It’s finally the long-awaited Victoria Day long weekend, Toronto, but—here’s the kicker—you’ve made absolutely no plans to celebrate. Total bummer, right? Forget scrambling to piece together a last-minute plan that’s likely to end up in utter disappointment, because we’ve gone ahead and planned your long weekend. From sun-soaked patios, to family beach days, to nearby escapes into nature, we’ve rounded up some of the most awesome things to do on the waterfront this long weekend.
Nab some family-time at Harbourfront Centre’s Junior
Want to catch a glimpse of enormous bread-collecting ants? How about hit up a collage party with the kiddies? Then, head down to Junior! Now in its second year, Harbourfront Centre’s international children’s festival brings leading contemporary artists together to animate young minds. The week-long event kicks off May 18th and throughout the weekend they’ve got an impressive line-up of free, family-friendly activities including circus acts, dress-up, storytime with Toronto drag performers Fay and Fluffy, live concerts, and loads more.
Harbourfront Centre has also put together an exciting roster of Canadian and international productions for this year’s Junior festival. Little ones can watch powerful performances exploring themes of identity, growth, belonging, and transformation.
Two words: patio season
It’s practically a law that, if you’re in the city, you’re dining on a patio this weekend. Lucky for you, the waterfront has a slew of options to choose from. Neighbourhood hotspots such as The Goodman, Pie Bar, and Amsterdam Brewhouse not only deliver ridiculously good eats but also hard-to-beat views of the lake. Need a mini-escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? Cozy waterfront eateries like We Brew Café and Box Car Social will soon become your go-to kick-back joints.
Eat ice cream. All. Weekend. Long.
Whether you’re a die-hard vanilla fan or always on the hunt for a new flavour, there are plenty of ice cream and gelato shops on the waterfront to satisfy your taste buds. Cool down with a picture-perfect cup of ice cream from The Fix Ice Cream Bar. The shop proudly serves up frozen treats with insane flavour combinations in very generous portion sizes. And if The Fix won’t flatter your sweet tooth, maybe you should check out a local gelato bar like Touti Gelati. Emphasizing authentic Italian gelato flavours, they offer supremely tasty cold treats in a rainbow of colours and tastes.
Be a tourist in your own city
Whether you’ve lived in Toronto for five months or your entire life, there’s no way you’ve conquered even half of what makes our city so glorious. This long weekend, knock a few things off your bucket list by exploring your own backyard. Don’t know where to begin? Start with one of the most touristy things to do in Toronto: a harbour tour. While epic skyline shots for the ‘gram and a rundown of our city’s colourful history are a guarantee, some local cruise liners like to put their own unique touches on the classic harbour tour. When you set sail with Great Lakes Schooner Company, you can help the crew raise the sails of the Tall Ship Kajama and watch as they fire off the ship’s cannon.
Ditch city life for island life
Even if a trip to Jamaica isn’t in the cards this long weekend, you can still catch some serious island vibes staying close to home. Hop aboard a ferry—which is an experience in and of itself—to begin your 15-minute pilgrimage to the Toronto Islands. Once over on Centre Island, Hanlan’s Point, or Ward’s Island, you’ll find endless adventures. From riding the log flume at Centreville Amusement Park, to sunbathing on Ward’s Island’s dreamy beaches, to exploring the beautiful, yet spooky, Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, you’ll soon understand why island living is good living.
Put the pedal to the metal
Rounding the trails is a start-of-summer must and one route you’ve got to shred this long weekend is the Waterfront Trail. Spanning 22 km east to west along the waterfront, this bike trail delivers awe-inspiring (and completely Instagrammable) views of the lake. While en route to iconic sites like Tommy Thompson Park, you’ll zip by the Toronto Music Garden and arts and culture hotspot, Harbourfront Centre as well as discover under-the-radar gems, such as the Spadina Quay Wetland.
Don’t own a bike? No problem! You can always rent a pair of wheels at the neighbourhood’s longtime bike shop, Wheel Excitement.
“Nom, nom, nom”
From one-of-a-kind Thai food takeout joints to pizzerias that rival those found in Little Italy, the waterfront has a restaurant for everyone. Want to spend your Saturday afternoon chowing down on chicken and waffles while relaxing on a lakefront patio? Check out Joe Bird. Have a hankering for a good roti? You’ll find some of the best Indian entries in Toronto right here. In the mood for something fancier than pub bites? Try award-winning sushi at Miku. With so many options to grub on the waterfront, you’ll be saying “nom, nom, nom” all weekend long.