Ultimate Guide to the Beaches Neighbourhood, Toronto

The Beaches are a popular Toronto neighbourhood on the Eastern side of the city.

It’s home to some of the best coffee shops, brunch spots, and beaches in Toronto. Made famous by the sandy shores, it’s now one of the best places to visit for a summer getaway in the city.

No two visits to the Toronto Beaches are the same, with so many activities to enjoy.

When I visited the Beaches again as an adult, I realized how underrated the neighbourhood is.

It never shows up on lists of things to do in Toronto. The name means that the area often gets lumped in with individual beaches on Google searches. Poor tourists never get a chance to discover this incredible neighbourhood!

Well, it’s time to change that.

Read on to discover how to spend a day enjoying the Beaches, the nearby hikes, and all of the incredible eats in the neighbourhood.

Find the best local tours with this search engine (and the best deals)!

White sand of a Toronto Beach in the beaches neighbourhood
view of Lake Ontario from the Beaches Toronto

Where Is the Beaches Neighbourhood, Toronto?

The Beaches is a district East of Downtown Toronto. Located East of Leslieville and south of the Danforth Village, you’ll find this paradise of sandy beaches and small-town charm.

To get to the Beaches, either drive 20 minutes from downtown, following the Lakeshore eastbound until you arrive, or take the streetcar system. The 501 streetcar will take you directly to the Beaches from downtown in 50 minutes.

It can be hard to find parking by the beaches if you arrive after 10am. I recommend going up to the paid lots along Queen Street East and walking down to the beaches and parks.

Looking to get around via car? Find the cheapest car rentals here!

Nina walking on boulders out towards Lake Ontario at the beach in Toronto

Best Things to Do in the Beaches Neighbourhood, Toronto

This guide will help you find out where to go in the Beaches, the best restaurants, and local tips!

Pin this guide to have the best day trip from Downtown Toronto. You’ll feel like you’re in a small beach community, not close to the bustling business district.

Solo travellers will love the freedom of the Beaches, Toronto. You’ll find amazing coffee houses, unique bakeries, and lots of places to explore. It’s 100% safe and 100% fun to adventure alone in the neighbourhood.

Enjoy One of the Best Brunches in Toronto

You can find standard brunch spots in the Beaches neighbourhood for your classic waffles and eggs, but to get one of the best brunches in Toronto, head to Isabella’s Boutique Restaurant.

This adorable cafe has some of the most unique dishes in Toronto. My favourite – and the favourite of basically everyone who visits – is the mochi pancakes. These fluffy pancakes are incredibly pillowy and thick, with a variety of flavours like matcha and strawberry.

One order is more than enough for two to share with a side of protein, with each pancake dominating the plate!

Visit the Stunning White Sand Beaches

The Beaches district is known for having the best beaches in Toronto.

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Florida the moment you arrive, with the wide swaths of volleyball nets, the crashing of the waves, and the variety of water toys in use.

Don't Forget to Pack the Essentials!

.

It can be hard to decide which beach to spend your day on, since they’re all incredible.

But no day trip to the Beaches is complete without relaxing on the sand and reading a good beach read.

These are the best beaches in the Beaches neighbourhood:

  • Woodbine Beach – The most popular of the beaches and best for enjoying watersports or a day out with friends
  • Kew Beach – Less crowded than Woodbine Beach, this is my favourite area. It’s the perfect mix of the rocky outcroppings of Balmy Beach and the white sand of Woodbine, but without the crowds.
  • Balmy Beach – A rockier area with amazing boulders for beach-front photoshoots.
  • Silver Birch Beach – Best for visiting with your dog for some fetch in the water.

Get Out on the Water & Stay Active

Whether it’s swimming in the cleanest water in Toronto, or paddleboarding, or kayaking, having a water adventure is the cherry on top of the sundae of a day trip to the Beaches.

Check out these incredible experiences:

  • iPaddle Adventures for some awesome paddleboarding
  • Beaches Disc Golf Course for outdoor frisbee golf
  • Woodbine Beach Volleyball Courts
  • Play rugby at Woodbine Park
  • Toronto Beach Kayak to rent your own personal kayak
  • WSUP Toronto to learn to surf
  • Play basketball at Kew Gardens
  • SUPGirlz for some awesome paddleboard classes

Stroll Along the Beaches Boardwalk

The Beaches boardwalk is an 8km trail along Lake Ontario that runs behind the white sand beaches. You can wander this boardwalk from Woodbine to Silver Birch Beach to enjoy all of the best beaches in Toronto.

If you’re looking for an active thing to do in the Beaches, you should check out the boardwalk. People spend all day running, cycling, and rollerblading along this stunning walking trail.

The scenic views are easy to get, even if you walk for 5 minutes.

Hike the Glen Stewart Ravine

The Glen Stewart Ravine hike is the best in the Beaches.

The neighbourhood is famed for its parks, offering a small-town feel that makes you forget that you’re in Toronto.

But none offer hiking quite like the Glen Stewart Ravine.

This beginner-friendly hike is a boardwalk trail through the forest, with many metal staircases to give you amazing tree-top views.

Check out the Best Bars in the Beaches, Toronto

The Beaches, Toronto have an incredible selection of bars that you should check out.

Mom’s Basement is my personal choice – not just because the name is brilliant. They have this adorable couch section that makes me feel like I’m living in some mix of How I Met Your Mother and Friends.

Beer lovers need to visit Castro’s Lounge for their incredible selection.

Want more than alcohol? Head to Shamrock Bowl and Restobar to bowl the night away (with a few cheeky drinks).

Visit a Spa in the Beaches

Looking for a relaxing staycation idea in the Beaches, Toronto? Check out an amazing spa!

Enjoy some pampering after a relaxing morning napping by the beach.

I recommend visiting the following spas:

  • Pure + Simple has the best facials
  • The Ten Spot is one of my favourite Toronto nail chains
  • Salon Fortelli is the best all-round spa, with amazing massages and skin treatments

Grab a Snack at Tori’s Bakeshop

One of the main reasons I go to the Toronto Beaches is to get a ton of goodies from Tori’s Bakeshop.

Even before I was gluten and dairy-free, I’d visit Tori’s for the yummiest treats.

Stop in for a healthy lunch when you’re in the Beaches, then stock up on delicious sweets. Try their gluten-free muffins and amazing cupcakes!

Eat at the Best Restaurants in the Beaches

  • GG’s Burgers for a classic 50’s diner experience
  • Mira Mira Diner for signature donair sandwiches or fish and chips
  • Toronto Beach Club for a 5 star feast of seafood towers and steaks
  • Limon for amazing falafels
  • The Beaches Brewing Company with beachy decor and delicious beach-inspired fare
  • Fearless Meat for the best butcher’s cuts you’ll ever eat
  • Corks & Platters for local wine and platters of amazing snacks
  • The Stone Lion for the best pub food
  • Sunset Grill for a classic greasy spoon breakfast
  • Hogtown Smoke for INCREDIBLE BBQ
  • Xola for a latin flare
  • Breakwall BBQ for delicious BBQ that you can eat at the beach
  • Murphy’s Law for a rooftop pub
  • Ed’s Real Scoop for amazing ice cream
The water lapping at the white sand of Balmy Beach, Toronto

Epic 1 Day Itinerary in the Toronto Beaches Neighbourhood

9AM – Coffee at the Beach

Start your day in the best way, with a warm bevvie and an empty beach.

Grab a coffee (or decaf tea if you’re like me) and a pastry from the Remarkable Bean and head to Balmy Beach to start your day.

I cycled to the Beaches from High Park, so I had my coffee at home. I got to Balmy Beach by accident after overshooting my ride to Woodbine Beach.

At 9am, the beach is mostly empty. A few people were tossing sticks for their dogs. One jogger was doing laps of the shore. Some couples were enjoying pastries of their own.

It’s lovely and quiet, with the sound of the crashing waves the perfect backdrop for a morning photo shoot.

Take some incredible shots of Lake Ontario from the pier or the rock wall. I brought my new tripod (that thankfully survived a dog crash at the Scarborough Bluffs) so I could capture the moments more easily.

Nina posing on a pier with a sailboat behind her in Lake Ontario

(Side note: if you’ve never used a tripod, you’re missing out! Propping your phone up against your backpack or stairs is unnecessarily complicated. My new tripod and bluetooth remote have made taking photos on my solo travels so much easier!

Be prepared for your hair to get a bit windblown!

If you’re not into photography, enjoy a quiet stroll along the white-sand shores. You may have to dodge a dog or jogger as the morning goes on.

Glen Stewart Ravine hiking trail's stairs in the beaches neighbourhood

10AM – Hike the Glen Stewart Ravine

I’m always looking for a new hike, especially in Toronto. So I was thrilled to find one in the Beaches neighbourhood that looked promising.

Unfortunately, it’s quite uphill from Balmy Beach, so the hike begins earlier than you’d anticipate.

The route to the ravine take you through an adorable suburb with cute homes that will have you snapping tons of photos. I went slowly to marvel at some of the larger places along the edges of the park.

The Glen Stewart Ravine hike is great for beginners. The trail is made up of a boardwalk through the ravine. Follow the paths through towering trees and over the ravine itself. You’ll avoid wet feet and get incredible views of the lush greenery.

The stairs in the ravine are the busiest area. Joggers tend to use them for training.

I do recommend taking the stairs though. They lead to some awesome lookouts and make it feel like a real hike, rather than a green walk.

Nina posing in front of a graffiti wall in the Beaches, Toronto
Nina posing thoughtfully on the stairs at Glen Stewart Ravine in the beaches

Depending on how many turns you take on the trail, it doesn’t take very long. I got lost and stopped to do two photoshoots with some graffiti and at a lookout point, and I was still done in an hour and a half.

Bring water for the hike, especially if you plan to take your time. Although the path is mostly covered by trees and shields you from the sun, the stairs will definitely leave you sweating!

Tori's Bakeshop confections in the Beaches
Tori’s Bakeshop’s selection of sweet treats (with GF and DF options!)
Tori's Bakeshop confections in the Beaches

12:30PM – Lunch

After all that exertion you’ll probably be pretty hungry.

On my day trip to the Beaches, Toronto, I skipped the restaurants and got an array of snacks to eat at the beach.

Although I skipped restaurants on my day trip, the Beaches are known for their delicious eats.

If you’re really hungry, head to Breakwall BBQ & Smokehouse for a meal that may require stretchy pants.

For a nice patio meal, go to Murphy’s Law Pub and Kitchen.

To copy my plan of eating at the beach, head to Tori’s Bakeshop for a selection of amazing foods. Tori’s is the main reason I decided to visit the Beaches for my day trip. The cute bakeshop is famous for its gluten-free and dairy-free fare.

I went in hoping to grab a muffin and a tea, but left with a lot more.

Grab a wrap or salad for your main. Then check out their fresh juices to wash it down.

Don’t forget about dessert! I got their pumpkin muffin and can attest that it is TO DIE FOR.

Take a few different items to snack on throughout the afternoon.

White sand beach at Lake Ontario in the Beaches, Toronto

1PM Onwards – Relax at Woodbine Beach

Woodbine Beach is the biggest beach in the Beaches district, Toronto. It can get crowded throughout the day, but it’s worth a visit.

If you’re planning to get a large spot on the beach, you may want to flip the day and visit earlier. By 1, the beach is often full of pop up tents and families on lounge chairs, and other must-have beach essentials.

I prefer to read on the grass under the shade of the trees. Those areas are always available.

Bring a blanket to lay out on and some snacks for the afternoon, then relax into a boneless heap in the warm afternoon sun.

I found a comfy spot beneath a tree. It required a few adjustments as the sun went down and the shade moved over, but otherwise was really nice.

It’s quite calm off the sandy beaches, which makes it a lot easier to get into a good read or an amazing travel podcast.

The beaches boardwalk

5PM – Stroll Along the Beaches Boardwalk

I’m a sucker for a good boardwalk.

Getting to go for a nice walk amongst dogs with the sounds of water around you is a dream.

Toronto has excellent boardwalks and the Beaches neighbourhood is no exception. In fact, they’re some of my favourite in the city.

I prefer to go for a wander later in the day, when most people are packing up to head home for dinner. With Toronto heat, it’s usually more pleasant after 4:30, making 5 an excellent time to head out.

Head to Balmy Beach from Woodbine Beach. That way, whenever you get hungry you can head North to the main street for food.

Remember to wear shoes on the boardwalk. It may seem beachy and safe, but it’s better to protect your feet – especially from some of the less careful cyclists.

6:30PM – Dinner

Many people actually leave the Beaches, Toronto before dinner. I guess it seems easy enough to return home and eat there.

I did that but ended up so tired that I fell asleep halfway through the yoghurt with bananas I was eating.

While you still have energy, check out some of the delicious places to eat in the Beaches neighbourhood.

If you didn’t head to Breakwall BBQ for lunch, go for dinner.

If you’re looking for some pub fare with a twist, check out The Stone Lion pub (I’m a sucker for a good mac and cheese menu).

My favourite choice is Xola, a small taqueria. The intimate atmosphere really fits the beaches and is the perfect compliment to this day trip.

Where to Stay in the Beaches

If you’d like to spend more than a day trip in this stunning area, check out the following amazing hotels and Airbnbs/VRBOs:

Medieval style door in the Beaches, Toronto

When Is the Best Time to Visit the Toronto Beaches Neighbourhood?

This 1 day guide is definitely best for Spring to Fall weather. You wouldn’t want to be laying out on Woodbine Beach in the -25°C cold.

I recommend visiting the Beaches in June or August to get amazing weather and fewer people.

July is when the Beaches, Toronto hosts the famous Toronto Jazz Festival, which attracts thousands. (If you’ve ever heard of the Beaches before, this is probably why.) It’s an amazing time to visit, but it can get quite crowded.

Nina posing in Lake Ontario on a rocky beach in the Beaches neighbourhood Toronto
Nina posing in Lake Ontario on a rocky beach in the Beaches neighbourhood Toronto

Don’t Miss Out On an Epic Toronto Beaches Getaway!

Toronto can seem overwhelming, with so many skyscrapers and things to do Downtown. Everything starts to look similarly grey.

Whether you’re visiting for work, here for a weekend, or visiting Canada for longer, I recommend taking a day trip to the best-kept secret in Toronto: the Beaches neighbourhood.

This city break makes for an excellent solo staycation and can help you slow down after rushing around Toronto. Instead, relax at the calming beachside town that’s just minutes from the city.

You’ll thank me when you’re relaxing like you’re in Florida without having to pack a bag!

Looking to get around via car? Find the cheapest car rentals here!

Find More Amazing Things to Do in Toronto:

Pin this for later!

Beaches Toronto

Save this post for later!