Downtown Toronto Playgrounds

 

Toronto PlaygroundsWhen folks find out that we live in the heart of  Toronto with young kids one question we often get is… “where do they play?” Sure we live in a concrete world here and we may not have a backyard with green green grass but we do have a rooftop during the summers which we love and there are plenty of hidden parks and playgrounds in the downtown core. Only a true city kid would be able to hunt these downtown Toronto playgrounds  down! For those looking for things to do in Toronto with kids, don’t forget the playgrounds!

Little Monkey and Baby Boy have their favourite playgrounds in the downtown core and we think many a travelling family will enjoy our scoop because they’re easily accessible and right in the centre of it all. One tip to remember is to keep an eye out for daycares…most of them have a playground which is open to the public at off hours. We tend to frequent these after 5 p.m. on weekdays and then all weekend long and are yet to be reprimanded. My guess is that everyone is allowed to use these facilities since there are no locks on the gates. I plan to plead the fifth if I ever get caught doing something wrong!

Allan Gardens

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[themify_col grid=”3-2″]There’s a new playground in town and it’s right by the Allan Gardens where kids and dogs can have a pretty fine time. Allan Gardens is Toronto’s oldest park and in addition to the Greenhouse which anyone can explore all year-round, there’s two dog parks and up until this year kids only had a sandpit with a swing. The newest playground about to get a lot of love from us (and many local families) is a fancy one complete with a large sandpit, mazes and all sorts of monkey bars and riders. The only thing missing here is a splash pad[/themify_col]

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Wellesley & Church Street

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The 519 Community Centre has a drop in centre and we popped by one Tuesday evening for the Ontario Early Years Learning Program and that’s how we discovered the park with a sandy area and a splash pad during the summer! If the centre is open you also have access to bikes and toy cars.
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Esplanade & Lawrence Market Area

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David Crombie park is nestled off the Esplanade and is between Lawrence Market and the Distillery District. It may be shady at night but is a major residential and schooling area so there’s plenty of kids and families around. We love that there’s two different playgrounds here, one for toddlers and one for older kids. Swings, slides and basketball hoops can be found here.
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City Hall & Nathan Phillips Area

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This is a very hidden spot and our go to spot most days. Located behind City Hall and Nathan Philips Square this playground is for the City Hall daycare but like I said.. it’s open for public use during off hours and also between noon and 3 p.m. We frequently pass this spot so it’s not odd for us to pop in for a quick visit to burn off some energy. There’s swings, slides, fake rocks and some old school contraptions for which I know not the names of. Definitely very central for tourists visiting our fair city.
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Ryerson University & Dundas Square Area

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This is our local drop in centre and so we’re here quite often and the Little Monkey loves this spot because there’s plenty to do. The centre has a toy hut which has fake veggies, pots, pans, balls and anything else you can think of. This is in addition to the infant and toddler slides and bicycles. It can be a bit hard to find but if you walk into the Ryerson Campus’ Theatre School and ask someone they’ll direct you to the Early Learning Centre at the West Kerr Hall.
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AGO /OCAD & Chinatown Area

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[themify_col grid=”3-2″]Another hidden park this one is situated behind the famous OCAD building.  This spot has been recently renovated and reminds us of the ones we saw in Europe. There’s some wonderful play structures, a small splash pad and a huge garden with a bike/scooter path. Definitely our current favourite. Great if you’re exploring the AGO, OCAD or Chinatown area.
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I know there’s plenty more to add to this list so we’ll continue our hunt…there must be one by the CN tower I bet (well there is an indoor one as soon as you enter the CN Tower building but you have to go through security to access it)! Do you have a favourite downtown playground? If you’re looking for a list of other playgrounds in Toronto, beyond the downtown core, check out Danforth Dad’s reviews about Toronto playgrounds. 

  • Katja of Skimbaco
    May 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Looks like they are having fun <3

  • Satu VW / Destination Unknown
    May 15, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Good playgrounds is something I miss where we live, and we were really spoiled when traveling in New Zealand as it seemed there was playground even in the smallest little towns.

  • Reeta @houseofanais
    May 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Playgrounds are so great to have, when moving to England I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of parks, and surprisingly the more rural locations the better the parks get!

  • Leigh Powell Hines
    May 15, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Oh, you have some great spots in Toronto.

  • Laurel
    April 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Riverdale farm!!! That’s our kids favourite. Free (although they could really use a donation now and again) and open 365 days a year. What kid doesn’t love pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, cows, and horses??!?

    • Yashy
      April 24, 2015 at 11:17 am

      I never thought of them as a playground but you’re right there’s a splash pad there… is there a playground? Will add it to the list if there is!

  • Anne Taylor
    May 30, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    All of these playgrounds look great! We don’t have a back yard either but we manage to find great places to play!

    • Yashy
      May 31, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      We just have to keep an eye out for those hidden playgrounds, right Anne?

  • Anna Pry
    June 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    my kids would play at the playground all day, i wish we had one with water fountains to play in

    • Yashy
      June 7, 2015 at 11:30 am

      Little Monkey is a huge fan of fountains!

  • kristen visser
    August 10, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    what an amazing list of parks/playgrounds. my daughter LOVES going to the playground she could be there for hours if it was up to her

    • Yashy
      August 12, 2015 at 11:20 am

      Ours too!! It’s always a struggle dragging them away!

  • J Williams
    August 29, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Basically, you’ve listed all ones around Yonge St/East End. There is one (I’m not sure if you mentioned it) near King and Jarvis that was in pretty poor shape many years ago, not sure if it’s improved, but it had a fountain and a gazebo and was one of the only green spaces near there. You have not included the Roundhouse Park, or the Harbourfront centre (there used to be a playground in front near the Power Plant), or the one down by the water with the slide built into a hill (if it hasn’t been dismantled) across from the Island Airport. If you are going to go to Riverdale (which does have a pool) you might want to consider Withrow park, which is a very good sized East end park near the subway. If you are willing to go a bit further afield (from Yonge) there are a ton of other options, Toronto is a very green city. High Park (pool, wooden castle, free zoo), Budapest Park (concrete dinosaurs), Trinity Bellwoods (nice kids pool in the rec centre, ping pong tables!, indoor winter play), Alexandra Park (library, pool, ice rink), Christie Pits (pool, baseball, soccer, ice rink, indoor play time in winter), Vermont Square (fully fenced in!, toddler toys, indoor washrooms in community centre), Jean Sibelius Square (mini rock wall), Dufferin Grove (outdoor adventure play area with water and dirt, huge splash pad, ice rink), Kew Beach (unique wooden play structures, library, boardwalk and beaches), Centre Island (really nice splash pad, Franklin Gardens, beaches)……

    • Yashy
      August 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks for these suggestions!! They’re excellent! We focused on the downtown core by the TTC but I think we have to do a follow up on all these awesome ones you mentioned! Roundhouse doesn’t have a playground. does it? Neither does the Harbourfront … but if you can tell me where these two playgrounds are I will go take some pictures this week!

  • Penelope
    October 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Is the Ryerson drop in centre open every day? On the website it says it is only open on Thursdays from 6 to 8. Thanks!

    • Yashy
      October 14, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      The drop in centre itself is only open on Thursdays. The playground was open to the public during off hours and on the weekend but we popped by last weekend and it was locked. I wonder if they’ve changed the access policy!

    • Miguel
      July 30, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      Just went to Little Norway Park (next to the terminal for the airport ferry) today. It was great! Excellent wading pool and play structures, with shaded grass and tables for picnics. Location here:
      https://maps.google.com?q=43.633829,-79.398119.

      • Yashy
        July 31, 2017 at 7:02 am

        Oh I know the one you speak of!! Thanks so much… as soon as I can get a good pic of it I’ll get it listed!!

  • loucheryl
    November 11, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    There are so many awesome playgrounds in downtown Toronto. I was pleasantly surprised. I love your photos!

  • Nate
    November 15, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    love all the playgrounds

  • JaimeeM
    November 26, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Looks like fun!

  • Andrea Rees
    November 26, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Good to know! My favourite downtown playground is Dufferin Grove, we absolutely love it there and you can even have bonfires there (booked way in advance). Playground, market, shows in the park, pizza nights, mud pit. Amazing place.

    • Yashy
      November 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      bonfires!!! So fun!!!

  • Treen Goodwin
    December 6, 2015 at 8:07 am

    wow looks like an awesome playground , wish our playgrounds looked like these , awesome fun 🙂

  • loucheryl
    December 24, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    We are at our local playground today. 15 degrees on Christmas Eve! We had to go play today.

  • Laurie P
    May 20, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Our go to park was Vermont Square, not entirely downtown, but close enough…..it’s gone thru some serious upgrades i hear!

    • Yashy
      May 20, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      oh I’ve never heard of that one!!

  • Elizabeth Matthiesen
    January 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    This sounds very similar to Sydney, Australia where my daughter lives with her family. There are plenty of parks with playgrounds for children there too.

  • kathy downey
    June 29, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I live in a small Town and we have a lovely playground to play in !

  • Tom
    October 15, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Good list! Don’t forget Corktown Commons – I’d say it’s in top 3 downtown playgrounds along with Allen Gardens.

  • Sonia Persaud
    August 27, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    A new playground will open Fall 2018 near St James church. At the opposite corner. Jarvis St and Adelaide St E.
    It’s Market (St Lawrence) themed 🙂

    • Yashy
      August 27, 2018 at 10:45 pm

      Oh that’s going to be so fun!! Thanks for letting me know!!! We’ll check it out!

  • Kristy R.
    December 22, 2018 at 9:25 am

    There are so many great parks in Toronto. Some of these I didn’t know about. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yashy
      December 23, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      You’re most welcome!

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