Toronto Islands

Location: 10-minute ferry ride from the mainland

Transit: Union Station, then streetcar southbound; transfer to Island Ferries

Just a stately 10-minute ferry ride from the mainland will take you to another world of quiet tree-filled picnic spots, marinas, quaint old cottages and beachfront attractions. Come across and catch your breath.

Toronto Islands are made up of three major islands, eight islands with names and several more without. The absence of cars creates a peaceful escape from the bustling city. Here you’ll find four great beaches – Centre Island Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Hanlan’s Point Beach and Ward’s Island Beach – paths, bridges and boardwalks that connect the islands.

Ward and Algonquin Islands feature summer cottages from the 1920s mixed in with breathtaking modern cottages and charming English-style gardens. Hanlan’s Point provides a quiet escape, with an excellent clothing-optional beach and Toronto’s famous haunted lighthouse.

The most popular is Centre Island, which features huge picnic areas, bike paths, a maze, a beach, a chapel and award-winning gardens. Paddleboats, bicycles and in-line skates are available to rent on the island. You’ll also find Centreville, an amusement park geared towards younger children with some 30 rides, a petting zoo with pony rides, and picturesque swan boats circling a small lagoon.

Hop aboard one of the three regular ferries that depart from the foot of Bay Street and Queen’s Quay and escape the hustle and bustle. The view of Toronto’s skyline across the bay is worth the trip alone.