50 things to do this summer in Toronto 2015
Summer events and activities have arrived in Toronto for another season, and there's never been more to get up to. From new patios and music festivals to check out, to our impressive roster of street festivals, the city truly comes alive in the summer months.
For the next little while you can have it all: gorge on street food and then burn off all the calories by getting active outside. Summer is a time that beckons city-dwellers to get out of the house and enjoy everything Toronto has to offer.
Here are 50 things to do this summer in Toronto.
Take in the spectacle that is the Pan Am Games
It's the marquee event of the summer, no matter which way you slice it. And given all the traffic and general disarray the Games will bring the city, you best get out there and partake in some of the action. There's still lots of tickets left at a range of price points. And as far as getting around during the event goes, be sure to stay informed.
Take in a free outdoor concert
Summer is the time for outdoor concerts, and, as a bonus, many of the offerings this year are free. The Toronto Music Garden hosts no less than 17 concerts this season in its idyllic setting, while you can also find free shows at numerous downtown parks. Casa Loma also offers some sophisticated music under the stars.
Go for a cruise on a tall ship
Step (or, sail) back in time on the Kajama, a traditional 165-foot, three-masted schooner that tours the Toronto Harbour and a small part of Lake Ontario. It's a classic Toronto experience that's not limited to tourists. Want to party on Lake Ontario? We've rounded-up ways to do that too.
Hit up a street festival
When the warm weather rolls in, street parties begin taking over the city. Explore Toronto one neighbourhood at a time via our array of festivals that range from cultural to culinary celebrations.
Witness Jermaine Defoe's return to BMO Field at the TFC vs. Sunderland friendly
Toronto FC will welcome former striker Jermaine Defoe and Sunderland of the English Premier League to BMO field on July 22nd for a friendly that should make footie fans salivate. It will be the first time Defoe has played at the stadium since he was sold to Sunderland at the beginning of the year.
Take in the local arts scene at an outdoor art fair
Savour some art without leaving the sunshine by perusing one of the city's many outdoor art fairs this summer. They're happening all summer long and all over the city, so take your pick and prepare to be inspired (and to take some creations home with you).
Watch a movie under the stars
This classic summer experience lets you get your cinema fix without being confined to your couch. And the best part? Most of the city's outdoor movie screenings this season are free. Bring a blanket or folding chair and get your cinema on.
See if WayHome lives up to the hype
We're all freaking out about this Bonnaroo type festival, but will it meet Toronto's expectations? There's only one way to find out. Tier 3 tickets are still on sale for $249.99, or find your discounted pass on Craigslist.
Shoot down a massive slip and slide
A 1,000-foot slip and slide is coming to Downsview Park on July 18 and 19. Register here to snag your spot on the terrifying (or thrilling, however you want to look at it) ride. It doesn't get much more summery than this.
Take in some theatre in a park
Catch a theatrical performance in the great outdoors this summer. Shakespeare in High Park is putting on the classics Julius Caesar and The Comedy of Errors, while Shakespeare in the Ruff is hosting an intriguing take on Macbeth (it's performed entirely with puppets).
Curl up in the dark at a film festival
Get pumped up for TIFF (Sept. 10 - 20) by checking out one of the city's many summer film festivals. There's the Open Roof Festival, Toronto Youth Shorts Festival, Worldwide Short Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival, Parkdale Film and Video Showcase and more.
Choose your summer music festival wisely
There's never been more choice when it comes to summer music festivals, which is a good thing except when it comes to deciding which ones you're going to hit up. If you got rained out at Digital Dreams, there's always Veld. PANAMANIA is mostly free, OVO Fest will feature wildly loud "Know Yourself" sing-alongs, and if there's any justice, TIME will be rain-free.
Say goodbye to MOCCA at the Queen West Yacht Club
MOCCA's days on West Queen West are numbered, but that doesn't mean you can't give the gallery a send off before waiting a few year for it to open in its exciting new space on Sterling Road. The gallery is done up as a yacht club for the summer courtesy of artist Dean Baldwin, and there are plenty of events in store.
Nerd out at a tech event
Not everything you do this summer can be outdoors. Toronto has a full roster of tech events at which you can mingle with industry insiders, fellow nerds, and TechCrunch readers. And, hey, some of the events actually are outside, so win-win!
Witness the pomp of Andy Warhol
Stop by 77 Bloor St. West to come face-to-face with the masterpieces of one of history's most-loved artists. Andy Warhol Revisited: A Mirror for Today runs July 1 through the end of the year and promises to be Canada's largest exhibition of Warhol's work.
FOOD & DRINK
Explore the city's beer scene with the Craft Beer Passport
While the craft beer passport is valid until November 30, summer is the time to get to know the city's best beer bars. This isn't about getting drunk on the cheap, but an incentive to explore the local beer scene with the incentive of discounted pints. What's not to like?
Chow down at one of Toronto's new food trucks
In case you hadn't noticed, Toronto's food truck scene shows no signs of slowing down. New trucks are opening all the time and upping the game of the rest of the city's mobile fleet of food vendors. Deep fried butter chicken at Tdots Naansense is just one of the new must-try dishes on offer this summer.
Get hopped up at a beer festival
Sun, beer, and a little buzz: this is a magical trinity that can be had at multiple beer fests this summer both in and around Toronto. There's everything from the massive Toronto's Festival of Beer to the superb Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival.
Get stuffed at a food truck festival
Even though food trucks have be given a bit more freedom to operate on city streets this summer, there remain dedicated festivals where these culinary roadsters show off their collective chops en masse. From the CNE to Downsview park, if food truck eats are your thing, there's opportunities aplenty.
Check out a new patio
With new patios popping up all over the city, you'll have no trouble finding a place to drink or dine outdoors this summer. The newest of the new include Mascot Brewery, Northern Belle, and El Caballito's El Patio.
Make friends over pizza at a Toronto park
Toronto's parks are great for a lot of things, one of which is meeting people. That said, just randomly approaching folks is a good way to get pepper sprayed. A better idea is to check out one of the many pizza and community dinner nights at Toronto parks with bake ovens. The food is gloriously cheap and it's a great way to make new friends.
Have lunch at the Union Station summer market
Front Street Foods hosts its eight week pop-up from July 6 to the end of August at Union Station. The outdoor urban food market will see vendors like Fresh off the Boat, Cava, and the Mad Mexican (to name just a few), joined by live music and culinary demonstrations.
Try a new restaurant
There's a host of anticipated restaurant openings on tap this summer. If you can't wait to try the latest thing, head to A3 Napoli, the new collaboration between Libretto and Prochetta & Co., which bringing a taste of Naples street food to Toronto, and serving up all sorts of fried delicacies in paper cones - perfect for noshing on while you stroll through Little Italy.
Have a malt at Bickford Park
This revival of retro soda fountain malt shops, brings lots of nostalgic charm to Harbord Village this summer. Expect to find summery refreshments including hand-crafted sodas, shakes and floats.
Get thee to a food festival
Want to eat fresh shucked oysters in an alley? How about taking in the sights and sounds from one of Toronto's vibrant night markets? This summer is jam-packed with food festivals, food truck rallies and pop-ups.
Binge on ice cream sandwiches
If the line-ups at Bang Bang, or the spade of new openings are any indication, Toronto is seemingly obsessed with ice cream sandwiches. Booyah on Vaughan Road has made the messy handheld treat its specialty, while Scoop Shop on Dundas West is offering a version made with house-made ice cream layered between macaron shells.
Try a coffee float
It's two of your favourite things meshed together. Cool off this summer with the creamy, caffeinated goodness of a handmade coffee float. Made by Glory Hole Doughnuts with Station Cold Brew and a hefty dollop of soft serve and then drizzled with syrup, this ain't your typical affogato.
Reduce your lifespan by eating at the CNE
When the CNE rolls into town, calorie-counting generally goes out the window. With Exhibition Place filled with food trucks and Food Building vendors serving up deep-fried delights, it's hard to even consider healthy alternatives.
Head to the Islands for a full moon party
Not everyone can make it to Thailand for a Full Moon Party. Luckily, Torontonian's have decided to take the matter into their own hands and throw them locally. June 5th, July 3rd, July 31st, and August 29th will have Hanlan's Point buzzing with lunar-inspired festivities.
Go on a culinary road trip
While Toronto's food festival scene is certainly robust this summer, culinary types will still find plenty of reason to hit the road in search of small town food and beer festivals, which a typically cheaper and more laid back than their urban counterparts.
Get strategic at Toronto's new archery tag facilities
Toronto now boasts a number of archery tag facilities. Archers Arena, has over 8,000 square feet of space to play while Archery District, Archery Circuit and Battle Archery are all trying to make a name for themselves as Toronto's go-to facility. It can be sunny skies every day, so having a rainy day activity that's this much fun is a necessity.
See what kind of mermaid you make
If you spent your childhood wearing out your Little Mermaid VHS, this one's for you. The Jimmie Simpson Pool will play host to mermaid classes, where you will learn to master the waters with a glittering fin.
Shop at a summer pop-up
If you are a person who craves one of a kind bits and bobs, pop-ups are the way to go. For a limited time you'll be able to snag amazing pieces - think handmade jewellery and vintage pieces - without weeding through flea market tables or garage sale dollar bins.
Go on a free tour of Graffiti Alley
Graffiti Alley is one of the city's ever-changing and most interesting impromptu art exhibits. Free tours will be lead all summer long, showcasing the work of Toronto's most talented spray-can wielding artists.
Take a trip to Portugal without leaving Toronto
While Toronto offers a few culinary options to immerse oneself in Portuguese culture, this new design shop, fittingly located in Little Portugal, is chock full of unique products from a country that's thoroughly underrated from a design standpoint. From wool blankets to kitchenware, Saudade's stock will get you in a Portuguese state of mind.
Take in a show at one of Toronto's new live music venues
Toronto's roster of live music venues quietly continues to grow. Adelaide Hall got a makeover and is now re-open, UG3 Live hosts bands nightly in the space formerly occupied by Media Bar, Burdock now has a full roster of live bookings in place, a the recently opened Tennessee will hook you up with dinner and a show.
Escape the city without taking a long road trip
Want a weekend getaway without driving too far from home? There are tons of destinations only an hour away from the city, ranging from spa overnights to waterfall hikes to art-centric experiences. Leave the city behind in a blink of an eye.
Cool off at Toronto's newest library
Toronto Public Library's 100th branch at Scarborough Civic Centre is now open, and everyone's gawking at it. The space is as beautiful as it is functional, complete with a digital innovation hub, free wifi, an outdoor garden and green roof... Oh, and there are books, too. What better place to cool down in the middle of a heat wave?
Try your hand at kite surfing
It might not seem like a natural fit in Toronto's climate, but kitesurfing has a loyal following in this town, something which regular visitors to Cherry Beach will already know. In fact, there's quite a surf-related culture in Toronto if you know where to look. Get a wet suit and get out on the waves.
Go on an old fashioned nature walk
When was the last time you say an animal in the city that wasn't a skunk or a raccoon or a rodent of some kind? If you're looking to commune with nature, you've got options, whether it's secluded parts of the Toronto Islands or the bird sanctuary that is the Leslie Street Spit.
Check out the just opened Island maze
Toronto doesn't want you to wait for your trip to the pumpkin patch to get lost in a maze. Centre Island just unveiled its new 15,000-square-foot maze composed of over a thousand cedar trees, all planted by Island locals and Toronto Boy Scouts.
Disconnect and go camping
There are plenty of options for camping in and around Toronto but new this year is Camp Reset (August 13-16), a non profit event being described as a digital detox that will cure you of your iPhone addiction, if just for a few days. Activities will include a pyjama dance party, fusion yoga and glow-in-the-dark capture the flag. No devices allowed.
Check out Toronto's beautiful public gardens
Take advantage of the warm weather and take a stroll through one of the city's top public gardens. It's the perfect spot for a mini escape from the concrete jungle - and from the Pan Am Games pandemonium. Edwards Gardens is always a top spot, but even the city hall green roof offers a dose of respite.
Visit Toronto's newest park
Need more of a reason to spend a few hours at the Aga Khan Museum? Now you can plan a visit without even going inside thanks to the unveiling of this immaculately landscaped park complete with trees, shrubs and serene reflecting pools that highlight the architecture of the two buildings that bookend this space.
Escape the city without leaving Toronto
We're lucky to live in a metropolis that's blooming with pockets of nature. Spend a day at one of these havens to detox and unwind by the beach, in a park or in the woods. Aside from occasional CN Tower sightings, you'll think you left Toronto behind altogether.
Explore the freshly revitalized Queens Quay
After years of construction and commuter nightmares, the new Queens Quay has officially opened in Toronto, just in time for summer. The revitalized street is highlighted by a new bike lane that stretches from Stadium Rd. all the way to Sugar Beach, which makes for a far safer ride across the waterfront but also a much prettier one.
Shake up your running routine
Jogging can feel like death, but when you do it in a fun context, it's easy to forget the pain. From colourful to foamy to muddy, there's a ton of running events this summer that will make you actually want to go for a jog.
Keep it simple and hang out by the lake
You don't need a beach towel to have an authentic lakeside experience in Toronto. There are plenty of parks and patios right on the water that are perfect for hanging out, whether it be for a few beers, a gourmet meal, or a chance to watch the activity in the harbour.
Give horseback riding a try
Avoid heading to rural Ontario for riding lessons and saddle-up at an equestrian facility within the GTA. There are a number of options, catering to both seasoned riders and novices.
Become a walking rainbow at Toronto's Festival of Colour
Billed as Canada's first Festival of Colour, this event is based on the Hindu festival of colours, Holi. While the city has witnessed events like "Color Me Rad" in the past, this is less a test of one's fitness and more a challenge to bask in powdered paint just for the fun of it. The colourful explosion is scheduled for August 30 at Woodbine Beach.
What did we miss? Add your suggestions for things to do in Toronto this summer in the comments.
Writing by Derek Flack, Amanda Storey, and Alice Pendergast.
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