"Forget all your troubles....forget all your cares...go Downtown" When Petula Clark sang that song, most people think about the bright lights of the big city. I think it applies perfectly to the
placid green spaces of the Toronto Islands that are literally at the foot of downtown in Toronto.
Walk, drive, bike or take a short streetcar ride, then hop on one of the quaint double decker ferries at the Queen's Quay Ferry Terminal and you are instantly transported far from the madding crowds into the fresh breezes, squealing seagulls and lapping waves of the Toronto Harbour. The ferry ride lasts just long enough to let you decompress and enjoy the view looking back at the cityscape before you arrive at either Centre Island,Ward's Island,or Hanlan's Point.
My favourite routine is to disembark at Hanlan's, relax and spread out a blanket for a picnic lunch under one of the huge trees beside the lagoon,you can even have a BBQ (as long as you bring your own charcoal) then take a long leisurely walk to Centre Island.
If its a hot summer day and you like to go "Au Naturale" you can also take advantage of the hidden nude beach at Hanlan's, but if you're not sunbathing, don't stare....you will get some unwelcoming stares' back. On the way to Centre Island you will pass Gibralter Point Lighthouse
that, as legend has it, is haunted by the murdered lighthouse keeper's ghost!
When you get to Centre Island, stop in at Centreville (the low key amusement park) for a ice cream and maybe a ride on the miniature railway, or peruse the farm animals at "Far Enough Farm", but don't let the horses get too near your ice cream!
If you have the energy, you can continue walking to Ward's Island and stroll through the colourful cottages of the permanent community there before boarding the Ward's Island ferry
back to reality, and the city.
And after all this you will be tired, but no poorer, because there is no entrance fee to the islands....just the very reasonable ferry fare.
So take your savings and have a good dinner in the city....you will need it!
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