Sunnyside Park is the perfect spot in the city to spend an afternoon or a whole day. Beach, pools, playgrounds and walking and biking trails make it an ideal spring and summer destination for everyone from solo city dwellers to couples to families. Here’s how to spend a day there.
Getting to Sunnyside is relatively easy. Located south of High Park and off the Martin Goodman Trail, the area is well serviced by public transportation.
You can take the 501 Queen streetcar to The Queensway and Parkside drive. From there head south to the Lakeshore pedestrian/bike path. You can also take the 504 King streetcar south to Queen St. West and get off. Then walk across the green bridge that crosses the highway. When I go to Sunnyside I'll often walk south from Dundas West station through Roncesvalles, which takes about 30 minutes at a moderate pace.
Walk and bike
The Sunnyside Beach area was made for aimless wandering. If you like just being by the water it’s a great place to come and walk or find a bench or patch of sand to set up on. There is a boardwalk for pedestrians and the Martin Goodman Trail for cyclists. The boardwalk follows the Lake Ontario shoreline and makes for a scenic walk with great views of the Toronto skyline. I end up taking a ton of picture every time I visit. You can take the boardwalk all the way to Humber River Bridge that crosses the Humber River into Etobicoke.
Paddle and play
Anyone interested in canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) can rent equipment at the beach through Toronto Adventures Sunnyside Rentals.
If you’re new to paddleboarding Toronto Adventures offers lessons June through mid-September. Sunnyside Paddling Club also offers SUP lessons and group paddles throughout the summer, as does Osha, which also does fitness and yoga classes on paddleboards. The water at Sunnyside Beach is ideal for paddlers thanks to the offshore breakwall that protects the area and provides calm water.
There’s also a children’s playground, wading pool (open during July and August) and beach volleyball courts in the area.
Sunnyside Beach is swimmable and many people in the city head there to splash around in the water but it’s not to everyone’s taste. If you’re wary, beginning in June you can check the water quality of Toronto’s beaches including Sunnyside on the City of Toronto SwimSafe page.
If you’d rather not jump in the lake you can take a dip at Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool. The large outdoor pool near the Sunnyside Pavilion, which offers lessons as well as leisure swimming.
Eat and drink
Newly reopened in May, 2015, Sunnyside Café is a prime spot to stop for a drink or something to eat while you’re at the beach. The menu consists of sandwiches, salads and pizzas and the expansive lakefront patio is one of the best in the city for eating and drinking by the water. It’s very easy to linger over a cold drink while looking out on the lake and beach volleyball games going on. In addition to the café there are a few concession stands selling pizza, snacks and ice cream.