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The 10 most serene spots in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / March 27, 2014

serene spots torontoThe most serene spots in Toronto aren't necessarily the quietest spots -- if that was the case, the PATH on a weekend would probably take the prize. But given that there's always been a weather-ly connotation to the term, one imagines the most serene places in the city as those where you can sit for a while with no distractions, and where there's something to look at that's calming and peaceful: you know, a work of art, body of water, or just something pretty.

Here are the 10 most serene spots in Toronto.

Scarborough Bluff Trails
Bluffer's Park features one of the city's best beaches, but if it's serenity you're after, the trails that line the top of the Bluffs are the ticket. Winding and secluded, they occasionally open up to gorgeous vistas over the lake. Look out and imagine that all the sediment flowing off the bluffs formed what is now the Toronto Islands.

Weekdays at Cherry Beach
Cherry Beach might be a zoo on summer weekends, but head here on a Tuesday at 11am, and you'll be joined by only a handful of people milling about and watching the kitesurfers cruise across the narrow stretch of water between the Port Lands and the Leslie Street Spit. There's something about the colourful, wind-filled kites that's calming.

Green Roof City Hall TorontoGreen Roof at City Hall
A surprisingly quiet place despite its central location, the green roof at city hall is an excellent place to reserve a few moments of tranquility in the midst of a hectic day. The south-facing side of the roof has a better view, but is short on seating options. The back of the building is a better bet, where the flowers are a bit nicer, too.

Henry Moore Sculpture Centre at the AGO
Midweek, the entire AGO (minus the entrance and gift shop) is one of the more serene places in the city, but the Henry Moore room is just a little bit calmer than everywhere else thanks to its secluded location, low lighting, and the typically smooth lines of Moore's sculptures. Other options include the Galleria Italia (though you might hear cutlery and china clanking) and the pink room in the European collections, which features a surprisingly comfortable pew-like bench.

EJ Pratt LibraryThe basement at E.J. Pratt Library
The University of Toronto has a number of wonderful libraries that are easy enough to access even if you're not a student of the school. In the winter, Trinity probably takes the cake with its fireplace-adorned reading rooms, but come warmer weather, the basement at E.J. Pratt is one of the nicest places to read in the city. Here you look out onto a modern garden area with a waterfall that's mostly free of humans and has a sort of Frank Lloyd Wright feel about it.

The Bar at Canoe (after the lunch rush)
While most of us can't make regular visits to Canoe to take in the view of Toronto from the 54th floor of the TD Centre, one way to enjoy the view (which is majestic) is to grab a drink at the bar. The prices aren't ridiculous if you order conservatively (glasses of wine start at $9), and if you go around 3pm, the place is deserted. Park yourself at the long bar facing south and watch as planes gently take off and land at the Island airport. The rhythm of the city below is remarkably relaxing.

Crothers WoodsCrothers' Woods
Somewhow still a hidden gem, Crothers' Woods is a 52-hectare sanctuary of woodland in the heart of the Don Valley. Accessed from the Loblaws parking lot at Redway Rd. or the southern trailhead at Bayview and Pottery Road, the area has long been a haven for mountain bikers and hikers. Parks and Forestry has put much work into the area over the last five years to better maintain and mark trails, but you're still unlikely to see more than a handful of people if you visit during the week.

Snake Island
Outside the crush of traffic the Toronto Islands receives on summer weekends, much of the area is tranquil and serene. That said, I've always been partial to Snake Island since camping there once as a kid. There's basically nothing on the island and the beach sucks, so the overtly tourist types tend to stay away. What it does have, however, is one of the very best views of the skyline. Bring a picnic and while away the day.

Mount Pleasant CemeteryMount Pleasant Cemetery
Most cemeteries are serene places (almost by definition), but something about the rolling terrain at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and its various nooks and crannies makes it one of the calmest places in the entire city. The Necropolis is also a remarkably tranquil spot, but affords less sweeping views and seating options. Both are fine places when you need to get away from it all.

Toronto Music Garden
Tucked away between Queens Quay and the Waterfront trail, the Torono Music Garden is a meditative space that's mostly unpopulated throughout the day. Find a bench and you'll have a decent amount of privacy to contemplate your thoughts or chat up the love interest you've brought along. The music is typically low enough that it's relaxing whether you're a fan of the given song or not.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Sugar Beach
High Park Trails
Edward's Gardens
The Palm House at Allan Gardens
Marilyn Bell Park

Thanks to Focus: Life Gear by TRIDENT for sponsoring this post. Focus: Life Gear by TRIDENT is a fashion line that blocks your mobile connectivity, allowing you to embrace a lifestyle of focus.Focus TridentPhotos by dtstuff9, StudioGabe, Mateo Pirri, Derek Flack

Discussion

37 Comments

Lily / March 27, 2014 at 03:49 pm
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That pic of Bluffer's Park...just wooooow. Love this article!!
wendy / March 27, 2014 at 03:54 pm
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Rouge park and beach
Wayne / March 27, 2014 at 03:55 pm
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You've missed at least five other AMAZING spots. Don't ask me to tell you where they are though.
NotThatDave / March 27, 2014 at 03:56 pm
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The bike path down the Don Valley is surprisingly quiet in some areas. Worth the ride if you have a day to kill.
Matt / March 27, 2014 at 03:58 pm
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The Leslie Street Spit isn't on the list? Try going there after hours, making a bon fire and chilling out with friends. Very serene.
Liz / March 27, 2014 at 03:59 pm
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The basement of Pratt Library is not serene unless it is empty which is nearly never. The part looking out on the garden is where everyone eats and sits around to chit chat. You're actually allowed to use your phone there.
bwilliamp / March 27, 2014 at 04:02 pm
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One of my favourite things is to head down to the port lands. Ride to the end of Polson St. to the tiny little park. Then go across the Trunnion bridge and take the waterfront trail to the Leslie Street Spit. Head to the end of Tommy Thompson Park and chill out.

I usually do this 5-10 times a year. The last time I did, Blogto posted a photo of a turtle I came across.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bwilliamp/sets/72157635063780420/
Derek replying to a comment from Matt / March 27, 2014 at 04:04 pm
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There's always so many complaints when we recommend accessing places that are technically closed that I left the Spit off the list. But, yes, it is absolutely an amazing spot in the absence of weekend day-traffic.
Theo / March 27, 2014 at 04:05 pm
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I would put Cedarvale and High Park on my list
Kristen / March 27, 2014 at 04:13 pm
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Let's just take a second to reflect on the fact that 4 of these great spots- ALMOST HALF are in danger of losing their serenity if the Billy Bishop Airport expansion is approved.


Sid / March 27, 2014 at 04:31 pm
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Really? The bar at Canoe?
Sonali / March 27, 2014 at 05:29 pm
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You didnt mention Beaches... near RC Harris Water Treatment Plant! its the most beautiful spot on late summer evenings!
toronto dude / March 27, 2014 at 06:57 pm
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The Beach just West of the Scarborough Pumping Station near Rosetta Mc Clain Gardens. A steep trail leads down to a narrow, rocky beach that requires a good 15 minute hike down and then you come to some alcoves with grassy tree-lined slopes and small rocky tree covered peninsulas jutting out into the water. Until a jet-ski or a motor boat happens by, you feel like you are in some remote and peaceful place far from civilization with only the gentle sound of the waves and breeze to keep you company...it is worth the hike
Dipset / March 27, 2014 at 07:49 pm
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You also forgot the Leafs change room in late April. Bzzing!
Theo replying to a comment from Kristen / March 27, 2014 at 08:48 pm
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Why are you so concerned about finding serenity in a city? I don't go for several hour long walks in National Parks trying to find Starbucks. You have to take the bad with the good, or if not find a place to live which meets your lifestyle needs.
Matt / March 27, 2014 at 11:53 pm
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I second the back of the RC Harris Water Treatment Plant.
paul / March 28, 2014 at 01:26 am
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I like Baldwin St. village on a summers day having a coffee or ice cream on the patio
Really / March 28, 2014 at 08:17 am
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With your logic, we should stick a Walmart on the Toronto Island because we're in the city after all, if you want serenity, go to Algonquin Park. Toronto has a wonderful balance of urban with nature. It's possible and worth preserving.
NC / March 28, 2014 at 11:08 am
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There's many others, yeah, but these are all great spots. TO has no shortage of serenity if you take a second and look for it.
Freddie / March 28, 2014 at 11:58 am
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What about the Leslie spit?
cuddles / March 28, 2014 at 12:22 pm
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I'm with Kristen. The first thing I noticed was that the serenity of many of the top 10 and the honourable mentions would be destroyed by the proposed Island airport expansion, something BlogTO seems to support. Of course, you can still sit behind glass and knock back the drinks at Canoe and watch even more planes take off and land - kind of like an aiport lounge. Serenity forever, not just now. Don't expand the airport.
bob loblaw / March 28, 2014 at 03:36 pm
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Small beach just south and east of the Harris H20 plant.
Z / March 28, 2014 at 03:41 pm
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On a Friday Afternoon of a summer long-weekend consider...Bymark patio. You can fire a cannon off in the financial district and the staff is wonderful.
Moaz Ahmad / March 28, 2014 at 04:19 pm
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I'd definitely vote for the Rosetta Mc Lain gardens. Stand at the south side overlooking the lake and it's hard to believe that you're in Toronto...especially if you look East so you cannot see Ashbridge's Bay etc.

Another one of my favorites in Col. Samuel Smith park that foot of Kipling Ave. Once you get past the Humber College grounds there is a vast park plus the 3 small promontories typical of Toronto's lakeside parks. Great views of Toronto and Mississauga's lakefronts, Toronto island, and the lake itself.
Ed / March 28, 2014 at 05:53 pm
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Don't forget Riverdale Park East, just off Broadview. Even near the top of the hill, where the busy road is located, you can sit and get a sense of calm and solitude as you gaze across the valley to the distant towers of downtown Toronto
Dabney / March 28, 2014 at 11:38 pm
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There are a lot more serene spots in the city then the roof top at city hall. Come on
Linda Malloy / March 30, 2014 at 10:30 am
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Centennial Park Conservatory in Etobicoke is even more serene than Allan Gardens, but they are both wonderful!

John Mason / April 12, 2014 at 01:59 am
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For those wanting to explore the eastern part of the Scarborough Bluffs, be sure to visit Guild Park & Gardens (201 Guildwood Pkwy). It's the park where art meets nature. What was once a thriving artists' colony is now home to outdoor sculptures and architectural fragments preserved from dozens of now demolished downtown Toronto buildings. Much of the park was damaged by the recent ice storm and ash borer infestation, but the historic site remains open. On Sunday May 25, the public is invited to Guild Park for a series of free walking tours as part of Doors Open Toronto.
Dan replying to a comment from Theo / April 15, 2014 at 05:06 pm
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I assume you're a city planner by trade then?
turker / April 18, 2014 at 02:27 pm
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Cherry Beach might be a zoo on summer weekends ? WHAT DO YOU MEAN BLOG TO :)
gayle b. / May 18, 2014 at 09:20 pm
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Toronto does have a west end and the west end has multiple serene spots worth more than an honorable mention: High Park, Sunnyside Beach, the trails along the lake, the trails along the Humber.. just to name a few. I personally would find these far more serene than the the Bar at Canoe Bar in the TD Centre. Next time head west and list some of the jewels you will find there.
Shirley / May 19, 2014 at 10:03 am
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A bar serene!!!! first time I've heard sitting in a bar as serene, maybe after 5 martini's. Really not mentioning Humber park, the Islands Hanlon's point, Wards island so many serene places in the City, we are lucky to live in a City with so many fantastic parks and beaches on our doorstep. Sugar beach just got a mention hmm!! H20 beach didn't get a look in.
Michael / July 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm
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Teehee, my three favourite quiet places in the city went by without notice. Thank you blogto for your lack of research!
TJ / July 19, 2014 at 08:11 am
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You missed the BEST ONE OF ALL!! HA-HAAH!! Thank God!! ;)
Neolle / July 19, 2014 at 10:19 am
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West end! Colonel Sam Smith Park is so gorgeous and you feel like you are away from the city, and you kind of are. Kipling and Lake Shore W. https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8181/7934075618_9f65466b60_z.jpg
Diane / July 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm
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We are so fortunate to have so may place in the big smoke that are so serene that it would be impossible to name them all. Thanks for sharing all the favorites....now we have a new list to check out. On our (few) days off we like to take the Boatel to the wall at the inland. Truly serene...especially on a weekday.
Megan / July 19, 2014 at 04:31 pm
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Really, a cemetary? Not even if there were a list of 50 places, would I expect to see a cemetary.

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