Ah, beaches. Toronto loves them so much, we named a whole neighbourhood after them. The Beaches, as you might expect, is an area of beachfront on the eastern end of Toronto overlooking that “Great” lake, Lake Ontario.
The Beaches were originally settled as an outside-the-city retreat for Torontonians, with a number of quaint cottages and boardwalks for people looking to escape the rat race of early 20th-century Toronto. With expansion, the area has now become a part of the city proper, and those elf-like cottages are year-round homes.
The Beaches are accessible by the Queen Streetcar, which you can ride east to Coxwell Avenue. This strip of Queen Street has a very laid-back feel (you’d be laid back too if you lived next to a beach all year.) Yoga studios, vegetarian restaurants and boutiques line the street. Fill your belly with a hamburger at Lick’s or an ice cream cone at Ed’s Real Scoop before strolling south down one of the residential streets to the beachfront area.
There are four beaches in total – Balmy, Scarboro, Kew and Woodbine – all within walking distance of each other. Boardwalks connect the beaches for miles, and there are always a few locals jogging along the route. Kew Gardens is a green detour in this sandy area, with gardens, a gazebo and picnic areas. In the summer, the Beaches International Jazz Festival brings outdoor concerts and thousands of visitors to the area for some pretty groovin’ music.
Like most beaches, prime spots on the sand can be claimed early, and weekends can often be overcrowded. (Canadians love their beach time because they only get it for a few months of the year.) That means the best time to head down to Woodbine beach would be a sunny weekday afternoon. Also be aware that Lake Ontario is not always the ideal body of water for swimming and water sports. Pollution and fierce currents mean that advisories do go up from time to time, but that just means you have more time for beach volleyball!