An enormous green space in the city with something for all the family.
Spread out over more than 150 hectares – the biggest green space within Toronto's city limits – this is the place to go to observe wildlife, wander through an endangered ecosystem, get some exercise at one of the sports areas, or enjoy a leisurely picnic. An adventure playground and zoo are in place to make sure the kids stay smiling too.
There is a lot going on in this park and, once you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why there are guided tours of the grounds twice a month (first and third Sundays). The park owes its existence to John George Howard, an architect born in Britain who donated the land to the City of Toronto as a recreational area for the public.
One of the most striking features of the space is the range of natural habitats it encompasses. These include woodland, wetland and prairie, keeping every kind of wildlife enthusiast happy. The most important area from an ecological point of view is the black oak savannah. This endangered ecosystem once covered the landscape of southern Ontario, but the small portion that has been preserved in the park is all that is left today. Bird-lovers should head to Grenadier Pond to meet and greet the local cormorants and geese.
High Park is a favourite place for locals to come and play sports. There are a good range of facilities here, including tennis courts, baseball diamonds, football pitches and an outdoor swimming pool which is open during the summer. In wintertime there is an open-air skating rink.
18 designated picnic spots invite you to flaunt your hampers; just keep an eye out for the numbered wooden poles that mark them. Grenadier Café is also a safe bet if you don’t feel like packing a picnic.
There’s plenty for the kids here too. Jamie Bell Adventure Playground is a great play area, while the bison, yak and deer grazing in High Park Zoo are sure to capture any child’s attention.
The park puts on events such as Dream in High Park in the summer during which you can catch Shakespeare plays at the amphitheatre. Check the Canadian Stage Company website for more details.
The park is always open although some facilities, like the zoo, close at night. Free parking is available during the day. Buses, streetcars and the subway all come here too.