If your days are dominated by Zoom meetings and the harsh glow of fluorescent office lights, then it might be a good time to visit High Park in Toronto.
Check out our guide to help you unplug, unwind, and embrace the therapeutic wonders of High Park. It’s a sun-drenched paradise, adorned with grass and trees, where the only notifications are the rustle of leaves and the call of adventurous squirrels.
- What is High Park in Toronto?
- History Behind High Park
- How to get to High Park
- Things to Know
- What to do in High Park Toronto
- Catch a show at the Canadian Stage Amphitheatre
- Take a dip in High Park Outdoor Pool
- Bring your family to High Park Zoo
- Go dog walking
- Go fishing
- Try gardening
- Join hands and go ice skating
- Have a picnic
- Enjoy the cherry blossoms
What is High Park in Toronto?
High Park in Toronto is a 399-acre urban escape, featuring charming walking trails, well-manicured gardens, and a lake.
With its cherry blossoms in spring, a zoo, and wildlife, it offers natural beauty and recreational opportunities for locals and tourists.
History Behind High Park
In 1836, John and Jemima Howard established High Park and deeded it to the city in 1873. Over the years, amenities such as playing fields, a swimming pool, and a zoo were introduced, leading to the loss of some natural areas.
In the mid-1970s, increased awareness prompted the designation of High Park as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. It’s now an urban oasis that continues to attract visitors for outdoor activities such as running, cycling, dog walking, and photography.
How to get to High Park
Address: 1873 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6R 2Z3
Website: High Park Toronto
Instagram: High Park Toronto (@highpark_official)
Hours: Mon-Sun: Open 24 hours
- By Bus: Catch the 80 Queensway bus route, linking Keele subway station to Sherway Gardens. Your stop? Howard Park Avenue on Parkside Road.
- By Car: Cruise down Bloor Street or the Queensway, turning onto High Park Avenue or Parkside Drive for easy park access.
- By Streetcar: Catch the 508 streetcar to Parkside Drive or Colborne Lodge. Alternatively, opt for the 506 streetcar, dropping you off right inside the park at the High Park stop.
- By Subway: Hop on the Bloor-Danforth line to High Park Station, and you’re just a short stroll away from the park’s entrance.
- Parking Info: Limited onsite parking is available, but both Kipling and Kennedy subway stations offer free weekend parking.
Things to Know
Admission Price: Good news for your wallet because admission is totally free!
Cherry Blossoms: The iconic Sakura trees bloom in late April or early May, creating a mesmerising spectacle.
Food: The Grenadier Cafe, nestled in the heart of the park, offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee.
Off-Leash Park: For dog enthusiasts, there’s an off-leash dog park for furry friends to frolic freely.
Photo Shoots: Professional photo shoots require a permit, so be sure to plan ahead.
Picnic: Bring along drinks, snacks, or a picnic meal—High Park provides plenty of picturesque spots.
Public Washrooms: Public washrooms typically open in late May, but during the Sakura season, some may be closed. Portable washrooms were introduced in 2014.
What to do in High Park Toronto
Catch a show at the Canadian Stage Amphitheatre
Instagram: Canadian Stage (@canadianstage)
Contact: (416) 368-3110
Immerse yourself in the world of live performances at the Canadian Stage Amphitheatre, conveniently located across from the Grenadier Café in High Park. Its Shakespeare in the Park series captivates audiences during the summer months.
Take a dip in High Park Outdoor Pool
Website: High Park – City of Toronto
Instagram: High Park Outdoor Pool
Hours: Mon-Sun: 10:30 AM–8:30 PM
Contact: (416) 392-7807
High Park Outdoor Pool boasts a swimming area, complete with a lap-swimming section, a waterslide, and convenient access ramps. A nearby wading pool and splash pad cater to the younger swimmers, making it a popular destination for families.
Open throughout the summer, it has washroom facilities, change rooms, and ample parking. Note that the City may occasionally implement closures or extended hours based on weather conditions, and a nominal admission fee may apply.
Bring your family to High Park Zoo
Website: High Park Zoo
Hours: Mon-Sun: 9 AM–5 PM
Contact: (416) 396-7378
High Park Zoo offers a charming experience for families – admission is free, and while donations are appreciated, the focus is on creating lasting memories. The zoo’s history traces back to the early 1900s when deer were first housed in High Park.
The zoo has fenced-off grassy areas where kids can interact with animals like deer, peacocks, highland cattle, bison, capybaras, bison, llamas, rabbits, and more. Please refrain from feeding the animals, and avoid the use of flashes when taking pictures.
Go dog walking
Good news, pet lovers! Dogs are more than welcome in High Park, but let’s keep it friendly and follow these park guidelines:
|Always leash your dog unless in designated off-leash areas. Dispose of waste in provided bins.
|Enjoy off-leash fun on the east side of Colborne Lodge Drive, north of Centre Road, and near the east edge of Allotment Lane (excluding Allotment Lane itself). Check park maps for specifics.
|Off-leash zones are great for mingling, but ensure safety. Supervise children closely, and remind them not to approach other dogs. Respect dogs’ space, as they may not be used to kids.
|Small Dog Areas
|These specific areas are only for dogs up to 20 lbs and 12 inches tall at the shoulders.
|While off-leash, keep your dog in sight and engaged. Off-leash doesn’t mean unattended.
|Play nice and scoop your dog’s waste, depositing it in the appropriate waste bin.
If you spot any issues or need assistance, don’t hesitate to report it to 311.
High Park’s Grenadier Pond, a designated area along the shoreline, is a protected natural space, offering an ideal setting for anglers to unwind. Just remember to follow these important fishing regulations, and you’re all set:
|Boats are not allowed on the pond.
|Broken Lines and Hooks
|Observe sport fishing regulations, and dispose of broken lines and hooks properly. Either take them home or deposit them deep inside covered garbage bins.
|Catch and Release
|Learn and practise proper catch-and-release techniques to minimize harm to fish. Safely remove hooks using barbless hooks, forceps, or needle-nose pliers.
Consider using lead-free sinkers and artificial lures.
|Always carry your fishing license while fishing.
|Safety and Respect
|Fish responsibly, avoiding interference with wildlife and fellow park users. Exercise caution while casting to avoid accidents.
Embark on a green journey in High Park’s Allotment Gardens, where individuals can cultivate a vibrant array of flowers and vegetables. These gardens provide a harmonious space for individuals to nurture their own patch of nature.
Due to high demand, existing allotment bookings have the opportunity to renew, while those seeking a lush plot must join an eagerly awaited waitlist for available spaces. For more info about booking, you can go here.
Children’s Garden and Teaching Kitchen
The High Park Children’s Garden and Teaching Kitchen is an enchanting space that has nurtured young minds since its inception in 1998. It hosts the Children’s Eco Programs, inviting children to engage in organic gardening, nature education, and healthy cooking.
The Children’s Garden allows campers, school groups, and program participants to delve into the art of cultivating fresh vegetables, and in the Teaching Kitchen, young hands sow, tend, and harvest the produce to craft delectable and nutritious recipes.
Join hands and go ice skating
Experience winter’s enchantment at High Park’s ice rink, open from November to March. Starting November 25, 2023, visitors can enjoy free drop-in programs and skating delights at various locations – registration details can be found here.
Whether you’re a novice or seasoned skater, you can embrace the season’s joy with indoor arenas opening in fall and outdoor rinks in late November. Arrive fully dressed for your skate, as change rooms and lockers are available.
Have a picnic
Guests can plan a lovely picnic experience at Toronto’s High Park by reserving an ideal spot from their 15 designated areas. For larger groups of 25 or more, you should secure a picnic permit, granted on a first-come, first-served basis – check out more info here.
You can also contact the Toronto Permit Office at 416-392-8188, Monday to Friday, from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. If your plans include alcohol, public food service, amplified sound, or complex structures, consider a Special Event Booking for tailored arrangements.
Enjoy the cherry blossoms
Website: Sakura in High Park
Instagram: Sakura Steve (@sakurahighpark)
Guests can experience the beauty of cherry blossoms in High Park, where numerous cherry trees grace the landscape. The peak bloom typically occurs in late April to early May, and you can enjoy the blossoms for four to 10 days, depending on the weather.
High Park’s cherry tree history dates back to 1959 when the Japanese ambassador planted trees as a gesture of gratitude for Toronto’s support of relocated Japanese-Canadians. Also, use the What3Words app to track where they’re growing.
Where to eat in High Park Toronto
Address: 200 Parkside Dr, Toronto, ON M6R 2Z3
Website: Grenadier Cafe
Hours: Mon-Fri: 8 AM–5 PM
Sat-Sun: 9 AM–5 PM
Contact: (416) 769-9870
The Grenadier Café, located in the heart of High Park on Colborne Lodge Drive, is a cute dining spot operated by the Grenadier Group. Steeped in history and surrounded by the natural beauty of High Park, the café provides a relaxing escape within the city.
With a patio and wheelchair accessibility, it’s an inviting place to enjoy their cheese and bacon burger or indulge in their eggs benedict. Its longstanding presence and dedication to preserving the park’s essence make it a must-visit spot near High Park.
Address: 229 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2L6
Instagram: ARIS PLACE (@aris.place)
Hours: Mon-Fri: 8 AM–2:45 PM
Contact: (416) 533-0100
Aris Place is a local gem renowned for its open-concept kitchen and array of heartwarming meals. With a reputation for serving yummy breakfasts at reasonable prices, this homey diner is very much a cherished part of the High Park crowd.
Their must-try items include their scrumptious waffles, crispy bacon, and shiny eggs. While the atmosphere may be unassuming, the taste, value for money, and friendly service make it a fantastic choice for a quick and filling breakfast.
Address: 299 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2M3
Hours: Mon-Tue: 5 PM–9:30 PM
Wed-Fri: 5 PM–10 PM
Saturday: 11 AM–2:30 PM, 5–10 PM
Sunday: 11 AM–2:30 PM, 5–9:30 PM
Contact: (416) 532-7700
If you’re craving BBQ, then drop by Barque after your High Park visit. Their diverse menu boasts enticing options such as juicy baby back ribs, chicken tenders, charred broccoli salad, fluffy cornbread, smoked brisket, and miso-smoked salmon.
Each dish is crafted with tender, flavourful meats, accompanied by their secret blend of spices and sauces.