The best spaces to have public barbecues in Toronto are quiet retreats from the hustle of city life, found throughout some of the city’s best parks and beaches. Equipped with a mix of BBQ pits and stands installed and open for public use, they invite grill masters to stay a while longer and take their picnics to the next level.
Those who’ve complained about trekking to the Sound Academy have a sharpened disdain for the Portlands, but travel a little further past Polson Pier and you’ll find a leafy beach park that feels like a world entirely removed from Toronto’s industrial wasteland. A channel away from Ward’s Island, it’s one of the city’s greatest escapes you’ll find without hopping on a ferry, and that’s all the more reason to fire up one of its public grills and revel in its splendour.
EARL BALES PARK
North York’s Earl Bales Park is Toronto’s closest ski slope, but before it became that, it spent time as a golf and country club. So it has a history with patient recreation under the sun, and because it features a number of fixed charcoal grills today, that means you can slow smoke some wings while soaking up rays or grill up your own hotdogs before sitting under the stars for a summer movie screening at the Barry Zukerman Amphitheatre.
HUMBER BAY PARK EAST
Taking a sharp turn into Lake Ontario, the Toronto skyline is a distant image (but still one that can be adored) at Etobicoke’s Humber Bay Park. Also a haven for butterflies, this all serves to make the space a deeply contemplative environment – just as long as you don’t mind sharing it with the condos looking over your shoulder. The banks of its landspits positioned facing the east, it’s also a perfect spot to catch the sunrise, and the fixed charcoal barbecues on the park’s east peninsula give you the option of grilling up a bacon and eggs breakfast right on the water.
The islands have it all: sandy beaches, car-free air, hedge mazes, Frisbee golf, open air bars – and yes, smoky, char gifting public barbecue pits and stands at Hanlan’s Point, Centre Island, Olympic Island, and Toronto Island Park. We just recommend wearing an apron or something if you’re opting to grill at the clothing-optional beach at Hanlan’s Point (don’t say we didn’t warn you).
Argos Tailgating at BMO Field
Not so much a quiet escape but here’s a reason to catch an Argos game this summer: tailgating is coming to Toronto. Game ticket holders will be permitted to tailgate by their car up to three hours before each game in designated parking lots at BMO Field. While you’re not allowed to BYOBooze, you can BYOBBQ. These lots will be fully licensed, serving ice cold beer for $4 among other bevies plus you can bring. There will also be a VIP tailgate experience with a full grill setup provided. More info on Argos tailgating here.
Fish fanatics flock to Scarborough’s Morningside Park every October to watch the fall salmon migrate up the Highland Creek. But as Toronto’s largest park, Morningside has a lot to offer all year round, and in the summer that makes it a prime destination for hikes that wind through remnant forests and end with casual conversations over the grill.
With sports fields aplenty in a thickly wooded shrine to plant and animal diversity, Sunnybrook is a favourite destination for team barbecues and family cook outs, made all the more so by its amply available charcoal grills.