Posted May 2, 2020

A Summer Soundtrack to Exploring Toronto’s Greenspaces


Now that spring has truly sprung, Torontonians are making their way outside to spend as much time as possible in Toronto’s incredible urban parks. In honor of the arrival of Kimpton’s Off the Record 2019 Music Series to the Kimpton Saint George Hotel, we’ve created a summer soundtrack perfect for exploring some of our favorite Toronto greenspaces—comprised of Canadian artists, naturally.

► Listen to our playlist on Spotify here.

centre island park image credit city of toronto

Flowers are just part of the lure at Centre Island Park, which also features formal gardens, an amusement park, and a pier extending into Lake Ontario. Image Credit: City of Toronto

Trinity Bellwoods Park

One of Toronto’s most popular and largest downtown greenspaces, Trinity Bellwoods practically begs you to bring a blanket and a picnic basket, find a place on the grass and bask in the sunshine. Or, if you’re not in the mood for a lazy day in the park, you can check out the Farmers Market (Tuesdays only) or take your pup to the Dog Bowl to run around.

Suggested Soundtrack: Members of Metric have been spotted taking advantage of sunny days in Trinity Bellwoods, so it only makes sense to have a song like “Love is a Place” on your headphones as you soak up the sun.

Tommy Thompson Park

Billed as “Toronto’s Urban Wilderness,” the entirely man-made Tommy Thompson Park extends about 5 km into Lake Ontario and makes you feel as though you’ve truly escaped the city (while giving you a killer view of it). With an assortment of grassy trails, it’s a great destination for a nature walk or a casual bike ride. Bird watchers also seek out Tommy Thompson Park, as it’s home to more than 300 species.

Suggested Soundtrack: Eco-activism has played a role in the music of Neil Young for years, so what better backdrop to a Neil Young listening session than Tommy Thompson Park, designated as an Environmentally Significant Area that acts as a critical habitat for wildlife. Start with “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” and go from there.

Stanley Park

This park near the King West neighborhood is best known for its off-leash dog area and its reputation for being one of the best parks in the city to meet people. With a basketball court, shuffleboard court and stone ping pong tables, there are plenty of ways to strike up a conversation.

Suggested Soundtrack: With the seductive R&B sounds of Rhye’s “Open” in your ears, maybe you’ll meet someone worth taking to his Kimpton Off the Record live show at the Kimpton Saint George Hotel on Thursday, May 9th. Click here to find out how you can nab tickets.

High Park

Toronto’s largest public park has a bit of everything from rolling hills, a zoo and a dog park to hiking trails, picnic areas and a beautiful waterfront along Grenadier Pond. In the spring—usually April or May—the blooming cherry blossoms attract thousands of visitors.

high park trails image credit city of toronto

Don your headphones and queue up your summer playlist, then hike through the myriad of gorgeous trails in High Park. Image Credit: City of Toronto

Suggested Soundtrack: A park as immense (and lovely) as High Park is worthy of larger-than-life sounding music. Arcade Fire seems like a natural choice—the sweeping, cinematic “Wake Up” adds an ineffable something extra to a walk in the park.

Kew Gardens

One of the premiere parks in Toronto’s Beaches neighborhood, Kew Gardens stretches from bustling Queen Street East down to the popular Kew Balmy Beach. Home to tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a wading pool and playground, lawn bowling, plenty of greenspace, walking/biking baths and more, you could easily fill hours exploring all this park has to offer.

kew gardens image credit city of toronto

Located in a historic neighborhood, greenspace beautifully meets the beach at Kew Gardens. Image Credit: City of Toronto

Suggested Soundtrack: Match the energy of Kew Gardens with the sounds of Toronto-born alt-rapper k-os. An upbeat track like “Sunday Morning” will transform time spent in the park into a music video playing out in front of your eyes.

Toronto Island Park

The small chain of islands just a short ferry ride from downtown is rich in green space and park land and offers great views of the city. Ward’s Island to the east is more residential and features a popular boardwalk, a small beach and even a frolf course. Centre Island has the most attractions with fountains, gardens, the Centreville Amusement Park and more. Hanlan’s Point to the west has a variety of sporting areas, a beach (part of which is clothing-optional) fire pits and picnic sites and the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, which is said to be haunted.

path to gibraltar point lighthouse image credit city of toronto

Take the road less traveled to the Gibraltar Point lighthouse at Toronto Island Park and make your way down to the beach on a hot summer night. Image Credit: City of Toronto

Suggested Soundtrack: The clothing-optional beach at Hanlan’s Point makes Alvvays“Adult Diversion” feel like the right choice.

Toronto Music Garden

Down by the lakeshore, this picturesque garden was designed in part by celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma. A combination of creative vegetation and imaginative architecture, the design of the park is inspired by Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007.

music garden image credit city of toronto

Check the events calendar for free classical performances throughout the summer in the enchanting Toronto Music Garden. Image Credit: City of Toronto

Suggested Soundtrack: Is there any greenspace in Toronto more suited to a soundtrack? You can take a guided tour or a handheld audio tour of the garden, but in the spirit of classical music with a nod to Canada, consider listening to Glenn Gould’s take on the Goldberg Variations as you stroll the grounds.

—Laura Moore


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