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Sports & Play

10 fun things to do on the Toronto Islands this summer

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / May 19, 2014

toronto islandsThe Toronto Islands may be compact, but they're only a hop,skip and a ferry from the city, and they offer a surprising number of fun summer activities within their bounds. Your summer enjoyment can start on your way there, by eschewing the aforesaid ferry, and can continue on to include everything from nudity to sports.

The islands are, without a doubt, the best way to escape the stickiness of a summer heatwave in Toronto, and they're pretty accessible: it costs $7 roundtrip for an adult ferry ticket, and the ferries are wheelchair accessible.

Here are 10 fun things to do on the Toronto Islands this summer.

Check out the Electric Island music series
Electric Island, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, is back for another year, with four dates this summer. The electronic music fest on Centre Island kicks off today but the party carries on in July, August and September. General admission is $35, or $39 with a ferry ticket included.

Visit Artscape Gibraltar Point
Artscape Gibraltar Point is home to 15 artists-in-residence, and it also provides studio space for visiting artists. Beyond that, though, the facility, which used to be home to Toronto Island Public and Natural Science School, is sometimes open to the public for various arts and music festivals each year. You can also book weddings and special events if you get in touch with the folks at Artscape.

Get lost in a maze
There used to be a maze on Centre Island, until it was destroyed because the city didn't deem the maintenance of it worthy of funding. Last summer business man William Meany pledged $200,000 to have it remade, and the city will replant the maze in June. It will be fully and officially open for business by August.

Play Frisbee golf
In a fresh version of hell for those of us with zero hand-eye coordination, one can now play Frisbee golf on the islands. It's free is you BYOF. Like regular old golf, there are 18 holes, and there's even a tournament in the summer.

Skip the ferry and take a canoe
There are plenty of places, spread across town, from which you can rent a canoe in Toronto, and if you feel like having your own little adventure, you can skip the ferry and paddle on over to the islands. It's a good way to get some sun, come and go on your own terms, and even clock in a bit of exercise while you're at it.

Go lawn bowling
Something about lawn bowling has always struck me as a little hilarious. In case you feel the same, or oppositely, you can actually go lawn bowling at the clubhouse on Ward's Island. Lazy people, rejoice! For this is the sport for you.

Stay at a Bed and Breakfast
There's something so romantic about staying at a cozy bed and breakfast, especially when it's combined with the island's gorgeous scenery. If you want to get away from the heat and noise of the city for a night, check out Swan's End bed and breakfast on Algonquin Island. The nightly price of a room includes a heart, old-fashioned breakfast as the name would imply, and the place is discreet, so you can truly relax and unwind.

SUP paddleboard
In case you're more of an "activities" person, give stand up paddleboarding a try. The Paddleboard Addict offers lessons on the lake, and rentals too, in case you just want to give it a go on your own (though previous experience is required to rent). It's $30 for an hour, and $75 for a full day.

Get liberated at Hanlan's Point
Hanlan's Point features one of Canada's only (legally) clothing optional beaches. It's really a lovely place, and a great spot to conquer your fears if you're shy about your body. There's no judgment here, but beware: cops will patrol and ticket you, and I have seen more than one naked person be ticketed for open liquor, only to have nowhere to put their unwanted ticket. It's funny until it happens to you.

Rent a bike
Rather than dragging your bike all the way over to the islands on the ferry, you can skip the hassle and simply rent one while you're over there. Double the points for this option if you don't even own a bike, but want to move around the islands quickly. There are walking paths, but it takes much longer to get from point A to point B than you'd expect. (I took the wrong ferry once and had to walk over an hour to get to Hanlan's).

Growers CiderThanks to Growers Cider for sponsoring this post.

For more fun things to do this summer, check out our Toronto Fun Guide.

Photo by Ali Tawfiq in the blogTO Flickr pool



HOPE Volleyball / May 19, 2014 at 09:09 pm
Don't forget about the annual HOPE Charity Volleyball Party on Centre Island! 40+ courts, 200+ teams, BEER GARDEN... It's BIG & UNIQUE. And it's all for charity. June14.
Rico / May 20, 2014 at 03:35 am
Toads, I say!
Peter / May 20, 2014 at 06:41 am
R the dragon boats returning this year?
dragonboats replying to a comment from Peter / May 20, 2014 at 01:08 pm
yup, June 21/22
Aaron Schwartz / May 20, 2014 at 06:00 pm
Whose picture is that? Excellent. Shouldn't credit be given?
luke carron / May 21, 2014 at 01:44 pm
There maybe many places across town to rent a canoe, (though i would question that statement), the best place to rent in order to paddle to the islands would be the Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre. The article is remise not to mention it. The next closest place would be at MEC on King but then you'd have to portage down to the water. ........DISC golf....not frisbee golf
Julian Ganton / May 23, 2014 at 02:53 pm
Try Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) this summer! What better place to try it than the beautiful Toronto Island just minutes from the downtown core.

Toronto Island SUP is a business dedicated to connecting people with the outdoors on the water by offering SUP rentals and a variety of classes & tours.
JLMerser / May 28, 2014 at 02:27 pm
I believe Swan's End is no longer open.
Alden C / June 10, 2014 at 09:36 am
Try your hand at creating some Toronto Then and Now mashups right from your mobile device. Check out and download the app. It's easy to use. There are over 300 historic photos of Toronto already uploaded. Walk around the city, discover the history through pictures and make some awesome artistic rephotographs!
John / July 1, 2014 at 01:18 pm
The Island Public School Reunion is also happening on Sunday August 3rd at the Old School near the filtration plant.

The Island Gala Day is also happening all weekend on Ward's Island, complete with Beer Gradens, Bingo, Live Bands, etc.
80AD / August 26, 2014 at 01:18 am
You can rent a bike to explore the island. Better yet is to go on a guided tour with Toronto Bicycle Tours. Ranked #1 Activity in Toronto by TripAdvisor.
Elizabeth from Etobicoke / September 29, 2014 at 11:03 pm
I've taken the ferry-boat to Centre Island a few times over the past two years. It's a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's home to an old-fashioned family-friendly amusement park, Centreville, located on Centre Island. The rides are enjoyed by kids and kids-at-heart, adults reminiscing about their childhoods. The gondola ride no longer operates, but in its heyday people enjoyed a bird's-eye view of the amusement park and lagoons. One ride you'll never outrow is the log flume ride "Saugreen Lumber Co." You'd step inside any of the logs, climb the mountain, slide down it, and make a splash at the bottom.
On the south side of the mountain, there's a pier, and a couple of great beaches where you could go for a swim or play in the sand.

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