You don’t need to break the bank to have the ultimate summer. Thankfully, we live in a city that offers a ton of affordable, and sometimes free, things to do. Treat this as your summer bucket list!
EAT & DRINK
For two weeks in July, Toronto foodies can enjoy three-course prix fixe meals at some of the city’s top restaurants for Summerlicious. There are over 220 restaurants participating, so get eating!
When: Now until July 24
Have a boozy Backyard bash
Call up your pals and tell everyone to bring a bottle, pour it into a bucket, add some lemonade, and you have yourself a porch crawler party! Porch crawlers are super easy to make and taste surprisingly pretty good. Check out our list of 5 recipes you should try.
Feast at Taste of the Danforth
Attracting nearly 1.65 million guests annually, Taste of the Danforth is Canada’s largest street festival. While admission is totally free, be sure to bring some cash to taste Toronto’s famous greek cuisine.
When: August 5-7
Street Eats at Union Station Market
Also known as the Union Station Summer Market, Front Street Eats is a quaint summer market that features a selection of over 20 talented Toronto vendors. This event runs seven days a week for the whole summer, and offers everything from Chimney Cones to burritos and sushi.
When: Now until September 5
Sip $2 Craft Beers
Calling all beer lovers! The Craft Beer Passport is like a scavenger hunt that allows you to try craft beer all over the city for only a toonie. The passport itself is $20 dollars to purchase and is valid until November, so you do the math. Check out the list of participating bars.
When: Now until November 30
The Ultimate Food Truck Stop
The Toronto Food Truck Festival is held at Woodbine Park this summer. Find all of your faveourite restaurants on wheels in one place. The best part? This festival is FREE to attend.
When: July 29-31
Cheap Toronto Eats
You don’t need to break the bank to eat great food in the city. There are a lot of great restaurants that serve an affordable menu, including the Local Pub Eatery, El Furniture Warehouse, 3 Speed, and tons more. Check out our list of Best Band for Your Buck Restaurants.
Catch a concert
Toronto comes alive with live music in the summer. Your best bet for cheap shows is to go and check out some up-and-coming talent. Not cheap enough? Indie Fridays at Yonge & Dundas Square and Nu Music Night hosted by our very own Bookie every Tuesday at the Horseshoe are totally free all summer long. Be sure to sign up to be an Indie88 Superfriend for weekly draws. Check out the full concert listings here.
When: All summer
Day at the Races
Cheer on the ponies at Woodbine Racetrack this summer. Admission and parking are free, and the minimum bet is only 2 bucks.
Free Outdoor Movies
Movies & Music & more at Open Roof Festival
Every Tuesday (sometimes Wednesday) until August 24, 99 Sudbury hosts Open Roof Festival – an outdoor cinema with vendors, ping pong tables, and pre-show musical entertainment. This is a non-profit event that packs a punch for $15.
When: Now until August 24
Shakespeare in the Park
With a pay what you can attitude, Shakespeare in High Park is a fun and unique summer experience for Torontonians. The High Park Ampitheatre is open and provides an incredible view while you cozy up to the great outdoors.
When: Now until September 4
The Beaches Jazz Fest
Held at Woodbine Park, The Beaches International Jazz Festival is one of few music fests that offer free admission!
When: Weekends until July 24
Toronto’s Colourful Caribbean Carnival
The Caribbean Carnival a Toronto summer highlight. With stunning costumes, great music, and must-try cuisine, there is a whole lineup of attractions that won’t break the bank. You can experince this cultural event for the rest of the month but don’t miss the Grand Parade on July 30.
When: Now through August
Be Awed at Buskerfest
In the city over Labour Day weekend? Check out Toronto’s Buskerfest and stop in your tracks at some amazing talent. This event is free and stacked with entertainment. You might even spot one of Toronto’s Best Street Performers.
When: September 2-5
Let’s go to the EX
The CNE is a MUST for anyone on a budget this summer. You might be tempted to spend a little coin to win that giant stuffed monkey for your boo, but there is plenty to feast your eyes on without spending any extra cash. Plus, $1 bowls of spaghetti. General admission is $18, with discounted tickets after a certain time. we’ll keep you posted on some must-do things at the Ex this summer. Stay tuned.
When: August 19-September 5
The Toronto International Film Festival draws film buffs and industry folk from around the globe, including Hollywood’s biggest stars. Escape the heat for 11 days of awesome, air-conditioned films. Catch some the year’s hottest flicks before they hit the theatre, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the elusive George Clooney.
When: September 8-18
Free nights at the AGO
Running out of ideas for a Wednesday night? The Art Gallery of Ontario offers free admission on Wednesday nights from 6 to 9 pm. This is a great opportunity to escape the heat of the city and soak up some art.
When: All year
Youth Day Toronto
YD T.O is a free annual festival that focuses on celebrating the positive achievements of young people. Attracting over 35000 attendees, this event showcases music, art, dance, photography, fashion, and film created by Canada’s youth.
When: July 24
Hide out in a Laneway Crawl
The Laneway Crawl Series aims to change the way the city interacts with its back alleys and laneways—neglected spaces that carry untapped potential. The series of mini pop-up festivals feature events like mural painting on garage doors, art workshops, jam sessions, and pickup sports. The next three events will be hosted in Little Jamaica, Danforth, and Christie Pits.
When: July 16, August 28, September 25
Find someFurry friends
Like walking through the looking glass, turn one random corner in a Toronto park and you’ll end up running into goats and llamas. Riverdale Farm and High Park are two of Toronto’s most beloved parks, both with the added bonus of free petting zoos. Just be sure to pick a day without a heat warning (good luck).
When: All summer
Green out at the Botanical Gardens
Reconnect with nature by taking a walk through the Toronto Botanical Gardens. Visiting the garden is free but bring some pocket change for the shop and cafe. TBG also hosts many events throughout the summer including film screenings, concerts, workshops, and farmers’ markets.
When: All summer
Take a Street Art Tour
Toronto is home to some seriously talented street artists, and taking a tour of it all costs nothing. Try checking out Graffiti Alley in The Fashion District (Queen Street West to Portland Street), Kensington Market, The Ossington Laneway, The Keele-Dundas Wall, and Canada Post’s Mailboxes to start.
When: all summer
Free Self-Guided Discovery Walks
See the Bluffs for yourself
You don’t have to venture far from the city to see natural wonders. Scarborough Bluffs is a breathtaking escarpment in Toronto’s east end that offers beautiful cliffside views of the lake that will make you forget where you are.
Summer Evenings at Todmorden Mills
Every Thursday evening from 4:30 to 7:30 pm, enjoy a free walk-around of the Todmorden Mills, including the latest art show in the Papermill Gallery and the Wildflower Preserve. There are also board games and colouring, and admission is free.
When: Thursday evenings until August 25
Flea Market Vibes
Toronto is stacked with markets, from the Junction to Leslieville to the Harbourfront. You don’t have to buy anything to enjoy yourself — keep your eyes peeled for free samples, live music, and nice scenery. Most flea markets run on weekends until the Fall, so find the one that’s closest to you and make a day out of it!
Hit the pavement
You don’t need to pay for a gym membership to get fit! There are a few running clubs like Parkdale Roadrunners that offer a fun and unique opportunity to work out for free, make new friends, and gain steady encouragement from others. Westenders can meet the Parkdale Roadrunners at the Gladstone every Tuesday evening at 7:45 pm and Saturday morning at 8:45 am.
When: all summer
Get competitive on the Islands
The Toronto Islands offer a ton of free beach volleyball and disc golf courses, particularly on Ward’s Island. Making a day trip out of it: rent a canoe, pack a few sandwiches, paddle over to the islands, and have a mini tournament with some friends! Best part? It’s free!
Cool Off in Pools and Splash Pads
Namaste in High Park
Looking to soak up that morning sunshine before the afternoon heat hits? Practice your downward dog with free yoga in High Park. From now until the end of the summer, enjoy morning yoga sessions every Sunday morning at 10am.
When: Sundays until September 25
(Main photo: misterjolly on Instagram)