From patios in Kensington to picnics in High Park, there is hardly anywhere better to be in the summer than Toronto’s West End. Trade in your cozy café hangs for brewery patio dates; skip takeout in favor of late-night grabs on King West, and spend your weekends sun tanning at Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Check out this list of awesome things to get up to in the West End without ever having to cross Yonge Street.
#1 – Learn stand up paddleboarding with Osha Osha
Beat the heat by getting on the water with Osha Osha. This stand up paddleboarding school offers paddleboarding lessons and fun paddleboarding tours—like their tour of the Toronto Islands or their Humber River Paddle, both departing from Sunnyside Beach.
#2 – Eat your way through Kensington Market
There are few places in Toronto—let alone the world—that can beat Kensington for its sheer variety of food. Skip the lines (and the guessing game) with Chopsticks+Forks, Toronto’s newest food tour company. Offering a highly rated, three-hour walking tour of Kensington, Chopsticks+Forks will have you tasting food from six different countries, including momos from Tibet, patties from Jamaica, and traditional North American bannock. This tour runs Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30am and includes enough food to cover lunch (and then some).
#3 – Find your way out of Escape Zone
Check out Escape Zone in Chinatown for an awesome escape room experience. Escape Zone offers four escape rooms all with creative puzzles and fun storylines. After you can enjoy some traditional Chinese fare or hop over to Kensington to debrief on a patio.
#4 – Try rock climbing at Basecamp Climbing
This old burlesque theater turned modern climbing gym is one of the top places in downtown Toronto where you can build up your strength and get high on adrenaline. Basecamp also has a great community of climbers and is usually packed with people climbing, chatting, and having fun. Pop into their café to get a sneak peek—they’ve got a huge window inside that looks out over the climbing walls.
#5 – Learn to throw and axe at Bad Axe Throwing
Axe throwing is an excellent way to blow off some steam and do something different with your friends. At Bad Axe Throwing in the Junction, you can book a game for $44 per person for eight people (or more) and learn how to chuck axes with one hand, both hands, even behind your back. Pop over to the Junction Craft Brewery after and try a flight of their newest brews.
#6 – Join a Sip and Paint party in Kensington
Sip and Paint parties give you a chance to relax with friends, enjoy a drink or two, and have fun making art. You can learn how to create your own simple painting with Sip and Paint in the positive atmosphere of Hopper Coffee in Kensington Market every Saturday night this summer for $50.
#7 – Learn some ninja moves at Pursuit OCR
Obstacle course training is what those crazy guys do on American Ninja Warrior, but it’s also what you should be doing to de-stress this summer. At Pursuit OCR you can race against your friends, learn parkour, and train like a ninja, all in a super trendy, welcoming atmosphere.
#8 – Get crafty at The Pottery
High Park North
Summer is the best time to try those hobbies you’ve always wanted to try—but never had the time for. At The Pottery in High Park North, you can learn how to work with clay, use the potter’s wheel, and make your first platter. Not too shabby for a summer’s afternoon.
#9 – Learn how to make tasty treats at The Depanneur
If you live in the area, this is likely your go-to brunch spot. Learn how to take The Dep home with you in their super affordable and always varied Monday night cooking classes.
#10 – Drop-in for some axe throwing and beer at BATL West
BATL West is one of the few axe throwing spots in Toronto that also has a full bar. Book an axe throwing lane for six friends or more or check out their drop-in hours, Fridays from 5pm to 8pm, Saturdays from 11am to 2pm, and Sundays from 2pm to 5pm.
#11 – Get on the lake with The Complete Paddler
You can learn how to kayak right here in Toronto, without ever having to leave the city. The Complete Paddler organizes kayaking lessons and tours for both beginner and advanced kayakers. Located in Etobicoke, they offer classes that launch from Sunnyside Park, where you can get coffee at the Sunnyside Cafe before you embark.
#12 – Learn how to paint at Paint Lounge
Paint night is great activity for friends since you get to spend quality time together while trying something inspiring. At Paint Lounge you can take a painting class, learn new things, and enjoy coffee and cake at their lovely café.
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