Escape The City In The City

From farms and trails to beaches and conservatories, Toronto places that feel like another planet

Toronto’s downtown core doesn’t exactly ooze tranquil, Zen-like, stress-free relaxation. Since a lot of people don’t have the time or resources to escape and head off somewhere far away, here are a handful of places that are in Toronto but that make one think they’re worlds away.

Allan Gardens Conservatory (19 Horticultural Avenue)

Nestled on the south side of Carlton Street is the serene, century-old greenhouse, open year-round. The conservatory, approximately 16,000 square feet, features almost every plant imaginable from bananas and cacti to Easter lillies and crocus. It also includes the “Palm House” which was built in 1909 and is based on similar buildings found in the United States and Britain.

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Evergreen Brickworks (550 Bayview Avenue)

Just north of the Don River sits the Evergreen Brickworks. Although it’s no longer a player in Toronto’s construction industry, it was the brick provider of many of Toronto’s landmarks including Massey Hall. While you can still see the downtown skyscrapers and CN Tower, its environs offer a step back in time with a park, ponds and cultural centre. The site was lauded in 2009 by National Geographic Traveler.


Sunnybrook Park (1132 Leslie Street)

Sunnybrook Park is a lovely getaway just south of Toronto’s Bridle Path area. Its roughly 150 acres are perfect for quiet walks, walks with dogs, or just general downtime. Cyclists also love it for its array of trails and paths. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful in the fall with leaves changing colors. Another perk: the Sunnybrook Stables which includes a riding school.


Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester Street)

The Riverdale Zoo might have left more than 40 years ago but Riverdale Farm still has plenty of animals around. This Cabbagetown delight has an array of farm animals used to replicate the livestock of pioneering days. Open year-round, Riverdale Farm has housed several community events, including the Fall Festival, while the Farmers Market is often busy. A lovely excursion from the normal daily grind. Refreshing and quite calming.


High Park (1873 Bloor Street West)

High Park is a beautiful plot of land just north of the Gardiner with Bloor Street West and Parkside Drive as its borders. And it offers nearly something for everyone, be it the zoo, long walks, ponds, beautiful trails, or the iconic Cherry Blossom trees. Tennis courts, the Sculpture Hill, and the various restoration sites round out the myriad of peaceful distractions in this heavenly haven.

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Cherry Beach (Cherry Street and Unwin Avenue)

Although it’s located around Unwin Avenue, Cherry Beach is without question a win-win situation. Previously known as Clarke Beach Park after the late Toronto alderman Harry Clarke, Cherry Beach offers little in the way of luxuries but plenty of space to relax. A nifty path, the Martin Goodman Trail, also passes through.


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(Photo by Margonaut via Flickr)