If you are fortunate enough to have a little one who has a birthday during the fair months of summer (or late spring or early fall) then an outdoor birthday party in one of Toronto and the GTA’s public parks could be for you!

The perks of throwing a party in a public park? Natural beauty, affordability, and lots of built-in activities like splash pads and wading pools, petting zoos, and play structures. Many parks even have covered shelters and picnic in case of rain or even fire pits for evening parties and s’mores and a few have fieldhouses that can be reserved by the hour, with electricity and working kitchens.

So whether you’re looking for budget birthday party options or you’re just keen on a party in a natural setting, here are seven parks worth considering in the Toronto area.

High Park

This expansive park in Toronto’s west end is truly like no other in our fair city and beyond. With beautiful sloping grass hills, hidden hiking areas, and a large pond framed by cascading willow trees, High Park is a highly regarded outdoor destination.

For a princess-/knight- or fairy-tale-themed party, book a shelter in the south end of the park, near the Jamie Bell Adventure Park playground: a giant castlelike structure that offers endless play for kids. It’s also a stone’s throw from the High Park Zoo, with llamas, goats, and bison—a perfect spot for littles ones who want an animal-themed party. And the old-fashioned trolley ride throughout the park means your little engineer can have her wish to ride a train on her big day!

You can also book a more traditional party package for kids ages 4–10 at the High Park Nature Centre that includes activities led by a nature interpreter, decorations, access to a kitchen, and a choice of 10 nature-related party themes.

Permits $86.57 for use of a designated picnic area or for any party of more than 25 people; additional fees apply for fire pit permits. Call the City of Toronto Events Line at 416-392-8188 to request a permit. High Park Nature Centre parties $325; call 416-392-1748 or email naturecentre@highpark.org.

Earl Bales Park

This is the place to be if you are seeking a outdoor birthday party space in the north end of Toronto. Earl Bales is famous for city-run ski and snowboard hills in winter, but it is also an amazing park to visit in the summer, with a great playground, a fun splash pad and picnic areas in scenic locations. There are some fire pits and charcoal grills for use on a first-come, first-served basis (an event permit gives you right-of-way usage).

Permits $86.57 for use of a designated picnic area or for any party of more than 25 people; extra fees apply for barbecue and fire pit permits. Call the City of Toronto Events Line at 416-392-8188 to request a permit.

Kew Gardens Park

This lovely lakefront park is on Toronto’s east end, in The Beach neighbourhood. It has beautiful gardens, a pretty band shell, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, an ice-cream stand, and a historic cottage from the early 1900s. It is an ideal spot for a sports-themed birthday party, and reservable barbecues and picnic areas are nearby.

If you are looking to entertain smaller tots then the fenced-in in playgrounds (there are three for different age groups) and wading pool are probably for you! There is a washroom/changing area on site, which will make your slippery outdoor adventure a little less wet and wild!

Permits $86.57 for use of a designated picnic area or for any party of more than 25 people; additional fees apply for fire pit and barbecue permits. Call the City of Toronto Events Line at 416-392-8188.

Riverdale Farm

Home to Toronto’s first zoo, Riverdale Farm is reminiscent of a typical small Ontario farm in the late 19th century. The breeds present throughout the farm’s 7.5 acres of space are all animals common to Ontario, including horses, chickens, and cows. There are scenic pathways to explore, historic buildings from the late 1800s to venture into, butterfly, vegetable, and flower gardens to see, and “farmers” to chat with.

A birthday party at Riverdale Farms will no doubt make your budding zoologist very happy but smaller party size is recommended, so as not to bother the animals too much. When it’s time to get rowdy your group can head to the small park next to the farm where games, treats and birthday present unwrapping can be easily dealt with in fun fashion!

Admission is free year-round (9 am–5 pm); picnic sites, fieldhouse, and other facilities available at adjacent Riverdale West Park (permit line: 416-392-8188).

Hidden Valley Park

This lush green space tucked away in the Aldershot community in the City of Burlington. The park has an awesome playground and a great splash pad, which always spell birthday party fun! Picnic tables abound but you can also rent a picnic area for a reasonable fee. Hidden Valley Park is also chock full of incredible hiking trails which would make a geocaching-style birthday party a very real possibility!

Hidden Valley Park is home to the Burlington Model Railway Club, which you just have to see to believe! On certain days throughout the summer the model trains are open to public viewing at no cost. This is another great option for your Thomas the Train afficondo or budding engineer.

Call the City of Burlington at 905-335-7738 to request a permit or reserve a picnic area online.

Kidstown Water Park

The only city-run water park, Kidstown in Scaroborough is a splash-tastic location for a summer birthday party for preschoolers and elementary-age kids. Let’s be clear: it’s not a big theme-park-type water park, but it’s no ordinary splash pad either. Instead, it’s like a playground/splash pad combo: a fenced-in area with overhead fountains, water-propelled gears and funnels, filling and dumping stations, a slippery slide, and a huge tipping bucket, plus wading pool with lifeguards. The park has designated special-occasion areas that you can reserve for your party and on-site picnic tables and washrooms.

Open mid-June through Labour Day weekend, 10:30 am–7:30 pm. Call the City of Toronto Events Line at 416-392-8188 to reserve a special occasion area.

Paulynn Park

Paulynn Park is a lovely naturescape in the Town of Ajax with a creek running through it. This park has many admirers. Perhaps it is the playground, trails for hiking, or fishing on offer, but no doubt the beach volleyball courts are a real draw, too. If you decide to have your child’s birthday party at Paulynn Park you can rent one of the picnic shelters and have an amazing volleyball-themed birthday event.

Is your child an aspiring professional athlete? Why not incorporate an Olympic theme with national teams and medals to boot? You will have to bring your own volleyball net but that is definitely worth it since your party attendees will have a ball!

Picnic shelter rental $125 for up to 30 people. Call the Town of Ajax Events Line to book a picnic area: 905-619-2529 ext. 7200.

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