17 of the best summer survival tips
Summer, it sure took you forever to get here. Lucky for us, Toronto is bursting with activities to keep us busy over the next two months. With back-to-back festivals and Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, the city’s schedule may have some contemplating whether to leave town or even leave the house. But we say stay put, stay local and venture across town. Here are 17 ways to survive and enjoy a summer in the city.
1. Cool off – When temperatures soar, head to one of the 200-plus free city-operated outdoor pools, wading pools and splash pads. Kidstown in Scarborough, the only city-operated water park (also free), boasts huge tipping buckets, sprays and slides. For the ultimate thrill-seekers, go north to drop, funnel and spiral down the Typhoon in Splash Works - the newest waterslide at Canada’s Wonderland.
2. Cheer – More than 7,000 athletes, coaches and officials will descend on our region for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. For some events, it doesn’t cost more than your time to get there (and the city says the best way is to travel by transit, bike or foot.) There are free vantage points of sailing from Sugar Beach downtown and cycling from Martin Goodman’s Trail near Parkside Drive in the west end. The influx won’t be quite like this:
3. Discover a new hood – From city-wide festivals to neighbourhood block parties, there are plenty of outings where you can gather with fellow Torontonians and get to know the city. Try walking (Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market), dancing (Salsa on St. Clair) or enjoying some music (The Beaches International Jazz Festival.)
4. Be a tourist – Sometimes it’s fun to join the masses and discover why thousands flock to Toronto every year. Go full on with a City Pass that gets you into five of the city’s best family attractions. This summer means volcanoes at the ROM and humpback whales at the Ontario Science Centre IMAX.
5. Chase plastic – Not all teams run after balls. True, a summer is just not the same without a Jays or Toronto FC game. But expect lots of action and victories from the Toronto RUSH – the city’s professional Ultimate Frisbee team (2013 champs) who play across North America. Here’s how it’s done:
6. Bike: Toronto has over 800 km of bike routes. And growing. One of the newest in the works is the 84 km Pan Am Path that connects communities from Claireville Reservoir in the west to Rouge Park in the east. Until mid-August, Torontonians can pedal to events as part of the citywide Pan Am Path Art Relay.
7. Set Sail –This summer pirates are cruising our shores and you can join them for a Pirate Life trip and treasure hunt from Centre Island. Lacking sea legs? Then a mini-paddleboat or canoe on Natrel Pond at Habourfront may be more your speed.
8. Head to the water's edge – While many Torontonians make the weekly exodus to cottage country, we say head south to the ever-changing and beautifying waterfront. Here’s a view of the new Queen’s Quay:
9. Jump in the lake – Really, that lake. Eight Toronto beaches along Lake Ontario have once again been awarded Blue Flags, meaning they meet strict criteria for water quality, safety and services.
10. Get out of town – The world’s largest protected greenbelt hugs our city and has more than 10,000 km of trails stretching from Northumberland to Niagara where you can stop for some food, wine and hiking. The Ontario Greenbelt will launch a 475 km cycling trail this summer to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
11. Find a Ravine: Or you can get your dose of nature right in the city. Toronto’s 44,000-acre ravine system connects the GTA from the Oak Ridges Moraine to Lake Ontario. While development has changed and sometimes buried the ravines, they are still there and accessible to the public. Get some route ideas via the doc-in-progress Accidental Parkland:
12. Movies under the stars – Popcorn, picnic and a free film with friends on a beautiful Toronto night? Yes please. The films range from the artsy to the family-friendly, sending Torontonians to the beach (Sail-In Cinema) and to parks with yoga and DJs at Regent Park.
13. Picnic – Pack some snacks and head to your local green space or plan your own pizza night by permitting one of the four city parks that have outdoor wood ovens. Toronto’s many farmers’ markets also make it easy to eat outside with dishes from local food vendors.
14. Camp – Whether you’re seasoned campers or first-time tenters, Toronto’s only campground Glen Rouge is a short drive (or transit trip) away. Of course, you can always test the tent in own backyard. For the more adventurous, sleep under the stars at the Toronto Zoo’s Serengeti Bush Camp.
15. BBQ – Yum! Grilling season has arrived. While backyard BBQ-ing is the quintessential summer pastime, you can take the sizzle (and party) to one of the parks with outdoor fire pits. No time to prep? No prob, get your BBQ fix at the Canada Day Ribfest in Centennial Park on Canada Day weekend.
17. Ice Cream – Nothing screams summer more than ice cream. Make your way through this list of the City’s Best Ice Cream Sandwiches.