The 10 most serene spots in Toronto
The 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 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.
The 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.
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.
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 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.
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.Photos by dtstuff9, StudioGabe, Mateo Pirri, Derek Flack