Autumn is the perfect time for family photos: Your kids are still sporting back-to-school haircuts, your calendar isn’t packed yet with holiday events and the not-too-hot, not-too-cold weather means that posing for a couple of hours without major whining is actually achievable. And thanks to technology, it’s now cheaper and easier than ever to DIY your family’s next photoshoot.
However, there’s still one aspect of family photos that computers can’t quite fill yet: The perfect outdoors backdrop. Thankfully that’s where Southern Ontario’s legendary fall colours come in. Below we’ve rounded up 10 Toronto locations that capture some of that beauty and that are also ideal for your fall family photos.
Just a quick note before you start coordinating outfits, keep in mind that some of the spots listed below are City of Toronto parks, which have their own special rules around photography. While casual family photos are fine, “formal photography” requires a permit. That means that if you’re taking pics in a city-operated park, skip the professional tripod and other tools that might catch by-law’s eye.
Evergreen Brick Works
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The Evergreen Brick Works are a popular spot for photos for good reason: It offers a great variety of backdrops in a small enough area that even a toddler can handle moving among multiple different locations. Those backdrops include wetlands, several historic industrial buildings and ample fall foliage. Note that the Brick Works does have a formal photo policy and that while “casual-day-out-with-the-family” shots are fine, more formal, structured shots might earn you some unwanted attention.
Colonel Danforth Park & Lower Highland Creek Park
Located next to each other —Colonel Danforth Park flows south into Lower Highland Creek Park —these two parks boost a thick tree canopy that explodes with colour in the fall. They’re also huge, allowing you ample space to take photos without having to wait for a crowd to pass by. The pretty Highland Creek, which runs through both parks, is an ideal backdrop and can be easily accessed via the parks many trails.
Google Map Link https://goo.gl/maps/tKAn522CWcBYdSts9
Located adjacent to the Toronto Botanical Gardens, this beautifully manicured park has well-groomed lawns, clipped hedges and the cutest arched bridges that span over tranquil Wilket Creek. Many of the park’s trails are paved and relatively smooth, making this park stroller-friendly. Since this is a City of Toronto park, it technically requires a permit for formal photography so you might want to avoid any photoshoot that looks too professional.
Google Map Link https://goo.gl/maps/mtGrbn3wPz7yxmpr9
This City of Toronto park is one of the most popular spots around for family photos. While the park can get busy, it’s also big enough that you can almost always find a quiet spot that also generously displays the fall colours. If you go on a quieter day, you can try to get some shots at the park’s most scenic locations. Those include the maple leaf garden at the bottom of the Hillside Gardens, the waterfall and bridge located between the café and Grenadier Pond and the manicured hedges and water features found just southwest of the Colborne Lodge Drive and Hillside Road.
Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/6t4KLvBXx4mPqpge7
Lush parks and scenic Lake Ontario are great photo backgrounds but what if you want to make it clear that your family photos were taken in Toronto? Then consider taking them at Grange Park. This downtown oasis features pretty landscaping, a Georgian manor and a Henry Moore sculpture that your kids are allowed to climb on. And yes, there are also plenty of colour-changing trees. Kids not into the whole family photo idea? Tell them that after you get the perfect shot, they’re free to play on the park’s fun playground (there’s also the adjacent Art Gallery of Ontario, if that’s more their thing).
Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/t7MwBF4GbQR1qpwG8
Humber Bay Arch Bridge
This might not be Toronto’s most famous bridge (we’ll give that to the Bloor Viaduct) but it is arguably the best for fall family photos thanks to its lakeside location. The bridge is also a quick walk from a couple of other locations that will let you take shots that combine the fall colours with the Humber River and/or Lake Ontario. Heading west will let you access the Humber River Recreational Trail while heading east will take you to the Sunnyside Boardwalk and a small, tree-surrounded beach. Note that on nice days, this part of town can get pretty busy so a weekday photoshoot might be best.
Google Map Link https://goo.gl/maps/UxzbTzYpkvewSCPu8
Moore Park Ravine
Home to the last stretch of the Beltline Trail, the Moore Park Ravine is located just south of Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Despite its midtown location, this park feels like you’re deep in the woods thanks to its amazingly lush tree growth. In the fall, the ravine bursts with colour. The remains of an old railway line adds an interesting potential for photos, with the underneath of the Governors Road Bridge, in particular, offering a cool urban-meets-rural backdrop. The ravine also connects with the aforementioned Evergreen Brick Works, in case your family is up for a multiple location shoot.
Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/GyegxXzV32cCgBfi9
Rouge National Urban Park
This massive park offers acres of photo opportunities and all that space pretty much guarantees that you’ll be able to take your pics without having to dodge other parkgoers. It’s also run by the federal government, so no need to worry about Toronto’s rules around professional photoshoots. Rouge Beach, at the southern tip of the park, lets you include the lake in your images while Glen Eagles Vista Trail is an easy hike that will give your family the opportunity to take shots with the Rouge River, Little Rouge Creek and some impressive bluffs.
Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/49zndFqDkYTD7QNe7
Looking to incorporate a slice of Toronto history into your photos? Then this site, which includes several 19th-century buildings, might be just what you’re looking for. Located in the tree-packed Don Valley, Todmorden Mills offers a nice combination of fall colours and historic buildings. Note that this is a City of Toronto site that regularly hosts events so you’ll want to check out what’s happening before you head out and try to keep your shoot from looking like a professional arrangement.
Google Map Links: https://goo.gl/maps/8YtFgLmSsrzCUjDX9
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While we tend to think of Toronto Islands as a summer destination, the islands are open and accessible year-round. And with all their trees, beaches and, of course, the lake, the Islands are an ideal spot for Instagram-perfect photos. Great shots with the city skyline as your backdrop can be taken right near the Centre Island ferry docks while venturing deeper into the island will turn up bridges, gardens and other scenic spots. Though Centreville Amusement Park is closed for the season, Far Enough Farms is open year-round, in case you want to add some agricultural flavour to your photos. Just make sure to check out the ferry schedule before you head out since the boats are now running on the fall timetable and switch to an even more limited winter one starting October 21.
Google Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/eG72SX8ngAgsa7HT6