Toronto Outdoor Picture Show playing a movie with people sitting outdoors on blankets watching

Toronto on a Budget: 5 Free Things to do in Toronto this Summer

Published: June 10, 2024

Toronto is a vibrant city with endless things to do, especially in the summertime. But exploring the city on a budget can sometimes be a challenge. However, there’s good news for those looking for free summer fun in the city!

UP Express has got you covered with the best FREE things to do in Toronto this summer. Exploring the city has also never been easier with UP Express, offering 25-minute service right to downtown Toronto, UP Union Station. Better yet, if you’re travelling in a group of 3 or more people, take advantage of our Group Pass to save some extra money, available to those heading into the city to UP Union Station from UP Pearson Station. From music, museums, and beaches to festivals, while you may have to search for it, Toronto offers a wide range of no-cost experiences to enjoy in the summertime!

Summer Music in the Garden

Toronto Music Garden by the waterfront in the summer.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in music with Summer Music at the Toronto Music Garden. This summer, the garden celebrates its 25th anniversary and 23rd season of offering free Summer Music.

Throughout the summer, the Toronto Music Garden hosts FREE concerts on Thursdays at 7:00 PM and Sundays at 4:00 PM from June 21 to August 29. These concerts feature a wide range of styles with JUNO Award-winning Canadian musicians, celebrated international artists, and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Moneka Arabic Jazz and Nichol Robertson’s Country All-Stars. So, check out the lineup, bring a blanket or lawn chair, have a picnic, and settle in for enchanting music by the picturesque Toronto waterfront.

Free Museums in Toronto

AGO sign outside of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

Toronto is home to several world-class museums and galleries, many offering free admission on certain days or evenings. So get started planning your free visit to a Toronto museum:

Go Beach Hopping

Aerial shot of the Toronto Island - including the beach on a clear sunny day.

When you think of Toronto, you don’t typically think of beaches! However, when the sun is shining on a hot summer day in the city, there’s no better way to beat the heat than by heading to one of Toronto’s beaches. Here’s a roundup of the best beaches that are accessible from downtown Toronto’s UP Union Station:

  • Toronto Island Beaches: Take a ferry ride to the Toronto Islands and spend the day soaking up the sun on one of its sandy beaches. With stunning views of the city skyline and calm waters, the Toronto Island beaches offer a peaceful escape from the city. Looking to stay downtown by the lake? We’ve also got you covered with the top things to do and see on Toronto’s waterfront.
  • Sugar Beach: A beach in the city? Sugar Beach is an urban oasis nestled along Toronto’s waterfront. Its iconic pink umbrellas and white sand create a picturesque setting, perfect for relaxing. The beach also offers great views of Lake Ontario and the Toronto skyline, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists.
  • Cherry Beach: Located in the Port Lands, Cherry Beach is a popular summer spot for sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking. Enjoy panoramic views of Lake Ontario and watch the sailboats glide by.

Attend a Street Festival

Street in Toronto closed for an outdoor street festival with crowds and tents.

Toronto comes alive in the summer with diverse street festivals celebrating music, food, culture, and community. Strolling around a street festival is the perfect way to spend a summer day in the city; here’s a roundup of some of the best free street festivals this summer:

  • Taste of Little Italy: On June 14-16, 2024, indulge in Italian cuisine and culture at the Taste of Little Italy. The street festival takes over College Street from Bathurst Street to Shaw Street with delicious food, entertainment, extended patios, free tastings and much more! 📍Closest UP Station: UP Union Station
  • OssFest: On July 27, 2024, get ready for OssFest to take over Ossington Avenue with live music, street performances, art installations, food, and shopping. Come with friends or family to enjoy local restaurants and unique vendors. And while you’re at it, check out the UP Express guide to trendy Toronto to explore other neighbourhoods in the city. 📍Closest UP Station: UP Union Station
  • Toronto Jazz Festival: On June 21-30, 2024, the Toronto Jazz Festival returns! Over the course of the 10 days, free outdoor programming is happening in the Bloor-Yorkville area at the TD Main Stage – Old Grove and TD Village Stage. Check out the schedule for a complete list of the performances. Admission to the concerts is free and operates on a first-come, first-served basis with no tickets required. 📍Closest UP Station: UP Union Station

Hit up a Free Outdoor Movie

Toronto Outdoor Picture Show playing a movie with people sitting outdoors on blankets watching

Photo credit: Rebecca Tisdelle-Macias

Experience the magic of cinema under the stars at one of the Toronto Outdoor Picture Show outdoor movie screenings. These screenings are free and open to all who want to attend! Even better, they have snacks and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase, or you can pack your own outside food picnics. This year’s annual programme is titled “On the Job” in parks across the city from June 19 through August 25. With multiple locations across the city, get started planning your perfect outdoor movie night: