On the eastern end of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is the neighbourhood of Scarborough. Marked by several key landmarks, a diverse multicultural communities, green spaces, and authentic international restaurants.
Locals know where to go but there isn't great coverage on the top things to do in Scarborough, Ontario so here is a list the best that this neighbourhood has to offer.
Read more things to do in Ontario
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- Best restaurants in Niagara-on-the-Lake
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Top 8 Things To Do in Scarborough
Scarborough doesn't always get the attention it deserves and as someone that grew up here, I know that there are plenty of hidden gems that most non-locals never get a chance to visit. You just need to know where to look for these top things to do in Scarborough.
Read next: After your visit to Scarborough, make sure you check out a few of the best restaurants in North York, Toronto.
1. Scarborough Bluffs
The dramatic limestone cliffs that follow the shores of Lake Ontario is the reason why this neighbourhood is called Scarborough to begin with.
Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, named this town for a British town with the same name that also features white-faced rock cliffs.
Featured in one of the best parks in Scarborough, Bluffer's Park is the most iconic part of the escarpment and has the most visible and dominant part of the exposed rock face. The best view of it is from Lookout Point in the park.
To make things even better, right below the cliffs is a small sandy beach that many locals come to cool off.
This small beach isn't to be confused with the giant stretch of beach on the other end of the park. While Toronto's Woodbine beach often gets a lot of buzz as the one and only beach in the city, I'd argue that Bluffer's Beach is equally as good, if not better.
There is a massive stretch of sand that comes considerably in-land which is why you'll also find a large set of volleyball nets as well. Bluffer's Beach is also a Blue Flag Beach which means it meets strict water quality and safety criteria.
2. Fishman Lobster Clubhouse
I couldn't really say whether the Lobster Mountain or Lobster Tower was invented here but I'm going to say it is. Originally located closer to Pacific Mall, this new location is home to a lobster lover's paradise.
Best Scarborough Patios
Make sure to check out the Destination Toronto article that I penned on the most incredible patios you'll find in Scarborough. Don't miss it!
3. Bluffer's Park Marina
Not to get lost in the Bluffer's Park is the marina itself. It's easy to forget that there's easy access to Lake Ontario from Scarborough.
While most of us don't have boats or membership to the Cathedral Bluffs Yacht Club, this spot is great for a number of reasons.
- Parking – The other lots fill up quickly but there's a $15 flat rate lot for the marina that most people don't know about.
- Great viewpoints and picnic areas – Most people either go to the Bluffer's Park side of Beach side but in the middle stays significantly quieter and calmer, making it a great place to enjoy the view, hang out by the rocky shore, or set up a picnic.
- Bluffer's Restaurant – The restaurant that's part of the marina is the best part of all. They have an awesome patio space overlooking the marina and lake and is excellent for brunch and sunsets. Bonus: If you spend $25 or more, they'll validate your parking so its free!
Bluffer's Restaurant is one of the top patios in Scarborough and has a killer view.
4. Guild Park and Gardens
When coming to visit here, it seems like such an eclectic and unusual collection of monuments, statues, and sculptures but when you learn more about its history, you'll realize there's a fascinating story to what has turned this space into one of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Scarborough.
Originally known as Guildwood Park, the space is adjoined with Guild Inn Estate, originally the home of Colonel Harold C. Bickford and built in 1914.
This was later transformed into a meeting place and forum for artists when it was purchased by Rosa Breithaupt Hwewtson (later married to Spencer Clark) in 1932 where she was almost obsessed with purchasing architectural fragments from important demolished buildings in the city that ranged from banks to the Royal Conservatory of Music.
In 1978, this was sold to the Toronto and Region conservation Authority where over the years they've turned this into a marvel of a park mixed with historic art sculptures, important facades, and modern art.
Coming to Guild Park and Gardens is almost like a walk through Toronto's past in the open-air that's so unusual that it's incredibly wonderful.
5. Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo is an institution and is a must-visit attraction.
DID YOU KNOW: The Toronto Zoo is the largest in Canada and in the top 10 of largest in the world?
Divided into 7 zoological zones and covering 287 hectares, a lot of care is taken to not only show wildlife in as close to their natural habitat but also educate visitors in conservation and also fight extinction.
Come here to see a wide range of animals including their largest, ‘Samson', a male river hippopotamus and smallest, a worker Leaf-cutter ant. Other popular animals include exhibits featuring polar bears, giraffes, and penguins.
One of my favourites is the Gorilla Rainforest which is the world's largest indoor habitat for western lowland gorillas.
What makes the Toronto Zoo so amazing are also their special programs such as their one-of-a-kind wild encounters, canopy tour, Serengeti Bush Camp, Pyjama Overnight Party, Gorilla Climb Ropes Course, TundraAir Ride, and plenty more programs for kids.
6. Rouge National Urban Park
This massive and biodiverse ecosystem lays claim as the nation's first National Urban Park. Spanning a large part of Scarborough, it includes some of the last working farms in the GTA, Toronto's only campground, one of the largest region of marshes, a beach, an important Carolinian forest, examples of human history from 10,000 years ago, and some of the oldest Indigenous sites in Canada.
That's a lot of things packed into one protected area but that's what awaits visitors is awesome hiking, glamping opportunities with oTENTik, bird watching, fishing, and water sports.
Being quite a large park, there are a number of different entry points into Rouge National Urban Park. In Scarborough, the easiest access points are right by the Toronto Zoo and also the Rouge Beach. There are also lesser-known areas such as the Finch Meander Area, Woodland Day Use Area, and Twyn Rivers Day Use Area.
The truth is, as a newly established park (May 15, 2015), Parks Canada still has some work in establishing this as park to live up to its stature so if the parking, trail signage, facilities seem a little lacking, know that it's still a work in progress.
7. Thomson Memorial Park
Thomson Memorial Park is a 41.8 hectare park which makes it easily one of the largest parks in the neighbourhood if you don't include the National Urban Park. Located just south of Scarborough Town Centre, this park is packed with features including a large wooded ravine, sports fields, tennis courts, dog park, sheltered picnic areas, outdoor fitness equipment, water park, children's playground, and historic museum.
Generations ago, Scarborough was a simple settlement with vast farmland and log homes. The Scarborough Museum is embedded in the expansive Thomson Memorial Park and consists of 3 heritage buildings which include the Cornell House, McCowan Log House, and Hough Carriage Works. They often have special youth programs and on special occasions will also open up for educational visits.
For dog owners, their dog park is also one of the best in the Scarborough with a mix of fenced and small dog off-leash areas. Commercial dog walkers are allowed here and there's also a special section for dogs that prefer a quieter setting.
8. Rosetta McClain Gardens
For our final selection of top things to do in Scarborough, Ontario, we have the gorgeous Rosetta McClain Gardens. This is a picturesque and perfectly manicured garden filled with blooming flowers, vivid roses, flapping butterflies, and birds perched in curiosity.
Come to these gardens for a calming walk along the curved pergola that follows the bubbling rock fountain, take a break in the gazebo, and catch a glimpse of the glistening Lake Ontario.
This spot is popular for wedding photography and is also part of the chain of Scarborough Bluffs parks.
For those in Toronto, this is similar in scale to the Toronto Music Garden but smaller than Edwards Gardens in North York.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, unfortunately dogs aren't allowed except for service animals.
The bluffs are incredibly unstable and have recently collapsed in certain areas due to erosion. As a result, please stay behind fences and obey trespassing signs. Areas that are easily crossed are also watched closely by police so I would not recommend that you attempt it.
There are no entry fees for any of the Scarborough parks including the Rouge National Urban Park. The Toronto Zoo being a private park does have an admission fee.
Summer-time is the best time to come with the long summer days and hot weather to accompany the cool waters and beaches. Trails and parks also offer comfortable shade. Fall is also a great time to visit as the changing of the leaves is visible everywhere you go including along the Scarborough Bluffs.
Scarborough has been trying to shed the “Scarlem” and “Scarberia” image for decades as the impression of the neighbourhood being unsafe is simply not true. All of the highlights recommended here are completely safe.
The Lobster Mountain is quite enormous and easily good enough for 7 people although it recommends a minimum of 4-5 people. Reservations are also highly recommended.
While not mandatory, reservations are definitely recommended on weekends.
Destination Toronto has a fantastic article with the best patios in Scarborough that you need to visit.
I hope you get to discover Scarborough and see how there's way more to this neighbourhood than most people think. Where's your favourite spot in Scarborough?
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