Planning a trip to Scarborough, Toronto?
You probably already have a to-do list put together for when you get there, but make sure that itinerary includes these 13 activities.
Explore the Scarborough Bluffs
The Scarborough Bluffs are, without a doubt, one of the highlights of a visit to Scarborough. They were first formed over 12,000 years ago, with the erosion and wind from Lake Ontario continuing to shape the bluffs today.
This 15km stretch of towering white cliffs surrounding the sparkling Lake Ontario is home to nine different parks, making it a nature lover’s paradise.
Wondering which parks to visit?
They all boast incredible views of the Bluffs and the lake, and an incredible array of wildlife can be seen at each one, from deer, mink, and coyote to geese, swans, and loons.
However, there are three parks that have particular highlights that are not to be missed:
- Scarboro Crescent Park – hike to the top of this park for one of the best views of the lake down below
- Bluffer’s Park – this is the only park that has its very own sandy beach, along with direct access to the lake, and it is also a great one for swimming and paddleboarding
- East Point Park – this is one of the largest park’s in eastern Toronto, and is famous for attracting migratory birds. The walking trails here offer the best opportunities to try to spot some of the 178 different bird species that have been seen here
Visit the Toronto Zoo
Famous for being one of the biggest zoos in the world, as well as the very best in Canada, the Toronto Zoo can be found in Scarborough.
This is an activity that will delight both adults and children alike – there are over 450 different animal species here, with more than 5000 animals in total.
The park is categorized into seven different areas, from the Americas to the Canadian Domain to the Tundra Trek, each one home to animals that would have naturally called those regions home.
Daily animal feedings and talks, along with 10km of walking trails, means that this is a zoo you could easily spend the entire day at.
If you happen to be visiting Scarborough in the summer, then you will also be able to make the most of the zoo’s Splash Island – two acres of water-based fun and games.
Shop Till You Drop at the Scarborough Town Centre
Famous for being the largest shopping center in the east end of Toronto, Scarborough Town Centre is a sleek and modern mall that is home to over 250 different stores.
The fashion brands that call this mall home offer a mix of both international designer wear and quirky, local styles, while everything from jewelry to home goods to footwear can also be found here.
As you browse the mall, you’ll also come across an OROGOLD store. Stop by to treat your skin to free product demonstrations, a VIP gold facial, and some of the best expert skin care advice you will have ever received.
Once you’ve had your skin care fix, spend the rest of the day sampling the delicious foods on offer at the mall’s many restaurants, before relaxing for a couple of hours at the movie theater.
Tour the Scarborough Museum
When visiting a new destination, it always pays to spend some time learning a little more about that region’s history and culture – this will give you a much deeper understanding and appreciation of everything you see around you.
The Scarborough Museum is the perfect place to do this. It takes you right back to the very early days of Scarborough, with walking trails that lead you from early settlements to the major cosmopolitan hub that the city is today.
The museum is actually located on a property that was first settled back in the 1790’s, with the gardens also being well worth exploring.
Check Out Some of Scarborough’s Historic Churches
Once you’ve had a small taster of Scarborough’s history from the museum, spend some time exploring a few of the historic churches around the area.
The Knox Church dates back to 1848 – although it started as a wood frame church, it was rebuilt in brick in 1872.
The Church of St. Jude was also built in 1848, but this time the original building is still in place, making it one of Scarborough’s oldest churches.
The Christ Church Scarborough Village is another important building. Although first constructed back in 1833, the church was damaged by a fire in 1918, requiring it to be rebuilt in brick. As Scarborough’s population continued to grow, it wasn’t too long before the church was too small to accommodate the crowd that wanted to visit, leading to a third church being built in 1937. However, the architectural style of this church is very similar to the first one that was established, giving you a good idea of what the structure would have looked like back in the day.
Visit the Sri Varasiththi Vinayagar Hindu Temple
It’s always a good idea to learn more about the culture of any destination that you visit, but it can also be lots of fun to immerse yourself in a completely new culture too.
That’s exactly what you will be able to do at the Sri Varasiththi Vinayagar Hindu Temple. Run by a non-profit charity, this temple will teach you so much about Hindu traditions and religious practices.
While it is actively used as a place of worship, the temple readily welcomes visitors too, enjoying the opportunity to educate them about a religion they may not have been very familiar with.
Stop off at the temple’s cafeteria if you would like to try some traditional foods.
Explore the Rouge National Urban Park
Scarborough is known for its natural beauty, and the Rouge National Urban Park is one of the best places to really immerse yourself in the region’s great outdoors.
This is the largest urban park in North America, and it’s open year-round.
There are several things that you could do here, such as:
- Hike one of the many different hiking trails
- Bird watching – there are more than 225 bird species that have been seen here
- Fishing in the marsh area that surrounds the park
- Relaxing on the beach and swimming in Lake Ontario
- Paddleboarding around the Rouge Marsh, which is the biggest wetland in the city
- Camping out under the stars (this is the only place in the city where you are allowed to pitch a tent)
Visit the Kidstown Water Park
If you are visiting Scarborough with children, then the Kidstown Water Park is a must.
Yes, the beaches around the city may offer plenty of water-based fun, but this water park takes things to a whole different level.
Run by the City of Toronto, the water park boasts a range of fun features, from slides and splash pads to spray rings and tipping buckets.
With plenty of picnic areas to choose from too, you could easily spend a whole day here in the summer months.
Relax at the Port Union Waterfront Park
Toronto’s waterfront is always a highlight for both locals and visitors, but erosion has been affecting this precious piece of nature.
The city has been working hard to protect and revitalize their waterfront, and the Port Union Waterfront Park is the result of those efforts.
The park was completed back in 2012 and stretches out for 13.5 hectares.
The best way to explore the park is by taking the 3.8km walking trail that meanders through its entirety – you can either bike, walk, or skateboard your way along. As you follow the trail, you will notice interactive exhibits dotted throughout – these will teach you more about the ecosystems and aquatic habitats that lie all around you.
In order to preserve the shoreline, a number of headland beach areas have been created by the water’s edge, and these are now great for relaxing. The beaches here are a hit with bird watchers too – you’ll see everything from trumpeter swans to shorebirds flocking here.
The park is free to visit and is open year-round – you may not think to visit the park in the winter, but this waterfront area truly is stunning in every season.
Eat Your Way Around Scarborough’s Best Restaurants
It’s always fun to sample different foods when visiting a new destination, and the many restaurants around Scarborough make this so easy.
Everyone will have their own opinion on which restaurants are the best, but here are a few that you should definitely make an effort to visit:
- One2Snacks – a must visit for some authentic Malaysian comfort food
- Lamanna’s Bakery – the massive pizza slices are a hit at this Italian bakery, as is the homemade gelato and bomboloni filled with Nutella
- The Keg Steakhouse + Bar – the specialty here is the succulent prime rib, which is slow-roasted and hand carved
- Le Cafe Michi – considered to be a hidden gem, this Japanese restaurant serves up tasty and traditional dishes
- Jack Astor’s – this gastropub’s menu is inspired by dishes from all over the world
- Diana’s Oyster Bar and Grill – many would agree that this is the best seafood spot in the city – order up some oysters and the seafood mixed grill for a truly decadent feast
- Floga By Mr. Greek – a mix of both classic traditions and innovative flavors can be enjoyed at this premium Greek restaurant
Dance the Night Away
Scarborough is known for its nightlife, and while the Covid-19 pandemic may have put a damper on the city’s party scene, venues are once again opening up, complete with limitations and restrictions.
Still, for those who want to let their hair down and party the night away, this is still very possible.
If all you are after is a casual drink, there are several different pubs to choose from. Those who want something a little more intense should check out:
- The Spade Bar and Lounge
- The Harmony Club
- XS Bar and Lounge
- The Platinum Lounge and Sports Bar
Bag a Bargain at the Merchants Flea Market
Looking for the very best flea market in Scarborough?
The Merchants Flea Market is the one to go to.
Social distancing is very much in place here, making it safe to now browse all of the goods on offer.
From traditional board games at the House of Iran to the hand-knitted items with a Jamaican twist at Sophie’s Own, the goods that you will find here are unlike anything else sold around the city.
Plus, the bustling atmosphere and friendly banter make the shopping experience here even more enjoyable.
Take a Day Trip to the Black Creek Pioneer Village
Located in the north of Toronto, meaning a short drive away from Scarborough, the Black Creek Pioneer Village is the ideal spot for a day of educational fun.
What exactly is it?
It’s an open-air heritage museum/working pioneer village that has been designed after those that were established in the region back in the 1790’s.
You can either opt for a guided tour or the self-guided alternative, where you will be able to explore heritage buildings and historic gardens. The exhibits here boast a number of historic artifacts that give you a glimpse of life in the earlier days, and there are also a number of rare breed heritage animals around to really complete this one-of-a-kind experience.
Scarborough is such a diverse and exciting city to visit, with so much to see and do. Whether you are visiting Scarborough on your own or as part of a group, these 13 activities all deserve to be on your to-do list.