Summer Activities for Older Adults in Toronto
Famous for its diversity, waterfront, sports teams, restaurants and music scene, Canada’s biggest city is a wonderful place to visit throughout the year. But with the cold Canadian climate turning off many visitors, Toronto truly comes alive over the summer months.
If you have plans to visit the city this summer—or live nearby and want to make the most of your staycation—here are some amazing places to see and events to catch. These locations are accessible for older adults, but also fun for people of all ages.
St. Lawrence Market
Recently named by National Geographic as one of the 10 Great Food Markets Around the Globe, the St. Lawrence Market is a must-see Toronto landmark. The South Market has over 120 vendors selling fresh produce, crafts, groceries and other specialities throughout the week. On summer weekends, the outdoor Saturday Farmers’ Market brings seasonal, local produce to the city and the Sunday Antique Market is great for treasure hunting. On the second Sunday of the month, from June until September, enjoy a free lunchtime performance by Opera Atelier’s singers, instrumentalists and ballet dancers.
While you’re visiting the market, look for the iconic triangular Flatiron Building where Front, Church and Wellingtons Streets meet.
The Allan Gardens Conservatory is Toronto’s free indoor botanical garden located right downtown. Built over one-hundred years ago, the gardens house a collection of exotic plants from around the world and different climates—as well as a whole crew of turtles.
Stroll through the six connected sections to see the unusual cacti, colourful orchids and enormous banana trees, and in the summer, the plants that grow outside the greenhouse are also worth the visit.
If you can, bring a blanket or chair to catch Sounds Like a Park, the free music series held every Thursday in July at 5:30 p.m.
Made up of 15 connected islands, the Toronto Islands span five kilometers and comprise the largest urban, car-free community in North America. The ferry ride from the downtown core leaves every 15-30 minutes all summer long or you can take a water taxi to avoid the crowds. Book a senior ticket online to secure your spot. All ferries accommodate wheelchairs and bicycles.
The islands are connected by boardwalks and walking trails and there are several lookout points with stunning views of the city skyline. Depending on your mobility, bikes, kayaks and paddleboards are available to rent. Visit the kitschy Centreville Amusement Park, stroll past unique island homes, find the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, bring your own picnic or eat at one the island restaurants. There are also four public beaches with lifeguards on duty every day from June to Labour Day. Just double check E Coli levels to make sure it’s safe to take a dip.
Built in 1914, Casa Loma is the only full size castle in North America and a treasured attraction in the heart of the city. Experience the estate gardens, Gothic revival design, elaborate rooms and permanent historical exhibits, ending with a meal at the café or steakhouse.
One of the best reasons to visit the castle in the summer is the seasonal events. Enjoy live music under the stars at Symphony in the Gardens on Monday nights or Soul in the City on Thursdays. Catch a comedy show, murder mystery night or an escape room event throughout the summer. Tickets usually sell out, so book in advance if you’re interested.
This historic, pedestrian-only neighbourhood in the east end of the city is truly at its best during patio season. Wander down the cobbled streets enjoying the restored industrial architecture, upscale restaurants, shops, art galleries and seasonal food trucks. True to its name, there are breweries and distilleries including the Mill Street Brewery and Spirit of York Distillery Co.
Every weekend in Trinity Square, there’s live jazz and blues and the Summer Busker Series features music, magicians, jugglers and other live entertainment. The district is accessible, but because the streets are made of cobblestone, they can be uneven in some locations.
Kensington Market is arguably Toronto’s most vibrant and eclectic neighbourhood with a mix of renowned vintage clothing stores, art spaces, colourful murals, multicultural restaurants, cafes and bars.
During the summer, the best time to visit is on the last Sunday of the month for Pedestrian Sundays. The neighbourhood becomes a car-free zone and turns into a vibrant festival with live performances, local vendors, artists and most notably, delicious street food.
The Toronto Zoo is 710 acres and the largest zoo in Canada. It’s divided into seven geographic regions and home to 5,000 animals (including invertebrates and fish) from all over the world. During the summer months many of these animals enjoy their outdoor habitats. Make sure you don’t miss the new outdoor Sumatran orangutan habitat that just opened this summer to support the critically endangered species.
Because of the size of the zoo, the hop-on-hop-off Zoomobile is a great way for older adults and families to get around. Seniors Week runs from September 19-23, so you may want to save your visit until the end of the summer. Receive 50% off admission and 10% off food and gift shop purchases during that week.
High Park Outdoor Theatre
Canadian Stage’s Dream in High Park is returning for their 40th season with two outdoor productions at the High Park Amphitheatre. See the immersive dance experience ‘Young, Gifted and Jazz’ from July 6-8 or the Shakespearean romantic comedy, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, running from July 21-September 3. The production company also offers pay-what-you-wish pricing on the day of the event to provide accessible theatre for the community.
Summer Music in the Garden
Every Thursday and Sunday, from June 21-August 27, The Harbourfront Centre presents Summer Music in the Garden. This free concert event features 18 artists with a wide variety of musical styles in the beautiful, waterfront Toronto Music Garden. Visit harbourfrontcentre.com for dates, times and performers.
The Toronto Botanical Gardens also run free, 60-minute guided tours of the gardens on Wednesdays at 11:00 a.m. and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. Learn about the history of the Toronto Music Garden, the design process and the many unique plants that grow there.
Toronto Outdoor Picture Show
From June 22-August 23 Toronto Outdoor Picture Show (TOPS) presents the outside movie festival ‘Another World’. The festival opened at the historic Fort York and moved to Christie Pitts, Corktown Common and Bell Manor Park for the rest of the summer.
Screenings include, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Amélie, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, E.T. and other fantasy movies. Just remember to bring your own chairs and blankets. Here’s a complete list of dates, locations and films.
TD Union Summer
Running from June 26-August 27, you can enjoy free, daily live entertainment on a licenced patio right outside of Union Station in downtown Toronto. Programming includes music, comedy, live performances and a family-friendly, outdoor movie every Tuesday night at 7:30.
For the first time this year, the event will also feature rotating food vendors, including Egyptian, Italian and Cuban options with more to be announced throughout the summer. Find the full performance and movie schedule here.
Toronto is famous for a long list of outdoor festivals that run all summer long. If you are interested in the arts, there’s the Beaches International Jazz Festival, Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival, and the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair.
For food and culture, visit the Taste of the Danforth (running for the first time since 2019), Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Salsa in Toronto, Toronto Food Truck Festival and of course, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) from August 18-September 4.
This list includes mainly outdoor options and some of the seasonal events happening in the city, but there are so many other things to see and do in Toronto, including many indoor activities. The Royal Ontario Museum, Bata Shoe Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, any of the Mirvish Theatres or The Ontario Science Centre are all great places to visit any time of the year. Many of these locations also offer senior rates and specific days/times with reduced ticket prices for all visitors.
If you want to see some of the city’s top attractions, you may want to purchase the Toronto CityPASS. Adult tickets are $99.25 +HST and include a pass to the CN Tower and your choice of admission to any four of the following attractions: Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo, Ontario Science Centre and City Cruises Toronto. See the website for details and restrictions. If you have a Toronto Public Library card, you can also access the tpl:map pass for free tickets to some of Toronto’s top museums and attractions.
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