Making new friends in Toronto can be intimidating, whether you're a newcomer or not. Between busy schedules and cross-town commutes, it can be challenging to meet people even in Canada’s biggest city.
But it's not impossible. Torontonians may seem intimidating, but really, they're typically friendly and eager to socialize — you just need to go to the right places. Picking a fun activity will help ease you out of your comfort zone and into the bustling Toronto community.
Here are nine spots to meet people in Toronto that go beyond bars:
Dish Cooking Studio
587 College St.
Why not try out a cooking class at Dish Cooking Studio? Walk away with a couple of new friends or at least a new recipe! This spot, located in the heart of Little Italy, typically offers three cooking classes a week. With themes ranging from “Summer Harvest Party” to “Passport to Portugal,” you can pick which day to put your culinary skills to the test alongside professional chefs.
At the end of the class, you get to sit down and share the meal you’ve prepared with new acquaintances.
Dog Hill at High Park
1873 Bloor St. W.
If you love dogs and are looking to find other like-minded people in the city, you should definitely hit up a dog park! High Park has a particularly popular fenced-off area just for dogs that is appropriately nicknamed Dog Hill. With dogs as the ice-breaker topic, you're sure to find fellow dog-loving friends in no time.
High Park's expansive grounds even include a free zoo, a scenic lake and a couple of cafés to explore with your new pals and their pups.
Boulderz Climbing Centre
1444 Dupont St. #16
Rock climbing isn't exactly a solo activity — it's better enjoyed in the company of others! Boulderz Climbing Centre has a great social atmosphere and emphasizes the teaching philosophy of "sharing, learning and growing."
Whether you're new to the sport or not, you're bound to have some fun while taking on the many rock walls. The centre has classes as well as free climbs, with both bouldering and belaying options available.
Ashbridges Bay Park
1561 Lake Shore Blvd E.
Ashbridges Bay Park is packed with opportunities to meet new people with all the engaging activities available. There are several beach volleyball courts, and groups always seem to be looking for an extra player. Don't feel too intimidated if you're an amateur, as there are plenty of beginners who join in on the fun.
If volleyball isn't your forte, try out the new favourite, Spikeball, or join a running troupe making their rounds on the sand. Whatever you do, don't forget to bring sunscreen.
Snakes and Lattes
600 Bloor St. W.
This café is a great place to meet new people while playing your favourite board games. Sit down amongst the friendly banter of Cards Against Humanity or even join the heated arguments over the Monopoly Boardwalk. This niche spot has an extensive collection of games to choose from, spanning familiar to intriguingly new.
When beginner's luck wears off, they have a full food and drink menu to choose from. If board games aren’t really your thing, Snakes and Lattes also hosts trivia nights!
Food tours with Culinary Adventure Co.
Various tours throughout Toronto.
When in doubt, turn to what brings people together — food. Culinary Adventure Co. runs food tours in the city, Wednesday through Sunday. You can explore foodie favourites like St. Lawrence Market and Chinatown, with experts guiding you along the way. Given it’s a walking tour, there’ll be plenty of time to chat with new friends between tastings.
401 Richmond St.
401 Richmond is a haven for artists and industry creatives. There are several things to do within the building complex, from touring galleries, browsing through shops, creating your own artwork or participating in various workshops. Tons of group activities mean you'll have the opportunity to meet some fellow artists in the city.
Visit during one of their "Doors Open Toronto" days and see the community of tenants at work. Be sure to end your visit on the idyllic rooftop garden.
Fresh Paint Studio + Café
1849 Danforth Ave.
This art studio-meets-café puts on multiple paint workshops Fridays and Saturdays. From abstract acrylic painting to step-by-step guided tutorials, this place caters to beginners and experienced artists alike. The studio provides everything you need, plus you get to take home your masterpiece at the end of the class. What better way to make a new friend than debating which colours really make the perfect teal?
Toronto Public Library Book Clubs
Various locations throughout the city.
If you love books, why not try out a local book club? The Toronto Public Library holds book club meetings across various locations in Toronto. There are several different categories to choose from, including dystopian nonfiction, romance, graphic novels and the more catered "Toronto in Literature" group. You can opt for in-person meetings or virtual gatherings, so pick a club you like and start reading today.
If none of these options speak to you, try striking up a conversation on your next TTC ride and see where it takes you.
This article has been updated since it was originally published on August 23, 2016.