There are hundreds of things to see and do in Toronto in the summer time that your head might be spinning just trying to decide on what to do. To try to make it easier we have compiled a list of some of the very best. From Rib Festivals to outdoor theatre festivals and concerts and beer festivals, nude beaches, botanical gardens and more, there is something for everyone and hopefully this list will help you get your summer plans in place.
1. The Toronto Rib Fest
Now in it’s 15th year the festival takes place over 5 days from June 27th to July 1st in Toronto’s Centennial Park. Entry is only $2 and all money raised goes to charity. Not only can you enjoy some of the best ribs in North America but there is a lot of tasty other food available. The festival features live music performances, a carnival midway, a kid zone with magicians and face painting, fireworks shows and a lot more.
2. Toronto’s Festival of Beer
Celebrate Canada’s rich history of brewing from July 25th to July 27th at the Toronto Festival of Beer taking place at Bandshell Park. Known as the best beer festival in Canada there are over 300+ kinds of beer for you to sample as well as a few ciders and wine to enjoy, live concerts by big names like Matthew Good to keep you entertained as well as tasty food to keep you filled. Make sure you buy your tickets in advance. If festivals aren’t your thing you should also check out a small group Toronto beer tour of local pubs and craft breweries.
3. Hot and Spicy Food Festival
Taking place August 15th to 17th at the Harbourfront Centre the Hot and Spicy Food Festival offers up culinary delicacies from around the world combined with hot rhythms and spicy grooves.
4. Fresh Wednesdays and Tasty Thursdays at Nathan Phillips Square
Nathan Phillips Square is an urban plaza in the middle of downtown Toronto in front of city hall. In the winter months it is home to a public skating rink and in the summer months it features festivals and concerts. From July 9th to August 28th each Wednesday is Fresh Wednesday and it features free concerts and a Farmers Market full of fresh fruits and veggies, breads and more. On Thursdays it is Tasty Thursdays where the square is full of live world music and tasty international food served up by some of Toronto’s best restaurants.
5. The Toronto Botanical Gardens
Covering an area of almost 4 acres and featuring 17 different types of gardens the Toronto Botanical Gardens are a great place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Entry is free.
6. Allan Gardens
The Allan Gardens Conservatory is a historic landmark in the city of Toronto and is located in one of Toronto’s oldest parks. The iconic Palm Dome building was built in 1910 and along with the rest of greenhouses now occupies over 16,000 square feet filled with various types of flowers from around the world. Open 365 days a year admission is free.
7. Kensington Market Pedestrian Sundays
On the last Sunday of each month from May to October from 12pm to 7pm the streets surrounding the Kensington Market area are closed down for vehicles and open for a community street festival where pedestrians can enjoy the neighborhood and walk around freely, enjoying various activities and celebrate the area and local vendors.
8. Toronto International Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival is known as one of the best in the world and many of the top films that premiere here later go on to be Oscar nominees. This 11 day festival takes place in various theatres and venues across the city each September and if you can’t get a ticket to see one of the 350+ films being shown then at the very least you should be able to get a glimpse of some of the biggest and best names in the industry at one of the many red carpet events.
9. Dinosaurs Alive! At Canada’s Wonderland
Dinosaurs Alive! Is one of the world’s largest animatronic dinosaur parks. Home to more than 40 life sized animatronic dinosaurs spread out over a 7 acre interactive exhibit this is probably one of the coolest places to visit in Toronto no matter your age. Visit to learn how dinosaurs lived and protected themselves more than 65 million years ago.
10. Horse Racing at Woodbine
Located not to far from downtown Toronto, near the Pearson International Airport is the Woodbine Racetrack. Opened in 1956 it has been home to thoroughbred and standardbred horse racing. Visit the track to do some betting at track level or enjoy a meal and drinks with a view of the track.
11. Air Show at the Canadian National Exhibition
The Canadian International Air Show in Toronto is the largest and longest running in the country. Taking place at the Canadian National Exhibition each every year on labour day weekend it is a must see for aviation lovers.
12. Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo is the largest Zoo in Canada and is home to over 5,000 animals of 450 different species from around the world. Many species live indoors in man made habitats that simulate the atmospheres in their home countries while others are outdoors in their natural habitats that are similar to the Canadian climates. Open every day of the year except for Christmas visit and see a myriad of animals from Pandas to Zebras to lemurs, lions, polar bears and more.
13. York University Observatory
Free to the public the York University Observatory is open every Wednesday night for public viewings and on other various nights throughout the year for special events.
14. Centreville Amusement Park
The Centreville Amusement Park is an amusement park for kids located in Lake Ontario on Centre Island. The park features a miniature railway for kids to ride along on, a vintage carousel, swan boats a ferris wheel, bumper cars, twirling tea cups, a petting zoo and more. Open from May to September entry is free however you must purchase tickets for the rides.
15. Picnic in High Park
High Park in Toronto covers 161 hectares of space and it is filled with tree lined walking paths and grassy knolls, gardens, playgrounds, and even sporting facilities. The park is the perfect place to enjoy a nice picnic or to just relax and listen to the calming sounds of its waterfalls.
16. Go to the beach on Toronto Island
Hang out on the shores of Lake Ontario and visit the beach on Toronto Island. Just be warned that a good one kilometer long part of Hanlan’s Point Beach is clothing optional.
17. Drive in Movie Theater
If you have a car with you on your travels why not enjoy the unique entertainment of going to a drive in movie on a nice night. The 5 DriveIn Theatre is located in Oakville just a 30minute drive from downtown. General admission is $12 with various specials being offered throughout the week.
18. Ride one of the largest roller coasters in the world
The Leviathan roller coaster at Canada’s Wonderland is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Canada. It is 1,672m long, 93m tall at its highest point and can reach speeds up to 92 miles per hour.
19. Luminato Festival
The Luminato Festival is known as Toronto’s festival of Arts and Creativity. The festival has been taking place for 10 days each June since 2007 and features musical performances, literature readings, food events, cardboard beach clubs, and literary picnic and a lot more.
20. Grill in a park
Celebrate the warm days of summer with friends and BBQ in a park. There are more than five parks in Toronto that feature free public grills for anyone to use. Grab the hotdogs, hamburgers, veggie dogs and steaks, don’t forget the charcoal and claim your BBQ early for a fun day in the park with good food and friends.
21. Sunday Serenades
Put your dancing shoes on and enjoy free swing, big band and jazz acts at Mel Lastman Square from July to August as part of the Sunday Serenades concert series in the city.
22. Cycle Toronto’s best bike paths
Each year more and more bike paths are created in the city so hit the streets on an eco-friendly mode of transportation and explore everything from the parks to the waterfront and evening the shopping streets like Queen Street West all by bike. You can even take a bike tour of downtown Toronto. Get a bike from the “Bike Share Toronto” program or from one of the many rental stores.
23. Dine at a Toronto Food Truck
Toronto is home to many food trucks that can be found all over the city. Download the Toronto Food Trucks app to find the nearest near you. You can also visit Market 707, a area of the city filled with the shipping containers that have been retrofitted like food trucks serving a more stationary meal.
24. Go to the Flea Market
On the west side of town, hunt for bargains at the Junction Flea Market. The Flea Market is open every second Sunday from 9am to 4pm on Sterling Road.
25. Lounge in a Cabana
If you have some extra money burning a hole in your pocket and you would like to be waited on hand and foot while lying by a pool then check out the Cabana Pool Bar. A swimming pool, nightclub and bar all in one. Children are allowed through the week but it is adults only on the weekends.
-Contributed by Cailin O’Neil