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Toronto/The Beach

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The Beach is a district in Toronto. It is roughly defined as bounded by Woodbine Avenue to the west, Victoria Park Avenue to the east, Kingston Road to the north, and Lake Ontario to the south. Locally, there is a fair bit of debate as to whether the area is known as "The Beaches" or "The Beach" (see Wikipedia article on the area for more background). Nonetheless, both names are widely recognized.

Get in

By car, from the north: Take Highway 401 to Don Valley Parkway South, exit at Lakeshore Blvd. East. Follow Lakeshore Blvd East until it becomes Woodbine Ave. Turn right onto Queen St. East.

By car, from the west: Take the QEW Toronto to the Gardiner Expressway. Follow Lakeshore Blvd East until it becomes Woodbine Ave. Turn right onto Queen St. East.

By TTC: From downtown, take the eastbound 501 Queen St Streetcar and get off at any of the stops between Woodbine Avenue and Neville Park (which is the end of the line). Alternatively, take the Bloor-Danforth subway to Main Station and take the 64 Main Bus south to Queen Street East.

See

This section of Lake Ontario shoreline is known as the Eastern beaches, and includes, from east to west, Balmy Beach, Kew Beach, and Woodbine Beach. The 3.5-km Boardwalk winds along the beaches from Silver Birch Avenue to Ashbridge's Bay Park, west of Woodbine Avenue. The Boardwalk is a great place for strolling and people-watching, especially in the summer, when it's always a bit cooler at the lake than elsewhere in the city.

Kew Gardens, at the foot of Lee Avenue. This park includes a large children's playground and wading pool in the north-west corner. In the winter, there's the outdoor ice-skating rink. The Beaches Library, one of three Toronto Carnegie libraries, is located in the north-east corner.

Leuty Lifeguard Station, on the beach at the foot of Leuty Avenue. This Beach landmark was built in the 1920s.

R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, Queen Street at the foot of Victoria Park: Built in the 1930s, this beautiful Art Deco building is Toronto's largest water treatment facility and has been designated a national historic civil engineering site. It's been featured in a number of films and TV shows.

The Kew Williams House, also known as the Kew Gardener's cottage, is located at 30 Lee Avenue and is one of the most photographed buildings in the Beach. It was originally owned by the owner of Kew Gardens.

Do

It is possible to swim in Lake Ontario. The most common concern is water pollution. Toronto's beaches are tested daily from June to Labour Day weekend. You can check the water quality at any of Toronto's beaches on-line or by calling the City of Toronto's hotline at +1 416 392-7161. The Toronto Police Lifeguard Service program supervises Balmy, Kew, Beaches Park, and Ashbridge's Bay-Woodbine Park Beach from the first week of June to Labour Day, 11:30AM to 6:30PM daily. Swimming in the lake poses some dangers: the lake bottom is uneven and there may be sharp objects in the sand, and there can be dangerous currents. Take note of warning flags, and never swim alone.

Donald D. Summerville Outdoor Pool, Woodbine Ave at Lakeshore East, +1 416 392-7688, has an Olympic-sized pool, a large children's pool, and a diving pool. Open June 23-September 2, 2007, M-Su (weather permitting), call for times.

Take a self-guided tour of the neighbourhood, (PDF map), including the Boardwalk, Ashbridge's Bay and the Glen Stewart ravine. This 9km walk will take about 3 hours, but you can just do a section of it if you prefer.

Run, bike or inline-skate along the Martin Goodman trail: The Beach-section of this trail, (PDF map), is a smooth asphalt path running parallel to the Boardwalk. The Martin Goodman trail is 20 km long in total, and is part of the longer 350-km Lake Ontario Waterfront trail, [1]. It can be very busy on weekends.

Festivals

The Beaches International Jazz Festival, Kew Gardens, [2], is a free open-air event mainly showcasing Canadian jazz that takes place the last weekend of July each year, drawing over 800,000 visitors.

The Toronto Beaches Lions Easter Parade, [3], takes place Easter Sunday along Queen Street, from Victoria Park Avenue to Woodbine Avenue.

Bloomsday Toronto, [4]. A one-day celebration of James Joyce's novel Ulysses, occurring on (of course!) June 16th each year.

There are fireworks at Ashbridges Bay on Victoria Day (the Monday preceding May 25) and Canada Day.

Buy

There are lots of small, unique shops along Queen Street East, from about three blocks west of Woodbine Avenue all the way east to Victoria Park Avenue.

Anna of [5] is one of many artists who have studio's in the area.

Eat

Ed's Real Scoop, 2224 Queen St. East (at Beech Ave.), +1 416 699-6100. Homemade ice cream and cones.

La Tea Da Tea Room, 2305 Queen Street East (at Glen Manor Drive), +1 416 686-5787, [6]. Tea sandwiches, homemade scones with clotted cream and jams, pastries and petit fours, and a selection of teas. Reservations recommended for weekends. Tu-Su 11:30AM-6PM, closed M. $10-$20.

Vi Vetha, 2485 Queen St. East (at Neville Park), +1 416 686-5688, [7]. Good brunch selections, served until 4PM.

Drink

  • The Feathers Pub, 962 Kingston Road (3 blocks west of Victoria Park), +1 416 694-0443, [8], is possibly Toronto's most British pub, and has over 460 single malt whiskies available.

Sleep

There aren't a lot of accommodation options in the Beach.

Balsam Beach Inn, 14 Balsam Ave., +1 416 691-4958. One block from Queen Street. A century-old Victorian cottage. Self-catering suites, private kitchens and baths. $90-$110 per night. Innkeeper: Barry Simpson

Days Inn-Toronto Beaches, 1684 Queen St E (at Kingston Road), +1 416 694-1177, [9]. 5-minute walk to the beach. Free breakfast and high speed internet.

Cope

Public washrooms are located along the beach at Balmy Beach (at the foot of Silver Birch Ave.), Kew Gardens (at the foot of Lee Avenue), Ashbridge's Bay Park, Woodbine Beach Park.

Contact

Beaches Library, 2161 Queen St. East, +1 416 393-7703, [10]. Free computer and internet access. M-Th 9AM-8:30PM, F-Sa 9AM-5PM.

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