Six of our favourite free local swimmin’ holes.
Alex Duff Outdoor Pool
779 Crawford St. #CHP
Despite its official name, this “pool” is actually a venue made up of four pools. While the diving board, two-storey water slide, and 25-metre-long lap pool keep the older kids busy, you can relax in the 60-person hot tub or wade with your toddler. Make a day of it by bringing along a blanket and lunch for a post-swim picnic in Christie Pits.
Good to know: When the city declares an extreme heat alert, Alex Duff stays open until 11:45 p.m., as opposed to its usual 8 p.m. closing time.
870 Queen St. E., #RVS
Equipped with a regular-sized pool for laps and a kiddie pool especially for your tot, the indoor pools at the Jimmie Simpson Community Centre are great
for those hot days when you need a break from the sun. Family swim time happens every weekday from 6–7 p.m.
Good to know: Water not cool enough for you? Try the indoor ice rink.
Sunnyside Gus Ryder
1755 Lake Shore Blvd. W., #HIP
This large outdoor pool is great for its view: Located on the lakeshore with the beach and nearby Sunnyside Park in sight, you’ll feel relaxed and removed from the crazy hubbub of the city. The pool is open for leisure swims seven days a week, from 10 a.m.–3:45 p.m. and from 5–8 p.m., so you’ll have lots of opportunity to get in some solid splash time—and catch a few rays while doing it.
Good to know: They have lockers for you to store your stuff (only 25 cents each!), but they don’t have a change machine, so come with your quarters at the ready.
High Park Outdoor Pool
Off Colborne Lodge Drive, #HIP
With three baseball diamonds, four playgrounds, a zoo, and endless other activities to keep the young’uns entertained, it’s not like you need another reason to head to High Park. Nevertheless, this large, modern pool is a great cooling-down destination. Adventurous souls will love the hard-to-miss yellow flume slide at the main pool.
Good to know: There’s free parking in High Park, but not a lot, so it’s best to walk, bike, or take transit.
A short walk from the ferry docks, this southern-facing stretch of Centre Island shore has plenty of space to set up camp for the day, and has a breakwater that prevents the waves from getting too rough. It doesn’t hurt that it’s steps away from Centreville, a petting zoo, and a full-sized Frisbee golf course.
Good to know: If Manitou Beach gets too crowded, walk east along the lakeshore to the more secluded Ward’s Island Beach.
1 Brimley Rd. S., #SCR
This long, man-made beach at the foot of the gorgeous Scarborough Bluffs is a great place to explore with kids. Not only is the sand under your toes nice and soft, but the water is Blue Flag–approved and quite shallow. Nearby, there’s a park with trails, lookouts, and picnic areas. There’s also a marina with a full-service restaurant.
Good to know: While the beach is accessible by transit and bike, your best bet is to go by car. It’s almost two kilometers from the bus stop to the belly of the beach, and while it’s a breeze to descend down the bluffs to the sand, it’s a tiring, windy walk back up.
Related Reading: The Grid Scout’s Guide to Summer!