Nothing spells summer like long days at the beach building sandcastles with your tykes, taking refreshing dips in the water and wolfing down concession stand treats!
Toronto and the GTA have some of the best beaches in the world. It’s not just the natural scenic beauty of our land and the cool, hidden away locales of our beaches that make them so great, but it is the fact that most of them are Blue Flag worthy. Blue Flag is an internationally recognized program that recognizes bodies of water that are clean, safe, and well maintained.
Here is a roundup of the best beaches on offer in Toronto and the GTA that are open for fun and frolic all summer long!
If you love gorgeous cliff sides and feeling lost in a vast wilderness that is actually in a city center, then Bluffer’s Beach is for you! Take a beautiful ride down the long, steep and windy road to an ample parking lot that has generous-sized washrooms close by, then hop out of your vehicle and take a short stroll to a spanning beach that has clean sand and water. Blue Flag rated; supervised by lifeguards during peak times.1 Brimley Rd., Scarborough; 40-minute drive east of downtown Toronto (map it)
Cherry Beach is one of Toronto’s coolest hot spots thanks to its simple layout, notable bird watching, sizable off-leash dog park, and great food truck treats. There is a decent washroom that can double as a change room, a free parking lot, lovely hiking trails and picnic areas, and even windsurfing equipment rentals if you go far enough east along the shoreline. Blue Flag rated; supervised by lifeguards during peak times.Downtown Toronto waterfront, via Cherry St. just west of the DVP (map it)
One of Etobicoke’s greatest highlights is the lovely Marie Curtis Park East Beach. One of the few beaches in North America named after a female community leader (Marie Curtis was a favoured small-village mayor in the GTA), this beach boasts a beautiful shorefront that is perfect for watching the sunset. The adjacent park has a playground, wading pool, an off-leash dog area, picnic areas, parking, washrooms, walking trails, and a connection to the Waterfront Trail. Blue Flag rated; supervised by lifeguards during peak times.At Lakeshore Rd. E. near Brown’s Line, Etobicoke (map it)
If you love Sandbanks Provincial Park but can’t spare the car time, then Beachway Park is for you. The beautiful 2 km stretch of beach in Burlington with natural sand dune remnants and soft sand juts out into Lake Ontario. It has seasonal change rooms and outdoor showers, washrooms open year-round, a snack bar, free parking, and a playground. This lovely slice of sandy heaven is a peaceful retreat that offers rest and rejuvenation for parents and romping fun for kids! Blue Flag rated; supervised by lifeguards during peak times.1100 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington; 1-hour drive southewest of Toronto (map it)
Woodbine Beach is a popular 15.2-hectare park where you can expect to see rows of volleyball players, health buffs working out on outdoor fitness equipment, families strolling along a seemingly endless boardwalk and an outdoor festival or two in full swing! It is the entry point for 3 km of glorious beachfront that run eastward towards the edge of Scarborough. It has clean sand, grassy areas, picnic shelters, playgrounds, snack bars, a full-service restaurant, parking, a recently renovated washroom/change station with a water bottle refill station and a foot washing area, the recently updated Donald D. Summerville Outdoor Olympic Pool, and a wheelchair-accessible plastic boardwalk that allows access to the edge of the water. Blue Flag rated; supervised by lifeguards during peak times.Toronto east end waterfront; 1675 Lake Shore Blvd. E., at Coxwell Ave. (map it)
On a 35-hectare lake in Kelso Conservation Area, this large, sandy beach is gorgeous and rife with family fun! With change rooms, beach concessions, a boardwalk, boat rentals and fishing on offer, spending time at Kelso Beach is a blast. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Kelso Beach is in a beautiful conservation area with hiking, birding, mountain biking, camping, and even outdoor movies in the summer. If you head to Kelso Beach, we suggest you make sure to do one of these other great activities on offer, too! Blue Flag rated; supervised by lifeguards during peak times.5234 Kelso Rd., Milton; 1-hour drive west of Toronto (map it)
One of the first things you notice about Sunnyside Beach is the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, built in 1922 with art deco features. The beautiful pavillion sets the stage for a beach trip with a nostalgic vibe. The beach is never that full despite its downtown location, making it an easy getaway. The lovely Gus Ryder outdoor pool is close by as is a playground, concession stand, picnic sites, and a parking lot. Supervised by lifeguards during peak times.Toronto west end waterfront; near Lakeshore Blvd. and Parkside Dr. (map it)
In the 1920s Pickering Beach was a prestigious vacation destination for many upper-class Ontarians. Today this beautiful beach remains a great place to enjoy the sun and sand. There are volleyball courts, picnic areas and a lovely, scenic boardwalk for walking and running. This beach also has incredible birding hot spots and some great restaurants a stone’s throw away. There is parking close by and the water is generally clean and safe for swimming, as determined by a municipal rating system. No lifeguards.Waterfront Trail, Pickering; 50-minute drive east of Toronto, off 401 exit 394 (map it)
PHOTO: BLUFFER’S BEACH (VIV LYNCH/FLICKR CC)