outdoor fall toronto

The top 10 things to do outdoors this fall in Toronto

Outdoor activities this fall in Toronto serve as the perfect time to get out and appreciate what a majestic city this is when it comes to parkland. While last year's ice storm severely damaged our tree canopy, the fact that this damage isn't always immediately apparent is just a testament to how many trees we have in the first place. What better time is there to play sports and explore our numerous recreational spaces? It's not too hot and it's not too cold (yet), so get out there an ride, hike, and camp. You can even roast a few marshmallows while you're at it.

Here are the top 10 things to do outdoors this fall in Toronto.

Camp at Glen Rouge Park
Ever just want to escape the confines of your condo/apartment and sleep under the stars as in days of old without getting mugged/run over/assaulted/arrested? Glen Rouge Park offers space to pitch a tent at the edge of the city, and it's open until November 2nd for those who have high quality sleeping bags. The park is particularly beautiful in mid-October.

Check out fall colours in High Park
There are a lot of places to check out fall colours in Toronto, but High Park gets bonus points for its varied landscape, parking, zoo, and ponds. As much as I love a good ravine, there's more to do at High Park, which encourages prolonged exposure to pretty fall colours.

Seek out an underrated park
If High Park is too busy or popular for your taste, fall might be the perfect time to seek out one of the city's lesser known green spaces. Toronto is home to some incredible and yet underrated parks, most of which will erupt in colour in a few weeks. Two of my top picks are Glen Stewart Ravine and Crothers Woods.

Take a hike
You don't have to leave the city to go on a hike. Toronto has hiking trails aplenty, some of which will even give you a good work out. Check the link above for a longer list, but favourites include the Finch Meander Trail and those that line the Scarborough Bluffs.

Get a head start on skating season
Lest you think outdoor skating was solely a winter activity, bear in mind that the rink at Nathan Phillips Square typically opens around the third week of November, a full month before the official start of the dead season. So if you're dying to skate and like the idea of wearing a sweater rather than a jacket, fall is the time to go.

Hit the trails on your bike
Fall is the best time of year to ride your bike off road. Whether it's mountain biking, cyclocross, or even just the act of taking your city bike down a relatively smooth trail, getting off the street and into a natural setting feels exhilarating. Toronto has trails for all levels of ability, from the absolute beginner to those who are brave enough to try North Shore-style ramps and bridges in the Don Valley.

Have a campfire in a park
If you're stuck in the city this fall, one of the best ways to have a camping or cottage-like experience is to hang around a campfire at a Toronto park. Dufferin Grove is probably the best known for this amenity, but the list of Toronto parks outfitted with fire pits is actually over 20 strong.

Explore the Niagara Escarpment
If you want an easy day trip out of Toronto to hike, bike, taste wine, or just soak up fall colours, head to the Niagara Escarpment. It's closer than you think, with conservation areas like Kelso and Rattlesnake Point less than a 45 minute drive away (depending on which end of the city you live in). Those willing to go further can explore Hamilton's waterfalls, and the excellent wineries around Beamsville.

Play a round of golf
Few activities are better suited to a sweater than golf. And few cities have more golf courses within their official borders than Toronto. The best of the bunch is surely Don Valley, though Humber Valley, Scarlett Woods, and Tam O'Shanter are all fine places to spoil a good walk too. If you're just taking up the game, the par 3 course at Dentonia Park (right on the subway line) is a good bet.

Go surfing
It might seem counter intuitive, but late fall is one of the best times to surf on Lake Ontario. Modest waves are often kicked up thanks to seasonal storms, such that you can actually get something to ride for more than a few seconds. But you know it's going to be cold, so a full wet suit is an absolute must. Well, that and a high tolerance for pain (your face is going to sting, trust me).

Photo by Kiril Strax in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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