Ultra Vires


Parks: Choose Your Destination

An in-depth guide to the parks of Toronto, written by seasoned park-sitters

Get your picnic blankets ready! As an accompaniment to our article in this issue, Toronto 101, we have made a list of the best parks in the city. Since the start of the pandemic, many of us have taken to parks to see friends and get in that oh-so-sweet socializing time. But, your favourite park defines who you are as a person, even more than being a law student defines who you are as a person. As a result, here is a roundup of (some of) Toronto’s best (and worst, looking at you Trinity Bellwoods) parks. Side note: don’t fight us on the neighbourhood categories, we’re just making rough estimations here, people.   

The West End 

High Park: kind of like Toronto’s version of Central Park, but not-so-central. Honestly, High Park is so far away that we have not spent much time in it. But there are endless paths and during the summer in pre-COVID times, a local theatre company performed Shakespeare in the Park! Just make sure you bring a fully-charged phone in case you get lost. Washrooms: yes. 

Trinity Bellwoods: also known as the outdoor version of the Eaton Centre. Avoid if possible due to excessive crowds. Washrooms: yes (but not always open), and there are portable toilets. 

Lisgar Park: neither of us have been, but it looks pretty sweet. Washrooms: no. 

The Annex/Yorkville/Bloor West

Christie Pits: even though it’s quickly becoming the large-park alternative to Trinity Bellwoods, Christie Pits is still a great option with amenities like a basketball court and a baseball diamond that hosts local teams. You may be disappointed to find out that your favourite spot in the grass has since become a skatepark though. Washrooms: yes.

Bickford Park: an up-and-coming west-side alternative to Christie Pits, Bickford Park has plenty of greenspace and a charming dog park! Washrooms: yes.  

The Backlawn of Jackman Law Building: for those of you who haven’t hung around the Faculty in the late afternoon/evening, the back lawn turns into a giant dog park after about 5:00pm. If you’re staying late at Laskin, we recommend taking a glimpse out the window or a walk outside to take in some of these wholesome pups. Perhaps it will spark a small sense of joy for you during these troubling times. Washrooms: yes, but make sure you have your key fob and a green UCheck. 

Dovercourt Park: a charming park nestled away north of the Annex with tennis courts. Washrooms: yes. 


Grange Park: a recently redesigned park behind the Art Gallery of Ontario. You can spend an afternoon looking at art (free for under 25!) and then relax under the trees. Washrooms: no (but there are washrooms in the AGO). 

Grange Park. Credit: Shae Rothery.

Roundhouse Park: full disclosure: I (Harry) used to work at the Toronto Railway Museum located in Roundhouse Park. I spent many days of summer 2019 in this park and I must say, it’s mighty fascinating (if you’re a fan of trains, like I am). Roundhouse Park is directly across from the CN Tower and takes its name from the Canadian Pacific John Street Roundhouse located on the grounds. There are various locomotives (including a steam-powered Canadian National!) in the park and a mini train ride operated by the Railway Museum that takes you through the park (only operating during the summer). In the Roundhouse itself, you’ll find Steam Whistle Brewing and the Museum in Stall 17 which features a marvelous collection of model trains and a train simulator! What’s better than beer and trains?! (Apologies for the excessive use of exclamation marks, but trains get me excited). Washrooms: yes, in Steam Whistle.

Moss Park: I (Shae) am all for an underdog story, and I’m honestly rooting for Moss Park—it’s the closest park to my house on this list. That being said, if you’re looking for somewhere to play tennis and you don’t like waiting for a court, Moss Park might not be a bad option. Washrooms: no. 

The East End 

Riverdale Park: a Toronto classic, you have probably seen many Instagram pics of a sunset from the Riverdale East hill. Looking to impress that cutie from Con Law? This is the spot. While Riverdale Park can get quite busy, there is a farm nearby with many lovely animals! Washrooms: yes (in Riverdale Farm). 

The Brickworks: a classic outdoor space, the Brickworks is famous for its manageable hiking trails and a Saturday farmer’s market (get there early to avoid the crowds). Downside: Inaccessible by transit, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. Upside: there is a Bike Share dock if you’re looking to really get your outdoors on. Washrooms: yes. 


Sherwood Park: a staple for uptown folks. Sherwood Park has many bike trails and a ravine that features several forested paths. Washrooms: yes. 

Mt. Pleasant Cemetery: ok, you SHOULD NOT arrange an afternoon hang at a cemetery (let’s be respectful, people), but Mt. Pleasant Cemetery is a wonderful spot for a bike ride. One might even call it… pleasant. Washrooms: technically yes, but you probably shouldn’t make a cemetery your regular hang out spot. 

Ramsden Park: across the street from Rosedale station, Ramsden Park is convenient for those on the Yonge subway line. As well, Ramsden features several basketball courts, a skating rink, a small skatepark, and a dog park, so a whole afternoon of fun no matter the season! Washrooms: yes. 

Honourable Mentions: Tommy Thompson Park, Downsview Park, Scarborough Bluffs Park 

Editor’s Note: Harry Myles was born in Toronto and has lived in the city for 21 years. Shae Rothery is an expat Calgarian who is learning to appreciate Toronto more each day. Having lived a stone’s throw away from some of Canada’s best national parks for 24 years, Shae knows a thing or two about parks. 

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