High Park’s Jamie Bell Adventure Playground is (to my knowledge) the biggest playground structure in the city and certainly one of the best (lots more pics here). Insanely busy in the summer but completely empty (except for us) on this warm November Day. Our kids hated his place when it is swarming with kids in the summer. But they loved it today. They particularly love bouncing up and down on the rubber Bruges (see pic below) especially when dad makes it bounce.
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While admittedly pretty and new, in my opinion, Corktown Common is the most overrated park in the city. It gets almost universal acclaim yet it has very few play structures for kids. A big slide, a smaller slide, a teeter totter, some swings, a water faucet to get them dirty (Ugh!) and a cool splash pad (open only from end of June till Labour Day). That’s pretty much it. It’s stroller unfriendly. There is ZERO shade for hot days – hence we go on cloudy days.
One thing I do like, however is there is a large public raspberry bush that you can pick raspberries from in June and July. It also has terrific bathrooms when open (was open at lunch time on Oct 20 but drinking fountains were shut off).
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The playground at Rosedale Park is one of the nicer outdoor community playgrounds in terms of facilities. It’s located in a swanky neighborhood, a half mile north east of Bloor and Sherburne – a 10 minute drive in no traffic from downtown. There are no free floating toys. There are public bathrooms immediately beside but they were closed at 6pm on Oct 13. I’ve never seem a train like they have here in a Toronto park nor such a large interactive wall with as many options (see pics below). It also has the highest slide I’ve found yet in a public Toronto park. Like many Toronto parks, it has a splash pad (that’s only open from end of June to Labour Day). Unlike most parks, it has a nice gazebo that was handy when it started raining and would be nice to eat your lunch under.
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The playground at Hideaway Park is one of my personal favorite outdoor playgrounds in the city. It has a nice play structure, sandbox, wading pool, nice treed green space, toys strewn around including riding toys. It’s tranquil and never very busy. It’s a tad south and east from Pape & Dundas and only accessible from a laneway on one end and a fenced in dog park on the other.
Ask Siri or Google Maps for directions to Hideaway Park and they will both lead you to it. There is normally a porta potty in the park, but as of today it’s not there. I guess they remove it after the summer is over.
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Beaches East Playground – where Silver Birch Ave meets the lake. As far as I know this playground doesn’t have a formal name. We call it the “Purple Park” for obvious reasons.
It’s a nice little park. Best things about it are that its almost completely shaded and there is a nice cool breeze off the lake. It has a sandbox full of toys and a smattering of abandoned toys around though far fewer than a lot of other parks. The climbing equipment is new and almost identical to that found at Stanley Park. There’s not a lot here, but equipment is new and almost identical to that found at Stanley Park. There’s not a lot here, but I really like it. Seems more tranquil than most other playgrounds.
And there is a nice, clean public toilet with change tables in both the men’s and women’s washrooms just down the hill from the playground – about 100 feet away.
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The pirate ship playground beside the soccer fields at Cherry Beach is terrific. Nice soft floor under the ship and play structures. Lots to explore. Swings, teeter totter and the usual play things. Our kids love this place.
The best outdoor public toilet in the city that I’ve see is 100 feet away. Change tables in men and women’s bathroom. Water thermos refill station. Sadly, zero shade which is why I left it to a cool day before I ventured here.
Set Google maps to 115 Unwin Ave (see map below) and it takes you to the otherwise obscure entrance. Drive in and you will see it immediately on the left. Or bicycle from downtown. My wide pushed the kids here in the jogging stroller. There is feee parking immediately beside. At mid-day on a September weekday there was nobody here but us.
Updare Note: As of April 2017, parking which used to be paid parking is now free.
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Alan Gardens playground, at Jarvis and Carlton, is another nice new park. Nice new structures and sand box. No toilet though. It, too, has one of those new rubbery fake wood chip floors that I love. Safe but not messy. It’s right beside the free botanical gardens in the Alan Gardens Conservatory – shown in the background. WARNING: bring a change of clothes for the littlest ones because this park has one of those mud park fountains like at Dufferin Grove Park. The kids WILL get wet and muddy and have a lot of fun doing it.
Neshama Playground, in the north/east corner of Oriole Park, is a couple minute walk from the Davisville subway. It’s a wonderful new park. Little fountains that start at the push of a button. A splash pad. A water thermos refill station. Bouncy rubber floor. Everything is new. A terrific new toilet. Lots of play structures. Easily now one of my favorite parks. So easy to get to. The subway stop has elevators for strollers. Strangely no change table. Right beside the beltway if one parent wants to run while the other hangs with the kids. And plenty of shade!
Kidstown Water Playground. How did we not make it here before? It’s wonderful and free. My kids had a blast. It’s north of Finch on Birchmount. A 20 minute drive from downtown. There is also. nice big play structure beside. Every bit as nice as the zoo water park but for free ;). Sadly, it’s only open from late June to Labour Day.
The playground at Trinity Bellwoods Park is one of the most modern in the city. Located on the central east side of the park, it sports a really nice, new and clean bathroom and a nice wading pool. Sadly, there are almost no free-floating toys like so many other parks. Lots of shade. A nice sandbox but no pails or shovels. My 19 month old had no problems with the blue/yellow structure. That whole loopy/silver thing beside the wading pool (see picture below) is for big kids.
When we returned in the fall we discovered that it is a wonderful park to play in the leaves.
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Stanley Park is another old city park. It’s playground is located at King and Walnut near Liberty Village. It ha has some nice shade and a nice sand box. Newly fenced in. Like many parks around the city, it has lots of abandoned toys, pales and shovels for the preschoolers to play with. Public restrooms are old but have plane wooden change tables – at least in the men’s room. Strangely there were no swings on the swing set when we visited.
Despite its aging play structures, Dufferin Grove Park, beside the Dufferin Mall, is one of the nicest shaded playgrounds in the city. Perfect for my toddler and preschooler on a hot sunny day. The kids love it. The wading pool is open from June to Labour Day. The public bathroom is quite a walk away for my kids and is rather smelly. My biggest issue with this place is the water/mud course they provide for older kids. Great for them. A recipe for extremely dirty preschoolers for me. Despite that, it is a regular on the downtown park rotation.