Fit N Fun Walk: Toronto Islands

Growing up in Toronto, one place that holds many fond memories for me is Toronto Islands – also called the Island, or Toronto Island Park. It’s located in Lake Ontario, a 12-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto. As an adult, I try to visit the Island as often as I can to savour this beautiful jewel. Here’s my ten favourite activities on the Island:

1. Ride the ferry

There are three main ferry docks on the Island: Ward’s Island, Centre Island, and Hanlan’s Point. Ferry boats go more often to Centre Island than Ward’s Island or Hanlan’s Point because it’s the most popular.

In the summer, the ferries are usually full but service is frequent. The upper deck has open sides for passengers who like a good view and the breeze. The lower deck is more enclosed with glass windows for passengers who bring their bikes or like to be sheltered. Once the ferry departs, the views of the city and Toronto Harbour are wonderful.

Ferry to Centre Island
Ferry approaching Centre Island

2. Walk on the Grass

How often do you see an official invitation to walk on the grass? I love this “Please Walk on the Grass” sign. The green colour has a soothing effect as soon as you arrive on Centre Island.

Walk on the grass sign
Please Walk on the Grass sign

3. Visit the gardens

The gardens and fountains on Centre Island add visual interests as well as provide welcoming places to relax your mind and body when you need a break from walking.

Main fountain on Centre Island
Main fountain on Centre Island

4. Walk the pier

I like to walk to the end of Centre Island pier to see the expansive view of Lake Ontario. It makes me want to inhale deeply and exhale slowly. On a calm and sunny day, it’s a peaceful scenery of the lake dotted with sailboats.

Lake view from Centre Island pier
View of Lake Ontario from Centre Island pier

At the pier, the directional sign says it’s 65 km to Niagara Falls, 1269 km to Halifax, 3361 km to Vancouver, and 4521 km to the North Pole. Having been to the first three destinations, I can say that they’re all well worth visiting. Poor Santa has a long way to come and visit us every year.

Directional sign at the pier on Centre Island
Directional sign at Centre Island pier

5. Have a picnic or Lunch al fresco

I love to have a picnic at one of the tables by the water. If you like to eat out, go for lunch al fresco at Carousel Cafe, or at one of the island restaurants.

Carousel restaurant
Carousel Cafe

6. Paddle on the water

The Island is actually a group of 15 islands inter-connected by pathways and bridges. You can rent a canoe or kayak to paddle in the calm harbour where swans, ducks, and birds also share the waterways.

Canoe on Centre Island
Centre Island waterway

7. Go to the beach

Centre Island beach typically achieves annual blue flag certification for its water quality. It’s supervised from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from June to September. On a hot summer day, the beach is perfect for taking a swim.

Centre Island Beach
Centre Island Beach

8. Ride a bike

I’ve biked from one end of the Island to the other and all over the Island. Bring your own bike on the ferry or rent a bike on Centre Island to explore interesting landmarks such as Gibraltar Point Lighthouse which was built in 1808 and was said to be haunted.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

9. Run or Walk 5K

The Island is approximately 5 kms long from Ward’s Island to Hanlan’s Point, a perfect distance for a 5K walk or run. I’ve finished several 5K running races here.

Map of Toronto Island Park
Map of Toronto Island Park

10. View Toronto’s evolving skyline

Before leaving Centre Island, while waiting for the return ferry, I always enjoy the view of Toronto across the harbour and take a few photos of the evolving Toronto’s skyline. Home sweet home!

Toronto skyline summer 2019
Toronto skyline in August 2019

I love that the ferries operate year-round. Return tickets for adults cost CAD$8.20, with discounts for students and seniors. It’s the best deal for an island experience so close to the city. I hope you enjoy Toronto Islands through my lens.

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51 thoughts on “Fit N Fun Walk: Toronto Islands

  1. Erica/Erika September 15, 2019 / 9:17 am

    Hi Natalie, I have not heard about Toronto Islands. The views of the city are unique and beautiful from the ferry. Also a first for me, “please walk on the grass.” This area looks like a great deal of fun, especially with the interconnected pathways and waterways. Thanks for sharing an interesting post, Natalie:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 15, 2019 / 9:38 am

      Hi Erica: I’m happy to share a beautiful part of Toronto that you haven’t heard of. It’s close to the city centre and yet very peaceful. There are fun activities for all ages on the Island. Thank you for reading my post and commenting. Soon I’ll be on Vancouver Island 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Retirement Reflections September 15, 2019 / 12:38 pm

    Hi, Natalie – I love Toronto Islands and have many fond memories from there. Your posts always remind me that I need to revisit Toronto soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 15, 2019 / 12:46 pm

      Hi Donna – I hope my gentle nudging adds Toronto to your future travel plans 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 15, 2019 / 6:13 pm

      Thanks, Lydia, for your comment. I love going to the Island. It’s a very nice get-away without too much effort.


  3. Suzanne September 15, 2019 / 5:44 pm

    One day 🙂 Canada is a beautiful country and a few Kiwis I know have lived there returning with glowing reports.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 15, 2019 / 6:16 pm

      Thank you, Suzanne, for your comment. I hope to visit New Zealand one day and see the beautiful scenery there.


  4. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid September 15, 2019 / 5:55 pm

    This post brought back so many happy memories of our visit to the islands – it was definitely one of our Toronto highlights!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 15, 2019 / 6:19 pm

      Thank you, Sammie, for your comment. I’m so pleased to hear you have happy memories of Toronto Islands. I think every visitor to Toronto should take the ferry to the Island to experience its beauty.


  5. Deborah September 15, 2019 / 8:12 pm

    I love the contrast between the high rises and the park (how lovely is that grass!?!). It looks like a gorgeous spot and I like destinations that can offer a certain distance for a walk etc.. We have a track along our esplanade here that tells you how far you’ve come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 15, 2019 / 8:24 pm

      Thank you, Deborah, for your comment. Toronto is fortunate to have the islands so close to the city centre. I like the distance signage, too.


  6. Jo September 15, 2019 / 9:20 pm

    Oh, you make me want to visit. How lovely is the sign on the grass? One day I’ll get to Canada…one day…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 16, 2019 / 8:03 am

      I’ve always wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand. One day…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Joanne Sisco September 16, 2019 / 6:49 am

    Every time I get to the Islands I wonder why I don’t go more often. This year was one of my better years because I managed to get out there 3 times. Each time it feels like the city is a million miles away – although it’s easily seen across the harbour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 16, 2019 / 8:05 am

      I have exactly the same why, Joanne. I’ve managed to go to the Islands twice this summer. I hope to make the 3rd trip in October.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 16, 2019 / 12:09 pm

      Thank you, Alice, for your visit and comment. My relatives who just visited Toronto for the first time loved the city and the Islands. I’ll visit your blog shortly.


      • Alice DeForest September 16, 2019 / 7:34 pm

        thank you, I know a little about Toronto since I grew up in Buffalo spent many weekends there


        • Natalie September 16, 2019 / 7:56 pm

          Oh yes, Buffalo and Toronto are close enough for day trips or weekend visits.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. restlessjo September 16, 2019 / 3:53 pm

    What a lovely watery world! Thanks for the ride, Natalie 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 16, 2019 / 4:37 pm

      Thank you, Jo, for your comment. The Islands are in Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes so we have lots of water.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. 3sistersabroad September 16, 2019 / 5:50 pm

    Toronto Islands..I never knew about them. Thank you for showing me another part of a beautiful place. #SeniSal

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 16, 2019 / 6:17 pm

      My pleasure, Bree. Thank you for reading my post and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. csuhpat1 September 17, 2019 / 9:30 pm

    What a beautiful trip. Very nice, thanks for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 18, 2019 / 8:28 am

      Thank you, Patrick, for your kind comment. Have a great day!


  11. leannelc September 17, 2019 / 9:40 pm

    Natalie I didn’t know that Toronto islands was even a place! It looks amazing and I really want to visit there. Loved that you were encouraged to walk on the grass and that it was all such a pretty place to be – very calming for the soul!

    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 18, 2019 / 8:33 am

      Thank you, Leanne, for hosting and sharing. I’m pleased to share Toronto island with you. It’s a beautiful and calm oasis, easily reached from the city centre but once you’re on the island, it feels like the city is very far away.


    • Natalie September 18, 2019 / 8:33 am

      Thank you, Donna. See you soon!


  12. betty - NZ September 18, 2019 / 2:19 am

    Lovely photos–especially, the lighthouse–and great information to get around.

    I appreciate your link on ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!


    • Natalie September 18, 2019 / 8:44 am

      Thank you, Betty, for hosting and for your kind comment. The Gibraltar Point lighthouse has an interesting history. I’m pleased you like my photos.


  13. Denyse Whelan September 18, 2019 / 4:55 am

    How lovely to see this special place you have shared. Gosh, Australia envies you right now as we are brown, dusty and dry. Green is not seen much at all as we are in the worst drought in living memory. I too loved the encouragement to stay on the grass!!

    Thanks for a linking up for Life This Week. Next week’s optional prompt is 38/51 Your Go-To Easy Meal. 23/9/19 and I hope to see you there. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 18, 2019 / 8:37 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for hosting. We had more rain than normal in the spring and things just stayed green throughout the summer. I hope you get some rain soon to end the drought. Have a beautiful week!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Jennifer September 18, 2019 / 7:58 am

    What a lovely place to visit. I didn’t know this was there and I enjoyed the map view of the island. I like how it creates calm waters for paddling (and ducks!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 18, 2019 / 8:39 am

      Thank you, Jennifer, for your comment. I’m pleased to share a Toronto gem with you. The Toronto Inner Harbour is great fro paddling and yes, we share the waterways with swans, ducks, and other birds 🙂


  15. PamelaPerraultPhotography September 18, 2019 / 10:44 am

    Hi Natalie: Thank you for sharing your ten island favs but most especially for all the wonderful pictures. It is probably 25 years (or more) since I’ve taken that lovely ferry ride and you triggered some very happy memories for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 18, 2019 / 11:17 am

      Thank you, Pamela, for your comment. I’m pleased that my photos brought happy memories for you. I hope you visit Toronto Islands again in the future.


  16. Min Write of the Middle September 18, 2019 / 7:59 pm

    Wow – what a beautiful place! I hadn’t even heard of it before. Gorgeous photos Natalie. If ever I get to Toronto, I’m going to be well informed on where to go and what to see! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 18, 2019 / 8:13 pm

      Thank you, Min, for your kind comment. If you ever visit Toronto, I’d love to take you to the Island 🙂


  17. lwwren September 18, 2019 / 10:46 pm

    I’ve always been very keen to go to Canada and the ‘please walk on the grass’ sign just sums up everything I want to see and experience. I can’t wait to get to Toronto one day!
    Wren x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie September 19, 2019 / 7:00 am

      Thank you, Wren, for your comment. When you decide to visit Toronto, feel free to let me know how I can help with sightseeing plan.


    • Natalie September 19, 2019 / 7:01 am

      Thank you, Carol, for your comment. The Toronto Island Park is a gem.


  18. Dr Sock October 7, 2019 / 2:54 pm

    I remember seeing Toronto Islands when visiting “The Beaches” area of Toronto. I really wanted to take the ferry over there but didn’t have time.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie October 7, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      It’s totally different on the island once you cross the harbour. The ferry ride is very nice, too. Thanks, Jude, for stopping by.


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