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15 Hidden Gardens And Secret Courtyards Around Toronto

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Sunny summer days in Toronto find people crammed into its most popular parks, aggressively staking out blanket space and trying to disguise bottles of Mateus rose behind tea towels. A crowded, lively park has its charm—but if the slackliners, devilstick jugglers and disc-chasing dogs start to cramp your style, why not head for a quieter spot? Check out Curbed's list of some out-of-the-way green spaces; they're not all secret, but most of them are a little less frequented than favourites like Trinity Bellwoods or Kew Beach. Some are a bit of a field trip (like Mississauga's Brueckner Rhododendron Garden), and some are unexpected little downtown oases, so you can pack up your lunch and a book and get away from it all without being more than a brisk walk from your desk.

Got a favourite urban getaway spot? Share in the comments, if you're feeling magnanimous.


· Cool Map Thing [Curbed Toronto]
· Some Great and Hidden Toronto Spaces [Globe]
· Art and Parks Hidden Between Buildings [Jane's Walk]
· Top 10 Makeout Spots on UofT Campus [blogUT]

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1. Craigleigh Gardens PArk

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Craigleigh Gardens, 160 South Drive, Toronto
ON M4W, Canada

In the heart of South Rosedale, Craigleigh Gardens was originally the site of the estate of Edmund Boyd Osler, a 19th-century Toronto businessman. After Osler's death in 1924, the land was donated to the city for use as a public park. Enter off South Drive, through the old stone-and-iron gate.

2. Courtyard at Knox College, U of T

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Knox College, University of Toronto - St. George Campus, 59 Saint George Street, Toronto
ON M5S 3H8, Canada

Like a lot of spots on the UofT campus (Robarts not included), this sedate spot has a classic Ivy-League/Oxbridge feel to it. Flake out on the quad or in the shade of the gallery.

3. Berkeley Castle Courtyard

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2 Berkeley Street, Toronto
ON M5A, Canada

In the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, the Castle's pretty little courtyard is tucked in behind the Esplanade and is a calm spot to eat your lunch or just enjoy a sunbeam.

4. Courtyard, Canadian Opera Company

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227 Front Street East, Toronto
ON M5A 1E8, Canada

The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Centre has a secret: its lovely little ivy-walled courtyard, with benches and flower beds and gas lamps. So pretty and secluded, you'll want to stay until the fat lady sings.

5. Courtyard, St. George the Martyr

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205 John Street, Toronto
ON M5T 1X6, Canada

A spot for quiet contemplation, possibly shared with a cat. Apparently it does double duty as a makeout spot.

6. Toronto Sculpture Garden

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115 King Street East, Toronto
ON M5C 1G6, Canada

The Sculpture Garden is found behind a wrought-iron fence on King Street just east of Church Street, beside the venerable French restaurant La Maquette. Only one large sculptural work is ever on display at a time; past works have included a life-sized flying saucer, a gigantic baby head, and a 20-foot-high stack of Honda Civics.

7. Diversity Garden, Toronto City Hall

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100 Queen Street West, Toronto
ON M5H 2N2, Canada

Tucked in behind City Hall, the Diversity Garden features large elevated planters and pots, lots of benches, and paths of wood chips to give your feet a break from pounding Queen Street.

8. Cloud Gardens

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14 Temperance Street, Toronto
ON M5H 1Y4, Canada

Cloud Gardens sits on the block that runs east of Bay Street, between Temperance and Richmond. It's got several discrete themed areas, and terraces that are laid out over several storeys. A pretty cool place, and one that not a lot of people seem to use.

9. Evergreen Brick Works

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550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
ON M4W 3X8, Canada

Nestled down in a ravine, the Brick Works is not only a combination interpretation centre/farmer's market/event space, it also has an amazing network of hiking paths that wind through the valley and along Mud Creek. Pause on the footbridge and check out the mammoth koi and turtles (mostly dumped there by inconsiderate former owners, but nice to look at anyway). There's a free shuttle bus that runs down to the site (and back!) from Broadview station.

10. Rosetta McClain Gardens

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5 Glen Everest Road, Scarborough
ON M1N 1J2, Canada

Rosetta McClain Gardens is right at the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs, just west of Bluffer's Park. It's a patchwork of garden spaces and beds, a pergola and a folly. A bit of a stretch to get to, but worth the effort.

11. Ashbridge Estate

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1444 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON M4L 1E2, Canada

The 1854 house and its grounds were donated by the Ashbridge family for use as a public park. The Estate is on Queen Street East, just across from the Connaught streetcar yard. There are some really old trees (willow, birch, locust, horse chestnut) and lots of flower beds to wander through, sniffing deeply.

12. Toronto Music Garden

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479 Queens Quay West, Toronto
ON M5V, Canada

How many cities can boast a park designed by Yo-Yo Ma? The cellist designed The Music Garden (along with landscape designer Julie Messervy) as an interpretation of a Bach cello suite, and each section of the garden corresponds to a movement in the composition. Warning: listening to Lady Gaga while hanging out here may cause existential conflict.

13. Brueckner Rhododendron Garden

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660 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga
ON L5H 1H7, Canada

Like rhodos? This is the place for you. Eighteen acres of rhododendrons, with walking trails.

14. Spadina House Museum

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285 Spadina Road, Toronto
ON M5R 2V5, Canada

This former private home in Forest Hill Village was converted to a museum in 1984. The Victorian-style gardens are divided into sections - a kitchen garden, a cutting garden, and formal flower beds. Free, as long as you don't go into the house.

15. Fort York Community Garden

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250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto
ON M5V 3K9, Canada

A great community gardening space with vegetables, herbs and flowers, including an historical kitchen garden.

1. Craigleigh Gardens PArk

Craigleigh Gardens, 160 South Drive, Toronto, ON M4W, Canada

In the heart of South Rosedale, Craigleigh Gardens was originally the site of the estate of Edmund Boyd Osler, a 19th-century Toronto businessman. After Osler's death in 1924, the land was donated to the city for use as a public park. Enter off South Drive, through the old stone-and-iron gate.

Craigleigh Gardens, 160 South Drive, Toronto
ON M4W, Canada

2. Courtyard at Knox College, U of T

Knox College, University of Toronto - St. George Campus, 59 Saint George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3H8, Canada

Like a lot of spots on the UofT campus (Robarts not included), this sedate spot has a classic Ivy-League/Oxbridge feel to it. Flake out on the quad or in the shade of the gallery.

Knox College, University of Toronto - St. George Campus, 59 Saint George Street, Toronto
ON M5S 3H8, Canada

3. Berkeley Castle Courtyard

2 Berkeley Street, Toronto, ON M5A, Canada

In the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, the Castle's pretty little courtyard is tucked in behind the Esplanade and is a calm spot to eat your lunch or just enjoy a sunbeam.

2 Berkeley Street, Toronto
ON M5A, Canada

4. Courtyard, Canadian Opera Company

227 Front Street East, Toronto, ON M5A 1E8, Canada

The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Centre has a secret: its lovely little ivy-walled courtyard, with benches and flower beds and gas lamps. So pretty and secluded, you'll want to stay until the fat lady sings.

227 Front Street East, Toronto
ON M5A 1E8, Canada

5. Courtyard, St. George the Martyr

205 John Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1X6, Canada

A spot for quiet contemplation, possibly shared with a cat. Apparently it does double duty as a makeout spot.

205 John Street, Toronto
ON M5T 1X6, Canada

6. Toronto Sculpture Garden

115 King Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 1G6, Canada

The Sculpture Garden is found behind a wrought-iron fence on King Street just east of Church Street, beside the venerable French restaurant La Maquette. Only one large sculptural work is ever on display at a time; past works have included a life-sized flying saucer, a gigantic baby head, and a 20-foot-high stack of Honda Civics.

115 King Street East, Toronto
ON M5C 1G6, Canada

7. Diversity Garden, Toronto City Hall

100 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, Canada

Tucked in behind City Hall, the Diversity Garden features large elevated planters and pots, lots of benches, and paths of wood chips to give your feet a break from pounding Queen Street.

100 Queen Street West, Toronto
ON M5H 2N2, Canada

8. Cloud Gardens

14 Temperance Street, Toronto, ON M5H 1Y4, Canada

Cloud Gardens sits on the block that runs east of Bay Street, between Temperance and Richmond. It's got several discrete themed areas, and terraces that are laid out over several storeys. A pretty cool place, and one that not a lot of people seem to use.

14 Temperance Street, Toronto
ON M5H 1Y4, Canada

9. Evergreen Brick Works

550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4W 3X8, Canada

Nestled down in a ravine, the Brick Works is not only a combination interpretation centre/farmer's market/event space, it also has an amazing network of hiking paths that wind through the valley and along Mud Creek. Pause on the footbridge and check out the mammoth koi and turtles (mostly dumped there by inconsiderate former owners, but nice to look at anyway). There's a free shuttle bus that runs down to the site (and back!) from Broadview station.

550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
ON M4W 3X8, Canada

10. Rosetta McClain Gardens

5 Glen Everest Road, Scarborough, ON M1N 1J2, Canada

Rosetta McClain Gardens is right at the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs, just west of Bluffer's Park. It's a patchwork of garden spaces and beds, a pergola and a folly. A bit of a stretch to get to, but worth the effort.

5 Glen Everest Road, Scarborough
ON M1N 1J2, Canada

11. Ashbridge Estate

1444 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M4L 1E2, Canada

The 1854 house and its grounds were donated by the Ashbridge family for use as a public park. The Estate is on Queen Street East, just across from the Connaught streetcar yard. There are some really old trees (willow, birch, locust, horse chestnut) and lots of flower beds to wander through, sniffing deeply.

1444 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON M4L 1E2, Canada

12. Toronto Music Garden

479 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON M5V, Canada

How many cities can boast a park designed by Yo-Yo Ma? The cellist designed The Music Garden (along with landscape designer Julie Messervy) as an interpretation of a Bach cello suite, and each section of the garden corresponds to a movement in the composition. Warning: listening to Lady Gaga while hanging out here may cause existential conflict.

479 Queens Quay West, Toronto
ON M5V, Canada

13. Brueckner Rhododendron Garden

660 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga, ON L5H 1H7, Canada

Like rhodos? This is the place for you. Eighteen acres of rhododendrons, with walking trails.

660 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga
ON L5H 1H7, Canada

14. Spadina House Museum

285 Spadina Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2V5, Canada

This former private home in Forest Hill Village was converted to a museum in 1984. The Victorian-style gardens are divided into sections - a kitchen garden, a cutting garden, and formal flower beds. Free, as long as you don't go into the house.

285 Spadina Road, Toronto
ON M5R 2V5, Canada

15. Fort York Community Garden

250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto, ON M5V 3K9, Canada

A great community gardening space with vegetables, herbs and flowers, including an historical kitchen garden.

250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto
ON M5V 3K9, Canada