Natural Attractions in Toronto
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the most prosperous. While Toronto is generally quite a hectic city, it doesn’t take much to get away. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the city to enjoy some fresh air. It could be just within the city or somewhere in the suburbs, perhaps even a boat ride away.
Below, let’s take a look at some of Toronto’s best natural attractions.
Toronto Islands are closely connected with downtown Toronto. Often known as the backyard of the city, it is where the locals come to rest and recharge during the weekends.
The boat ride from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to Toronto Island takes about 10 minutes. Toronto Islands aren’t one island; it is Centre Island, Hanlan’s Point, and Ward’s Island linked and being grouped as one. These islands have no public transportation and no skyscrapers. You can only travel the island either on foot or on a bike. Luckily, the island itself is not very big. It roughly takes about two to three hours to walk from the west side of the island to the east side.
The Centre island has a variety of rides and natural attractions. Centre Island has an amusement park with parlor games, gondola rides, and a small golf course. There are swan boats and tandem bikes for you to rent, with small eateries for your service. Overall, the main island is probably the most tourist-oriented area out of every part of the island.
Hanlan’s Point has the only ‘Clothing Optional Beach’ in Toronto. It’s the Hanlan’s Point Beach. And by ‘Clothing Optional’, that means you can choose to swim naked or unclothed, essentially making this a nudist paradise. The beach’s water is quite clear and calm, suitable for swimming. On a side note, The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse nearby is the oldest building on the island. The Lighthouse has been operating since 1808. It is definitely worth your time to pay a visit.
Last but not least, Ward’s Island, which is more populated with locals, is less oriented towards tourists. The natural scenery here is also the most beautiful, especially the Ward’s Island beach. Ward’s Island Beach is a sandy beach that’s been recognized as a Blue Flag Beach. It entails that the water is clear and not too choppy for swimming. Besides water activities, there’s enough wind here to do kiting or windsurfing.
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Scarborough Bluffs is a cliff that stretches for 15-kilometers. Because the cliff is so long, it is actually impossible to see the entire cliff in one go. To better appreciate the cliff, you should consider visiting one of the nine parks built near. Out of all the parks, we recommend Bluffer’s Park and Scarborough Crescent Park.
Out of all the parks, The Bluffer’s Park is the only one with direct access to Lake Ontario. In addition to the cliff behind the lake, the beach here is also quite nice. It is, again, with Blue Flag, which is the highest level of approval for water quality. However, this beach is also crowded with tourists. The water might also be too deep for newbies to swim. Luckily, there are several barbecue stations on the side. There are also shades on the sideline, which makes this place perfect for picnics or just taking a stroll.
During the winter, Bluffer’s Park loses a lot of visitors, but it remains a charming place. Ontario Lake is now frozen, filled with local boats. The cliffs are now covered in snow. While it’s definitely not the same as summer, it’s still worth your time.
Another park that is also worth visiting is Scarborough Crescent Park. It is a half-moon shaped park built on the cliff. Formerly known as Scarborough Bluffs Park, the park has to be renamed to avoid curious tourists getting off the trail. You might find the hiking and fresh air here to be more thrilling. That’s because much of the trail’s view is blocked by trees, making this a great location to hike but bad if you want to look at the cliff. If you want to see the cliffs, Bluffer’s Park is the best place to do it.
Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve
There are many nature reserves in Toronto. The Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve is probably one of the most special natural reserves. It’s Canada’s best location for camping and star-gazing.
Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve is Canada’s first natural reserve that emphasizes the sky. It’s about a two-hour drive from downtown Toronto. The distances protect the Preserve from light pollution.
You can see Andromeda with your naked eyes. With a pair of binoculars, you can see Jupiter, Saturn, and the Milky Way. On good days, you might even witness polar lights. If you are a geology enthusiast, you might find the metamorphic rocks here worth investigating.
Dundas Peak, Webster Fall & Tew Fall
Dundas Peak is in the suburbs. It’s about an hour’s drive from downtown Toronto. This peak is in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, and there are few things to look for.
When it comes to waterfalls, people often only think of Niagara Falls. But the views at Webster Fall are not less impressive. Tew Fall is narrower then Niagara falls, but the water flows down as if they’ve been glitter with fairy dusts. While the Niagara Fall is spectacular, we find these two falls equally impressive.
And there’s also the Dundas Peak. While glancing from the peak, you can not only see the vivid greens below you but panoramic views of Toronto. Don’t forget to take pictures of the forest. While the color of the forest changes every season, the place remains stunning and scenic.
Balaclava Ghost Town
Balaclava is a four-hour drive from downtown Toronto and about an hour from Ottawa. As the name implies, it is a dead city, a dead city occupied by nature.
Balaclava thrived as a town, once filled with sawmills during the 19th century. After World War II, residents gradually moved out of Balaclava. The Government also shut down the road Balaclava to build a military base nearby.
Today, Balaclava remains as a ruin. Tall grass covers the floor. Tree trunks scatter around, blocking pathways and huts. River water flows by, wrecks any remaining structures into pieces. The entire place appeared desolated as if it were the set of some sort of post-apocalyptic movie. It’s as if an alternative future of the city comes here, waiting for any adventurers to explore.