Playgrounds are a city kid’s backyard, and Toronto has enough outdoor play space to satisfy even the most rambunctious of rugrats. From twisty slides and splash pads to jungle gyms and sandboxes, we've rounded up five favourite east end playgrounds to banish boredom and get kids jumping, climbing and swinging. But truly the best feature of them all is that a visit to the parks doesn’t cost a penny.
Think your local playground deserves a top spot? Tell us why below, and see how many you and the little ones can hit up.
LESLIE GROVE PARK
Smack-dab in the heart of Leslieville, the playground at Leslie Grove Park is one of the busiest in the 'hood. The park's location along Queen East make it an easy choice for a full day of playtime or just a quick after-work pitstop with the kids. Pop into Tango Palace, which sits at the southwest corner, for a coffee before letting the little ones hit the two play structures, little-kid and big-kid swingsets and teeter-totters. The park also has plenty of sand and grassy areas for hanging out and a wading pool that becomes the de facto chill spot on hot summer days.
1158 Queen St. E
McCleary Playground really shows what you can do with a small footprint. At the southwest corner of Queen East and McGee, the tiny slice of land became Toronto's first natural playground using native play structures instead of the plastic and metal typical of most playgrounds. An upside-down tree, a balance rope between two boulders, a sand area, seats carved out of stumps, and slides that fit the slope of a hill are all elements found within a space shaded by large pine trees.
75 McGee St.
With play zones scattered throughout its sprawling green space, Withrow Park is every urban space-seeker’s dream. A massive overhaul last summer revealed a brand-new playground with state-of-the-art equipment and a revitalized wading pool. The playground also features rubber surfacing, climbing equipment, a sandbox and a double-bay swing set. Unlike most park playgrounds, this one is is fenced in to add a layer of comfort to nervous parents.The playground has a fountain and easy access to washrooms connected to the Withrow Park Clubhouse. A Saturday farmers's market along with tennis courts, off-leash dog area, sports field and baseball diamonds makes Withrow Park a major community hub.
725 Logan Ave.
Stretching from Queen East to the shore at Kew Beach, the parkland at Kew Gardens is amongst the prettiest in the city. And it's got a deluxe complex playground to match. Kids can scale the castle-themed structure, which is encircled by a verdant canopy of mature trees, or take their pick of the many slides and swings in the play zone. On hot, summer days, don't forget swimsuits for the boldly painted wading pool. Better yet, make a day of it and stroll the boardwalk or post up at a prime spot on the beach.
2075 Queen St. E
Tucked into the laneways between Pape and Brooklyn south of Dundas, Hideaway Park, as its name suggests, could possibly be the most under-the-radar playground in the city. It feels like an in-the-know club and this hidden gem quality is what makes it popular among the local neighbours who frequent it with their kids. Squeezed into the small, dog-leg space is a play structure, wading pool and countless hand-me-down toys strewn about.
23 Audley Ave.
BONUS: JIMMIE SIMPSON PARK
Perhaps the most well-known and well-used park in Leslieville, Jimmie Simpson is a multipurpose outdoor space with tennis courts, an ice rink, basketball courts and a huge recreation complex. At its north end is a fenced-in children's play area along Booth Ave., a quiet one-way street with plenty of trees and grass. Beyond the standard mix of playground features, it's the ample park toys people have left behind that keeps kids engaged and sharing. If the wading pool isn't enough to cool you off, there's always Ed's Real Scoop a block away along Queen St.
870 Queen St. E