support of The Butterfly Project. Bike with Mike kicks off Bicycle Month on May 27 from 12-5pm with a free BBQ, kids bike-blinging activities and a Kids Bike Swap.

The Alex Duff outdoor pool has a two-storey water slide and a deep pool for diving and an access ramp as well as a conversation pool and a splash pool for kids. There’s also a wading pool in the playground area. The pool opens early for the season from June 16 to September 3 and the wading pool starts up on the 29th.

Christie pits is home of The Toronto Maple Leafs Inter-County Baseball Club with home games on Sundays & Wednesdays at 2pm on 6, 13, 20, 27 May; 6, 3, 10, 17, 24 Jun; 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 July and at  7:30pm on 30 May; 6, 11, 27 Jul and 1 Aug. 

The Outdoor Picture Show returns to the park with on Sundays from 24 Jun to 19 Aug. Most of the films are adult-oriented but have a look through – Amelie is lovely!

Regent Park

Friends of Regent Park
Regent Park Blvd, S off Dundas St E

Regent Park is a massive urban success story with a highly animated park and enthusiastic community involvement. The free Aquatic Centre is, hands down, the best indoor pool in the city and, with a rope swing, water slide and windows that look onto the neighbourhood square, it feels like an outdoor pool but with way nicer change rooms.

Across the street, Daniels Spectrum weaves arts and social initiatives into the community and, in the Big Park itself, bbqs, concerts, and gatherings make use of an 8 -acre expanse with a dash-through-it-at-a-run splash pad. On July 21 & 22, the Muhtadi International Drumming Festival takes over the park from 10am each day!

The Regent Park Farmers’ Market starts up on Jul 4 and runs from 5-8pm. The market is a part of the larger Taste of Regent Park with inspired games and activities, crafts, food from local culinary students and the bake oven. Free movies light up the night sky on Wednesdays in July and August and music abounds throughout the summer.

Trinity Bellwoods

Friends of Trinity Bellwoods
Dundas & Queen Sts W between Crawford & Bellevue
416-392-0743

This large west end park has two playgrounds, a sun-warmed wading pool, a sandpit, picnic tables, tennis courts and ball diamonds The Farmers Market is on Tuesdays from 3-7pm and the Great Big Yard Sale is on June 19th and The Toronto Bicycle Music Festival culminates in the park on September 9

Every Sunday, from June 3-17, the drumming circle will return to Bellwoods with their family-friendly invitation to bring instruments, water and blankets for acoustic jams and a community rhythm picnic!

Trinity Park Flicks are showing on June 19 and July 3. If you can get a spot, Art in the Park is one of Toronto’s best un-camps going – run by Trinity Bellwoods CARE. Picnickers can stock up at Sud Forno or Nadege or grab a cone and a coffee from White Squirrel at the base of the park. The Rec Centre dominates the west side of the park with indoor swimming, a toddler pool, table tennis and washrooms. Also dominating the park these days is the smell of a whole lot of medical mary jane. Caveat visitator.

Withrow Park

Friends of Withrow Park
725 Logan Ave

Withrow is a wonderful, 8 hectare park just south of the Danforth between Logan and Carlaw Ave. Stop by The Perk for a latté, then grab a bench in the shade or spread out your blanket among the trees. There are two playgrounds, one of which is fenced in for toddlers. Friendly local families, clean washrooms and wide open spaces make this a top pick park for us. The city runs sports programs, summer camps and family yoga in the park and The Big Yard Sale is on June 16 from 9am-12pm. Bells on Danforth also welcomes families to begin their ride in Withrow Park on the 16th. The wading pool opens on June 29.

The Withrow Farmers’ Market runs from June 2, 9am-1pm on Saturdays and there’s a wide variety of summer programming including Dusk Dances from 7-9pm on August 5 to 12. Startng August 16 to September 3, Withrow’s resident theatre company, Shakespeare in the Ruff, presents Portia’s Julius Caesar.

Already beloved by East-enders, Withrow is a park the rest of Toronto should cross a bridge to visit. (Bonus: Kids love the moment when the subway shoots out under the Bloor Street Viaduct.)

 

Sorauren Park

Friends of Sorauren Park
289 Sorauren Avenue

Sorauren Park is a small but mighty entry to our list of favourite parks. With a passionate volunteer community, a year-round Farmers’ Market, movie nights and a new Pizza Oven, this little park sure acts big!

The home of the original Pumpkin Parade, Sorauren Park is adjacent to Charles G Williams Playground with an end of school celebration scheduled for June 23 and a wading pool open from 10am-1pm and 2-6pm as of June 29.

There’s a busy dogs-off-leash area, a fieldhouse and outdoor tennis courts as well as a ball diamond and sport fields for City-run baseball, softball and T-ball as well as soccer clubs and tennis lesson. Affordable camps for 4 and 5 year olds are available throughout the summer.

Movie nights start up on June 23 with pizza dinners before each screening and the Farmers’ Market takes over the public square and fires up the bake oven every Monday from 3 to 7pm.

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