One of the main attractions in the High Park neighbourhood is the park itself, the largest municipal green space in the city for walkers, runners, hikers or anyone who wants to relax under the trees. The park which opened in 1876, is filled with every activity from the annual Cherry Blossoms to an adventure playground, splash pad, hiking trails and even a free zoo.
While locals and tourists flock to the park, the thriving neighbourhood along the Bloor West corridor offers local restaurants, and nature-inspired streetscapes with century old homes and manicured lawns. Accessible by streetcar, subway or on foot, the neighbourhood has Swansea, a residential community with a view of the lake, to the west side and Roncesvalle to the east. Here are just a few of our favourite hidden gems in High Park.
1. Free walking tours.
Life’s a walk in the park almost every Sunday, thanks to the High Park Walking Tours. The free guided tour is a 1.5 hour trip through the wooded park, and led by volunteer historians and naturalists. Each tour is themed (the next one is “More Bees Please”), and happens the first and third Sunday of the month.
2. To be or not to be.
While most Torontonians know about Shakespeare in the Park, many don’t realize if you arrive early enough, you can score a free backstage tour and behind-the-scenes look at the High Park Amphitheatre. Playing this year is The Comedy of Errors and Julius Caesar from July 02-Sept 06. Also, check out the Amphitheatre on off nights for live music under the stars.
3. Indoor birthday parties in the park.
While it’s a great idea to host a kids birthday party in the park, the weather might not cooperate. Off the beaten track is the High Park Nature Centre, offering indoor parties with nature-themed crafts, activities and treasure hunts. The centre is secretly located just outside the park on Parkside Drive, beside the Tennis club. Perfect for the eco-friendly child and a few of their creepy crawly friends.
4. Running club.
Thanks to places like The Running Room, there are various running and walking clubs through the park. It’s easy to get motivated when you’re exercising with a group in such an idyllic outdoor setting.
5. Workshops in the park.
Did you know there are adult workshops inside the park? The classes are organized by the Nature Centre, and the topics are endless including outdoor art classes, bird watching and even “fifty shades of green” (learn about the sex lives of plants!). Classes take place in the spring and summer months.
Photo by Chensiyuan, Wikimedia Commons