It is summer in Toronto and one of the most popular neighbourhoods in summer is also my home. The Toronto Beaches, or the Beach, as its known to locals is a great place to visit on a beautiful summer day. Here are my favourite stores, restaurants and most importantly ice cream shop in no particular order.
Before heading out to the Toronto Beaches, you need to know that parking is very limited. There is a huge parking lot attached to Woodbine Park but it fills up quickly. If you park on a residential street in a no parking zone, chances are you will be towed to a local school and forced to pay a large fine.
The best and simplest way to get to the Toronto Beaches is to take the TTC. The Queen Street 501 car runs directly to and throughout the Toronto Beaches. You can also take the subway to Woodbine Station and then the 92 bus South which will not only take you to Queen and Woodbine (the start of the Toronto Beaches) but will take you to the actual beach and Ashbridge’s Bay.
Quick Service Food
The Toronto Beaches has yet to see too many fast food restaurants sneak in and still has a lot of small businesses running quick service food options. One of the best of the Toronto Beaches is Arax Shawarma where the young owner is constantly working with a great crew. My favourite foods at Arax Shawarma are the always fresh falafel and the homemade pita chips. Also don’t leave without trying a piece of his mother’s baklava. You won’t regret it. **Arax Shawarma will be closed as of June 15th for the young ambitious owner to embark on a engineering project. Solo Mom Takes Flight wishes him well. A new location is expected to open in Mississauga, Ontario in the future**
Another great place to check out in the beach is Moo Milk Bar. The shop sells only fresh baked cookies and local flavoured milk. The cookies are probably the best cookie you will ever try. In the summer, the shop’s owner Danielle prepares ice cream cookie sandwiches to order. Its a not miss treat when visiting the Toronto Beaches.
For the health conscious among us, try the Toronto Beaches’ newest hit Sanna’s Farmacia Organic Juice Bar. This shop is filled with organic produce and fruit waiting to be made into delicious smoothies and juices. Budget a little bit of time when visiting as everything is fresh squeezed and it can take a few minutes to make each drink. If you are in a hurry, there is a cooler filled with their most popular juices made fresh every morning.
The Toronto Beaches is filled with kids but strangely enough there are very few children’s stores in the area. Do not expect to head out to the Toronto Beaches and be able to buy your child sunglasses or swimsuit. What you can buy are some great books and cool toys.
Located right across from Moo Milk Bar is Ella Minnow, a children’s bookstore that is a throwback to the days before Amazon and Chapters. Ella Minnow is staffed by a knowledgable team who will recommend books your child has never heard of. Most of our family favourites have come from this store. Don’t leave before heading to the back of the store to check out the in-house bunny rabbit.
If you are looking for kites, beach toys or any other kind of toy, check out Mastermind Toys located a little further east on Queen Street. Again the staff here take their jobs seriously and there is always someone to help you choose the right toy for any occasion. My favourite staff member is a older gentleman (compared only to some of the young University aged staff) who always has a smile on his face and will direct you to the best birthday gifts you would never have thought of. Mastermind Toys also wraps all your gifts for you at no cost.
Sit Down Restaurants
One of the only gripes you will hear about the Toronto Beaches besides parking is the lack of great sit down restaurants. Having tried most of them myself, I can attest that there are some great ones as well as some true beach establishments. Today, I am only going to highlight the best.
Hogtown Smoke began as a BBQ food truck and is now a sit down restaurant in the heart of the beach. From organic chicken to ribs and pulled pork, it is nearly impossible to walk by Hogtown Smoke and not be pulled in by the smells. The restaurant serves great beer, the staff is fun and the atmosphere is incredible. The tables are lined with homemade sauces that add an extra bit of taste and fun to your meal.
You cannot head to the Toronto Beaches without making one final stop. Ed’s Real Scoop (or Ed’s) is the pinnacle of food in the Toronto Beaches. Folks it does not get better than this. Locals know this and gladly stand in line on hot summer days for Ed’s (he really owns it and works there) fresh made waffle cones and homemade gelato and ice cream. I could list about 10 don’t miss flavours but in my mind there is nothing better than the Sweet Cream flavour which is ice cream at its finest. Ed’s also serves homemade gelato, chocolate and take out pints of every flavour.
Hopefully, this guide will help you prepare a perfect day at the Toronto Beaches. Do you have a favourite store or restaurant in the Toronto Beaches? Put it in the comments below!