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Friday, June 23, 2017

50 things to do this summer in Toronto

Events and activities in Toronto this summer will certainly keep you busy during the warmest months of year with festivals, concerts, outdoors movies and so much more. 

Here are 50 things to do in Toronto this summer.

Witness the future at a drone show

The first show was cancelled and people were upset, but there will be more drone shows happening by the water this summer. See them on July 1, August 5 and September 2 after 11  p.m. at Ontario Place. 

Feel like a kid inside a massive new gaming complex

Does Toronto have an unofficial fun zone? It seems like we might after the Rec Room, a giant gaming complex and sports bar, opens up by Steam Whistle, the CN Tower and Ripley's Aquarium this summer. 

Shop Toronto's new crop of local stores

Summer is the perfect time to shop at new stores like the locally-obsessed Hart & Hive on College, West Queen West's Kotn, the always on trend Ace/Five and the just opened Everything is Ease.

Discover the city's best kept secrets

We all know Toronto has hidden bars, but we also boast some stunning secret parks, streets, lookout points and tunnels. If you really want to get your Nancy Drew on, there are also some impressive secret spots just outside the city too. 

The free movies every Sunday in Christie Pits are part of of the many outdoor film screening series this summer. Photo courtesy of the TO Picture Show.

Catch a free movie

There are free outdoor movies in parks and in parking lots all over Toronto this summer. Bring a chair or a blanket to places like Yonge-Dundas Square or Christie Pits Park and settle in under the stars. 

Get sporty

Toronto's major sport teams are playing this summer, so head to a stadium to cheer on the Argos (don't miss the pre-game tailgate parties), the Wolfpack, the Jays, the TFC or check out the Honda Indy (July 14-16) or the Rogers Cup (Aug 5-13).

Discover your inner cyclist

To help you make the most of your bike or whatever you're renting, there are some great paths and trails to check out and a handful of bike shops to keep your wheels running smoothly. This essential bike map will lay things out clearly for you. 

Sign up for a summer run

There are lots of running events in Toronto this summer that will take you all over the city. Get in shape at Chinatown's new running hub or Nike's no longer secret running space on Richmond Street.

drake commissaryThe Drake Commissary is the newest addition to the Junction Triangle. Photo by Jesse Milns.

Explore the Junction Triangle

Take a day and explore this tiny, but thriving neighbourhood. Stroll along Sterling Road and visit Henderson Brewing and then soak up those suds with food from the Drake Commissary. Grab a pick-me-up at Station Cold Brew and then hit up some contemporary galleries

Be a pedestrian

Exercise your pedestrian power at events like Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market or at the major street closure event Open Streets happening on August 17 and September 20. 

Go swimming

Take a dip at one of Toronto's always popular outdoor pools or get a day pass for a dip at a local hotel. Got wheels? Head out of town and check out a naturally occurring swimming hole

Have a staycation

Just because you're stuck in the city this summer doesn't mean you have to do the same old things. There are lots of fun things to do in own backyard, even if it's super touristy. Book a staycation and see the city in a whole new light. 

Ontario Place

Trillium Park at Ontario Place is a great place to take in the lake and the skyline. Photo by Derek Flack.

Hang out at Ontario Place 

After In/Future blew our minds last summer, many were left wondering what would happen to Ontario Place. Thankfully, it's been taken over by a series of festivals and it features a brand new park, making it a hot spot for events all summer long. 

Get lit

It's a good thing this city is willing to help make magical campfires happen. There are parks with outdoor grills, fire pits and the new park at Ontario Place even has an open flame gathering spot

Explore Rouge Park

At Toronto's national urban park, you'll feel like you've escaped to another world. With wetlands, a beach, trails and camping, it's a nature lovers' dream. You can get there easily with the free Rouge Express that runs from downtown all summer long. 

sunset toronto

You don't have to go stargazing to appreciate the skies above Toronto. Photo by Isla Alshanetsky at the Leslie St Spit.

Chase the sky

There's a major solar eclipse happening this summer on August 21, but there's a lot more going on in the sky. There are some amazing star gazing spots just outside Toronto, as well as some key areas to watch the sunrise and sunset right in the city.


Celebrate Canada, big time

Canada Day is usually a big deal in Toronto, but this year, thanks to Canada 150, you can visit the ROM and the AGO for free or see a giant rubber duck at the Waterfront Festival to celebrate. 

Witness an explosive fireworks festival

Nathan Phillips Square is going all out this year and throwing a big Canada 150 Fest with four nights of fireworks. There will also be fireworks at the CN Tower, so don't forget to look up on July 1.

pedestrian sundays toronto

Pedestrian Sundays take place throughout the summer in Kensington Market. Photo by Jesse Milns.

Stroll along a street festival

Toronto loves to shut down streets in the summer and there's a big festival pretty much every weekend. Expect food, vendors and rivers of people to bump into at events like Big on Bloor (July 22-23), OssFest (July 22) or Taste of the Danforth (Aug 11-12).

Escape the heat at a summer film festival

TIFF is just around the corner, but there are other film festivals this summer, like ReelHeart (July 3-8), CaribbeanTale (July 6), the Open Roof Festival and the Korean Film Fest (July 12-16).

Feed your inner nerd

Fan Expo (Aug 31-Sept 3) is always a hugely anticipated event for film and TV lovers. This year's lineup includes Tim Curry, Lena Headey and Nathan Fillion. There's also a Sailor Moon celebration (June 24) and a Legends of Zelda concert (Sept 15) on this summer. 


Hear free music all over the city

There is a free live concert happening somewhere in Toronto pretty much every day this summer. You'll find a genre for any mood, all at the very low prices of $0.

Wayhome music festival

WayHome is gearing up for another big year just north of Toronto. Photo by Jesse Milns.

Set yourself free at a huge summer music festival

There are some fantastic music festivals across Ontario. Some of them, like WayHome (July 28-30), offer camping for the whole weekend. There are local festivals happening as well such as JazzFest (June 23-July 2) and SummerDaze (July 28-30).

Catch an epic summer concert

You don't need to travel very far to hear some of the biggest bands and artists on the planet. Some take over the ACC and the Rogers Centre and many will sing under the stars at the Budweiser Stage. Gaga? Bieber? Coldplay? Kendrick? They're all coming for you. 

veld music fest

Veld highlights a busy summer of electronic music fests. Photo by Jesse Milns.

Bounce around at an electronic music fest

Toronto's top dance music festivals will feature stunning light shows and an impressive roster of DJs. Bud Light Dreams (July 7), Veld (Aug 5-6) and Camp Wavelength (Aug 18-20) all require plenty of hydration and ear plugs. 


Take in some summer theatre

The Fringe Festival (July 5-16), Summerworks (Aug 3-13) and Shakespeare in High Park let you see local artists taking risks on stage. As per usual, Fringe hosts an outdoor party, this time in a new location (RIP Honest Ed's alleyway).

toronto outdoor art exhibition

The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition highlights a busy summer of art fairs. Photo by Mary Crandall.

Browse some art outdoors

Toronto's art galleries are great, but there's something special about seeing artwork under a sunny sky. There are some major outdoor art fairs this summer, as well as Artspin, all out in the open air.  

Stretch it out at a dance festival

Toronto's dance scene is pretty amazing and our summer festivals help beef up that reputation with events like Unity Fest (July 14), Dusk Dances (Aug 7-13), the brand new Your Dance Fest (Aug 25-27) and the Dancing on the Pier lessons series. 

Stomp the runway at a fashion event

Maybe you won't be walking the runway, but you can get a good seat on the sidelines at the Toronto Fashion Academy show (July 7), the Toronto Plus Size Fashion show (July 29) and the fifth anniversary of Toronto's African Fashion Week (Aug 6-20).

Food and Drink

Fill up at a new summer food market

Step away from your desk and take a quick lunchtime adventure at a food market during the day. New markets like Adelaide Eats and the Yorkville Village market will give you an alternative to leftovers. 

cne food

The CNE always offers a chance for artery-clogging indulgence. Photo by Jesse Milns.

Eat everything at the CNE

It's a tradition Toronto never grows tired of. The CNE is back this year from August 18 to September 4 with rides, concerts and lots of strange snacks. Don't forget it's cheaper to get in after 5 p.m. on weekdays. 

Cheers at a brand new bar

There's no shortage of classic bars and watering holes to visit this summer. Try some new cocktails at the mysterious L'Absinthe Bar, or play games while you drink at the new pub near the Scarborough Bluffs.

Light things up at a summer night market

There's something magical about shopping and eating under the stars at a night market. Try something new at Night it Up! (July 14-16), the Junction Night Market (July 22) or the Waterfront Night Market (Aug 11-13) at the Hearn. 

Discover Toronto's craft beer scene

Toronto's beer scene is overflowing with new brewpubs and tap rooms like Eastbound Brewing Company, Rorschach and Lake Wilcox. Bandit Brewery is a go-to for its sweet patio and Left Field always seems to have a project on the go.

Quench your thirst at a beer festival

It feels like there's a beer festival happening every weekend this summer, so get out there and try the best suds from Toronto and around the province.

waterfront night market

The Waterfront Night Market heads to the Hearn Generating Station this summer. Photo of a past event by Hector Vasquez.

Fill up at a summer food festival

It seems there are more food festivals than ever for summer 2017. Not only is Jamie Oliver's Big Feastival coming, but we've also got T.O. Food Fest (July 9), Food Truck Fest (Aug 4-7), JerkFest (Aug 11-13) and many, many more.

Shop local at a farmers' market

The city is bursting with farmers' markets and there are some new ones worth checking out at Lisgar ParkRegent Park and at Greenwood Park. It's the best way to truly shop local and meet your neighbours. 

Dine at a new restaurant

Try something new this summer at one of the hottest restaurants in Toronto. Or simply download our app and search for the best places nearby to play a game of restaurant roulette.

Take your own Indigenous food tour

The city now has a handful of unique and popular Indigenous restaurants this year, so why not make your own food tour of places like  NishDishPow Wow Cafe, Borealia and Ku-Kum

picnic toronto

Trinity Bellwoods is always a popular spot for a summer picnic. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Go for a picnic

There are some key spots for the perfect picnic in Toronto, but not 0nly that, there are some big picnic events like the Rosé Picnic and the Summer of Love event in Trinity Bellwoods Park. The always sold-out Diner en Blanc will also likely be back.

Eat all the ice cream

Towering piles of ice cream, gelato and ice cream sandwiches are still all the rage in Toronto this summer. Discover new spots for charcoal ice cream or visit Wong's and Brett's on the city's east side. 

Grab a cheap drink outdoors

You can find cheap drink on patios on what feels like every day of the week in Toronto. Since you can't legally drink in public parks, this is the next best thing.

Reserve a table at a prix fixe fest

All those pricey restaurants you've wanted to try create special menus for Summerlicious. The two-week prix fixe extravaganza runs from July 7 to 23. Italian Restaurant Week returns on July 20, but you can start making reservations on July 8. 

Chase down a food truck

There are dozens of new and exciting food trucks worth chasing down this summer. Find Mr. Pierogi, Pronto, Alijandro's Kitchen, Little Havana, Curb Crave and Get Skewered serving curbside.

Outside the city

Dive into a massive new water park

American chain Wet 'n Wild bought Brampton's Wild Water Kingdom. If you're not into this 45-acre, tropical-themed park, check out some of the tubing rivers near Toronto.

Sneak into a secret swimming hole

There are five quarries and swimming holes near Toronto that will cool you down, but there is one abandoned quarry an hour outside Toronto that tops them all. 

Hang off a suspension bridge

There is a truly epic suspension bridge just two hours outside of Toronto. The Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge hangs 300 feet over a rushing section of the Trent River in Ferris Provincial Park

tiffany falls

It'd be a shame not to visit the hundreds of waterfalls near Toronto. Photo of Tiffany Falls by Nicoli OZ Mathews.

Cool off under a waterfall

There are so many waterfalls to visit just an hour outside of the city, but tucked away in Ancaster is the hidden gem known as Tiffany Falls. If you had to paint the perfect waterfall, it would probably look just like this.

Get out of the city, on the cheap

If you can't afford a big ticket trip out of the country this summer, don't fret! There are some cheap escapes in our backyard. Hit up a beach, do Muskoka on the cheap (it's possible) or see what all the Hamilton buzz is about. 

Rent a cottage just outside the city

Need a quickie escape that won't break the bank? Or a romantic weekend away that won't cost you a month's rent? Check out these cheap cottage rentals near Toronto. If you'd rather be deep in the bush, these cozy cabins might do it for you too. 

by Phil Villeneuve via blogTO

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