It's the most wonderful time of the year! The sun is shining, the weather is warming up, and Torontonians are slowly starting to come out of hibernation. There is no better way to soak up the summer sun than to escape the chaos of the city's congestion and smog and take a mini-vacay to the Toronto islands. Need some inspiration of what to do on top of getting your tan on while visiting the islands? Here you go:
1. Spend your long weekends listening to the best tunes at Electric Island
Electric Island is a series of killer music events in one of Toronto's serene escape locations. It takes advantage of the long weekends and holidays this summer, hosting music events on May 18, Canada Day, August 3, and September 7.
2. Paddle around Lake Ontario on a canoe or kayak
Skip the ferry and canoe to and around the Toronto Islands by renting your choice of transportation from Paddle Toronto, located along the Harbourfront. Or rent a canoe when you get to Centre Island near the Shrubbery Maze. WARNING: If it's a windy day, maybe take a rain check.
3. Do a standup paddleboarding lesson
Try stand-up paddleboarding with a lesson, or just rent your own board and figure it out for yourself at TISUP (Toronto Island StandUp PaddleBoarding). If you really want to test out your balance, you can also try out SUP yoga. Don't ask us how falling in the water non-stop is relaxing, but test it out yourself.
4. Bike around the island
Don't want to dodge traffic and pedestrians while biking in Toronto? Enjoy biking in the islands, where cars aren't allowed and you don't have to worry about getting knocked off your bike with a car door. Toronto Island Bicycle Rental will give you bikes by the hour, and you'll skip being overcharged by Bixi Bikes.
5. Go nude (at the nude beach)
Let everything air out and skip the tan lines at the nude beach on Hanlan's Point.
6. Have a BBQ
There are several options for grilling up some juicy burgers and hot dogs on the island, with multiple BBQ pits and stands scattered throughout the island. You'll have your choice o the best places to grill. You'll just need to bring some charcoal along with you.
7. Enjoy one of the best views of the skyline
Toronto Island is said to have one of the best views of the entire city. You can see a panoramic view of the skyline from several points of the island, and viewing the city from a peaceful paradise is really the best way to see it.
8. Become a kid again at the Centreville Amusement Park
Every once in a while, you just need to let the kid in you come out.
9. Take a trip to India at the Festival of India
From music to traditional dance, a bazaar, the outdoor yoga festival, and more, it's clear the Festival of India is completely stacked this summer. It will take place July 18-19 on Centre Island.
10. Chill out and enjoy great music at Bestival
The first appearance of this UK festival in Canada, Bestival will be visiting Hanlan's Point. The lineup is diverse and includes headliners such as Florence and the Machine and Nas.
11. Make s'mores on a bonfire
Get yourself a fire pit permit and roast some marshmallows over an open fire. Something most city dwellers don't get to experience during the summer.
12. Learn the history of the island at Open Doors Toronto
Toronto is opening its doors to its residents, giving you a chance to learn about the buildings and things you walk by every day without knowing what they are. The Toronto Islands are taking part, showing people what the island is all about and the history behind this city escape. Taking place May 23-24.
13. Take part in some frisbee golf
Bring your own frisbee and play frisbee golf for free at Wards Island. The island even hosts its own tournament towards the end of the summer, giving you time to brush up on your “golfing” before you compete for the title of best frisbee golfer (we don't actually know if there is a title).
14. ... or be a bit more extreme with your athleticism, with tennis or beach volleyball
With six courts and the feeling that you may actually be somewhere other than a city filled with millions of people, this may be the ultimate spot to play tennis. It's located just south of Hanlan's Point. If tennis isn't your thing, beach volleyball courts are available too, and nothing beats getting in your workout while getting your tan on at the beach.
15. Pet llamas (or the other animals)
This may be the last time you can ever pet the animals at the Far Away Farms Zoo on Toronto Island. The zoo is scheduled to close permanently at the end of June. So go pet your furry friends on Centre Island while you can. Admission is free!
16. Have a picnic and get day drunk under the sun
It may not be legal, but there's definitely nobody stopping you from packing a cooler of food and alcoholic beverages and having the ultimate beach day.
17. Chase the snakes on Snake Island
Head over to Snake Island and chase the snakes around. Okay, maybe don't chase them, but if you're a strange person that has an obsession for reptiles, then you're in luck! Walk along the boardwalk that runs from Centre Island to Ward's Beach and you'll see some of the resident slitherers.
18. Have lunch and drinks at a serene café
Pop by for lunch and drinks on Ward's Islands, Rectory Cafe. Voted by NOW Magazine as the “Best Lakeside Patio,” this is the perfect atmosphere to kick back for a cold one (or for the more reserved, come for brunch!)
19. Have a mini-vacation in a bed and breakfast
It probably blows your mind that you can actually stay on Toronto Island besides in a tent on the side of the beach. Haven't you seen the cute little cottages and homes on the island? Yes people actually live there, but you can also stay in a bed and breakfast for a little relaxation.
20. Experience the excitement and tradition of the International Dragon Boat Competition
We don't really know what dragon boat racing is either, but it sounds fun! Teams from all across the globe come to Toronto for this two-day event hosted on June 20-21.