Six of our favourite off-the-beaten-path parks.
201 Oriole Pkwy.
A must-stop on the Kay Gardiner Beltline Trail, this recently renovated park boasts all kinds of goodies, highlighted by a splash pad with a massive dragonfly-shaped water spout.
Subway: Davisville Station.
Slides: 4 | Swings: 6
Water: Yes (splash pad and wading pool).
Trees: Older growth providing lots of shade. There’s even a willow.
Benches: Quite a few, plus tables, chairs, and picnic tables.
Cool features: Loads of new play structures, a baseball diamond with a dirt infield, tennis courts, a massive teeter-totter, a spinning spider web, ample park space, and washrooms.
Parent-friendly?: Beyond a few coffee shops, there’s also a Bull & Firkin over the train tracks on Yonge Street.
Ritchie Avenue Parkette
77 Ritchie Ave.
Tucked into a tiny, shady pocket on a street that dead-ends behind a Loblaws parking lot, this parkette feels a bit like a frontier playground. That might also be due to the nearby post-industrial buildings.
Subway: Kind of. Dundas West is a 10-minute walk.
Slides: 2 | Swings: 4
Benches: Just a few.
Trees: A nice thick canopy.
Cool features: One of those rad new concrete ping-pong tables that Adam Vaughan’s been boasting about.
Parent-friendly?: There’s a Starbucks right around the corner.
Phin Avenue Parkette
Located just off Jones Avenue—and just far enough from the bustle of Greektown to provide a relaxing atmosphere—its parkette moniker belies its size.
Subway: Donlands Station.
Slides: 2 | Swings: 4
Water: Yes (wading pool).
Trees: Not a ton of coverage in the centre of the park, but there’s lots of older growth around the edges.
Benches: A few.
Cool features: Boulders and stumps for climbing, a basketball court, and a play-castle structure.
Parent-friendly?: There’s not much around beyond a convenience store.
Vine Avenue Playground
200 Vine Ave.
Backing onto the tracks just north of The Junction, this small park is a nod to the neighbourhood’s pre-hipster days: It’s surrounded by row houses and silence.
Subway: Ha. You’ve been to The Junction, right?
Slides: 3 | Swings: 8
Water: Yes (wading pool and splash pad).
Benches: Several, as well as picnic tables.
Cool features: Lots of climbing structures and a basketball court, plus you’ll probably see a few trains go by.
Parent-friendly?: There are vintage shops, vegan bakeries, and now even booze on Dundas West, just two blocks away.
Nathan Phillips Square
100 Queen St. W.
Unless you’re walking past the west side of City Hall, heading towards Dundas, you probably wouldn’t even know this place existed.
Subway: Osgoode Station.
Slides: 2 | Swings: 0
Trees: Just enough to feel like you’re not sitting on top of a parking garage.
Cool features: An in-ground trampoline, fake boulders, and a spinning spider web.
Benches: A few close by.
Parent-friendly?: Sure! Who doesn’t want to spot Rob Ford ducking out of City Hall?
Little Norway Park
659 Queens Quay W.
Named after a Norwegian Air Force base that existed on the land during World War II, it’s now better known as a good place to hang out while waiting for people to fly into Billy Bishop airport.
Subway: Does the Porter shuttle bus from Union Station count?
Slides: 2 | Swings: 2 |
Water: Wading pool.
Trees: It’s pretty open.
Cool features: A giant cement-lion sculpture that kids can dart through, plus a big spider-web climbing structure.
Parent-friendly?: It offers some pre-ferry entertainment if your Porter flight is delayed.
Related reading: The Grid Kid’s Guide to Summer
What’s your favourite park in Toronto to take the kids? Let us know in the comments section below.