In King West, there are great small neighbourhood parks and there are great parks so close by and easily accessible they feel like neighbourhood parks themselves. Here are our top three picks for best King West parks, along with notes about a couple of smaller ones.
1) High Park
Toronto’s largest public park, is 400 hundred acres of hiking and walking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas and sports facilities. The jewel in Toronto’s park system, it features a beautiful lakefront, the High Park Zoo, a dog park, places to eat, greenhouses and wide variety of seasonal events enjoyed by children, families and friends every day. Hillside Gardens, which starts by the restaurant in the middle of the park and ends by the lakefront, has an incredible variety of plants, trees and flowers. High Park is home to many species of wildlife and contains an outstanding concentration of rare plant species as well.
There are several waterfalls in the middle of the gardens. Don’t miss the Children’s Garden, Grenadier Pond, and the trackless train. You’ll find convenient public parking as well as easy public transit to the park.
2) Sherbourne Commons Park
Sherbourne Commons Park has been named one of the nine best new parks in the world—and for good reason. The 3.6-acre, $30 million park is a remarkable. This innovative park features cool channels of water, a spacious and beautiful pavilion and a unique playground that is more about exploring than playing. And—most surprisingly—the park doubles as water treatment structure. There is a facility in the park’s pavilion that uses ultraviolet light to clean polluted water coming in from Lake Ontario. Water cleaned with UV light shimmers as it flows down chain-mail screens that are held by curved nine-metre-high concrete arms. Then the water bursts from these concrete structures through spikes into a splash pad where it erupts high into the air. The concrete arms are outfitted with motion sensors that change the water from blues to greens when you walk by. Adding to the park’s whimsy, during winter the splash pad turns into a skating rink framed by impressive frozen fountains.
Sherbourne Commons is designed with accessibility in mind. Elevations are essentially nonexistent, there are no steps, and the crossings of the water channel are level to facilitate wheelchair use.
3) Trinity Bellwoods Park
Trinity Bellwoods Park (West Queen West) features some fun and unique elements. Its squirrels are white, there’s a buried bridge, and art installations pop up randomly around its 37 acres. Book fairs, live theatre, bicycle polo and a particularly welcoming space for dogs all lend a relaxing and creative atmosphere to this lovely green oasis.
The spacious park also has some of the more traditional park offerings, including an off-leash dog area, tennis courts, baseball diamond and paths for walking or running. It’s a great place for some solo-downtime or a picnic with a group of friends. Visit the White Squirrel Coffee Shop or take advantage of the many surrounding restaurants, bars and coffee places.
Two smaller in-the-neighbourhood King West parks are worth mentioning. St. Andrew’s Playground, at the northwest corner of Brant St and Adelaide, is home to many mature trees, park paths, seating, a small playground and an off-leash area for dogs. It’s a nice and peaceful greenspace. A small paved parking area is located at the west edge of the park.
A few blocks away in Nathan Phillips Square is the hidden treasure of Peace Garden. Opened for the sesquicentennial of Toronto in 1984, Pope John Paul II lit the park’s eternal flame with an ember from Hiroshima and poured water drawn form a Nagasaki river into the pool. A small shelter and simple benches beside Peace Garden’s reflecting pool are inviting and uncomplicated.