Toronto is quite possibly the very best city to be in when the sunshine hits.
We’ve got huge music festivals, amazing restaurants, cute cafes; basically, Toronto is every summer lover’s dream destination. It’s no wonder that once the weekend hits, most of us just want to spend it in the city, taking full advantage of everything Toronto has to offer and avoiding gridlock on the 400.
Of course, that includes the great outdoors. Sometimes we forget that Toronto is full of awesome, unique, and seriously fun ways to enjoy nature. If you need some help getting into the outdoors, Mountain Equipment Co-op (aka MEC), has this really amazing digital platform, Good Times Outside, that lets you discover even more outdoor activities, right in your own backyard! To help you get started, here are some of our favourite activities worth checking out this summer:
Work up a thirst in the Distillery District
If you've ever taken a stroll through Toronto's Distillery District, you know one thing: it's one of the most fun and romantic spots in all of Toronto.
And it just so happens that there's no better way to explore our awesome city than by taking a run through the area. This 3.5km jog from Corktown to the Distillery District is the very best way to experience Toronto's east side and take in all the sites (like the beautiful architecture!) that you might miss during your weekday routine.
If you're down to add a little more spice to your workout, don't forget to run to the Corktown Common Park. It's super hilly, so you can incorporate hill sprints into your jog (or pick a slope to wind down on and munch on some snacks. No judgment.)
Explore North York and take a jog through some of Toronto's beautiful parks
Urban run lovers, this one's for you. Scratch that, actually: people who love being outside in general, this one's for you. Taking a jog through North York is an awesome way to get to know (or first discover) the area while immersing yourself in gorgeous urban greenery.
This running route isn't exactly for the faint of heart. It's medium-intense, and spans all of 15km (!)... but it's well worth it.
Run through parks (you start at G. Ross Lord Park, and cross into Bestview Park towards the end), creeks, the University of Toronto campus, rivers, avenues, and a whole lot more. The 15km trail ends at a bakery, too, so no worries if you start to feel peckish. North York's outdoor route totally has your back.
And PS, if you're a wildlife lover, keep your eyes peeled for the many bird species that call Toronto parks home during the season.
Enjoy some trail running at Heart Lake Conservation Area
Situated right in Brampton, this paradise-within-a-city is seriously the perfect spot to kick back and admire nature... and have a little fun while you're at it!
Heart Lake Conservation Area's trail leads you through forests, meadows, picnic areas, and even a lake. Not into running? No worries! This spot also happens to offer some adrenaline-based activities, like ziplining.
Hike, bike, or camp out at the Albion Hills Conservation Area
It might come as a bit of a surprise to know that Albion Hills Conservation Area is basically right in Toronto. Though once you hit the trails, you’ll feel like you’re in the wilderness, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The truth, though, is that this peaceful spot is only about a one-hour drive north of Toronto, making it close enough to be the perfect city getaway for anyone who loves hiking, jogging, cycling... or just immersing themselves in nature, thanks to the gorgeous views.
Albion Hills definitely has a huge mix of terrain, so whether you're a runner, a hiker, or a cyclist (sidenote: Albion Hills boasts over 50km of cycling routes!) of any skill level, there's something here for you.
And why not enjoy a good hike at Kelso Conservation Area?
This spot will absolutely make you fall in love with nature. Sure, its hilly terrain makes it the ideal spot for mountain bikers and hikers alike, but the view makes it perfect for anyone and everyone looking to disconnect for a day without actually leaving the GTA.
Although the terrain here varies from rocky to super lush and green (and yes, certain trails let you experience every single beautiful nook and cranny of the conservation area), one of the absolute best parts about the Kelso Conservation Area is its gorgeous beach.
So pack yourself a picnic and prepare to splash around, because there's no better reward after a day of sweating than a little dip into the lake after a solid workout.
No matter what you decide to do this summer, one thing's for sure: there's no better place on this earth to spend your free time than Toronto. Thankfully, we've got one seriously beautiful (and fun!) outdoor scene - so you don't have to stray far from the city to recharge your body, mind, and soul with some fresh air in the great outdoors.
Before heading out, make sure you check out MEC’s Good Times Outside resource. They'll let you know exactly what kind of gear you need, plus they'll let you in on even more hidden outdoor gems in Toronto based on what you're vibing on. So whether you're looking for a short, laid-back adventure, or a long and intense one, they've got you covered.