The Toronto Islands have reopened to the public after spring floods forced the closure of the hugely popular destination for nearly three months. The islands, just a quick ferry ride from the downtown waterfront and home of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (1 on map), feature sandy beaches, an amusement park, peaceful green spaces and much more. This map highlights some of the islands’ finest features and gives you the inside track on the best ways to — finally — make the most of your visit.
2. Toronto ferry docks
The docks at Bay Street and Queens Quay are the gateway to the islands. The 15-minute journey to Centre Island, Ward’s Island or Hanlan’s Point offers spectacular views of the islands and Lake Ontario. Toronto’s skyline, meanwhile, is best seen on a return ride around sunset, when the city’s lights twinkle in the twilight.
3. Toronto Island Bicycle Rental
There’s no better way to explore the car-free islands than by riding along their gentle trails and wooden boardwalks, a journey that comes complete with beach and city skyline views. Rentals are available until the end of September, or you can bring your own bike on either the Ward’s Island or Hanlan’s Point ferries.
4. Centre Island Beach
Often called Manitou Beach (after the term for “spirit” used by the Algonquin people who first lived on the islands), the sandy stretch is a great spot to soak up the early fall sunshine and take a quick dip. A breakwater helps keep water relatively shallow, warm and calm.
5. Hanlan’s Point Beach
In the late 1870s, John Hanlan built a hotel at the north- western tip of Centre Island, the area now known as Hanlan’s Point. Soon after, a baseball stadium was built, where a 19-year-old Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run on Sept. 5, 1914. Today, Hanlan’s Point is best known for its “clothing optional” beach.
6. Island Cafe?
Sit down to pints and home- made pizza on Wednesday nights, when the cafe? features either themed game nights or live music, or simply soak up the last rays of sunshine on the patio.
7. Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Toronto’s oldest landmark, built in 1808-09, guided sailors into the harbour for 150 years before being replaced by a modern tower in 1957. Legend has it that in 1815, J.P. Radan Muller, the first lighthouse keeper and a whiskey bootlegger, got in a fight with some thirsty soldiers and was killed. His body was never found, and some believe Muller’s ghost haunts the site.
The 2.4-square-kilometre amusement park on Centre Island is geared to kids and families, with mini roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, bumper boats, pony rides and a haunted barrel works. Stop for a bite at one of the more than 14 food venues.
9. Island parks
Whether you’re relaxing on the grass under a tree, having a picnic or roasting hotdogs over a fire pit, the islands’ parks are perfect for an afternoon break, with Toronto Island Park offering panoramic views of the city.
10. Franklin Children’s Garden
Whether your kids are fans of the popular children’s books or the television series, they’ll love playing with the seven bronze sculptures of Franklin the Turtle and his friends in this interactive garden, which also features a turtle pond and a hide-and-seek play area.