Can you feel it? The jetstream is shifting and the air is becoming crisp. The sun is lower in the sky, creating rich golden hues. The leaves are beginning to turn. Heck, we have an early preview of hockey with this year's World Cup. You can't deny it any longer — autumn is officially here.
Summer is over and winter might be on its way, but there is still plenty of things to do both outdoors and indoors that will keep your schedule busy this fall. Check out our picks for the best ways to enjoy the cool, crisp months in Toronto's east end. Got other ideas? Let us know in the comments section below.
INDULGE IN LOCAL FALL FLAVOURS
Nothing tastes like autumn quite like notes of pumpkin, apple, pear and cinnamon, and Toronto's east end has plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants that base their menus around the season, crafting dishes and drinks that hit the taste buds with fall flavours.
Ruby Watchco is introducing its new wind down bar program Tuesday through Friday from 6 p.m. on with special fall-inspired snacks. A few highlights include Warner's Farm apple and beet tartar with house-made ricotta, slow-roasted butternut squash carpaccio with bacon aioli, and duck fat whipped smoked cod with cornbread and house pickles.
"Cheese and charcuterie keeps us very busy for Thanksgiving," says Max Ryan of specialty food boutique Sandy Aleksander. "What we're really starting to roll out is our winter comfort food, especially our pot pies — very popular and selling out quickly. Of course, our lasagnas and mac n cheese are always on the menu."
Warm up on the heated patio at Rooster Coffee with a Prince Edward County pumpkin-inspired coffee drink and a blanket while looking out over Riverdale Park. It's all things pumpkin at Sweet Bliss, where you can get cookies, tarts, pies and cupcakes made with the festive gourd. Still in the mood for something frosty? Ed's Real Scoop does a pumpkin ice cream made from Ed's own mother's pumpkin pie recipe.
CHECK OUT FALL FOLIAGE ON LESLIE STREET SPIT
The Leslie Street Spit is easily one of Toronto's (and perhaps Canada's) most remarkable public urban wilderness areas. The 5 km peninsula, built by man-made lakefilling, that juts into Lake Ontario is one the largest existing natural habitats on the city's waterfront, and its autumn state is awesome to behold by bike or foot. Cottonwood and poplar trees, wildflower meadows and coastal marshes come alive with vibrant colours. The cobble beaches and sand dunes are just waiting to be explored for signs of wildlife, especially birds, and relic construction artifacts of Toronto's past. The spit is an active construction site, therefore the park is only open on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closing at 4:30 p.m. from November onwards). A no-dogs policy is in place. For more info, visit Tommy Thompson Park's website.
TAKE A COOKING CLASS
Did you know that both Hooked and Leslieville Cheese Market offer classes? From fishmongering 101 and charcuterie curing to steaming, baking, pan frying, grilling and poaching cooking with shellfish and whole fish, Hooked offers a variety of evening classes that are just as fun to get hands-on with as they are to enjoy eating at the end. Classes include all equipment, recipes, snacks and dinner, and they also cater to private groups of eight to 14 people. Visit Hooked for class details. Leslieville Cheese Market’s Night School offers a handful of classes covering cheese from all over the world. Expand your knowledge of cheese tasting, learn about seasonal varieties, including a fall harvest focus as well as winter flavours, sample cheeses from around the world, and understand how to pair with wine and beer and use in everday cooking. Check out the Leslieville Cheese Market site for dates and more info.
VISIT RIVERDALE FARM
You wouldn't be faulted for not knowing it exists, but tucked away not far from the chaotic traffic of the DVP is a farming oasis in the heart of the city. Riverdale Farm is 7.5 acres of historic parkland and farmstead that's open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (including holidays), and admission is free. Take the kids, pack a lunch and tour its pathways through wooded areas and around ponds and gardens. The big draw here, of course, is the farm animals. Horses, goats, cows, pigs, sheep, ducks and other animals call Riverdale Farm home. Don't miss the Halloween Boo Barn on Oct. 24 and 25 for kids ages three to 10. Visit Riverdale Farm's website for more info.
LEAF PEEPING AND FAMILY FUN AT EVERGREEN BRICK WORKS
This fall there are a number of special events at Evergreen Brickworks that give you the chance to enjoy the fall season in all its beauty. Families can discover the sustainable site and learn about the history of the Don Valley while participating in a fun scavenger hunt. There are also the art installations, food trucks, year-round farmers’ market and trails that lead you into some of the best leaf-peeping nature areas in the city.
CHEER ON THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Last year, over two decades of pent-up demand for playoff baseball in Toronto was unleashed on the city, and across the country for that matter. For the first time since the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993, October baseball was a sure thing in Toronto. This year, things aren't so certain but there's still a bit of time to get behind the team and create #ourmoment. Left Field Brewery, Prohibition, Queen's Head Pub and McGugan's are best bets to get in on the game-watching antics and cheer 'OK Blue Jays!'
CRUISING THE FALL MARKETS
For those who love to rummage, Toronto’s diverse markets are a treasure trove of fun. If you have a sweet tooth, the Toronto Bakers Market has dates set Oct. 30, Nov. 27 and Dec. 18. On the third Sunday of each month, The Leslieville Flea hosts over 50 vendors who peddle a variety of artisan, salvaged and upcycled goods. The final outdoor market at Ashbridge Estate is Oct. 16 before heading back indoors at Distillery District. Looking for fresh market grub? The Leslieville Farmers' Market runs every Sunday until Oct. 30. Withrow Market is on Saturdays until Oct. 8. East Lynn Park Farmers' Market is a go on Thursdays to Oct. 13. The East York Farmers' Market runs Tuesdays until Oct. 25.