fun in toronto

10 fun things to do in a park this summer in Toronto

When many of us think of Toronto's parks, we think of laying back and unwinding, not really doing much of anything at all. That's what I think of, at least. But there's a long list of much more creative, unique experiences to be had in Toronto's lush outdoor green spaces, including outdoor cooking, camping, and venturing out to one of the city's many farmers' markets.

Here are 10 fun things to do in a Toronto park this summer.

Have a camp fire
If you long to get out of the city and roast some marshmallows or cook some spider dogs and sing campfire songs, you can do that right here in town. Several of the city's parks feature camp fire pits, from the west end to the east. Morningside Park, Carlton Park, and Dovercourt Park all have fire pits, amongst others. Check in with the city before you head over, though, because a permit (and permit fee) is required.

Use a grill
There's something about eating outdoors. The food just tastes better, even if bugs and sand manage to weasel their way into your sandwich. I don't know, it's like a primal effect. If you're not blessed with a small yard in Toronto, you can barbecue in one of the city's parks. Earl Bales, Centennial Park, and Sunnybrook Park all offer the service. Be warned, though: you need to bring your own charcoal and equipment.

Visit the Humber Bay butterfly sanctuary
I don't think I can imagine a lovelier, more calming afternoon than a visit to the Humber Bay butterfly habitat. Not only does the park feature gorgeous plants and butterflies, it also teaches you what you can do to attract urban wildlife to your own yard.

Watch a film in Bellwoods or Christie Pits
It's like a drive-in, but you don't have to worry about driving! So head out on a cute date, family outing, or with a group of friends to catch a flick in the park. Both Christie Pits and Trinity Bellwoods both have outdoor screenings in the summer. Christie Pits' listings can be found on Twitter, and the Bellwoods movie nights at the dog bowl are listed on Facebook.

Make a pizza at Dufferin Grove
As aforesaid, food just tastes so much better and more fortifying when consumed outdoors. Dufferin Grove Park has outdoor, wood-fired ovens, and for a suggested donation of about $2.50, you can get a lump of dough, some sauce and cheese, and make your own pizza, and park staff will bake it for you.

Go camping at Rouge Park
Many don't realize there's a full-on camping-in-the-wilderness (sort of) experience right in Scarborough. Rouge Park, which is on its way to becoming Canada's first "urban national park," is home to Glen Rouge campground. There are hiking trails throughout the park, as well as a beach, so you can really go for the full-blown nature person experience in the city. Reservations for a camp site can be made online.

Check out some cricket at Sunnybrook Park

I've always been of the persuasion that a cricket bat would make a most excellent weapon. If you feel the same, or if you tend to crush a lot on all things British, hit up the cricket scene at Sunnybook Park. Be warned, though, that the city asks that you not wear cleats, as it can tear up the grounds.

Fish at Grenadier Pond
High Park's Grenadier Pond, the largest of the park's bodies of water, is home to an assortment of fish, including largemouth bass and northern pike. The pond, said to be bottomless, is actually infamous for its fishing derbies, in case you want to go all out.

Get your glutton on at Rib Fest
Carnivores' dreams come true during summers in Toronto when Ribfest comes to town. Over 100,000 people turn out over Canada Day weekend to beat the heat with meat in Etobicoke. Scarborough hosts a Ribfest, too, in Thomson Memorial Park, as do various spots in the GTA.

Check out an outdoor art fair
Many of the city's parks feature outdoor art fairs supporting local artists. There's the Queen West art crawl, the Cabbagetown arts and crafts show, the Liberty Village art crawl, the Entertainment District Crawl, and the City Place crawl. No matter where you are in the city, there's a chance to support local artists while you bask in the sun.

Photo by Lu in the blogTO Flickr pool

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