Toronto’s own island community offers a quaint summer amusement park, paddleboats and bikes for rent, in-line skating paths, and plenty of grass and beach area for picnics. Best of all, there are no cars! Summer cottages from the 1920's are home to some 250 families, and feature charming English-style gardens. The Islands are a 10-minute ferry ride from the docks located at the foot of Bay St. The islands are also home to Toronto/ City Centre Airport, known as 'Island Airport' by Torontonians.
Catch the ferry at the Toronto Ferry Docks at the foot of Bay Street and Queens Quay. Return fare is currently $7 for adults, $4.50 students and seniors and $3.50 for children. There is no extra charge for bicycles. Water taxis are also available but are much more expensive. There is also a canoe taxi service that links the islands to the mainland and the passengers are expected to help paddling with provided paddles. Canoe Taxi fares are $10/adult and $5/child. The last ferry leaves the island at 11:45 pm during the summer months but take the ferry back at sunset for a spectacular view. Note that there is no access between the Toronto Island Airport.
The islands are all connected and can be walked end to end in hours, expect a lot of walking. A more efficient option is to rent a bicycle from the stalls at the pier. Traditional bicycles are $10 per hour per person, they also offer two and four seat options. Open only during the summer months.
The Islands provide the most spectacular view of Toronto’s impressive skyline, and are user friendly; signs instruct visitors to “Please walk on the grass”! No cars allowed, which make the area a favourite for cyclists, walkers and rollerblade enthusiasts. The many lagoons and waterways are populated by ducks and swans, and some areas are off-limits to people, designated as “wilderness zones” for migratory birds.
The three major islands - there are eight islands with names and several without - are connected by a tram system. And each has its own atmosphere.
The most popular is Centre Island, which features huge picnic areas, greenspace, a maze, a beach, a chapel and award-winning gardens. It also features an amusement park geared towards younger children. 'Centreville' has some 30 rides, a petting zoo featuring farm animals and pony rides, and picturesque swan boats circling a small lagoon.
A plaque at the Hanlan's Point ferry dock commemorates the very first home run that Babe Ruth ever hit as a professional base ball player.
Have a campfire on a beach of Snake Island overlooking the city.
Souvenir shops are plentiful during the summer, selling the usual sort of wares.
There are drinking taps on the islands if you're running low on cash otherwise there are various places to buy assorted overpriced beverages.
Camping is prohibited, although you may be able to pay a local to allow you to camp in their garden.
One of the options of sleeping on the islands is to boatstay. The overnight mooring may be obtained from one of the yacht clubs or the marinas that would provide electricity and other facilities. Alternatively, anchorage is allowed in numerous places throughout the islands' lagoons.
A number of island residents offer "Bed and Breakfast", expect to pay around $150-$200 per night.