Toronto guide for nature lovers
Here are some of the best nature activities in and near Toronto.
Hike along scenic trails in Rouge National Urban Park
Explore the largest urban park in North America, Rouge National Urban Park. Spanning 7,500 hectares of land, this park is filled with abundant forests, creeks, farms, trails, and marshland, as well as many endangered plants and animals. You can spend your time here birdwatching, canoeing, and hiking, or learn more about the park’s history as one of Canada’s oldest Indigenous sites by embarking on a free guided tour. The park features several walkable trails at different lengths and difficulty level. Best of all, Rouge National Urban Park is located within Toronto, and just 30 minutes east of the downtown core by car.
Insider Tip: If you are planning to spend more than one day at Rouge National Urban Park, consider camping out at Glen Rouge Campground. Situated within the park’s picturesque natural setting, the campground includes amenities such as showers, washrooms and a camp store for snacks and supplies.
Location: Zoo Road, Toronto
Experience the future of sustainability at Evergreen Brick Works
Formerly a brick factory, Evergreen Brick Works’ picturesque gardens, wetlands and walking trails are now open to the public. At its peak, over 43 million bricks a year were produced at Evergreen Brick Works and were used to build some of Toronto’s most iconic historic buildings like Massey Hall, Old City Hall, and Hart House at the University of Toronto. In 2010, the place was transformed into an award-winning green space. It was designed according to LEED standards, meaning it has been recognized for its sustainable building practices. Historical brick kilns, smokestacks and stone buildings have all been carefully preserved, providing a fascinating glimpse of Toronto’s industrial past. You can browse through the public markets, which are run by local businesses and offer a variety of goods including native plants, handmade gifts, and seasonal produce.
Location: 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
View incredible scenery and wildlife at High Park
There are so many things to see and do at High Park, Toronto’s largest and most popular year-round outdoor destination. This sprawling park features a rich urban landscape dotted with rolling hills, meadows, and scenic hiking trails. The kids will love the sports facilities and Jamie Bell Adventure Park, one of the largest outdoor playgrounds in Ontario. The free High Park zoo has all kinds of animals to see, including bison, deer, llamas, peacocks and more. If visiting in the spring, be sure to take a stroll under the park’s famous cherry blossom trees.
Location: 1873 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Take the ferry to the Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are a group of small, car-free islands situated on Lake Ontario, just a 10-minute ferry ride from downtown, offering peaceful natural landscapes and amazing panoramic views of the city. Rent a kayak or a canoe and explore the islands’ beautiful lakefront. If visiting in the summer, make a trip to the Centreville Amusement Park on Centre Island, or relax on the islands’ sandy beaches. Alternatively or in addition to your Centre Island stop, tour the colourful, carefully maintained gardens and villages on Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point.
Insider Tip: Biking is a wonderful way to explore the Toronto Islands. Bicycles and Quadricycles are available to rent near the Centre Island pier.
Location: St Lawrence-East Bayfront-The Islands
Listen to beautiful music at the Toronto Music Garden
Tour the winding paths and bridges that decorate the beautiful Toronto Music Garden, overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Ontario. The design of this space was inspired by world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, with the expansive garden divided into sections that each represent a different movement of Bach’s solo cello suites. Outdoor music concerts, dance performances, community festivals and other cultural events are regularly held throughout the year, making the Toronto Music Garden a must-see destination for any garden or music lover.
Insider Tip: To learn more about the design and history behind the Toronto Music Garden, sign up for one of the guided tours available throughout the year.
Location: 479 Queens Quay West, Toronto
Tour diverse flora at Edwards Gardens
Filled with wildflowers, perennials, roses, rhododendrons and more, walking through Edwards Gardens feels like you have stepped into an outdoor utopia. Scenic walking trails wind through this lovely botanical garden, with fountains, ponds and streams gently bubbling in the background. Get a close-up look at the garden’s many native and exotic plants, and gaze out over the incredible view of the Don River Valley. Edwards Gardens sits adjacent to the Toronto Botanical Garden, which features 17 charming themed gardens and is another great nature spot to visit. There is paid parking available at the gardens for a nominal fee. Alternatively, you can take the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) streetcar to Leslie Street and Lawrence Avenue East.
Location: 755 Lawrence Avenue East, North York
Go kayaking along the Humber River
Explore the forests, parks, and urban areas as you kayak through the gorgeous Humber River in Toronto. One of the major rivers in Ontario, you may spot a variety of wildlife on your journey, including chipmunks, beavers, white-tailed deer, blue jays, northern cardinals, snapping turtles, leopard frogs and much more. In addition to kayaking, Toronto Adventures offers canoeing, boating, and paddle boarding, making this a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Insider Tip: For a truly unique experience, sign up for the Full Moon Night Paddles for a guided night paddle around Lake Ontario and a beautiful look at Toronto’s night skyline.
Learn to SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) or jetski at one of Toronto’s beaches
Soak up the sun at the many bright beaches located around Toronto. A popular draw for both locals and tourists during the hot summer months, these beaches feature large sandy shorelines that are ideal for swimming, sunbathing and waterfront recreation. Open during the summer to early fall is Toronto SUP & Kayak at Cherry Beach, where you can learn to paddle in the sheltered waters of the harbourfront. WSUP Toronto also offers stand-up paddle boarding lessons in Beachside. If you are looking to try jetskiing, head to Toronto Marine Rentals in Etobicoke and rent a Yamaha VX Waverunner for an hour on the lake. Alternatively, rent a Toronto jetski from RentOurSki in Woodbine Beach or Bluffer’s Park Beach.
Insider Tip: As you may expect, Toronto beaches are the most popular in the summer, but they are also a wonderful place to visit in the spring and fall when there is less people and the weather is a bit cooler.
Known as a popular picnicking spot and birdwatching area, Humber Bay Park stretches out into Lake Ontario and features a scenic waterfront and leisurely hiking trails. This tranquil park can be explored by renting a bike from Bike Share Toronto. You can buy a single trip for $3.25, a full-day pass for $7 or a three-day pass for $15; you must dock your bike at a citywide station every 30 minutes. One great spot you will want to check out is the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat in the west end, which attracts a diverse range of butterfly species between April and October. There is also the striking Humber Bay Arch Bridge, which offers amazing views, particularly at sunrise and sunset. You can find bikes available for rent at the below locations in Humber Bay Park (and many more areas around the city).
Relax with a delicious picnic at Trinity Bellwoods Park
Located in the heart of Toronto and easily accessible by public transit, Trinity Bellwoods Park is a bright spot of green among tall urban buildings. In this fun-filled community hub, you can attend the many summer festivals, outdoor music concerts, art exhibitions and community events that take place here. This spacious park features courts and fields for a variety of sports and fascinating monuments celebrating the park’s heritage. There are several picnic areas that are perfect for families and friends looking to enjoy casual meals in beautiful natural surroundings.
Insider Tip: To avoid the crowds at this popular park, visit Trinity Bellwoods Park in the early morning or late evening. Plus, keep an eye out for the legendary white squirrels that are known to live in the park.
Location: 790 Queen Street West, Toronto
Looking for some other nature and outdoor activities near Toronto to round out your trip? Check out these articles:
Last updated: September 7, 2023