With the city in the sweaty grip of an epic summer heatwave, finding cool parks in the great outdoors is getting more and more challenging. We need shade, water would be nice, and, sure, something near an ice cream stand wouldn’t hurt.
But not all park space is created equal, especially when it comes to the tree canopy. If you plan to go outside, seeking shade is not only important, it’s essential.
Here are some of the shadiest park spots to explore when you’re out in a heatwave.
This tucked-away spot is a quick bike ride from downtown and a popular off-leash option for dog owners. Cherry Beach can be rocky in places and does have a mass of open sand (hot sand in this weather), but it also has a large canopy of trees that can provide adequate shade as well as set-ups for barbecuing in the summer. If you want to schedule a beach day this week, go early to claim a shadier tree-lined spot.
Take the ferry to Ward’s Island (part of Toronto Islands) and walk to the beach (not far from the ferry dock). Ward’s Island is a lot less crowded than Centre Island and has a lot of expansive green spots packed with shade along surrounding the boardwalk and beach. Buy your tickets online ahead of visiting the Island to avoid waiting in the hot sun.
Serena Gundy Park
A popular spot for runners, Serena Gundy Park, is also a good pick if you’re looking for something a little less beachy. Because the park has various wooded hiking trails and large grassy spaces filled with trees, it’s not hard to find shade. Go early to avoid too many people and make a note to return with trail running shoes post-heat wave.
Wooded trails make Taylor Creek a peaceful escape from the heat of the city. Bring your mountain bike and some snacks to explore the rugged terrain or grab a book and find a shady space by the creek. This park doesn’t get too crowded during the daytime, and it’s a great place to help you destress.
Dufferin Grove Park
A canopy of trees covers most of this park, so all you have to do is get there early to find the best possible nap spot. Dufferin Grove Park also has a little wading pool that kids will love, a playground, basketball court, and other recreational spaces.
High Park is one of the city’s most popular summer locales, but it’s large enough that you won’t notice the crowds too much. Because of the park’s strategic location near the water, cool breezes tend to blanket park patrons. You can stroll through the wooded area of the park — that’s one of the best and shadiest places to go on a scorching day (and there are plenty of those on the horizon).
Splash pads, wooded areas, picnic tables — what more could you ask for on a hot summer day? Sherwood Park is also a great place to bring your pooch seeking shade as it has a fenced off-leash dog area in the trees. You’ll also be happy to note that there is free parking near the park’s main entrance.