Friends of the Toronto Islands

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Top 10 Reasons to Visit the Toronto Islands

Centre Island bridgeWith more than 2 million visitors each year the Toronto Islands are one of the city's top attractions.  Especially on a nice summer day it's a perfect place to relax and enjoy the weather.  Ferries depart from the city ferry docks at the foot of Bay Street, and the three island destinations are just a 10 minute boat ride away.  

Here are our Top Ten Reasons for visiting the Toronto Islands.

1. The ferry ride.  The ferries in use today date back to the 1930s and are a historic connection to Toronto's past.  The ferry ride also provides for some of the most spectacular views of the Toronto skyline.

2. Centreville.  Toronto's premier children's amusement park is a great place to take the kids for a fun filled day at the islands.

3. The beaches.  There are beaches located from one end of the main island to the other, and being located on the outside of Toronto Harbour have consistently good water quality.  The Centre Island beach is great for the family.  For the adventurous check out the beach at Hanlan's Point, one of the few "clothing optional" beaches in Canada.

4. Canoeing and kayaking.  Not just a single island, Toronto Islands are actually several islands separated by canals and waterways.  Those canals are a perfect place to explore in a canoe or kayak.  Boats can be rented at the Boat House not far from the Centre Island docks.

5. Bicycling.  The islands are crisscrossed with trails and bridges and being more than 6km from end to end bicycling is the ideal way to check out the entire park.  You can take your own bike on either the Ward's or Hanlan's Point ferries.  Alternatively you can rent bicycles, including tandem bicycles, at the bike shop not far from the Centre Island docks.

6. Far Enough Farm.  The petting zoo adjacent to Centreville has a variety of barnyard animals for up close viewing.  Donkey rides are also available for the children.

7. Picnics.  BBQ stands and fire pits are located throughout the park, or bring your own portable charcoal hibachi.  The islands are a great place for sharing a picnic with friends while enjoying the natural environment and view of the Toronto skyline.

8. Festivals.  There are numerous festivals on the islands over the course of the summer months including the international dragon boat competition, Caribana, music festivals, and many other events.  Check out our Events page for more information on upcoming events.

9. Weekend brunch at the Rectory Café.  A short walk from the Ward's ferry docks and a great place to start your island day.

10. It’s an easy 10 minute trip to a peaceful and natural location, and the biggest park located in the downtown core.

10% Off Discount Ferry Tickets

Ferry TicketFriends of Toronto Islands would like you to know about a special deal on ferry tickets.  It's a not so well known fact that you can purchase ferry tickets in books of 10 at a 10% discount off the regular fare.  This means that instead of paying $7.00 per return trip you only pay $6.30.  

To purchase books of 10 you must go to the furthest right of the ticketing counters as it's the only counter where these discount tickets are available.  Please note that discount tickets are only available for full adult fare, and not for youths and seniors who already enjoy a discount.

The other bonus of buying books of tickets is that you don't have to stand in line to buy a ticket each time you go.  Depending on the crowds this could save you a lot of time.  You'll be able to show up just in time for the next ferry and not have to worry about missing it. With your pre-purchased ticket in hand you can walk straight past the ticketing counters.  The admission gate, where they will take your ticket, is behind the ticket counters or in off-peak times sometimes you can proceed directly to the ferry gate itself where a crew member will take your ticket there.

Please remember that the fare for the ferry is for a return trip to and from the Islands.  You will require a ticket to board at the mainland docks when you depart.  However you can board any ferry at any of the three docks on the Islands (schedule permitting) and you do not require a ticket for the return trip.

For those curious, there is a monthly pass for the ferry but it's priced in such a way that it only makes sense if you use the ferry almost everyday.  That is to say, it's designed for the island residents.  However that's not very useful to a non-resident island enthusiast who tries to get out often.  Friends of Toronto Islands has been in discussion with the City about options for ticket pricing to encourage regular users of the Park.  If you have ideas or suggestions please let us know, and we will do what we can to work with the City for additional fare options.

For more information on the ferry schedule and fares please check out our Ferry Information page.

Harbourfront - Gateway to Toronto Islands
Atrium at Queens Quay Terminal BuildingEveryone who travels to the Toronto Islands must pass through Harbourfront to catch the ferry.  Often referred to as Toronto's "Fisherman's Wharf" there are many reasons to also include a Harbourfront visit during your next trip to the islands.

The cultural heart of the area is the Harbourfront Centre located at the foot of Simcoe Street beside the Queens Quay Terminal building.  From the ferry docks it's a short 5 minute walk and definitely worth a visit. Harbourfront Centre provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation. There are events and activites at Harbourfront Centre pretty much every day throughout the summer months.  Click here to see What's On Today and for upcoming events.

Located beside Harbourfront Centre is the architecturally distinctive Queens Quay Terminal building.  This former warehouse was the first poured concrete building in Canada. Designed in the late 1920's as a dry storage shed for general merchandise and cold storage, it was one of Toronto's first conversions of a former industrial building to a mix of commercial, office and residential condominiums.  It has also been recently recognized as the BOMA Canada, Toronto Building of the Year.

The Queens Quay Terminal encompasses a specialty retail centre with over 30 shops, restaurants, cafes and the 450-seat Premiere Dance Theatre, and is situated right beside the lake and the central Harbourfront boardwalk.