Sure, summer on the waterfront is breathtakingly beautiful and all, but autumn is when we really shine. The kaleidoscopic foliage, refreshingly crisp air wafting off Lake Ontario, and cozy sunsets make fall one of the best times of the year to be lakeside. Nature aside, there’s still plenty of events and festivals rolling into the neighbourhood as well as fun ways to get spooky this month. And, of course, we’ve got eateries doling out enough fall comfort food to keep you warm all season long.
So, while it may be tempting to spend all October holed up indoors hiding from the cooler temps, embrace fall on the waterfront. Here are some of our top picks for what to see, do, and eat this month when down on waters edge.
Experience an illuminated playground at Winter Stations presents Impulse
This fall Toronto’s central waterfront will be lit up with glowing, musical seesaws. Winter Stations—the much-talked-about FREE public art exhibition—is back with a fresh slate of installations making their way to the waterfront beginning October 2019 into February 2020. Kicking off the Winter Stations exhibition series is Impulse, an interactive art piece hailing from Montreal. Comprised of 15 seesaws that emit light and a gentle melodic song when ridden, Impulse positions you as both a musician and artist. Experience this illuminated playground from October 25 ‒ November 12 at Harbourfront Centre’s Exhibition Common.
Winter Stations presents Impulse is on from October 25 ‒ November 12, 2019, 8:00 pm ‒ 10:00 pm daily. Visit winterstationspresents.com for the latest on the Winter Stations 2019/20 exhibition series.
Check out the Biennial of Art
Toronto is brimming with art exhibitions this fall, including the 72-day Toronto Biennial of Art. Here, you’ll find art of all sorts ranging from LED-fireboxes to a field of over a hundred robotic butterflies. This brand-new, free visual arts event unfolds across multiple sites in and around the waterfront from September 21 ‒ December 1. Featuring more than 200 works of art from over 90 Canadian and international artists and upwards of 100 talks and workshops, this year’s Biennial explores the implications of Toronto’s ever-changing shoreline.
See your favourite writers at the Toronto International Festival of Authors
Meet the people behind the pages at the Toronto International Festival of Authors. That’s right, all your favourite literary superheroes will descend on Harbourfront Centre beginning October 24 until November 3. The 40th anniversary edition of the nation’s largest and longest running festival of words and ideas is bringing over 200 authors, like the legendary writer and activist Angela Davis, to the waterfront. With panel discussions, readings, book signings, and so much more, The Toronto International Festival of Authors will have you living your best literary life this month.
The Festival of Authors is on from October 24 ‒ November 3. For details on free and ticketed events, visit the Toronto Festival of Authors website.
Learn a new skill (or two)
With winter on the horizon, autumn is the perfect time to snap up a new hobby that’ll keep you busy during those days when it’s just too frightfully cold to venture outside. Luckily, this October, Harbourfront Centre has plenty of ways to learn a unique skill. Whether you’re itching to discover the art of jewellery design, explore silk screen printing, or get your hands dirty with ceramic hand building, Craft & Design courses will get your ready for those inevitable snowy and drab winter days when you’re in desperate need of entertainment.
See the fall colours
It’s foliage season! While your first inkling might be to book it to High Park, the waterfront has some of the best spots to watch the leaves change colour. Take the ferry to the Toronto Islands and spend the day walking through a canopy of oranges, yellows, reds and greens. Continue your tour of fall colours on the mainland at the Toronto Music Garden and HTO Park West. There, you’ll be enshrouded by a sea of vibrant leaves, giving you a backdrop like no other for your Instagram snaps.
Cheer on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon runners
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon returns October 20 and while it’s far too late to start training, you can still cheer on all the hometown and international runners. A heads up: the marathon kicks off pretty early Sunday morning (8:45 am, to be exact) so be sure to make a quick pit stop at Cafe Locale to fuel up with a cuppa joe and a sweet treat.
Spend Thanksgiving walking through an autumn wonderland
Nothing burns off a Thanksgiving turkey dinner faster than a tranquil autumn sunset stroll. Instead of passing out on the couch after a major carb-loading session, this year, gather the whole family and venture down to the waterfront for a mini-holiday adventure on the lake. Explore under-the-radar spots like the Spadina-Quay Wetlands, escape to the Toronto Islands for a bit of leaf-peeping, or be a tourist in your own city and stroll the harbourfront boardwalk.
Fuel your love of comfort food
Fall is foodie season. It’s just a fact. While summer has got fresh veggies and sweet frozen treats in ample supply, autumn delivers rustic flavours, spices, and hearty classic comfort food dishes that give you alllll the fall feels. Waterfront eateries, Pearl Harbourfront and Miku have got you covered on the Miso soup front for those late fall days when you need a big warm bowl of goodness to chase away the chills. If soup isn’t your thing, there are a variety of other restaurant options where you can dive into dishes like Chicken Pot Pie, Mac and Cheesewiches, and short rib stuffed pasta at restaurants along the waterfront.
Did someone say brunch?
No matter the season, brunch is ALWAYS a good idea. This fall, sip on mid-day mimosas at Pie Bar: the Italian eatery that brings non-traditional flavours for Nonna’s famous recipes. Each weekend they serve up a menu that rivals some of the most notable brunch spots in Toronto. Breakfast pizza topped with wild boar bacon and eggs, lemon ricotta pancakes, and $30 mimosas for the table are just a sample of what Pie Bar cooks up every weekend. Sounds delicious, right?
Warm up with a latte
There’s no better way to cozy up to season than with a fall latte. Get buzzed with a cup of java that tastes as good as it looks from Boxcar Social at Harbourfront Centre. Serving more than just pumpkin spiced everything, the cafe-bar hybrid offers a rotating list of unique caffeinated selections from local and international roasters. If you’re more of a grab-and-go coffee drinker, the Music Garden Cafe is your best bet for a quick drink that delivers on both flavour and latte art.
Meet the ghost of Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Canada’s Wonderland and Casa Loma might be the go-to spots for jump-scares, but if you’re feeling brave this Halloween, Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is where you’ll find the real spooks. Located on Hanlan’s Point, the lighthouse is best known as the site of a grizzly murder that has gone unsolved for over 200 years. Legend has it that the lighthouse’s first keeper, J.P. Rademuller, was murdered by local soldiers and his ghost still haunts the tower to this day.
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons