Tranquility in the Big City

A meandering trail of garden pathways along the water’s edge connect outdoor concert spaces, shopping areas, and beaches beside the tranquil Harbourfront, where Toronto meets Lake Ontario. Central to the lakefront is the Harbourfront Centre, home to restaurants, theatres, shops, and galleries, including The Power Plant, one of Toronto’s foremost exhibits of contemporary art. In summer, browse the open-air market featuring local vendors, or watch a free concert from the Music in the Garden series, highlighting classical, jazz, and world music.

Starting in May, Tall Ships fill the harbour for day and sunset cruises, and locals jump on the 10-minute ferry to the Toronto Islands, a haven of beaches, cycling paths, and family-friendly fun. Here, in the tranquility of shady trees and breezy views of the city, families picnic, play, and sunbathe at the four sandy beaches: Centre Island, Gibraltar Point, Ward’s Island Beach, and the (clothing optional!) Hanlan’s Point. Small children will love Centreville, a charming amusement park with 30 rides, a petting zoo, and a wading pool.

If you prefer something more active, rent a paddleboat to see the shore, or rent a bike to explore Ward and Algonquin Islands, with picturesque pastel summer cottages and a mysterious “haunted” lighthouse. On your way back to the mainland, make sure your camera is ready to capture Toronto’s most iconic view, its soaring cityscape, which is only visible from the water. If you’re lucky, you’ll capture the magic moment when the sunset lights up the skyline.