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The Beach

Pan Am Games: Neighbourhoods to Explore During Your Downtime



La Cubana and Fonda Lola are among Toronto’s top Latin American restaurants (photos: Craig Moy)

Although they’re definitely the summer’s main event, the Pan American Games are hardly the only, well, game in town. Get the most out of your visit by setting aside some time—between checking out the basketball tournament, cheering on the triathletes and being wowed by wakeboarders’ stunts—to get to know Toronto’s compelling history, shopping hubs and cosmopolitan restaurant scene through these four downtown neighbourhoods.


Hot Shopping: Hit the Beach for the Arts and Crafts Expo

Ceramics by Blackbird Pottery are among the many artisan-made items for sale at the Beaches Arts and Crafts Show

JUNE 9 & 10 Take a break from downtown’s hustle to the discover fine artisan wares at this year’s Beaches Arts and Crafts Show. The outdoor showcase in The Beach community—yes, it’s just steps from the actual beachfront along Lake Ontario—features original handcrafted products by 150 Canadian artists, craftspeople and designers, including Alicia Wishart and her whimsical paintings, and April Gates, who makes gorgeous household ceramics under the moniker Blackbird Pottery. Now in its 28th year, the event offers a perfect opportunity to get some fresh air, explore one of Toronto’s signature neighbourhoods and pick up some lovely jewellery, art, ceramics, apparel, gourmet food and much more. Kew Gardens, 2075 Queen St. E, free admission; call 1-888-773-4444 or visit here for more information.


Hot Date: Jazz in the East End

JULY 15 TO 24 Summer in this city wouldn’t be complete without the Beaches International Jazz Festival. With Lake Ontario as its backdrop, this annual event features tons of free music, a street party and much more. Featured performers include Carole Pope, Terry Gillespie and Andy Kim. Woodbine Park, Kew Gardens and surrounding area, free; call 416-410-8809 or click here for more information.

You Are Here: The Beach

Offering more than three kilometres of sandy summer fun along the shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto’s eastern beaches are a destination for locals and visitors seeking a pleasant stroll, a quick dip, or even a volleyball match. Beyond the boardwalk, The Beach neighbourhood is brimming with quaint boutiques, restaurants and much more.

Click on any map marker for more information on Where’s neighbourhood favourites.
View You Are Here: The Beach in a larger map

Pippins Tea Company

RELAXED RESTO Situated just west of bucolic Kew Gardens, Amuse is an ideal endpoint after a day spent enjoying the local sights. In the open kitchen at this cozy, casually chic restaurant, chef Pat Riley cooks up a menu of market-fresh fare divided into either “familiar” plates or those from “the road less travelled.”

ENGLISH TRADITION A delightfully diverse potpourri of all things tea is to be found at the charming Pippins Tea Company. This Anglophilic emporium stocks more than 130 bagged and loose-leaf teas—including its own Pippins-branded varieties—plus delicious sweets like shortbread biscuits, toffee and preserves. Lovely classic and modern teapots, cup and saucer sets, and accessories fill up the remaining shelf space.

Arts on Queen

WELCOME BITE Decidedly understated and non-trendy, Wild Earth Café & Bakery focuses instead on what’s important: serving delicious little treats in an exceedingly inclusive setting. The newish neighbourhood nook specializes in organic, vegan, gluten- and nut-free products—all precisely labeled—such as double-chocolate cookies and even a sugarless teething bar for toddlers. Fair-trade coffees and a selection of teas comprise the whistle-whetting options.

ARTISANS IN STORE Denizens of The Beach are an eclectic bunch, and Arts on Queen (2198 Queen St. E., 416-699-6127) caters to their varied tastes. The longstanding gallery-boutique features folk- and fine-art pieces by Canadian artists and craftspeople, as well as a generous selection of unique jewellery, gifts and home decor items like handmade clocks, ceramic vases and more.

R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

SUMMER’S SWEET A day of sun and sand isn’t complete without an ice cream cone. Satisfy a cool craving at Ed’s Real Scoop, where owner Ed Francis churns out more than 80 flavours of house-made ice cream, sorbet and gelato. Fill up a waffle cone with two scoops of blueberry pie, or try a cup of green apple gelato—a tangy treat that’s guaranteed to help you beat the heat.

BUILT HERITAGE At the eastern edge of The Beach sits the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, a monolithic public works site operating since 1941. Renowned for its cathedral-like architecture, the structure presents a prime photo opportunity for shutterbugs seeking out of the ordinary views of Toronto. CanLit fans will note that the plant’s construction plays a major part in Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion.

Hot Date: Jazz on the Beach

Jane Bunnett performs July 25 at the Beaches International Jazz Festival

JULY 16 TO 25 Sway to jazz or swing your hips in rhythm with Latin music at the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival. The 10-day event draws more than 50 acts performing big band, Dixieland, Afro-Cuban, funk, soul and R&B tunes along Queen Street East, while main stages at Woodbine Park and Kew Gardens host larger shows. Jay Douglas & The All-Stars hit the Woodbine Park stage on July 16 at 9 p.m., while soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett—along with Johnny Sansone and Madagascar Slim—bring Afro-Cuban and blues  sounds to Kew Gardens on July 25 at 5 p.m. Queen Street East, between Woodbine and Beech avenues, free; call 416-698-2152 or visit here for a complete schedule.

Weekend Roundup, May 15 to 18

It’s a long weekend. Get out and enjoy it!

Touch sharks and stingrays at the Toronto Zoo (Photo by Dave Cruz Photography).

Friday: Sharks and stingrays at the Toronto Zoo (Photo by Dave Cruz Photography).

Friday, May 15
Interact with the bamboo and nurse sharks, stingrays and your family at the Toronto Zoo’s Sharks at Stingray Bay exhibit, opening today.

Dine amongst the stars at 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower. Included in its summer menu are delectable dishes like fettuccini with East Coast lobster, and wild Canadian prawns with plum tomatoes and tarragon-chardonnay cream.

Spend an evening at storied Massey Hall watching a performance by equally renowned Canadian rockers The Tragically Hip.

Saturday, May 16
Cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays as they swing for the fences at Rogers Centre against the Chicago White Sox. Don’t forget to stop by the Blue Jays Shop for souvenir caps, t-shirts and jerseys.

Embrace Mother Nature at the Royal Ontario Museum with interactive family-fun activities like exploring a rainforest and making tree frog finger puppets—part of ROMKids Nature weekend.

Blue Jays star pitcher Roy Halladay

Saturday: Blue Jays star pitcher Roy Halladay.

Experience the youthful romance and comedic magic of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as interpreted by the Canadian Opera Company. Composer Benjamin Britten’s intoxicating score links together the mortal and fairy world at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Select from an acclaimed menu of ale-infused entrees at Beer Bistro, and toast the long weekend with one of the restaurant’s 130-plus labels.

Sunday, May 17
Take in a heart-pounding Japanese drumming performance by Toronto-based ensemble Nagata Shachu, as part of Harbourfront Centre’s HarbourKIDS Impact Festival.

The boardwalk along The Beach (Photo by Craig Moy).

Monday: The boardwalk along The Beach (Photo by Craig Moy).

Dance and dine aboard Jubilee Queen Cruises as fireworks over Lake Ontario celebrate the Victoria Day weekend.

Monday, May 18
Be astounded by fire-eaters, acrobats and daredevils performing on the final day of the Toronto International Circus Festival.

Indulge your adventurous side with the new and interactive Wild World of Weather attraction at Ontario Place.

Admire the fireworks at Ashbridges Bay after 9:30 p.m., or swing by The Beach early for a stroll and an ice cream along the boardwalk.