Do you constantly find yourself walking on a cramped sidewalk surrounded by people with construction going on all around? Ahh, downtown Toronto. It can be a lot to take, especially around Union Station and areas heavily condensed with shoppers and people travelling to work. It's a bit of a love-hate relationship with the craziness going on in the downtown core: Sure, you feel like you're a real Torontonian and the city lights can be beautiful, but it may not be the best spot to get away and clear your head from all the hustle and bustle.
With this list I've composed of places to explore, I pray you find some temporary tranquility and relaxation time.
Photo cred - jvleung
1. Waterfront Trail at Harbourfront
One of my favorite spots to get away from the busy city is actually right in the downtown core. Taking a stroll, bike ride, or roller blading along the boardwalk on the waterfront trail around the harbour as the day settles into the evening is one of the more serene spots to go. Bring a blanket to picnic with the view of Lake Ontario to really put you at peace.
Check out other events Harbourfront Centre has going on here.
2. Crothers' Woods
There's nothing quite more peaceful than getting lost in a quiet forest to take your mind off everyday stresses. Located in East York, Crothers' Woods is a standout gem in Toronto year-round, and especially in the autumn when the leaves are changing.
The City of Toronto's Trails and Nature page tells more on the beautiful woodland.
Photo cred - Lizabeth Bennett
3. Scarborough Bluffs
One of the most gorgeous spots to go outside of the downtown core is the Bluffs. The scenic cliffs and the water alone will take your breath away. Whether you like hiking, walking trails, or just parking in one spot to take glorious photographs - this is a Toronto must-see.
Check out some Yelp reviews of the Bluffs if you don't believe me. But believe me.
Photo cred - yoursgeographically
4. Riverdale Park
One of Toronto's great parks, Riverdale is a sweet spot to getaway for the day. With many sports fields, ball diamonds, a track, and an outdoor hockey rink spread around the large park, you'll be a set for a full day of activity. A major plus to Riverdale? Gorgeous view of the skyline to watch the sunrise or sunset for the day.
More info on Riverdale here.
Photo cred - Luqara
4. High Park
You can't be a native Torontonian and not know about High Park. It's just not possible. There is always so much happening at High Park - from cherry blossom season in the fall to the hiking trails around the waterfront to the park's zoo. High Park is also home to an off-leash dog park and yoga mindfulness classes to help you with those zen vibes for awhile. Shakespeare in the Park is coming to High Park this summer starting July 2nd through to September 6 for some evening fun in the 6.
To see more of what High Park has to offer, check their site out.
Photo cred - Victor Chadarov
5. Polson Pier
You can drink your sorrows away at the Cabana Pool Bar. You can dance your heart out at the Sound Academy location. But if you're about that peace and quiet, I recommend just taking a stroll along the dock at the pier. The Toronto skyline is larger than life with the view, no photograph can completely capture the beauty of the experience at Polson Pier. Please, do yourself a favor and head to the islands. It'll take your breath and stress away for awhile.
More about Polson Pier's happenings here.
Photo cred - Wallace Gardens
6. Toronto Music Garden at Harbourfront Centre
Keep it classy and head away over to the Music Garden - another stress-free spot around the downtown core. This luscious waterfront garden is Bach-inspired, and was even co-designed by famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Whether it be for the floral beauty around or to see the boats on the horizon, the Garden is a must-visit in the summer when it hosts summer concerts for Torontonians to hold true to its name.
More on the Music Garden.
Photo cred - Gail Aguiar
7. Edwards Gardens
An underrated botanical garden in Toronto. Flowers, trees, a beautiful pavillion, even a beautiful mini waterfall - what else do you need? It is a known spot for wedding photographs, so you know it's a spot to melt away any nagging worries you got goin' on.
Check out more on the Edwards Gardens here.
Photo cred - Dave Bottoms
8. R.C Harris Water Treatment Plant
To anyone who hasn't been here before, this might be a kind of random thing to include on the list. However, this building is the apple to an architect's eye, Candyland to a historian, and simply beautiful to any visitor. This building that is often referred to as "the sparkling jewel by the lake" takes Lake Ontario's raw water to provide us with clean drinking water... so you owe it a visit. Farther from the business of downtown, this waterfront spot will grant you some serene scenery for a little while.
For more info on the Water Plant and its Canadian history, check out the site.
9. Sherbourne Common
One of Toronto's newer parks, Sherbourne Common is a absolute must-see. The park's splash pad becomes a large outdoor rink in the winter months that overlooks the Toronto skyline. Something to admire while getting in that physical activity - a stress reliever in itself! The park also doubles as a water storm management system that truly gives the park a unique look to stand out - win, win.
You can read more about Sherbourne Common and its growth here.
Photo cred - Stuart Duncan
10. Humber Bay Arch Bridge
Located between "Old Toronto" and Etobicoke, the Humber Bay Arch Bridge is one of Toronto's treasures. As a pedestrian and bicycle arc bridge, the breathtaking sight of the waves below and the changing colors in the sky is one that will put you in a tranquil trance.
The bridge's Facebook page, anyone?
Photo cred - Ian Muttoo
11. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto
Probably the most gorgeous temple I've ever seen, quite possibly on the same level as the Taj Mahal. Yep I know the Taj is a world wonder, but I'm not even exaggerating. Every crevice of this hidden Toronto building is an architectural dream, and is 3000% worth hunting down and exploring with a booked tour visit.
For more info and pictures of this Hindu palace of worship, check out their site here.
Photo cred - Donna Leitch
12. Chester Hill Lookout
Get away from the busy downtown core by going up and away - seriously. The Chester Hill Lookout is a peaceful spot to bring a special one or to enjoy some alone time. Downtown Toronto isn't typically the best place to stargaze, but the Chester Hill Lookout has your back on that one. It's a photographer's favorite spot, and witnessing the sunset at this angle of the skyline? Yeah, it's a wrap.
Witness some of the view in a video here.
There's guaranteed to be tons more spots to get away, but here are a few places to start your adventures. Happy destressing, friends.