Kew Balmy Beach Toronto

Kew-Balmy Beach is Toronto's underrated sandy getaway

When it comes to swimmable beaches in Toronto, most people think of Woodbine Beach as primetime gathering space by Blue Flag-certified waters. 

But located just a short walk east is Woodbine’s older sister, an underrated 1.2-kilometre stretch of sand called Kew-Balmy Beach. 

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Kew-Balmy is located just a quick walk east of Woodbine Beach along the boardwalk.

Less crowded, with more off-leash dogs, and rockier sand: for whatever the reasons, some may prefer this quieter pair of beaches, joined by the Eastern Beaches boardwalk, to the rowdier, more popular western counterpart.kew balmy beach toronto

The sandy areas are divided up by manmade rock fingers.

You won’t find a massive swath of volleyball nets here, but you will find that the vibe at Kew-Balmy is much more laid-back, with a local vibe. 

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Use the Eastern Boardwalk or the Martin Goodman Trail to travel along the shoreline.

From Woodbine Beach, you can get to Kew—the first of the beaches—via the boardwalk. If you’re on wheels, use the paved Martin Goodman Trail. 

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Kew-Balmy stretches around 1.2 kilometres.

The area is officially divided from Woodbine by the fenced-off dog park, but you’ll know you’re nearing Kew Beach when you pass the summer pitstop, Beaches n Cream, selling gelato, soft serve ice cream, and juicy, overpriced hamburgers for $8.50. 

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The Leuty Lifeguard Station is an historic building south of the boardwalk.

Marking the first hundred meters of Kew Beach is the historic Leuty Lifeguard Station.

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There are beach chairs scattered across the beach for loungers to use.

Built in the 1920s, it’s one of the last historic structures left along Toronto’s shores. Legend has it that the station and its lifeguards played a role in saving over 6,000 people in its lifetime. 

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An old path leads out into the water and ends in nothingness.

Today, it signifies a different era along the water. Gone are the days of the Scarboro Beach Amusement Park, which took over the land between Kew and Balmy Beaches with its 30-metre obelisk, Chutes ride and circus shows. 

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Kew Beach also has an adjoining garden that runs north until Queen Street.

Due to flooding and shoreline erosion in recent years, hundreds of thousands have been spent on relocating and raising this landmark upshore, as well as repairing the surrounding properties.

kew balmy beach toronto

This historic site was once private property before being transferred to the City in 1907.

Sitting above the beach is Kew Gardens, a luscious piece of land that’s home to popuklar lawn bowling club, a basketball court, baseball diamond, the old bandstand and the Italian Renaissance-style drinking fountain, dedicated to Dr. William Young.  

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A beautiful Italian Renaissance-style water fountain is still in working order. 

Head to the northwest corner of the park along Queen St. East and you’ll find the historic Kew Williams House, a remnant of the days before Kew Gardens became public property. 

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The heritage home of Kew Williams is the only remaining home left from the pre-park days.

Continue walking along the boardwalk and you’ll notice man-made rock fingers ever 200 metres reaching out into the lake, creating embayments that help to stabilize the shoreline and preserve the long, thin stretch of beach.

kew balmy beach toronto

Unlike other beaches, there are scores of convenient beach chairs lining the boardwalk. 

You’ll also find a lot of wooden beach chairs scattered on the sand and along the boardwalk. Chances are, you’ll find some of the elderly locals basking in their favourite spots. 

kew balmy beach toronto

There are tons of water sport rentals available, like kayaking, SUP, and canoeing. 

Aside from sunbathing, there are plenty of on-the-water activities available here, from kayaking to SUP. 

kew balmy beach toronto

The Balmy Beach Club is a longtime private athletics and social club, and Balmy Beach staple. 

The Balmy Beach Club, a private athletics club founded in 1905 within the tree-lined 7.3-hectare Balmy Beach Park, marks another landmark along the shore. 

kew balmy beach toronto

Balmy Beach is a popular spot for off-leash dogs to roam.

A raised patio overlooking the water offers what is probably one of the best views around. Despite two fires, the legacy of the club lives on, and the ground-level wall proudly boasts the number of Olympic-level athletes that have trained there. 

kew balmy beach toronto

The eastern point of Balmy Beach gives a great view of the CN Tower in the distance.

Eventually, you’ll make it past the Nursewood Dog Park (essentially just a slope leading down to the river) to the R. C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, the Art Deco building that has become a site of wonder every year during Doors Open Toronto for its architectural beauty.

kew balmy beach toronto

A raised lookout point next to the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant juts out into the Lake. 

Nicknamed the Palace of Purification, it sits where the old amusement park, Victoria Park, used to be. 

kew balmy beach toronto

Photos by

Tanya Mok

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