It’s summer in Toronto and that means you’re guaranteed at least one thing: a summer bucket list loaded with the best of the best things to do in the city. You probably have plans to hit up every food festival, watch every outdoor movie screening, soak up views on every rooftop bar, and trek to every (public transit accessible) beach town in the GTA but here’s the kicker: summer in Toronto is short. So that means you’ve got to enjoy every moment of the season while it’s here. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up some of our top picks for filling those ever-so-precious summer days that you’ve been longing for all year.
Here are some of the best things to see, do, drink, and eat on Toronto’s waterfront this summer:
Swim with the biggest duck in Toronto
Grab your cameras, Toronto, because another giant rubber duck is making a splash in the waterfront! Brought to life by artist, Chalkmaster Dave, the massive 25-foot-long sidewalk chalk art mural is adding a touch of whimsy to summer in the city. Float on down to HTO Park to take a dip in the pool with the biggest duck in Toronto.
Summer goals, meet waterfront workouts
Whether you’re into biking, jogging, speed walking, kayaking or outdoor yoga, you can experience it on the waterfront. Strap on your sneakers and hit the famous Martin Goodman Trail for a picture-perfect ride, go for a run lakeside, or knock canoeing through the Toronto Islands off your bucket list by taking a class with Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre. If you’d rather stay on dry land, work on your fitness with Tribe Fitness. They’ve got outdoor cycling and yoga classes running throughout the summer.
Dance the night away on the waterfront
Get ready to rumba, salsa, and country swing because Harbourfront Centre’s Dancing on the Pier has returned for its 8th year on the waterfront. This FREE and fun-for-all-ages event invites you to embrace dance both as an observer and participant. You’ll learn to dance to the rhythmic beats and swinging sounds of live bands. Inspired by Harbourfront Centre’s summer festivals, styles range from salsa to big band and everything in between.
Relive your childhood at Centreville
Inject a dash of nostalgia into your summer and relive your childhood memories at Centreville Amusement Park. Despite being over 50-years-old, Centreville has remained one of Toronto’s best summer getaways. The park has seamlessly blended the old with the new, meaning that you and your family can enjoy all your fave rides—such as the century-old Antique Carousel and Log Flume—along with awesome new additions, like the updated Sky Ride and brand new Centre Island Splash Pad.
If hitting the gym really isn’t your thing (no judgement here), the waterfront has some of the most serene parks to lay out and catch some rays in all of Toronto. The sprawling Bach inspired Toronto Music Garden is a lounge spot you need to check out on your next visit to the waterfront. With its flower-lined pathways and iconic grassy amphitheatre steps, you’re bound to find beauty in the garden even if you’re not a classical music lover.
Labour Day party, anyone?
This Labour Day weekend close the summer out right with one last-hurrah! Harbourfront Centre is throwing a massive long-weekend festival that’s got performances from electric country superstars to jazz artists, outrageously-fun activities for the youngins (What kid can resist creating a life-sized body?), a silent disco, and a market filled with all sorts of treasures.
Harbourfront Centre’s Labour Day Weekend Festival: Big Voices, Big Stages is on from August 30-September 2, 2019
Make friends with the Waterfront Ambassadors
Love lawn games? So do our Waterfront Ambassadors! This year, they’re spreading loads of summertime cheer along the shore with FREE games, like Spikeball and giant Connect Four, and family-friendly activities. So, if you spot our uber-friendly Waterfront Ambassador crew in the park playing a few games, don’t be shy to join them. (P.S. If you need directions or recommendations on where to eat, they can definitely help you with that too.)
Pour your heart out at The Museum of Broken Relationships
Explore a world of love lost and old memories at the much-talked about travelling museum, the Museum of Broken Relationships. On exhibit at Harbourfront Centre, the museum features mementos of all kinds from past relationships donated by people from Toronto and across the globe. Discover the deeply personal significance behind a jar of empty blister packs, a dog collar light, and more seemingly everyday objects at the Museum of Broken Relationships. You may want to keep the tissues handy! The museum is on exhibit until September 8, 2019.
Ditch the EarPods and jam to music in the garden
Atop every Torontonian’s summer to-do list should be hitting up an outdoor concert or two. If you have yet to cross this summertime staple off your list, check out Harbourfront Centre’s Summer Music in the Garden concert series. Treat yourself to 18 FREE concerts this summer, featuring outstanding artists and a wide range of musical styles. Concerts occur on most Thursdays and Sundays.
Cool down with a cup or a cone
Frankly, summer without ice cream is no summer at all. Satisfy your sweet tooth and grab a few snaps for the ‘gram at The Fix Ice Cream Bar. This popular frozen treat joint churns out highly imaginative flavours that taste as good as they look. If gelato is more your jam, the waterfront has got a hearty serving of shops doling out the beloved Italian frozen treat.
Get happy at happy hour
Rough day at work? Round up your crew and get happy at happy hour. From Joe Bird to The Goodman to Loch & Quay to Amsterdam Brewhouse, you’ve got plenty of options for boozy waterfront restaurants and pubs to unwind. Even better? Most eateries have a patio so you can get sun-drenched while sipping on a cocktail.
Eat your way through Italy
Save yourself the plane ticket and hop on the TTC to the waterfront instead. Why? To check out Pie Bar—an Italian joint that brings nontraditional flavours to Nonna’s famous recipes. Their Neapolitan pizzas are made from scratch and fired in a 4500-pound dome oven imported all the way from Italy. Pie Bar’s homemade pasta is definitely nothing to sleep on. Smothered in luxurious sauces, dishes like their Lobster & Crab Ravioli will have you feeling like you’re in pasta heaven.
After eating your way through Italy, don’t forget to explore the rest of the culinary delights from around the world that can be found on the waterfront.
Indulge in a weekend pamper session
Elevate your summer self-care sessions with some real deal pampering at a waterfront hotel. If you’re kicking it at The Westin Harbour Castle, you’ll definitely want to experience the exquisite Toulà Restaurant & Bar after taking a dip in the hotel’s 50-foot long heated pool. Relaxing at the Radisson Admiral Hotel? Their Lakeview Pool Lounge is where you’ll want to be during your stay. This rooftop pool serves up jaw-dropping views of the waterfront and ultimate pool vibes with cabanas, cocktails, and hard-to-pass-up eats.
Sail through summer
Summer is just not summer without jumping on a boat cruise. Sail down to the waterfront and board a Kajama tall ship cruise to learn the ropes of sailor life or check out a sightseeing harbour tour. If you’d rather sip cocktails than toss back shots at a packed nightclub, you’ll definitely want to hit up Mariposa Cruises’ boozy Sip and Sail Cocktail Cruise too.
Book it to the Islands
If an island getaway isn’t in the cards for you this summer, there’s no need to pout. Island vibes are just a 15-minute ferry ride away. Book it to Centre Island or Ward’s Island to soak up breathtaking skyline views and discover adventure at every turn. From getting lost in the William Meany Maze to diving into indulgent comfort foods (ahem, Mac n’ Cheese burgers) at the Toronto Island Beer & BBQ Co. to pedaling around Ward’s Island taking in all the sights, you’ll soon discover why island living is good living.