You read so much about our blighted Gardiner-isolated waterfront, you might think there’s nothing to do there but watch the sweaty rollerbladers pant past. Aside from that, you might think, well, there’s The Docks, and nobody knows anybody who has ever had a good time there. What’s a guy to do?
Behold, a few Toronto waterfront gems you might be passing up:
Center Island’s “Clothing Optional” Beach, Hanlan’s Point. Only one of five Blue Flag beaches in the country, meaning it meets international standards of water and soil cleanliness, it recently had the lowest E. Coli count of any of the GTA beaches. So yes, you can swim there. And it’s not just gay any more – on a recent (research) visit, XYYZ found that about 40 per cent of the sun-worshippers were female. So go ahead at let it all hang out. Just don’t confuse Hanlan’s Point (naked revelry) with Center Island Beach (raging duck crap). Plus, they arrest you at the latter if you drop trou.
Beach Volley Ball at the Woodbine Beaches. Lot’s of sand. Lots of fine looking women in bikini tops. Over twenty nets. Show up with your own volleyball and some breath mints and you’re ready to go.
Boat rentals. Kayaks, canoes, sailboats, the works. The Toronto Waterfront – as actually seen from the water – is pretty impressive. If you don’t want to start at Harbourfront, you can rent sea kayaks in the West End, put in at Humber College, and paddle down to Ontario Place. The Humber River is also easy to paddle and surprisingly scenic.
Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Center, 416-203-2277
Queens Quay Yachting, 416-203-3000
The Complete Paddler, 416-255-6905
Adventures at the Leslie Spit. No, really – it’s more than just a bunch of weird concrete backfill from the 1970s. The Spit’s grown in and evolved into a strange microcosm for urban expeditions. You never know what you’ll find or who you’ll meet (but be careful for that very reason). Expect anything from impromptu weekend bush parties – er, gatherings – to afternoon fireside chats with the locals. Just respect the regulars – they’ve been unofficially caring for the trails there for years.
The Donald D. Summerville Olympic Pool in the Beaches. An Olympic sized, outdoor pool, with evening lane swims, a five meter diving board, and a fantastic view of the lake. Free to the public. All you need is 25 cents for a locker.