Whether you have air conditioning or not, summer in Toronto can get pretty steamy. We may have seen a bit more rain lately than we’d like, but hot and humid weather has been upon us on and off since late spring. Luckily, the city is ripe with opportunities to spend time outdoors enjoying the short but sweet summer season, while also staying cool. Here are 25 activities to beat the heat in Toronto.
Hit the beach
With a prime location on Lake Ontario, Toronto is blessed with a plethora of beaches offering the chance to cool off by the water. Some of the most popular stretches of sand in the city include Cherry Beach, Woodbine Beach, Sunnyside Beach and Bluffers Beach.
Jump into an outdoor pool
If pool swimming is more your speed, there are plenty of options to choose from no matter which area of Toronto you call home. The city operates 58 outdoor pools perfect for making a splash on a hot and humid summer day.
Hang out at Harbourfront Centre
Harbourfront Centre makes for an ideal spot to spend a summer day. The10-acre site along the Lake Ontario shoreline offers not only cooling breezes, but also rotating art exhibitions, festivals, a lakeside patio courtesy of The Slip and much more.
Head to the Toronto Islands
For a quintessential summer escape (without having to leave the city), the Toronto Islands are just a quick and blissfully breezy ferry ride from downtown. There are four swimmable beaches to choose from, not to mention picnic areas, Centreville Amusement Park, cafes, fire pits and more.
Paddle around in a kayak
Getting out on the water is one of the best ways to beat the heat and the city is several options for kayak rentals, including via Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre, Toronto Beach Kayak and Toronto Adventures.
Find a shady spot in a park
Sometimes one of the best (and easiest) things to do on a hot day when you need a break, is to find a shady spot to sit in one of Toronto’s many parks. Some justifiably popular (and shady) options include Trinity Bellwoods, High Park, Christie Pits and Dufferin Grove Park.
Practice your balance with some SUP
If you prefer to be on the water while standing up, SUP is a great option and there are many places who offer rentals, lessons and guided tours. While fairly easy to get the hang of, a lesson might be a good idea if you’re just starting out.
Get soaked at a splash pad
If you have kids in tow, a splash pad can be a fun, whimsical way to cool down in the city and there are more than a few to choose from. Some fun options include the splash pads at High Park, Centre Island and Kidstown Waterpark in Scarborough.
Indulge in an ice cream
When it comes to cooling off with an ice cream, Toronto has more than enough options to satisfy most cravings. From gelato and soft serve, to epic ice cream sandwiches, sundaes and traditional cones, you could conceivably try a different flavour every day of the summer.
Or a boozy ice cream flight
If you like your ice cream with a boozy kick, you can get yourself over to S’cream in Yorkville for a boozy ice cream flight featuring several different flavours like mango ice cream with aperol or peach-vanilla with vodka.
Sip a slushy cocktail
It’s no secret that Toronto is a city that can get pretty creative with booze and lately, that means ice cold cocktails in slushy form. Some spots known to serve up these fun twists on a summer favourite are Grape Crush, Rhum Corner and Cactus Club Café.
Stake out a spot at Sunnyside Pavilion
Nab a shady table at this iconic summer spot and soak up the laid back vibes while people watching and sipping a cold drink. There’s usually a beach volleyball game or two going on and when you’re done you can take a stroll by the water.
Cool off at Cabana Waterfront Patio
As the name suggests, this expansive spot offers incredible waterfront views from their 50,000 square foot patio. Opt for a table, or rent a poolside or lakeside cabana for a bit more privacy. They also serve lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
Take a load off at Toronto Beach Club
Feel like you’re on a tropical vacation with a visit to Toronto Beach Club along the shores of Woodbine Beach. A Mediterranean-style menu including lots of fresh fish and seafood and the extensive patio help seal the deal.
Strap on some roller skates
Feel the breeze on your face as you coast along in a pair of roller skates. Suso Skate Co. is a roller skate rental company operating out of a refurbished shipping container at The Bentway. Throughout the summer they are renting retro skates by the hour, along with helmets and other protective gear.
See a movie under the stars
Since it usually cools down in the evening, why not stake out some space on the grass and settle in for an outdoor movie? The Toronto Outdoor Picture Show will be showing a curated series of films at various parks throughout the summer.
Catch a breeze on a rooftop patio
One of the best places to be on a sweltering summer day is on a rooftop patio, catching some much-needed breeze with a drink in hand. From swankier spots like Kost and the Rooftop at Broadview Hotel, to places with more of a pub feel like Hemingway’s or The Pilot, you’ve got plenty of rooftops to choose from.
Ease into an infinity pool
The massive 86,000 square foot outdoor patio at Grand Bizarre not only features food, drinks and private cabanas – but also three infinity pools to enjoy. Included in the price of your ticket are changerooms and complimentary ice cream.
Cruise over to Canada’s Wonderland
Whether you’re zipping around and upside down on an epic coaster or enjoying the park’s many water slides, there are plenty of ways to keep cool at Canada’s Wonderland. Sure, waiting in line might feel a bit steamy, but once you’re on a ride, the thrills (and cool breeze) will be worth it.
Zip around on a jet-ski
You don’t have to be on a beach vacation or at the cottage to enjoy a cooling jet ski ride. Operating out of Ontario Place, 416Navy Jet Ski Tours offer guided group tours seven days a week, no licence required.
Paddle around in a pedalboat
Also operating out of Ontario Place is Lake Shore Boat Rentals who offer pedalboat rentals that make for an ideal way to spend some leisurely time on the water. Choose from two to three and four-person rentals for one or two hours.
Take a boat cruise
Whether you opt for a dinner or brunch cruise, a themed cruise, a boozy cruise or simple a scenic ride around the lake, a boat cruise can be a relaxing way to beat the heat in the city.
Hit the trails for a hike
While a hike on a hot day might sound counterintuitive, the temperature is usually significantly cooler under the shade of a forest canopy. Many of the city’s parks offer hiking trails, including High Park, Rough Park and Leslie Street Spit Trail in Tommy Thompson Park.
Say yes please to a popsicle
Feel like a kid again and cool down with a popsicle, of which there are many options to choose from in the city. Creative flavours abound and it’s not hard to see why this particular frozen treat has taken off in Toronto. Check out The Pop Stand, Bar Ape or Augie’s Ice Pops.
Chill out with a craft beer
Over the past decade or so, Toronto’s craft beer scene has really come into its own, with breweries big and small popping up everywhere. And with those breweries have come some seriously creative brews, especially in the summer when flavours are more unique, fruity and whimsical. From Blood Brothers and Burdock, to Halo and Collective Arts, there’s no shortage of ways to cool down with a craft beer.