Summer is the perfect time to visit Toronto, the largest city in Canada and a mosaic of cultures. With its vibrant atmosphere, warm weather and endless activities, Toronto is a top destination for anyone looking to make the most of their summer.
However, with so many things to see and do, planning your time in the city is very important. With our expert team of Canadian insiders, let's explore some of the best places to visit in Toronto during the summer so you can make the most of your vacation.
It's essential to plan ahead. Toronto is a bustling metropolis that attracts millions of visitors every year. During the summer months, the city comes alive with festivals, events and activities. While this makes for an exciting and vibrant atmosphere, it also means that things can get quite crowded. Plan ahead so you can experience all that Toronto offers, avoid crowds and make the most of your time in the city.
1. Visit the Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are a group of 15 small islands all linked together and located just a short ferry ride from the city. These islands are a great escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto. They have several beaches, including Hanlan's Point Beach, known for its clothing-optional policy in one section of the beach (clothing is required in the other sections of the beach). The islands also offer plenty of cycling, hiking and picnicking opportunities.
Visitors can take a ferry from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to visit the islands. The ferry trip takes around 15 minutes and is a fun, scenic part of the adventure. The island is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the summer when the weather is mild and the beaches are open. The ferry fee is around $8 for adults, and the amusement park and petting zoo have separate admission fees.
2. Explore Rouge Park
Rouge National Urban Park is the largest urban park in North America. It's a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the great outdoors in Toronto. The park offers over 30 miles of hiking trails, birdwatching and fishing. The park is home to various wildlife, including deer, foxes and over 270 species of birds. The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is summer when the weather is mild and the trails are dry. The park is free to visit, and visitors can spend a whole day exploring the park's different hiking trails and activities. It is easily accessible by public transportation on the TTC or GO Transit.
3. Visit Scarborough Bluffs
The Scarborough Bluffs is a stretch of coastline that offers breathtaking views of Lake Ontario. The bluffs are a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Several parks along the bluffs, including Bluffer's Park, are known for their large sandy beaches. Visitors can also hike along the bluffs and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The Bluffs are a great place to enjoy a picnic or BBQ and watch the sunset. There's a parking lot available for visitors, and the area is accessible by public transportation. There are also several restaurants and cafes nearby where visitors can grab a bite.
4. The EdgeWalk at the CN Tower
The CN Tower is one of Toronto's most iconic landmarks and a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the city's skyline. The tower offers stunning views of the city from its observation deck, located at a height of 1,136 feet. Visitors can also take the EdgeWalk, a thrilling outdoor walkway around the tower's edge. The EdgeWalk is open year-round, but summer is the best time to visit when the weather is mild. Tickets for EdgeWalk start at $199. Visitors can also dine in the tower's revolving 360 Restaurant, which offers contemporary Canadian cuisine and panoramic views of the city.
5. Take in the City Skyline from a Boat
Another great way to experience the Toronto's skyline is by taking a boat tour of Toronto Harbour. It’s a great way to see the city's landmarks from a different perspective. Several tour companies offer boat tours in the day time. Visitors can also take a sunset or evening tour to experience the city's lights. Some boat tour companies also offer dinner cruises where visitors can enjoy a meal while taking in the views of the city.
6. Stroll Through High Park
High Park is a large park located in the west end of Toronto and is a great place to spend a summer day. The park offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, fishing and swimming. There is also a zoo, playgrounds, sports fields, pool, dog park, gardens and several ponds, including Grenadier Pond. Visitors can also stroll through the park's gardens and enjoy the beautiful flowers and plants. High Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is summer when the weather is mild and the gardens are in full bloom.
7. Visit a Botanical Garden
Toronto is home to some beautiful botanical gardens, including the Allan Gardens Conservatory with its gorgeous exotic plants and flowers. The gardens are a great place to relax and enjoy nature. This is also a popular spot for picnics. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the gardens to learn about the different plants and flowers on display. The gardens are open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the summer.
8. Kayak Around the Lake
Kayaking on Lake Ontario is a unique way to experience Toronto's natural beauty and see the city's skyline and waterfront. It is also a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air while taking in the views. Several companies offer kayak rentals, lessons and guided tours. Guided tours are a popular way to learn about the history and ecology of the lake. Visitors with kayaking experience can also rent a kayak and explore the lake at their own pace.
9. Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) on the Island
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is another fun way to explore Toronto's waterways and get some exercise in the outdoors. Visitors can rent a board, paddle around the islands and enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air. Visitors can also take a guided tour and learn about the history and ecology of the island. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a fun activity for people of all ages and skill levels.
10. Distillery District
The Distillery District is a historic neighbourhood located just east of downtown Toronto. The district is home to various shops, where you’ll find chocolate, clothing, shoes, home décor, kitchenware and unique gifts, as well as wonderful art. The Distillery District also has some excellent and popular restaurants, perfect for grabbing a bite and sampling some local cuisines. Several festivals and events take place throughout the summer, making it a wonderful destination for culture and entertainment. Stroll through the district, enjoy the beautiful architecture and pick up souvenirs from local shops.
Travel tip: make time to shop
Toronto is premiere shopping destination, offering both large malls with global brands, luxury boutigues, and trendy neighbourhoods with local designers and artisans.
11. Bus Tours
A hop-on-hop-off bus tour is a great way to see the city and get around to all the different attractions. It's also a great option if you're short on time and want to see as much as possible. Visitors can get on and off the bus at different stops and visit the attractions that interest them. The bus tour provides commentary on the history and culture of the city, making it a great way to learn about Toronto while seeing the sights. The bus tour covers all the main attractions in the city and is a convenient way to get around.
12. Electric Island
Electric Island is a popular summer music festival that takes place at various locations. In 2023, the July events are at Hanlan’s Point on Toronto Island and the August events are at Woodbine Park. The festival features a lineup of electronic music acts and food vendors. It is an exciting way to experience the city's lively nightlife and beautiful views of Lake Ontario. The festival takes place on multiple summer dates so visitors can plan their trip accordingly.
13. Harbourfront Concerts
The Harbourfront Centre hosts a variety of concerts and performances throughout the summer, making it an ideal place to catch some live music. The concerts feature a wide range of music genres and are the perfect way to experience the city's diverse culture. Visitors can enjoy live music while taking in the beautiful views of the lake and city skyline. The concerts are in an open-air venue, providing a great atmosphere to enjoy live music in the summer.
14. Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum is one of Toronto's most popular tourist attractions. It's a top-rate place to learn about the city's history and culture and features a wide range of natural history, world cultures, and art exhibits. Visitors can see dinosaur fossils, ancient artifacts, and contemporary art, as well as an exciting lineup of special exhibits, such as Being and Belonging: Contemporary Women Artists from the Islamic World and Beyond, a bold exhibition exploring the perspective of 25 women artists spanning West Africa to Southeast Asia or living in diaspora (on until November 19, 2023). The museum is also an ideal place to spend a rainy day.
15. Art Gallery of Ontario
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is another must-see destination for art lovers. The gallery features a wide array of works from local and international artists. Visitors can see paintings, sculptures, and other works of historic, modern and contemporary art. The gallery also features a variety of special exhibitions throughout the year that draw art fans from all over the world, such as Cassatt-McNicoll: Impressionists Between Worlds (until Sept 4) or Feels Like Home (until May 2024). The AGO also has an excellent gift shop.
16. Visit the Museum of Illusions
The Museum of Illusions is a unique and interactive experience perfect for families. The museum features a variety of illusions and optical tricks that will keep visitors entertained for hours. You can take pictures with optical illusions and learn about the science behind them. The museum also features a collection of holograms, infinity rooms and other interactive exhibits. It’s also a good choice on a rainy day or for anyone looking for an interactive and entertaining experience.
17. Toronto Food Tour
Food tours are a wonderful way to explore Toronto and learn about the city's diverse culinary scene. Food tours takes visitors on a culinary journey to some of the city's best restaurants and food trucks. They always include lots of interesting culinary information and city history, and you can sample various local dishes. Several companies offer guided food tours, including some that focus on Kensington Market.
18. Pedestrian Sundays at Kensington
On the last Sunday of each month from the end of May until the end of October, the Kensington Market area closes its streets to cars and becomes a pedestrian-only zone. It’s a great way to experience the neighbourhood's vibrant atmosphere and diverse culture. Visitors can stroll through the market and enjoy the street performers, live music, eclectic shops and so many great restaurants and food vendors. It's a perfect opportunity to explore the area and discover the city’s hidden gems — and it’s one of the top things to do in Toronto in summer.
Famous Food in Toronto
Our team of local experts at Canadian Train vacations have tried many of the foods that Toronto offers. The city is known for its diverse culinary scene, and there's something for everyone to enjoy. Some popular local dishes include:
Poutine - Poutine is a dish of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It's a popular Canadian dish that originated in Quebec but can now be found all over Canada. It's a great comfort food found at many fast-food restaurants, trucks, and pubs.
Butter Tarts - Butter tarts are a traditional Canadian pastry with a flaky pastry crust filled with butter, sugar, and eggs. They are a sweet treat found at many bakeries and cafes in Toronto.
Smoked Meat Sandwiches - Smoked meat sandwiches are popular in Toronto, with many delis and restaurants offering their version of the sandwich. The meat is usually made from slow-smoked beef brisket seasoned with various spices and is typically served on rye bread with mustard.
World Cuisines - Toronto is a diverse city, and it's reflected in the food. There are many immigrant neighbourhoods in Toronto where visitors can find authentic food from around the world. Some of the most popular ethnic cuisines in Toronto include Chinese, Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern, Japanese and Caribbean.
Toronto Street Food - Toronto has a thriving street food scene, with many food trucks and street vendors offering various foods. Visitors can find everything from traditional hot dogs, hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches to Thai, Mexican and Indian. Street food is a great way to try different foods while exploring the city.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top attractions to visit in Toronto?
CN Tower, Toronto Islands, Scarborough Bluffs, High Park, Royal Ontario Museum, and Art Gallery of Ontario are considered top attractions in Toronto.
What is there to do in Toronto in the summertime?
Outdoor activities include hiking, swimming, picnicking, visiting beaches and parks, festivals and concerts, food tours, and much more.
Is Toronto good in the summer?
Toronto is a great place to visit during the summer, with mild weather and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
Which month is the hottest in Toronto?
July is considered the hottest month in Toronto, with temperatures around 77-86˚F.
How should I dress for summer in Toronto?
Light, breathable clothing and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Opt for shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, and sandals. Bring a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings.
Is Toronto too hot in the summer?
During the summer months, the weather in Toronto can be quite uncomfortable, with high temperatures, humidity and occasional smoggy conditions. The temperature can vary greatly, ranging from a low of 68°F to a high of 95°F (20°C to 35°C).
About the author: Carolyn Camilleri is a Contributing Writer with Fresh tracks Canada. A magazine writer and editor since 1996, she loves the discovery that comes from travel. Her work has appeared in several Canadian travel publications, including Where Victoria, Harbour... Read more
Popular Train Trips to Explore Toronto
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