“Toronto has beaches?” – this is the reaction I garner when I talk about Toronto beaches. Usually, people assume Toronto to be a landlocked city, and even if they know that it’s located on the shores of Lake Ontario, they don’t expect the lake to have sandy beaches. The fact is that nature and human effort together have created 14 stunning beaches in Toronto.
Woodbine beach, Sugar beach, and Bluffer’s beach are some of the well-known local favorites. However, Toronto has plenty of quieter options for beach lovers who like to get away from crowds. In this article, I’ll detail all the different beaches in Toronto, how to visit them, and what to expect.
Beaches In Toronto
Here’s a quick glance at 14 beaches in Toronto. Click on the link for more information about each beach
1. Best Beaches in Toronto – Woodbine Beach
Woodbine beach is one of the best beaches in Toronto. What I love about this beach, is that it has a great fun-filled vibe. On a typical summer weekend, Woodbine beach is full of sunbathers spread eagle on their beach blankets, families with tents and umbrellas fully-equipped to spend the entire day on the sand, music blaring on the beach volleyball courts and boardwalks filled with the young and the old, strolling or running. The temperature of the lake is pleasant during summer inviting people to swim and enjoy water sports. If you want to get on the water, there’s also a kayak and paddleboard rental place further up the boardwalk on the Kew-Balmy beach. Since this is a popular beach, you can expect it to be more crowded than other beaches in peak season, yet there’s plenty of space for everyone.
The Martin Goodman trail runs in parallel to the boardwalk and is a great trail to bike, skate, ride a scooter, and go for a run. The Martin-Goodman trail runs all the way from Ashbridges Bay to Silver Birch beach, which I talk about later in the article.
Woodbine beach is serviced by food trucks and there’s a food shack serving hotdogs, fries, onion rings, and other savory snacks near the volleyball courts at the boardwalk. Tim Hortons, Booster Juice, and the Beach Club are a stone’s throw away. Also, the Beaches neighborhood is close and has plenty of restaurants and shopping.
How to get to Woodbine Beach?
Woodbine beach is easily accessible by car or public transit. Here are the instructions for each mode of transport.
Woodbine Beach By Car
To get to Woodbine beach from downtown, drive on Lake Shore Blvd East till you arrive at Woodbine beach, near Woodbine avenue.
Parking at Woodbine Beach
There are three parking lots: Carpark 193 right next to Lake Shore Blvd. East, Carpark 194 near Ashbridges Bay Boat Launch and one at Beaches Cinema on Eastern Ave near Coxwell Avenue. Click on the highlighted links for rate information. There is also plenty of street parking in the nearby neighborhoods.
Woodbine Beach By Subway
Take Line 2 towards Kennedy. Get down at Woodbine station and board the 92 bus from the subway station towards Woodbine loop at Lake Shore Boulevard East. Get off at the last stop and head to the beach.
Woodbine Beach by Streetcar
Take the 501 to Neville Park. Alight on Woodbine avenue and walk down Woodbine avenue to the beach.
2. Best Beaches in Toronto – Kew Balmy Beach
Truth be told, it’s not clear where Woodbine beach ends and Kew-Balmy beach begins. It’s a continuous stretch of sand starting at Ashbridges Bay all the way up to Silver Birch Beach. The main difference you can perhaps spot is the change in vibe. The Woodbine beach is more noisy and crowded but it gently tapers off as you move towards the Kew Gardens and further. The Kew beach also has a more residential feel to it and further up as you go towards, the balmy beach, you’ll find it quieter and more pleasant.
Kew Balmy beach has a bonus for dog lovers. There’s a fenced dog park at the beach. So, you can let your dog enjoy some leash-free time while you relax on the beach. The park opens up to the lake, so your dog can play catch in the water as well.
Food and ice-cream trucks that visit the Woodbine beach can’t be found at the Kew-Balmy Beach. However, there’s Beaches N’ Cream, an ice cream shop, that can satisfy your cravings. This cute shop has a variety to ice cream flavors that you can get on a cup or cone. If ice cream is not your thing, they also have french fries, onion rings, hotdogs, and other savory snacks.
There’s a kayak and paddleboard rental shack near the boardwalk beside the tennis courts. So, if you want to get on the lake, here’s the perfect setup.
How to get to Kew-Balmy Beach?
If you have already read the section on how to get to Woodbine beach, the same instructions apply to Kew-Balmy beach as this beach is a stone’s throw away from Woodbine Beach. One modification I would like to make to the streetcar instructions though. Instead of alighting at Woodbine Avenue, you can get down at Bellefair Ave, next to Kew Gardens, and make your way through the Kew Gardens to the beach.
3. Best Beaches in Toronto – Silver Birch Beach
Silver Birch Beach is located at the tail end of the boardwalk that runs from Ashbridges Bay through Woodbine beach and Kew-Balmy beach. This beach is entirely dog-friendly. So, bring along your canine buddy and play with them leash-free. This beach has steps leading up to the historic RC Harris Water Treatment plant which is an iconic building in Toronto. The beach also backs onto a couple of residential properties that have the good fortune to have this beach as their backyard.
How to get to Silver Birch Beach?
The best way to get to Silver Birch Beach is through the streetcar. Board the 501 streetcar to Neville Park and get down at the last stop. From there, walk to the beach. Just follow the road towards south from the RC Harris Water Treatment Plant.
The other way is to make your way to either Woodbine Beach or Kew-Balmy Beach and walk the boardwalk till you arrive at the beach. It’s a moderately long walk of 2.5km from Woodbine beach and may take up to half an hour to get there.
If you like to bike, get on the Martin-Goodman trail to get to the beach. The Martin-Goodman trail in the Beaches terminates at Silver Birch Beach. If you drive here, you may find some street parking in the residential neighborhood near the beach.
4. Best Beaches in Toronto – Bluffer’s Beach
Bluffer’s Beach is located near the scenic Scarborough Bluffs in the shadow of the Cathedral Bluffs. This sandy beach is another popular beach in greater Toronto or strictly speaking, in Scarborough.
Since it’s adjacent to Scarborough Bluffs Park, this is an excellent location where you have sun, sand, and beautiful views all in one place. Surprisingly, few tourists know about this beach. The beach is still crowded as locals of Toronto and Scarborough flock to the beach in summer.
Bluffer’s Beach is quite removed from the facilities that come with a beach that’s close to the city. If you intend to spend the whole day there, it’s advisable to come prepared with a picnic as food joints in this place are few. There are a couple of restaurants and food shacks like Dog Fish Pub and Eatery and Curbside dogs near the marina. However, people often like to barbeque at the park.
How to get to Bluffer’s Beach?
Bluffer’s beach can be accessed by public transport and car. You can find the way to get to Bluffer’s beach in this article on Scarborough Bluffs. If you are choosing to go by car, take care to get there early as the parking spots are limited and there’s no street parking close by.
5. Best Beaches in Toronto – Sugar Beach
Sugar Beach is an award-winning artificial beach created right in the hub of Toronto. Unlike the other beaches in Toronto that are surrounded by nature and walking trails, Sugar Beach is a triangular strip of sand adjacent to buildings and office spaces. Sugar Beach is not afraid to embrace the urban settings of Downtown Toronto, but it does provide a reprieve from the heat with pink whimsical umbrellas and a water feature where kids can cool off.
How to get to Sugar Beach
Sugar Beach By Car
Sugar Beach is located on Queens Quay East at Lower Jarvis Street. You can get to Queens Quay E either by Bay St, Yonge St, or any other street that connects to Queens Quay East. You can park at 51 Dockside Dr. that’s right next to Sugar Beach. Click on the link for more details.
Sugar Beach By Bus
Sugar Beach is serviced by three bus routes : 19 – towards Queens Quay and Sherbourne, 72 – towards Pape Station via Queens Quay and Commisioners, 172 – towards Cherry Beach via Distillery.
6. Best Beaches in Toronto – Cherry Beach
Cherry Beach is a nice beach to visit if you want to stay close to downtown and it’s great for a swim as the water here is warmer compared to the other beaches in Toronto. This is due to the fact that the lake is shallow here and it’s protected from the surges of the lake by the man-made Leslie Street Spit.
Cherry Beach has no designated picnic areas or boardwalk near the beach, but it is still an enjoyable place to spend a sunny afternoon with family or friends. If you get hungry, there are fast-food trucks parked right at the entrance of the beach.
The beach has access to the Martin-Goodman biking trail that leads into Tommy Thompson Park. This is a nice biking trail that takes you through some great scenery and provides some exercise as well!
How to get to Cherry Beach
Cherry Beach By Car
Cherry Beach is on Cherry Street, close to Distillery District. The beach is easily accessible by car, as there are lots of parking spots right next to the entrance.
Cherry Beach By Bus
Cherry Beach is serviced by the bus 172 towards Cherry Beach Loop. The bus stops right in front of the beach, so it’s extremely convenient.
7. Best Beaches in Toronto – Sunnyside Beach
There are several beaches to the east of Humber River at the mouth of the river where the river meets the lake. These beaches are collectively called Sunnyside beach. The beach to the south of the Sunnyside Beach Pavillion, which is cafe with a tea garden and patio on the boardwalk, is considered the main beach. The Sunnyside boardwalk stretches along all the beaches so it’s convenient to walk from one beach to the next or bike along the Martin-Goodman Trail.
There are a myriad of activities you can do on these beaches. Play a round of volleyball on the beach volleyball courts. Rent out paddleboards on the beach closest to the Exhibition place to explore Lake Ontario or try out SUP Yoga. Enjoy a day out with your family at the Sir Casimir Gzowski Calisthenics Park or Budapest Park, which have several picnic areas, children’s play area and wading pool. Savour a slice of pepporini pizza from Pizza Pizza or enjoy an ice cream cone at Al Pa Cones.
How to get to Sunnyside Beach
Sunnyside Beach By Car
To get to Sunnyside Beach, get on LakeShore Blvd West as shown in the map. There are several parking lots, one at Humber Bridge Parking, one at Sir Casimir Gzowski Calisthenics Park, another at Budapest Lot and at Palais Royale. You can choose the one closest to the beach you want to go to.
Sunnyside Beach By Public Transit
Take Line 2 subway from Bloor-Yonge station to Kipling station and get down at Dundas West station. From Dundas West station, board the 504 C King replacement bus to Bathhurst via Parkside. Get down at Parkside Dr at The Queensway and walk 450m south towards Sunnyside Beach.
8. Best Beaches in Toronto – Rouge Beach
Rouge Beach is part of the Rouge National Urban Park, located near the border of Scarborough and Pickering. The Rouge National Urban Park is quite big, extending from Markham to Scarborough. The beach itself is located at the mouth of the Rouge River where it meets Lake Ontario.
Rouge Beach offers a lot of options for people to enjoy nature. There’s a marshland close to the beach where you can fish, a number of hiking and biking trails, you can even camp on Rouge Beach. Also, the Rouge National Urban Park is a great place to spot wildlife. Even black bears and coyotes have been spotted in this region, so you need to be careful in case you encounter them. Rouge River is also a great spot to watch salmon run up the river in fall.
How to get to Rouge Beach?
Either take the Ontario 401 Express or get on to Lawrence Ave East to get to Rouge Beach as shown in the map above. There’s parking right next to the beach but these have limited slots and fill up quickly in peak season. Another option is the parking spot at the entrance near the intersection of Rouge Hills Dr and Lawrence Ave E. Street parking is also available but it’s limited to 3 hours.
By Public Transit
Get the LE – Union Station to Oshawa GO train from downtown Toronto. Get down at Rouge Hill Go Station. From there, you can either walk the 2.1 km to the beach on the waterfront trail or get the 54A bus which stops at the beach.
9. Best Beaches in Toronto – Manitou Beach or Centre Island Beach
Centre Island Beach is one of the 4 beaches of Toronto Islands. Since it lies in the middle of Centre Island, this is the beach that most people who visit the island end up seeing.
Centre Island beach is a hub of activity. The pier next to the beach leads you on a scenic walk that extends into the water. There’s a bike rental close to the beach where you can rent quadricycles, tandem bikes and other bikes at an hourly rate. Change rooms and bathrooms are conveniently located right next to the beach. There are also places to eat and drink to satisfy your food cravings. The beach has a large sandy area where you can relax and enjoy even if it gets a bit crowded on the summer weekends.
How to get to Centre Island Beach?
Take the ferry from Jack Layton Ferry terminal to Centre Island. Then use the Toronto Islands map as listed in this article to walk up to the beach. You can also take a water taxi from Queen Quay terminal instead of the ferry to get to Toronto Islands.
10. Best Beaches in Toronto – Ward’s Island Beach
Ward’s Island Beach is located on the eastern part of Toronto Islands. Compared to the other beaches on the islands, this beach is smaller but quieter. So, if you want to get away from crowds, this is a good option.
There a number of things you can do near Ward’s Island beach besides sunbathing. The scenic boardwalk leading up to the beach makes for a nice walk. The restaurants near the beach are licensed so you can go in for a nice cocktail with your lunch. If you are keen to get on the lake, there’s a SUP and kayak rental close by.
How to get to Ward’s Island Beach?
There are two ways to get to Ward’s Island Beach from downtown Toronto. You can catch a ferry or water Taxi directly to Ward’s Island. The other way is to get the ferry or water taxi to Centre Island, then walk or bike to Ward’s Island beach. Be prepared, the walk can be a bit long. So, if your main destination is the beach, then you are better off getting the ferry directly to Ward’s Island.
11. Best Beaches in Toronto – Gibraltor Point Beach
Gibraltar Point Beach is another beach on Toronto Islands. This is an excellent option for a quiet beach if don’t want to walk as far as Ward’s Island beach. The beach is close to the Centre of the island opposite the “haunted” Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, which is a must-see if you visit the Toronto Islands.
Since this beach is kind of secluded, it doesn’t have the facilities such as restaurants and other attractions as the other beaches. Still, it has gorgeous views and can be perfect to spend a quiet sunday afternoon away from the city noise. Close to the beach, you also have the Gibraltor Point art residences. If you are an artist and would like to spend some time on the island to draw inspiration, you may find these art residences interesting.
How to get to Gibraltor Point Beach
There is no direct ferry to Gibraltor Point Beach. So, you’ll have to take the ferry from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to Centre Island, then follow directions to the Gibraltor point lighthouse. The beach is located opposite to the lighthouse.
12. Best Beaches in Toronto – Hanlan’s Point Beach
Hanlan’s Point Beach is one of the few beaches in Canada that are clothing-optional. This can deter a few people from ever going to the beach. But hear me out, this beach is actually wonderful and has some amazing views of Toronto Skyline. Also, the clothing-optional part of the beach is limited to certain parts only. So, if the clothing-optional part is not for you, you can stay on the clothing-mandatory part of the beach.
There are some facilities and things to do near Hanlan’s Point Beach. There are not many restaurants in this part of the island, however there’s a licensed snack bar near the beach. Next to the snack bar, there’s also a tennis court if you want to enjoy some active sports with your friends. However, please be aware that you need to leave the court every hour on the hour no matter when you entered the tennis court. From Hanlan’s Point, you can watch planes takes off and land at Billy Bishop airport. You can also read about Ned Hanlan and his sporting endeavors at the historical plaques and the statue dedicated to him.
How to get to Hanlan’s Point Beach?
There’s a ferry from Jack Layton Ferry terminal that takes you directly to the western part of the island at Hanlan’s point. From there, it’s a short walk to the beach. If you took the ferry to the Centre Island Ferry point, you can still walk or bike to Hanlan’s Point Beach. However, be aware that you would need to walk about 3km from the Centre Island Ferry Point to get to the beach which can take from 40 minutes to an hour depending on your pace.
Best Beaches in Toronto – Marie Curtis Park East Beach
Marie Curtis Park East Beach is a small stretch of sandy beach in Marie Curtis Park that lies on the border of Toronto and Mississauga. Though this beach is not big, it can be a reprieve during hot summer days especially if you live on the western borders of Toronto and don’t want to travel far for a beach.
The area surrounding Marie Curtis Park is mainly residential. So, if you need some snacks or drinks, you’ll have to walk up to Lakeshore Rd E, which is just ten minutes away.The Etobicoke Creek flows through the park which is a nice water feature in addition to the lake. There are also some walking and biking waterfront trails that take you into Missasauga and the Marie Curtis Park West Beach.
How to get to Marie Curtis Park East Beach?
I don’t imagine that anyone from downtown Toronto would travel so far to the west for this small beach since there are better options that are closer. However, in keeping with the list so far, I’ll map out the route from downtown Toronto to Marie Curtis Park East Beach. As you can see in the map above, you can take the Gardiner Expy W and exit at exit 139 for the beach. There’s parking available in Marie Curtis Park which can get full during weekends at peak times.
By Public Transit
Take the LW Union Station – Aldershot GO train from Union Station and get down at Long Branch GO station. From the GO station, it’s a 10 minute walk to the beach.
Best Beaches in Downtown Toronto – HTO Beach
HTO beach is an urban beach that’s similar in concept and look to the Sugar Beach. Like the Sugar Beach, its an artificial beach located in the downtown core. Iconic Toronto buildings like the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre loom in the backdrop of the beach while the shallow patch of sand overlooks Lake Ontario. Patrons can find shade under the yellow parasols while they lounge on the chairs beneath them.
As the beach is smack dab in the middle of the downtown core, there’s no shortage of restaurants, hot dog vendors and food trucks nearby. Food festivals that celebrate ethnic food and culture that are also held near HTO Park during summer.
HTO Beach is near Toronto Music Garden and Harbourfront Centre. Both of these venues host musical performances during weekends that are free to watch. You can’t swim near this beach. However, if you want to get on the lake, you can rent a canoe at Harborfront Canoe. Also, there’s Tiki Taxi nearby if you want to take a ride to Toronto Islands. Jack Layton Ferry Terminal is a bit further away but still within walkable distance.
How to get to HTO Beach?
HTO beach is located on Queens Quay W in front of the CN tower and Rogers centre as shown in the map. It’s easy to just walk or bike to HTO beach from downtown. However, if you must use a car, there’s a parking spot near the beach at Rees Street Parking as shown in the map.
By Public Transit
The 509 Harborfront to Exhibition streetcar line has stops all along Queens Quay West. You can board the streetcar at Union Station and get down at Queens Quay West at Rees St. The beach is just across the street from the stop. The 510 A Spadina to Union Station also has a stop at Queens Quay West at Rees St.
As you can see there are loads of options if you want to spend a beach day in Toronto, whether you are in the east, west or downtown.
Which is your favorite beach and why? Let me know in the comments and follow me on Instagram or @travelingpari on TikTok for more travel content on Canada and other interesting places around the world!