Best Family Beaches in Toronto and the GTA

Summer FunFamily Fun
photo: Bluffers Beach (Viv Lynch)

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.

Note that lifeguards are typically only on duty during peak times in summer. You can check current swimming conditions here.

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!

Bluffer’s Beach – Scarborough

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, then hop out of your vehicle and take a short stroll to a spanning beach that has clean sand and water.

Blue Flag designation: Yes
parking lot, washrooms, lifeguards
Address: 1 Brimley Rd., Scarborough (map it)

Cherry Beach – Downtown Toronto

Cherry Beach is one of Toronto’s coolest hot spots thanks to its simple layout, notable bird watching, sizable off-leash dog park, and food truck treats. There are lovely walking trails and windsurfing equipment rentals if you go far enough east along the shoreline. This beach can get crowded at peak times.

Blue Flag designation: Yes
Facilities: washrooms, picnic areas, parking lot, lifeguards
Address: Downtown Toronto waterfront, via Cherry St. just west of the DVP (map it)

Marie Curtis Park East Beach – Etobicoke

One of Etobicoke’s greatest highlights is the lovely Marie Curtis Park East Beach, which connects to the Waterfront Trail and multiple walking trails and is adjacent to a small park. 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.

Blue Flag designation: No
splash pad, wading pool (closed), playground (closed), off-leash dog area, picnic areas, washrooms, parking lot, lifeguards
Address: At Lakeshore Rd. E. near Brown’s Line, Etobicoke (map it)

Beachway Park – Burlington

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. This lovely slice of sandy heaven is a peaceful retreat that offers rest and rejuvenation for parents and romping fun for kids!

Blue Flag designation: No
playground (closed), washrooms (closed; portable toilets open), snack bar,  parking lot, lifeguards
Address: 1100 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington (map it)

Woodbine Beach – Toronto East End

Woodbine Beach is a 15.2-hectare park in the Beach neighbourhood with clean sand and grassy areas that is popular with beach volleyball players, health buffs working out on outdoor fitness equipment, and families strolling along the seemingly endless boardwalk. It is the entry point for 3 km of glorious beachfront that runs eastward towards the edge of Scarborough. It is adjacent to the Donald D. Summerville Outdoor Olympic Pool and has a wheelchair-accessible plastic boardwalk that allows access to the edge of the water.

Blue Flag designation: Yes
playgrounds (closed), washrooms, snack bars, boardwalk, parking, lifeguards
Address: 1675 Lake Shore Blvd. E., at Coxwell Ave. (map it)

Kelso Conservation Area Beach – Milton

On a 35-hectare lake in Kelso Conservation Area, this large, sandy beach is gorgeous and rife with family fun. Of course. it doesn’t hurt that Kelso Beach is in a beautiful conservation area with hiking, birding, mountain biking, and camping. If you head to Kelso Beach, we suggest you make sure to do one of these other great activities on offer. Reservations are currently required to visit Kelso Conservation Area.

Blue Flag designation: Yes
washrooms, snack bars, boardwalk, boat rentals, fishing, parking lot, lifeguards
Address: 5234 Kelso Rd., Milton (map it)

Sunnyside Beach – Toronto West End

One of the first things you notice about Sunnyside Beach is the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion which was built in 1922 with art deco features. The beautiful pavilion sets the stage for a beach trip with a nostalgic vibe. The beach is rarely crowded despite its downtown location, making it a nice getaway. The lovely Gus Ryder outdoor pool is close by.

Blue Flag designation: No
: playground (closed), snack bar, picnic areas, parking lot, lifeguards
Address: Toronto west end waterfront; near Lakeshore Blvd. and Parkside Dr. (map it)

Pickering Beachfront Park – Pickering

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. It has 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. The water is generally clean and safe for swimming, as determined by a municipal rating system. No lifeguards.

Blue Flag designation: No
volleyball courts, picnic areas, boardwalk, parking lot
Address: Waterfront Trail, Pickering (map it)

Centre Island Beach (Manitou Beach) – Toronto Islands

*NOTE: Centreville Amusement Park and Far Enough Farm are closed in summer 2020.

A day on Centre Island is a must for your summer bucket list. The beach is small but clean, with shallow water and a sandy floor—perfect for young children. Plus, the excitement of arriving by ferry or water taxi is an adventure in itself. Make a day of it and tour the islands on bikes or stroll the walking trails, pack a picnic, and check out the nearby Franklin Children’s Garden. There are three other more-remote Blue Flag beaches on the Islands: Ward’s Island Beach, Gibraltar Beach, and the clothing-optional Hanlan’s Point.

Blue Flag designation: Yes
Facilities: splash pad, wading pool, playground (closed), washrooms, snack bars, lifeguards
Address: Centre Island, via ferry from 9 Queens Quay West (map it)

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