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Things to see and do on Toronto’s Waterfront

Things to see and do on Toronto’s Waterfront

The Toronto waterfront means the lakeshore of Lake Ontario in Toronto. Its one of the longest urban lakefronts in the world, and it offers something for everyone. Take a leisurely stroll, relax by the water’s edge, get some exercise or even shop and dine.

Brief history

The central waterfront was an important industrial area for many years, and the harbor area was mostly made through a landfill. Toronto expanded along the waterfront with new residential areas to the east and west. So waterfront has changed a lot through the years.

Waterfront has been a hot topic of debate for many years, especially what to do with the area.

The industry moved away decades ago, so there has been a lot of changes and improvements to the waterfront.

Accessibility might be a problem because of construction works on some areas

Changes also mean that its not so easy to access to waterfront from some places. When we came to Toronto, ee tried to walk along the waterfront but had a hard time actually reaching it.

Walking along Queen’s Quay Street, we never saw a sign or clear path leading us to any parks or paths that actually overlooked the water.

All we found were some places to board water taxis and parking lots, hotels, condos, plus a lot of ongoing construction sites which all blocked access to the real waterfront.

What to see on Waterfront

Well anyway, when you find the waterfront, there is a boardwalk that enables you to walk closer to the shore of Lake Ontario and has helped to add more walking space.

Also, various other areas along Queen’s Quay have been designated as green spaces, or former parking lots have been turned into a beach area for people to enter.

Huge revitalization project with many smaller projects already completed is going to completely change the waterfront with new residential buildings, wooden boardwalks, floating piers and a series of bridges. The plan is one of the most significant infrastructure redevelopments in North America, and it takes 25 years to finish fully!

The waterfront area boasts lots of different sections of interest. There are several eye-catching landmarks along it. Some landmarks intentionally invite people to walk and climb on it.

For example, there is this area called Wave decks, which are a series of unique wooden structures along the Lake Ontario, that look like waves.

It is really just an artistically styled piece of boardwalk, or bizarre modern art, rather than a tourist destination. But it’s fun to watch and walk past it or across, and cool place to take photos. And kids just love to run up and down the wooden waves to burn some energy.

All in all, it is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours or half a day walking around on a warm and sunny day. There are bars and restaurants for refreshment and watching people passing by, and many benches to rest if it gets too hot.

When you visit the CNN Tower, you have an excellent view of the waterfront from there.

Running routes along Waterfront

We think the waterfront in Toronto is one of the best places for us to go out for a walk or a run or bicycle and sit at a cafe. One of our favorite running routes follows the west end of the Waterfront from Princes’ Gates via Ontario Place to High Park or little further to Humber Bay bridge to Ontario Place.

It’s about 6 kilometers one way, and it can take more time than you think because there are some excellent photo opportunities along the way. But you can always come back with a tram.

The key points on the route:

  • The Princes’ Gates is a huge arch monument.
  • Ontario Place is a park, but also a former theme park.
  • High Park is a wonderful municipal park, and it’s an excellent place to go for a loop run on its own, or just for a visit otherwise.
  • From the Humber Bay Arch Bridge you have great views to city, and you can take that running selfie there.

The area is still somewhat underutilized, and in some areas, unfortunately, a disjointed mess, but gorgeous in some areas. But we are looking forward to seeing the final result of the development project.

Explore more information about Waterfront-project and the area here.