10 Perfect Places for Toronto Picnics
Published: May 30, 2023
Toronto is the place to be in the summer. Let UP Express help you get to the best picnic spots across the city. Whether you’re visiting the city this summer or a local ready to explore a new park, each location has something to offer for everyone including amenities and facilities featuring splash pads and playgrounds for kids, fire pits, picnic shelters, baseball diamonds and soccer fields, as well as public bathrooms and water fountains. Don’t worry if you haven’t packed a picnic in advance! There are some great spots for local take-out that will have you enjoying a picnic in the park in no time. Plus, take downtown parking woes out of the equation by leaving your car at home; or if you are visiting Toronto, hop on the UP Express train from Pearson Airport and head towards downtown to get to one of these top Toronto picnic spots.
As always, check ahead for opening times and regulations when it comes to accessing public park facilities.
Trinity Bellwoods Park
One of Toronto’s most popular parks for picnics, Trinity Bellwoods frequently draws a crowd of locals, visitors, couples, singles, and families looking to enjoy a bit of greenery in the heart of the city just steps from the eclectic and always-bustling Queen Street West. Grab a sandwich to-go from the nearby Lambo’s Deli & Grocery or pick-and-choose your own vegan picnic spread from Stefano’s and see if you can spot one of Toronto’s beloved white squirrels while you enjoy a picnic in this expansive downtown park.
Christie Pits Park
Christie Pits Park has it all! The grassy hangout draws plenty of locals looking to get active at the park’s skate park, baseball diamonds, outdoor table tennis, basketball and volleyball courts. If you’ve packed your swimsuit, beat the summer heat at the Alex Duff Memorial Pool featuring a lap pool, children’s splash area and recreational pool with a spring board and two-storey water slide that’s sure to keep families busy during a day of picnicking under the trees. During the summer months, the Christie Pits Film Festival hosts free outdoor screenings in the park’s natural sloping amphitheater. Bring snacks and enjoy a picnic under the stars! This centrally-located park is a short six-minute TTC subway ride, a nine-minute bike ride or a 12-minute walk from UP Express Bloor Station.
Boasting several picnic shelters and picnic areas throughout the park, High Park has invited visitors to escape the hustle and bustle without leaving the city for nearly 150 years. Conveniently located near UP Express Bloor Station, Toronto’s largest public park stretches nearly 400 acres from the shore of Lake Ontario to Bloor Street West making it a great pace to discover on a rental bike from Bike Share Toronto. Dotted with several playgrounds, six public tennis courts and sports fields, leafy walking trails, an outdoor public pool and splash pad, High Park makes a great destination for a full day out. Benches and picnic tables are found throughout the park adjacent to easy walking paths making this an ideal and accessible picnic spot for senior citizens. Not to worry if you didn’t pack a picnic basket in your suitcase – let Alimentari on Roncesvalles Avenue take care of your lunch with their picnic box for two to enjoy or have Bandit Brewery set you up with their paper bag picnic to-go. Be sure to check out the free High Park Zoo which dates back to the early 1900s when deer were kept inside the park.
Riverdale Park East
Busy Riverdale Park East is where Torontonians flock for one of the city’s best sunset views over the Toronto skyline from the park’s western-facing grassy slope. You’re as likely to see a couple snacking on Good Cheese's cheese-based takeout picnic snack boxes as you are to find families enjoying the park’s amenities including a swimming pool, table tennis, baseball diamond and bike trails connecting to the Lower Don River Trail.
Dufferin Grove Park
Dotted with mature trees, Dufferin Grove Park makes for a great downtown Toronto picnic spot or bonfire with friends in the park’s fire pit. Easy to reach from UP Express Bloor Station, don’t worry if you didn’t prepare for a picnic! This shady park is home to one of the city’s oldest farmers' markets, operating year-round on Thursdays with vendors offering urban eaters a chance to pick up an excellent selection of organic goods, fresh produce, and ready-to-eat picnic snacks. Some of the mouthwatering baked goods are even made right on the spot in the park’s wood-burning brick ovens!
As much as we’d love to keep this hidden gem for ourselves, the quiet Withrow Park is a picnic lover’s paradise complete with a farmers' market every Saturday from June through October. This neighbourhood park’s sprawling green space has plenty of spots waiting for a picnic spread whether you pack your own or mix-and-match to build your own basket with one of nearby Madame Levant's picnic essentials on weekends – you can even add on a rustic wicker picnic basket for that perfect Instagram snap. The park’s outdoor fitness equipment, public tennis courts, playgrounds and wading pool will keep active picnickers busy while still offering a relaxing vibe compared to lively Riverdale Park East a few block away.
Hanlan’s Point Beach
Located on the western side of the Toronto Islands, North America’s largest car-free urban community – Hanlan’s Point – is the premiere beach for the LGBTQ+ community. Home to two bustling beaches (including one with a clothing-optional section), grab a blanket and enjoy a romantic evening picnic from the beach – it’s one of the best spots to take in the sunset in Toronto. So leave your car behind and head downtown via UP Express to Union Station where the waterfront community is a short ferry ride or private water taxi away.
Centre Island & Toronto Island Park
Escape the city and head to the Toronto Islands for a fun-filled day trip with incredible views of the 6ix form Toronto Island Park! A must-visit on any trip to Toronto, Centre Island features more than 20 picnic sites as well as walking and bike paths, playgrounds, pools, and a beach to soak up the summer sun. BYO-BBQ fixin’s and grill your own picnic using one of the island’s many barbecue pits. As North America’s largest car-free urban community, leave your car behind and head downtown via UP Express to Union Station where the waterfront community is a short ferry ride or private water taxi away.
Toronto Music Garden
Enjoy your picnic to the sounds of classical music! With views of Lake Ontario and Toronto Harbour, the Toronto Music Garden is a picturesque and peaceful place for a relaxing picnic hideaway on the Toronto waterfront, located near UP Express Union Station. Featuring winding paths inspired by the music of Bach, the serene garden plays host to live classical music performances throughout the summer months.
No beach vacation this year? Ashbridges Bay is as close to a tropical vacation as you can get in downtown Toronto. Get outside for a full day of fun in the sun at this scenic Lake Ontario post and adjacent Woodbine Beach in Toronto’s east end. There’s no shortage of green space for picnickers and plenty of opportunities for spotting local wildlife and bird watching from various picnic spots in the park, complete with lakeside views. Those looking to add some activities to their picnicking will love the bike and walking trails that wind their way through the park, with kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals available on the sandy public swimming beach. Bike Share Toronto has several docking stations here making for a scenic ride along the waterfront from UP Express Union Station to this picnic spot.
Weston Lions Park
Looking for a family picnic spot without travelling downtown? Weston Lions Park is just steps from UP Express Weston Station along the east bank of the Humber River. With afternoon and evening public swimming offered at the outdoor pool in the summer months and a children’s splash pad on site, this 7.4 hectare park also features two baseball diamonds, four tennis courts, basketball courts, a children’s playground and a skateboard park, making it easy to get active while picnicking under the shade of a tree in this large, grassy green space. If you’re looking for a slower pace, the Humber River Recreational Trail runs alongside the water’s edge making it a great place to spot ducks and other river life on a walk or bike ride.
These top Toronto parks prove there’s a picnic area for everyone. Mix it up and take your picnic to the beach or roll out a picnic blanket in a secluded park spot. Whatever you decide, enjoying a picnic at one of these sites has never been easier with UP Express helping you get to your destination for a fun-filled day outdoors at Toronto’s best picnic spots. For even more of Toronto’s best parks to have a picnic in, check out GO Transit’s list of the top picnic spots in the GTA.