A Day on Toronto’s Centre Island

by  Ann Babe | Apr 22, 2016

Set on picturesque Lake Ontario, Centre Island is a popular getaway from downtown Toronto. Though it’s just one of the many Toronto Islands, Centre Island stands out for its wide range of attractions, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Just 15 minutes by ferry from Queens Quay, the island is easy to reach; and with trails, beaches, restaurants, and more, it's just as easy to find an activity to suit every member of your group.

See & Do
Offering lots of kid-friendly activities, Centre Island makes a great family day trip. Rent a bike near the pier at the south side of the island -- they come in regular, tandem, and quad varieties -- and pedal around the island's many roads and trails. From Centre Island, you can also reach some of the Toronto Islands’ other areas including Hanlan’s Point and the more residential Ward’s Island.

Animal lovers will appreciate Far Enough Farm, where you can look at more than 40 different types of farmyard animals and birds (entrance is free). At Centreville Theme Park, kids can ride the Ferris wheel, play miniature golf, and splash down the water slides (a day pass runs $33.50 for adults and $23.50 for kids). The island also features five wading pools.

For visitors seeking activities that are geared more toward adults, Centre Island’s got those as well. Head to Hanlan’s Point, west of Centre Island and accessible by Lakeshore Avenue, to check out a clothing-optional beach. Not that daring? Don't worry; there are plenty of non-nude beaches on the south side of Centre Island, too. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the island’s volleyball courts and baseball diamonds, while boaters can go canoeing or kayaking.

Eat & Drink
Centre Island is covered in hundreds of acres of parkland, making it the perfect setting for a picnic. There are more than 20 picnic areas, some equipped with fire pits. Pack a lunch ahead of time or grab something from one of the many concession stands.

Prefer a full-service meal? Indulge at the Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co., which serves a meat-lover's menu of ribs, brisket, and pulled pork -- all with unbeatable views of the skyline (mains from $12). Or, for a taste of the quintessential Canadian favorite poutine, go to the Carousel Cafe, which also has burgers and flatbreads (mains from $14). If you're looking for a romantic date spot, stop at Ward's Island, where the lagoon-side Rectory Cafe features two garden patios and live jazz on Fridays (mains from $12).

Getting There
Centre Island ferries break for the winter but resume service on April 21. They run every 45 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes during peak times on weekends. Get on at Queens Quay on Bay Street, and consider buying tickets in advance ($7.25 adults, $3.50 children).

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