Looking for some family fun? We have just the place!
Toronto (locally pronounced “Tronno”) is one of Canada’s most populous and diverse cities with plenty to see and do. “EdgeWalk” at 1,800 feet on landmark CN tower, the world’s tallest building until 2007, or browse the city malls (the Eaton Centre is particularly impressive) and markets – St. Lawrence Market is a must-see. Tour the Rogers Centre (formerly “SkyDome”), the home of baseball’s Blue Jays, and enjoy “Summerlicious” and “Winterlicious” seasonal, citywide food festivals! Yum!
But for a real change of pace, how about a short ferry ride across the lake, to a not-so secret island?
Every year, millions of Torontonians and visitors leave the cityscape behind to visit the only island group on stunning Western Lake Ontario. The nearby islands contain several delightful beaches, car-free communities, an airport, and Centre Island, the area’s most popular venue for recreational activities, making it the perfect spot for a family day out!
Check the ferry schedule carefully as there are services to three locations: Hanlan’s Point, one of the few clothing optional beaches in Canada, Ward’s Island at the east end, offering an 18 “hole” Frisbee golf course, picturesque residential streets dating back to 1915, and locally preferred relaxing beaches, and finally, Centre Island itself.
The trip takes about fifteen minutes, giving you plenty of time to get your sea legs, take in the Toronto skyline, and marvel at the majesty of Lake Ontario as you prepare for some good, ol’ fashioned fun. But keep one eye on the surface—strange ripples and sightings of large serpents fill this lake’s mysterious history – maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Lake Ontario Monster! Keep your hands and feet in the boat please!
Here are three of our favorite things to do on Centre Island!
Once on the islands, make for the main attraction of Centreville. This 1950’s amusement park has over thirty rides and plenty of concession stands to try out, so grab some cotton candy, and give a warm welcome to Beasley Bear as you step back through time.
If you didn’t catch a glimpse of the lake monster, you can satisfy your hunger for terror aboard the Haunted Barrel ride, or by white knuckling your way around the Mine rollercoaster, but don’t expect major studio scale here – these rides are suitable for young children and offer far more fun than fear.
For a more serene experience, clamber aboard a white swan boat for a gentle sail, then get bounced back to your childhood aboard classic bumper cars. Screams of fun fill the air as the Log Flume splashes by, and don’t forget to set sail aboard the Rockin’ Ferry ride! Ahoy there!
With Trains and Twirling Teacups, Carousel Bunnies and Bumble Bees, this throwback park really puts the fun back in funfair!
Centreville is open on weekends from early May, and every day of the week, June through September!
2.) Far Enough Farm
A favorite stop on any Toronto daytrip is a visit to Far Enough Farm.
Located adjacent to the Centreville amusement park, the farm is home to a wide variety of birds and farmyard animals. This is a real hands-on experience where you can pet pigs and sheep, ride ponies, meet Alpacas, learn about Llamas, greet the goats, and maybe even see your first Japanese quail.
The farm’s humans are also quite tame (please don’t feed them!) and are usually available for a chat should you have any questions. With hamsters, cows, donkeys, and bunnies keeping you busy, you’ll be glad you didn’t walk any farther past Far Enough Farm!
Open every day of the year, from 10AM to 5PM (the animals need their beauty sleep!) Far Enough Farm is a great place to get up close to nature and make some new friends!
3.) A “Wheely” Good Time
Two wheels, four wheels, big wheels, small wheels. No, Dr. Seuss hasn’t moved to Centre Island–but being about four miles long and full of paths, bridges, and trails, the island is the perfect place to tour by bicycle. So tuck your pant leg into your sock, grab a map, and plan your Tour de Toronto Islands!
Bikes of all shapes and sizes are available at the rental store located on Centre Island.
Open May to September (sensing a trend here?) you can rent regular two wheeled bicycles for all ages, two-seater tandems, two seater quadricycles, or four seater quads. The canopy-covered quad is perfect for families with toddlers, who may prefer to travel under adult pedal power. On your way round, stop to snap amazing Toronto skyline photos, and pause for a paddle at any of the wonderful beaches as you tour all the attractions and sights at your own pace.
For those of you who are more aquatic, canoe and kayak rentals are also available near Centre Island docks, should you wish to explore the many offshoot tributaries and streams that pattern these islands.
On land or on lake, you’ll love the look of these islands. When it finally comes time to bid farewell and head back to the city, make sure to enjoy the beautiful lights of downtown Toronto as they reflect off the calm waters of Lake Ontario–disturbed only by the occasional ripple of whatever lurks below!
“Tronno” is a sport crazy, museum and culture packed, food and festival filled metropolis, just waiting for you to cross the border. The islands offer good ol’ fashioned fun, a real change of pace, and an experience that the whole family will always remember.
Oh, and – before we forget – did we mention that Niagara Falls is just down the road? Bring your passport, but leave your barrel at home!
Let us know which deserted or not-so-deserted island you’d like to visit the most! Any future castaways in our midst?