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10 Ways to Escape Toronto This Summer Without Leaving the City

The streets of Toronto look fabulous in the summer sunshine – but if you live and work in the 6ix, we all need an occasional break from the concrete jungle.

For those of us looking to escape all the noise of the city without the car, funds or time to take a day trip out of Toronto, there’s something for you too.

There are plenty of amazing places within the GTA where you can transport to another world without having to pack a suitcase or leave at the crack of dawn to beat the traffic.

Take a hop, skip and a jump to pastures green or sandy – all on Toronto’s doorstep.

Ward’s Beach
Take a day off work, pack a picnic, and head over to Toronto Island for a break from the city sprawl that’s still only 15 minutes away from downtown. You’ll soon forget all about urban living as you spread out on Ward’s Beach and dip your feet in the lake with the CN tower absolutely nowhere to be seen.

Photo: Tania Liu/Flickr
Photo: Tania Liu/Flickr

Go to a Rooftop
You’re still in the middle of the city, just a few storeys away from all the hubbub of the busy metropolis, but somehow being up on a breezy rooftop can make you feel like your miles away. Order a cocktail, close your eyes, and drift away to your happy place – safe in the knowledge that you’re only a few blocks away from your bed.

Photo: The Drake Hotel

Riverdale Farm
Open to the public all year round, this three hectare farm in the heart of Cabbagetown is the perfect place to get back to nature. This slice of country life may be located bang in the middle of Toronto, but it feels completely serene despite being just west of the Don Valley. Check out what the farmers are growing on a Tuesday or see cows, sheep, chicken, and pigs right in the core of the city.

Brian K/Flickr
Brian K/Flickr

Centennial Park
This huge park in Etobicoke has a ton of cool facilities to use this summer, like a go cart track, picnic area, baseball diamond, and disc golf course. It hosted the BMX cycling events at last year’s Pan Am games, but in 2016 it’s something of a hidden gem that’s worth the journey to the outskirts of the GTA.

Photo: 1Toronto

Ashbridge’s Bay
A gorgeous spot in the east end of Toronto, this beach is just a short walk or cab ride away from downtown. There are picnic benches and a fire pit so you can snuggle up and stay long into the evening when you don’t want your staycation to end. Plus, it’s a great spot to enjoy the Canada Day firework celebrations.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Have a Staycation
With a multitude of great options on hand in the Airbnb era, there’s no reason why you can’t get away from downtown Toronto with an overnight stay a stately home or a cottage in the GTA. Pick somewhere truly luxurious, escape condo living for the evening, and be an heiress for 24 hours.

Photo: King Blue Condos

Scarborough Bluffs
Described as a “geological wonder” and just a 30-minute drive outside the centre of town, the Scarborough Bluffs are a beautiful place to spend the day any season. But if you love the beach, the summer is the greatest time of all. Sunbathe beneath the limestone cliffs, hike along the trails, or fire up one of the BBQs in front of the marina.

Photo: Vaneza/Flickr
Photo: Vaneza/Flickr

Port Union Waterfront
Part of the waterfront trail that extends from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border, the Port Union Waterfront is another Scarborough gem that promises an escape from the hustle and bustle. Birdwatch, ride a bike, or chill out on Rouge Beach in the sun.

Photo: Kevin Cabral/Flickr
Photo: Kevin Cabral/Flickr

Cherry Beach
A beautiful lakeside beach on Toronto’s outer harbour, this is yet another spot that might make you feel like you’ve left the city for a much-needed vacation. In recent years there have been improvements made to the beach, but it still feels relatively untouched. So whether you grab a board to kitesurf or windsurf, or just reach for the SPF30, you’re certain to enjoy a beautiful day just a hop and skip away from town.

Photo: Michelle Siu/CP

Kay Gardner Beltline Trail
Bikers and hikers, rejoice: you have a great option for escaping the city in the form of this 9-km trail passing through the Rosedale and Moore Park neighbourhoods, among others. A former unused rail line, this stretch is now a much-loved path that offers a leafy haven in the middle of Toronto.

Photo: Mapio


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