Visit Like a Local: Toronto Island
Posted on 02 June 2011
Ah, the glory of the Island in the summertime. As we finally begin to see some warmer weather, part of the anticipation of better weather is the planning of adventures, and for all we know, tomorrow could be a wonderful day. So let's make a plan.
My island day starts at home, but if I were visiting or otherwise without wheels, it would start here at Curbside at the crack of 11 am (when we open), renting a comfortable Dutch bike.
Next stop would be due South to Kensington market where I would pick up fresh fruit, some delicious deli meats (there are these amazing pork pieces at this one deli...), a few cheeses, and then I'd head further South to the ferry.
The best bike route to the ferry is up for debate. I like to cruise straight down Bay Street, but if you fear traffic, you can pick your way down on mostly residential areas. The ferry is on Queens Quay West, between Bay and Younge, but once you get close to the lake, it is tough to miss.
The ferry costs $6 round trip, including your bike. You may have a line to contend with, but once the boat arrives, the whole line is quickly swallowed up and you are on your way. You will also be coaxed by the cryers offering the luxury of the water taxi. This costs around $10 one way, but since the ferry is free on the way back, it can be considered a sort of round trip. The problem with this is that you often have to wait just as long for a water taxi, depending on how nice the weather is, and they often don't have room for bikes. We watched three different taxis leave before one with room for three bikes took us on, and while we waited the ladies were treated to the innuendoes and advances of the "business man" who managed the line from the dock. I say take the ferry.
Once you are on the island, simply enjoy. This is a mostly car-free zone, and it is yours to explore. On busy summer weekends it can be a challenge not to mow down the throngs of people/children/families, but if you are wise and go mid-week you will probably have the run of most paths. There are very decent off-road trails that I was able to truck along fine on in my giant Dutch bike, so they are by no means difficult, and the scenery is fantastic.
There are more commercial ways to enjoy the island (mini golf, rides, restaurants), but my favorite version of the islands is a south facing beach, or a ride on a quiet tree-lined path, or a lone patch of grass for a picnic.
It's a great place to make your own fun that you can fondly recount on your ride back home.
Stay tuned for more Live like a Tourist/Visit like a Local features, or click "Toronto" under the Rentals link on our website!
Pictures are from an actual bike trip to the island in fall a few years ago