10 fun things to learn this summer in Toronto
School may be out, but summer in Toronto is the perfect time to learn something new. If you're brave enough to leave the safety of the patio or the Ed's Real Scoop line, there are many weird and wonderful lessons available to help you pick up a new hobby, uncover a hidden talent, or finally live out a fantasy. Whether you're looking to take to the seas, join the circus, or just put on your eatin' pants and kick back, there's a class out there to help you make the most of the season.
Here are 10 fun things to learn how to do this summer in Toronto.
Learn to shipwreck
Southern Ontario waters are teeming with sunken boats waiting to be investigated by adventurous divers comfortable with deep, coldwater exploration (an activity known as "shipwrecking"). Take some recreational scuba courses from the Toronto Scuba Club (among others) and discover the wrecks for yourself (with the help of some online databases), or join up with the Toronto chapter of Save Ontario Shipwrecks for group explorations and nautical archaeology courses intended to preserve our wrecks and inform divers about their history.
Learn to be a BBQ pitmaster
Nothing says summer like sweating in front of a 400 degree flame in 30 degree heat, and nothing tastes like summer like a grill-marked ribeye or sweet, roasted cob of corn. As char snobs will insist, barbecuing is an art and it's trickier than it looks. Luckily, The Chef Upstairs, The Healthy Butcher and the Culinary Adventure Company, among others, offer classes to teach both 'cue kings and first-time grillers how to make the perfect hot weather meal - including roasting a whole hog.
Learn to drive a race car
While you could wait for your midlife crisis to drive a fancy sportscar, you could get a jumpstart on the inevitable and check out one of Southern Ontario's racing schools. Operating at racetracks just outside of the GTA, Bridgestone Racing Academy, Racing Adventures, Exotic Car Tours, and Sweetie Girl Racing give drivers a chance to test vehicles like the Reynard Formula 200 or an FFR Cobra replica (or even a replica cop car), while learning the basics of racing and defensive driving. Toupee and trophy wife not included.
Learn to slackline
Common in many downtown parks, slacklining is a bit like walking across a low, constantly moving tightrope. It takes some practice, but it's a great way to build strength and quiet your mind (especially if you're terrible at yoga). To get started, seek out Toronto Slapliners, the city's biggest slacklining group who host classes periodically at The Circus Academy, or check out True North Climbing, where you can get access to two indoor slacklines and introductory instruction.
Learn to stand-up paddleboard
Stand-up paddleboarding - or SUP, in cool kid vernacular - is a board-based sport that doesn't require waves, making it perfect for Ontario waters. Beginners should head to Paddleboard Addict's classes at the Scarborough Bluffs to learn the basics of navigating the board and getting on your feet. Once you're more comfortable, check out classes from Paddleboard Addict's partner schools Supsurf and WSUP, Surf Ontario, or SUPgirlz, including board-based yoga, meditation, guided tours, bootcamp workouts, hula-hoop classes, and sunrise paddle sessions (where bringing your own coffee is encouraged).
Learn to be a circus performer
For those looking for something completely different this summer, Toronto's several circus schools, including the Toronto School of Circus Arts, The Circus Academy, and Cirque-Ability, play host to a variety of classes where you can learn to become an amateur hula hooper, trapeze artist, acrobat, juggler or even a vaudevillian entertainer. They also offer fitness classes that incorporate circus equipment into your workout.
Learn to make your own beer
Hot, hazy summer evenings are the perfect excuse to crack open a cold one - so why not try brewing your own? Head to the city's only remaining on-site brewing facility Fermentations, where you can learn about the brewing process and concoct your own. To get even more involved with the process, try buying your own kit from Toronto Brewing and check out The Great Canadian Homebrew Conference, hosted by The Canadian Amateur Brewers Association.
Learn to skydive
Saying "I want to go skydiving," is usually just first-date code for "I really don't want you to find out that my actual idea of fun is staying home and playing with my cats." But if you genuinely want to jump out of a moving aircraft, Skydive Toronto, the Parachute School of Toronto, and Skydive Burnaby all offer classes and diving sessions for both novices and frequent flyers just outside of the GTA.
Learn to kiteboard
Kiteboarding -- a hybrid of sailing and wakeboarding where you navigate both a board and the "kite" that helps propel you -- is typically classified as an extreme sport. If you have the guts, Toronto has a few schools to get you started, including iKite, Kiteaddict and Toronto Kite Club, which offer theory classes, on-board instruction, and use of their equipment. A tough constitution is mandatory and a familiarity with similar watersports is recommended (armband tattoos and energy drink sponsorships remain optional).
Learn to ride a unicycle
Cycling is an important part of the city's ecosystem, from getting thousands of residents where they need to be to enraging city councillors. But if two wheels don't do it for you, make like that fedora-wearing kid in your high school drama class and try unicycling. Though you'll need your own equipment, Toronto Unicyclists holds weekly practice sessions for both new and experienced riders throughout the summer, as well as events like unicycle basketball.
Writing by Ashley Petkovski / Photo by Allan Parke