When you think of Toronto, you probably envision its spectacular skyline, diverse attractions, busy streets, and iconic streetcars.
But you may also be wondering, “Does Toronto have beaches?” Well, the answer is yes! Toronto offers a variety of stunning beaches along Lake Ontario, including popular spots like Woodbine Beach, Cherry Beach, and Centre Island.
As someone who grew up in Toronto, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting every beach on this list, and I can’t wait to share my personal experiences with you. I can also assure you that all of the beaches on this list are within the GTA. So keep reading to find the perfect beach to visit on a hot summer day in Toronto.
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is home to many different beach options, from secluded beaches to man-made urban beaches to a clothing-optional beach. There is a beach for everyone within the city!
Many of these beaches have also been identified as Blue Flag Beaches, meaning they meet the highest standards of sustainability and quality.
Located on the shores of Lake Ontario, this city is home to many of the best beaches in Toronto.
1. Woodbine Beach
One of the must-visit spots for beach lovers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Woodbine Beach, known for its large beach, wide range of activities, proximity to other amenities, and vibrant atmosphere.
At Woodbine Beach, there’s something for everyone. You can play beach volleyball, go swimming, or let the kids enjoy the playgrounds and splashpad. The long boardwalk is a perfect place for a leisurely walk, and the Martin Goodman bike trail is fantastic for cyclists.
Ultimately, what sets Woodbine Beach apart from all the other beaches in Toronto is the large variety of amenities and activities available at the beach and in the area. With so much to see and do at Woodbine Beach it is my number-one pick for the best beach in the GTA.
☞ See Also: 20+ Best Things to Do at Woodbine Beach Park
Address: 1675 Lake Shore Blvd. E., Toronto, ON M4L 3W6 | Blue Flag Beach
2. Kew-Balmy Beach
Kew Balmy Beach is located at the bottom of Kew Gardens Park and is just east of Woodbine Beach in the Beaches neighbourhood. It is one of the most photographed locations in Toronto, with its stunning beaches and iconic Leuty Lifeguard Station. It’s also one of my favourite places to capture a stunning view of the sunset in Toronto.
In this area of the beach, you will find a large off-leash dog park right on the water’s edge, and Beaches & Cream Cafe is the perfect spot to enjoy an ice cream or evening drink with a view of the lake. Year-round washrooms are also located here.
With an awesome children’s playground, a wading pool in the summer, and ice skating in the winter, Kew Gardens Park is also worth a visit if you are in this area.
To access Kew-Balmy Beach by TTC, take the streetcar to Lee Ave. or the Main Street bus to Queen Street, and then walk south through Kew Gardens Park. For cars, there is a small Green P. parking lot on Lee Ave. or residential street parking.
☞ See Also: Discover Kew Gardens Park in Toronto
Address: Bottom of Lee Ave., Toronto, ON | Blue Flag Beach
3. Silver Birch Beach
Address: Bottom of Silver Birch Ave., Toronto, ON
As you keep walking further east along the boardwalk from Woodbine Beach and Kew Balmy Beach, you’ll come to the end of the boardwalk, and it’s here you’ll find the picture-perfect Silver Birch Beach.
This is personally my favourite area of the beach. You have all the amenities of the beach, including the sand, swimming, and washrooms, but you will also find a large, unfenced off-leash dog park where dogs can roam and play freely, making it an ideal pet-friendly haven.
The “purple park” playground, complete with a large sandbox filled with sand toys, is also in this area of the beach.
Finally, it is here that you will find the impressive R.H. Harris Filtration Plant, affectionately known as the Water Works. This historical landmark has been featured in many Toronto movies and makes a perfect Instagram photo spot!
To access this area of the beach, you can ride the streetcar to the end of the line at the Neville Park Loop at Victoria Park Avenue and then walk south through the residential area to this beautiful beach. There is no public parking lot here, so if you choose to drive, you’ll need to park on the residential streets.
Four Toronto Island Beaches
When you’re in Toronto, exploring the Toronto Islands is a must, and the beaches on the Toronto Islands are spectacular! They have some of the nicest sand and the clearest water. There are a total of four different beaches on the islands that visitors can choose to visit.
The only challenge with these four beaches is that you will have to take the city ferry or a water taxi from Toronto’s harbourfront area over to the Toronto Islands.
The Toronto Islands offer excellent views of the Toronto skyline and are one of the best places to catch a Toronto sunset. They can get very busy in the summer, particularly on the weekends and holidays.
4. Centre Island Beach
Address: Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at 11 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2H3
Blue Flag Beach
If you’re visiting the Toronto Islands, be sure to check out Centre Island Beach, located at the far north end of the island. Not only will you find sandy beaches and breathtaking views of Lake Ontario, but this spot is also staffed with lifeguards and offers changing rooms, washrooms, and food.
Keep in mind that it’s about a 20-minute walk from the main ferry terminal and can get very busy during the peak summer season. But with all the amenities available, it’s worth the visit.
And while you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out the Centre Island Pier with its beautiful observation deck; it’s sure to be another highlight of your trip.
5. Ward’s Island Beach
Blue Flag Beach
If you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach, look no further. This hidden gem on the Toronto Islands is less crowded than some of the busier beaches, making it the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the clean water.
If your plan is to spend the day at this beach, take the Ward’s Island ferry, as this will bring you much closer to this particular beach.
Washrooms and an outdoor shower are conveniently located nearby. This beach offers a quieter atmosphere compared to other popular options, such as Centre Island Beach.
While there may not be a lot of amenities in this part of the islands, this spot is ideal for those who want to escape the crowds and spend some quality time relaxing on the beach. So pack your sunscreen and beach towel, and come experience Ward’s Island Beach for yourself!
6. Gibraltar Point Beach
Blue Flag Beach
My favourite beach on the islands is the quiet and secluded Gibraltar Beach. Facing south into Lake Ontario, the beach is bathed in all-day sunshine, making for a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere.
It’s about a 5-minute walk past Centre Island Beach, so it’s not far from the snack bars and other amenities.
Additionally, if you’re a swimmer, this is the nicest beach on Centre Island. To get there, take a 25-minute walk from the Centre Island ferry terminal.
Of course, riding your bike to this beach is another great option. Gibraltar Beach is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a calm and picturesque beach experience.
7. Hanlan’s Point Beach
Blue Flag Beach
If you’re looking for a slightly different beach experience in Toronto, Hanlan’s Point Beach is the place to be. As of March 2023, Hanlan’s Point Beach is now an entirely clothing-optional beach.
The soft sand is soft and cleaner than many other Toronto beaches, though it can be a bit rocky in the water at times. While I wouldn’t recommend this spot for families with kids, it’s a great place to catch a stunning sunset view of the Toronto skyline.
Plus, Hanlan’s Point Beach is LGBTQ-friendly and easily accessed by taking the Hanlan’s Point Ferry.
Overall, if you’re interested in exploring the nude beaches of Toronto or just looking for a unique beach experience, Hanlan’s Point Beach is definitely worth a visit.
8. Bluffer’s Park Beach
Address: 1 Brimley Rd. S, Scarborough, ON M1M 3W3
Blue Flag Beach
Located at the bottom of Brimley Road in Scarborough, Bluffer’s Park Beach is often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Toronto. What sets it apart is the exceptional quality of its water, which is notably less rocky and pebbly than other beaches, with a soft, sandy shore that makes it ideal for building sand castles and paddling in the shallow water.
The crystal-clear water against the backdrop of the stunning Scarborough Bluffs provides a picturesque setting for beachgoers. It is also an ideal spot for picnics and barbecues and the boat launch makes it a great place for boaters to head out for an adventure on Lake Ontario.
The biggest challenge for visitors in the summer months at the Bluffs is finding parking. By 10 a.m. on every summer weekend, the lot is full. Once the lot is full, police actually block cars from driving down Brimley Ave., the road that takes visitors to the beach.
Once this happens, the only way to access the beach is to walk down or take the bus. The distance is about 2 km (or a 25-minute walk) from Kingston Road to the beach on a very steep road.
For those who appreciate a quieter visit, it’s one of my favourite places to go in the fall, when the crowds thin out and the natural beauty of the area truly shines.
Ultimately, whether you’re here for a day at the beach or a peaceful autumn day, Bluffer’s Park Beach is considered by many to be one of the best beaches on Lake Ontario.
☞ See Also: Bluffers Park and Beach: All You Need to Know
9. Cherry Beach
Address: 1 Cherry St, Toronto, ON M5A 0B7
Blue Flag Beach
Cherry Beach (also known as Clarke Beach) is a much smaller but equally charming beach, just a short distance west of Woodbine Beach. This beach is particularly excellent for water sports and a quieter beach experience in the GTA.
Cherry Beach is the best place for kitesurfing, kayaking, and windsurfing. While there is a small beach and you can go swimming here, the beach is not as sandy as some of the other beaches in Toronto. This beach also does not have a playground for young children.
Cherry Beach also has one of the largest off-leash dog areas in the city. Cherry Beach distinguishes itself with its free parking, making it convenient for those traveling by car. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of amenities within walking distance, unlike Woodbine Beach. This also means it is usually less busy too.
Some visitors like to park their cars here at the beach and then join the bike trail to head over to Tommy Thompson Park or Toronto Harbourfront. This beach also provides easy access to the water for paddle boarders, kayakers, and kitesurfers. And although there is TTC access to the beach, it is not the most reliable route.
In exciting news, the Port Lands area around Cherry Beach is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar revitalization. This transformation is expected to bring significant improvements to the area, making it an even better destination for visitors in the coming years.
In the meantime, however, there can be some challenges accessing this location as the traffic can get really backed up due to the construction. Cherry Beach is a place to watch for exciting changes and developments in the years to come!
☞ See Also: Cherry Beach Toronto Guide 2024
10. Sunnyside Park Beach
Address: 2001 Lake Shore Blvd. W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L4
If you find yourself in the west end of the city, close to High Park, Sunnyside Park Beach is an excellent beach option to explore in the GTA. In addition to the beach, there is a boardwalk and bike trail that take you across the Humber Bridge, offering one of the most stunning views of the city.
In addition to a children’s playground and an off-leash dog park, the Gus Ryder Outdoor Pool is located right on the beach and is considered one of the best outdoor pools in the city, making it perfect for a refreshing swim with friends or family.
The historic, waterfront Sunnyside Pavilion is right beside the pool and has an observation deck and a seasonal cafe. It’s also a popular wedding venue in the city!
Parking is available off Lakeshore Blvd., (car park 208) but do note that it can get quite busy, and the one-way entrance/exit can be a little challenging to navigate, given the street’s heavy traffic.
This beach is great for personal boat launches, whether you’re into kayaking or canoeing. With a sandy beach, a fantastic pool, walking and bike trails, and a fenced dog park, there’s something here for everyone. Plus, it’s an ideal spot to catch the thrilling air show that takes place during the Canadian National Exhibition.
11. HTO Park Beach
Address: 339 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5V 1A2
HTO Park is one of two urban beaches located in downtown Toronto. While it may not fit the traditional image of a sprawling beach, it’s a fantastic spot to stop and enjoy a view of the Toronto Islands in the vibrant Harbourfront Area.
This man-made sandy beach features Muskoka chairs and umbrellas, providing a comfortable spot to relax by the lake on a beautiful day.
While swimming isn’t possible here, HTO Park beach offers a variety of water sports activities. You can rent a kayak, for example, to explore the waters and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
The beach also provides great views of the city, making it an ideal spot for those looking to take in the Toronto skyline. It’s also a perfect spot to join a Toronto harbour tour or take a water taxi over to the Toronto Islands.
While there is parking in the area, it can be busy and a bit challenging to access. HTO Park, however, is walkable from the downtown area, or streetcars run between the CNE and Union Station and along the waterfront.
With plenty of restaurants and patios in the vicinity, you can easily find a place to dine or enjoy a refreshing beverage.
HTO Park beach offers a unique urban beach experience right in the heart of the city, making it an excellent stop for a leisurely day by the lake and a great starting point for water adventures in the bustling downtown area.
12. Sugar Beach Park
Address: 11 Dockside Dr, Toronto, ON M5A 1B6
Sugar Beach, like HTO Beach, is a small man-made beach in the GTA area of Toronto, and it has a unique charm of its own. This beach is aptly named because it’s located beside the Redpath Sugar Factory. You can find permanent pink umbrellas and chairs on the beach where you can relax and enjoy the view for free.
While it’s a great spot to see if you’re in the area, some might find it overrated. The man-made beach is relatively small, and swimming is also not allowed here. If you’re not already in the area, it might not be worth going out of your way to visit.
Sugar Beach can be found close to the city ferries heading to the Toronto Islands, as well as the Paul Quarrington Ice Rink and Splash Pad. Parking in the area can be challenging, so it’s best to access the beach via bike or public transportation.
For those seeking an iconic Toronto Instagram spot, Sugar Beach is known for its distinctive pink umbrellas and beach chairs. While it may not offer the best traditional beach experience, it’s a unique stop in the city.
13. Rouge Beach
Address: 195 Rouge Hills Dr, Scarborough, ON M1C 2Y9
Rouge Beach is a quiet beach located in the far eastern end of Toronto, close to the border of Pickering. This peaceful, sandy oasis forms a part of the expansive Rouge Urban National Park.
Rouge Beach is also conveniently located near the Waterfront Trail, so you have the option to bike, hike, or skateboard while in the area. Rouge Beach is also a popular fishing spot, so don’t forget to pack your fishing license and gear!
However, do keep in mind that parking can be limited, especially during the weekends, so plan your visit accordingly to maximize your day at the beach.
14. Marie Curtis Park Beach
Marie Curtis Park Beach, located at the west end of the city near Mississauga, offers a convenient destination for beachgoers seeking a peaceful escape. This lovely lakeside park provides a range of activities, making it a great spot for a day out.
It features a small public beach, picnic areas, and an excellent playground with a splash pad for children, offering a perfect family-friendly setting. You can enjoy picnics, swimming, boating, and strolls along the walking trail. Additionally, there’s a fenced dog off-leash area for pet owners. Parking is readily available and free of charge.
With excellent facilities and beautiful views, Marie Curtis Beach Park is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
15. Jack Darling Memorial Park
Jack Darling Memorial Park in Mississauga is a perfect spot for families with children. The big playground and splash pad will keep kids entertained for hours, and the waterfront trail is perfect for walking or biking.
For those looking for a relaxing beach day, there are two separate beach sections to choose from. Don’t forget to take in the breathtaking view of the Toronto skyline from the waterfront trail.
And if you’re a dog owner, the park has a designated off-leas dog area for your furry friend to run around. Keep in mind that while the park has several parking lots, they do fill up quickly in the summer.
16. Beachfront Park
Are you looking for a relaxing spot to unwind near Frenchman’s Bay Marina in Pickering? Look no further than Beachfront Park!
This small beach may have pebbly sand and water, but it boasts a picturesque waterfront trail that’s perfect for walking or biking. If you’re visiting with little ones, there’s a playground and splash pad available for them to enjoy. It’s worth noting that if you’re not a Pickering resident, paid parking is available.
Final Thoughts: Best Beaches on Lake Ontario
In this travel blog post, we’ve explored the best beaches in Toronto, describing the various outdoor activities available at each of these beaches. My top recommendations are the three beaches located in the Beaches neighbourhood followed by the four beaches found on the Toronto Islands.
The beaches in Toronto are safe for swimming, especially under the supervision of lifeguards from June to September. In particular, those recognized as Blue Flag beaches, meet the high international standards for water quality and safety.
With so many beaches in the GTA to choose from, there’s no reason not to take advantage of all the amenities available at each one and hit the beach for a day while you are visiting Toronto.
Before You Go: More Toronto Posts
Now that you’ve read this post about the best Toronto beaches, you may be interested in reading this list of things to do in the Beaches neighbourhood, my complete list of winter activities in Toronto and a review of the Sheraton Centre Hotel, my top hotel pick in the city!