Your body may be in Toronto, but your brain will enjoy a wonderful vacation in any of Toronto’s easily walk-able gardens for seniors.
Evergreen Brick Works Evergreen Brick Works

Believe it or not, you’ll find tranquility such as this by Bayview Avenue in the Evergreen Brick Works. There are several trails within the park.

The Park has eight accessible-parking-permit parking spots in its main lot. The Evergreen Welcome Centre has wheelchair-accessible washrooms and there are a wheelchair-accessible Welcome Deck and terrace pond lookouts.

There you’ll find the weekly Farmers Market, as many as 85 shops, a cafe, even a working pottery where you can sign up for lessons. The Brick Works Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round.

TTC and Wheel Trans both have stops at the Evergreen Brick Works.

Why walks and gardens for seniors?

I’ve called these “walks and gardens for seniors” because they’re not only beautiful, they’re also accessible – they’re easy to get to and easy to walk around.

There are more than 1,500 parks in Toronto. Not only are there open spaces, there also are 600 km of trails. (Wow! That’s a little farther than the drive to Montreal!) The parks system includes about 40% of Toronto’s natural areas, many within the ravine system and along the Lake Ontario shoreline. There are gardens, conservatories and more to enjoy.

My wife and I have enjoyed many of these gardens and walks since our family included toddlers. Others, we’ve discovered only in recent years on some of those, “Waddaya wanna do this Sunday? I dunno. Go for walk?” days.

Corktown Common. Photo courtesy City of Toronto

Corktown Common. Photo courtesy City of Toronto

Corktown Common used to be an industrial wasteland where Lower River Street, intersects Bayview Avenue. Now it has this (see below) lush marshland, sprawling lawns, urban prairies, playground areas, a splash pad and a variety of inviting features like a fireplace, permanent barbeque, large communal picnic tables and washrooms.

This fascinating garden for seniors is just a short walk from the Distillery Historic District. Here’s an idea: How about an afternoon stroll and a nice coffee or even dinner in one of the District’s café’s, restaurants or pubs?

Music Garden. Photo courtesy City of Toronto

Music Garden. Photo courtesy City of Toronto

In Toronto’s Music Garden, the garden design interprets in nature Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello. Throughout the summer the Music Garden hosts free live performances by local musicians. The schedule is available in the Harbourfront website.

Allan Gardens. Photo courtesy City of Toronto

Allan Gardens. Photo courtesy City of Toronto

Since 1910, the Conservatory at Allan Gardens has been downtown Toronto’s botanical gem. It’s in one of Toronto’s oldest parks, originally a donation by local political and cultural leader George Allan. There are now six greenhouses in Allan Gardens, covering 16,000 square feet dense with exotic plants, awesome palm trees and heart-stopping seasonal flower shows.

My wife and I used to take our kids and our now-grown grandchildren to Allan Gardens, equipped with pads and crayons. They loved it! Allan Gardens is open 365 days a year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Allan Gardens is on the south side of Carlton Street between Jarvis and Sherbourne Streets. The Carlton streetcar will take you east from the College TTC station and the Sherbourne bus westbound will get you there from the Sherbourne TTC station. There is very limited free parking up Horticultural Lane from Gerrard Street. Otherwise, there’s metered vehicle parking in the area; just be careful of time limits.

Kay Gardner Beltline Trail, Toronto

Kay Gardner Beltline Trail, Toronto

Kay Gardner Beltline Trail, Toronto - over Yonge St.

Kay Gardner Beltline Trail, Toronto – bridge over Yonge St., TTC rail yards, just south of Davisville.

The Kay Gardner Beltline Trail is, as the name suggests, a trail and not really a garden. But it’s such a nice green and leafy walk that I couldn’t resist including it here.

The Trail runs all the way from the Allan Expressway at Eglinton, through Chaplin Crescent and past the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery to Merton and Mt. Pleasant. It restarts as Beltline Trail off Moore Avenue, a little east of Welland Avenue and loops, under several trail names, through ravines and David Balfour Park to its other end at Avoca Avenue, between St. Clair and Rosehill. Click here for the clearest map I’ve found.

This 9 km walking and biking path runs through Rosedale, Moore Park, Forest Hill, Chaplin Estates and Fairbanks, following the long-defund Toronto Belt Line Railway right of way. It’s less a “garden for seniors” than a pleasant walk with several entry and exit points along the way.

 

Toronto Botanical Gardens

Toronto Botanical Garden

Whatever you use to make pictures, take the camera or smart phone to the Toronto Botanical Garden in Edwards Gardens, on the southwest corner of Lawrence Avenue and Leslie Street. There are over twenty unique gardens and features to browse and enjoy. It’s no wonder so many weddings take place here and in Edwards Gardens! The Toronto Botanical Gardens will keep you more or less on flat ground. For the more adventurous who want to take in all of the gardens be aware that there are some hills and stairs, so not all areas are accessible.

There are three drinking fountains, a snack bar and one washroom in the park. Buses along Lawrence and Leslie service these lovely-for-seniors gardens. If you drive, there’s ample free parking, but it does get busy and there’s no street parking along Lawrence or Leslie.

Butterfly Habitat. Photo courtesy City of Toronto

Butterfly Habitat. Photo courtesy City of Toronto

At The Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat, you’ll find an amazing diversity of plant growth, from a wildflower meadow that contains tall a tallgrass prairie component, a shortgrass prairie part, a wet meadow and an upland meadow to native shrugs and trees between the meadow and Lake Ontario. The Long Branch 507 streetcar and the rush-hour Prince Edward Drive 66D bus service the Habitat. If you’re driving, just enter the east and west peninsula south from Lake Shore Boulevard near Park Lawn Road.

So…with 1497 parks to go just in the City of Toronto, where will you start? Late summer and early fall are beautiful times of year. The days can be hot and sunny, but cool in the shade. Many flowers are still in bloom and the trees may just be thinking about changing color.

There are so many more gardens for seniors and walks than the ones I’ve suggested here. Richmond Green, for example, on Elgin Mills Road between Bayview and Leslie in Richmond Hill, is a beautiful park for seniors and their grandkids. There’s a large pond and a good-sized waterfall…

So, if you run into one of those, “Waddaya wanna do?” days, I suggest a short trip to one of Toronto’s enviable parks, seniors gardens or trails.

 

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