Staying in the city this summer? Then you’ll want to check out some of Toronto’s amazing parks and playgrounds. The city oversees over 1,500 parks, which are home to over a hundred municipally maintained playgrounds. While you can see the full list of playgrounds here, the following are 15 parks that Toronto parents told us they love.
Alexandra Park – 275 Bathurst St | toronto.ca
Be sure to pack a swimsuit if you plan on visiting this downtown greenspace. It’s home to a shiny new splash pad that features a fun boat-inspired design. Then there’s the outdoor pool, which any older kids will want to take a dip in. Also available is a playground, a skateboard area and in the winter, ice space that includes an outdoor curling rink. Adjacent to the park is a library, which is a great spot to visit if you need some A/C.
Corktown Common – 155 Bayview Ave | toronto.ca
Since it opened in 2014, this park, which borders the Don River, has quickly become beloved by Torontonians. Its innovative playground features nature-inspired slides, swings and balance apparatuses. There’s also a good-sized splash pad. When you visit, be sure to explore beyond the playground area as Corktown Common is also home to a marsh where you can find all kinds of wildlife, including turtles.
Dufferin Grove – 875 Dufferin St | dufferinpark.ca
This is one of Toronto’s best-known parks and for good reason: It features pizza ovens that are used to bake hot bread during the park’s weekly Thursday farmers’ market. It’s also one of the few parks in Toronto where you’re allowed to have a (pre-booked) campfire. Other features include a playground, a wading pool and an outdoor ice rink that in the summer become skateboard park. Dufferin Grove is located right across from Dufferin Mall, which is great if you need to run some errands or need a caffeinated treat.
Earlscourt Park – 1200 Lansdowne Ave | toronto.ca
Called a “local secret” by nearby residents, Earlscourt is packed with awesome ways to entertain your kids. It features a number of different sporting facilities including a multipurpose field, a basketball court and a baseball diamond. The park itself offers a wading pool while the neighbouring Giovanni Caboto pool is aimed at all ages and features an outdoor waterslide. In 2019, the playground is set for a facelift that sounds like it will be well worth the hassle of construction.
East Lynn Park- 1949 Danforth Ave | toronto.ca
This park might be small, but it packs a lot of fun. In the summer, it’s home to not only a farmers’ market and wading pool but also a weekly live music series that features local food, vendors and family-friendly acts. In the winter, there’s a skating rink and tobogganing opportunities while year-round there’s a fantastic playground that includes equipment for a range of ages. Important note: Unlike most of the other parks on this list, this one doesn’t have on-site washrooms so plan ahead.
High Park – 185 Spring Rd | highparktoronto.com
You can’t have this type of list and not include the city’s biggest park, which also happens to be home to one of its coolest playgrounds. Rebuilt in 2012 following a fire, the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground boasts a giant, castle-style play structure that is sure to capture your children’s imaginations. Within a short walk from the playground are the duck pond and the free High Park Zoo, where you can meet llamas, wallabies and the infamous Toronto capybaras. High Park also boasts tons of other features including an outdoor pool that has a waterslide and a kiddie area.
June Rowlands Park – 220 Davisville Ave | toronto.ca
If “Skinnamarink” is regarded as a classic song in your house, you’ll want to pay a visit to June Rowlands Park, which is home the Sharon, Lois and Bram Playground. It features a small stage, an outdoor play kitchen and a statue of a certain elephant friend. In 2019, the playground will be getting some upgrades that will include more equipment aimed at the toddler set. Also on site is a large “harvest” table that’s perfect for picnic-style parties and various sports fields including a baseball diamond and a popular splash pad.
Kew Gardens – 2075 Queen St E | toronto.ca
Okay, so the castle found at this playground isn’t quite as grand as the one at High Park but we suspect your kids will still think it’s pretty cool. If they don’t wear themselves out on the playground first, check out Kew Gardens’ many scenic walking trails and then head down to the nearby beach. In the winter, your family can check out the ice rink and the enclosed seasonal winter fire pit.
Marie Curtis Park – 2 Forty-Second St. | toronto.ca
Designed as a flood control measure following Hurricane Hazel, this lakeside park feels like it’s not even in the city thanks to its extensive greenery and opportunities for fishing and wildlife watching. It also features walking trails that connect to the Waterfront Trail, an off-leash dog park and a playground that contains all of the essentials, including picnic tables. And while there is both a wading pool and a colourful splash pad, your family can also take a dip in Lake Ontario via the Marie Curtis Park beach.
Moncur Park – 10 Gainsborough Road
Here’s another neighbourhood secret, this time located in the Gerrard Bazaar neighbourhood. Moncur Park’s playground features a wide range of equipment that will satisfy everyone from toddlers to elementary-aged kids. It includes swings, slides and lots of climbing opportunities. There’s also a good-size sandbox, a ball hockey pad and a baseball diamond. In the winter, this park is home to kid-perfect tobogganing hills. Important note: Moncur’s small size means that it doesn’t have on-site washrooms so come prepared.
Oriole Park – 201 Oriole Pkwy | toronto.ca
One of the city’s best splash pads can be found at this East York park. Here, giant frogs and an even bigger dragonfly will douse your kids with water while you relax under the park’s many trees. The sand-free Neshama Playground is packed with colourful equipment that will entertain kids toddler age and up with a jungle gym, slides, a flying saucer and more. Also on site are baseball diamonds, tennis courts and a sand pit.
Trinity Bellwoods Park – 790 Queen St W | trinitybellwoods.ca, toronto.ca
This park has something for parents—some of the best people-watching in the city—and a ton for kids including two playgrounds, a wading pool and a giant pile of sand that’s perfect for digging it. The nearby community centre also contains an indoor kiddie pool and (relatively) clean, indoor washrooms. And let’s not forget the famous white squirrels, two of which usually hang out south of the rec centre. Following playtime, grab an ice cream at one of the many delicious ice cream shops that surround Bellwoods.
St. James Park – 120 King St E | earthscapeplay.com
Do your kids love to play with their food? Then this park’s playground, inspired by nearby St. Lawrence Market, is perfect for them. Asparagus, carrots and even a spilled ice cream cone have all been turned into colourful and gigantic play structures. There are also some more traditional playground structures, including a rope bridge and a merry-go-round. This fun playground is quite new, having only been completed in 2018. A second phase, which will focus on the park that surrounds the playground, is set to get underway this summer and be completed in 2020.
Toronto Island Park | toronto.ca
Besides having the best views of the city, Toronto Island Park contains so many different ways to stay busy that it’s pretty much a day trip. Wander through a cedar maze, visit the interactive Franklin’s Children Garden, rent a pedal boat and then cool off in the wading pool or even in the lake itself, conditions permitting. And let’s not forget about Far Enough Farms and Centreville Amusement Park. The Island is also the perfect spot for a picnic though there are a number of different options to buy food if you prefer that route. Just be sure to buy your ferry ticket in advance.
Vermont Square Park- 819 Palmerston Ave | toronto.ca
Home to the Dennis Lee Playground, this leafy park is best known for its pirate ship playground structure. And while the boat is surrounded by sand, there is a wading pool available, along with an indoor pool at the adjacent community centre. Other features include bocce courts and a dog off-leash area. Important note: This park also doesn’t have on-site washrooms so make sure the kids (and you) go potty before you head over.