Woodbine Beach is Toronto's most popular spot along the lake
Woodbine Beach is undoubtedly the most popular beach in Toronto, and for good reason.
The largest of the four beaches that line Lake Ontario, this stretch of sandy waterfront pulses on hot summer days, playing host to frolicking children, gleaming sunbathers, barbecuers, and volleyball players galore.
Characterized by its rocky sand and a ribbon of smooth rocks just below the water, this beach is by no means a destination for a relaxing nap along the quiet shore.
Unlike the serene oases on the Toronto Islands, or the less-frequented beaches like Sunnyside or Cherry Beach, it’s a rowdier vibe here.
What was once an area nicknamed “The Cut”—a wooded area that was once home to a Toronto Island-style cottage community—has become a cultural landmark, of sorts.
Head here on special events like Victoria Day or Canada Day, and you’ll find Torontonians numbering in the thousands, flocking down to witness the annual fireworks that light up the water.
The beach sits at the foot of Woodbine Avenue, where storms, wind, and time have pulled sand from the face of the Scarborough Bluffs into the half-moon strip that is Ashbridges Bay Park.
On any given summer weekend, expect the 92 Woodbine bus and the 501 Queen streetcar to be packed, and the parking lots at Ashbridges Bay Park fill up by 10 a.m.
This beach is also the gateway to three kilometres of glorious, sandy waterfront stretching eastward to the art deco palace that is the R.C. Harris Water Plant, with Kew-Balmy Beaches in between.
You can swim at Woodbine Beach, thanks to a consistent Blue Flag rating annually. Lifeguards man the entirety of the strip, sticking closely to their towers.
Swimming aside, the other major attractions here are the outdoor sports you can play at Woodbine, most notably, volleyball, played at the more than 90 beach volleyball courts that encompass the western chunk of Woodbine.
Most of these courts are owned by the Ontario Volleyball Association, though there are a handful which are designated for public use. Even without a membership, you likely won’t have too hard of a time scoring a court, if you get there early enough.
For the more adventurous, the Donald D. Summerville Outdoor Olympic Pool complex lets you dive from a five-metre board into the Olympic-size pool. Head to the most eastern limit of Woodbine and you’ll find canoes and SUP boards for rent.
If there is a flaw in Woodbine Beach's shiny veneer, it's the periodic smell from the nearby sewage treatment plant. When the wind is blowing the wrong way, the big old plant makes its presence known with a scent that's anything but commensurate with the rest of the atmosphere.
It only happens once in a blue moon, though, so that shouldn’t deter you from a day in the sun.
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