We’ve all seen beautiful pictures of the Toronto skyline, with the CN Tower beaming in the centre of it as a point of pride. And rightfully so, it is iconic. When we see pictures like this, it can instill thoughts of what the city is like, the cultural amenities, and things we’d like to experience if we ever went there. But have you ever wondered about that area in the foreground? Yes, I’m talking about the water out front. That’s Lake Ontario. It’s one of the five Great Lakes, massive freshwater lakes that sit nestled on the border of Canada and the United States.
And Torontonians know that the city’s border doesn’t stop where the water begins. That’s where one of the city’s iconic parks is just getting started. If you have a day to get out and experience the city’s waterfront, head down to Jack Layton Terminal at 9 Queens Quay West (behind the Westin Harbour Castle), where a ferry ride will take you on a short 13-minute trip to the Toronto Islands for less than $10 (including the return trip).
Toronto Island Park
The Toronto Island Park is operated by the City of Toronto and is actually a group of islands that are connected by pathways and bridges. Throughout the 5 kilometre stretch of islands, you will find Canada’s oldest standing lighthouse, beaches for swimming, bike rentals, a theatre, restaurants, nature paths, an amusement park and petting farm, canoe and kayak rentals, and a small community of 600 people who live there year-round.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is Canada’s oldest standing lighthouse. Construction started on it in 1808, with it being completed in the summer of 1809. Although it is currently unused, occasionally it will open for public tours, including during the annual Doors Open Toronto weekend (held this year on May 27-28th, 2023).
The Centreville Amusement Park has over 30 rides and attractions, mainly geared toward small children and their families. This park is located on Centre Island, along with the Far Enough Farm, a petting zoo with 40 different species of farmyard animals and exotic birds and farmers on hand to answer questions. While on Centre Island, grab a bite to eat or a drink at one of the many Island Food Outlets.