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It’s telling that Drake structured his latest album, Views—a love letter to his native Toronto—around the city’s transition from winter to summer. “It’s just to show you the two extreme moods that we have,” he told Zane Lowe. “We love our summers but we also make our winters work...You start to value your days a lot more when most people won’t go outside type of thing...It creates a different person.” And if Drake says it, you know it’s true. The Canadian city’s transformation from the harsh winter to sweltering summer is encapsulated best in Trinity Bellwoods Park, a barren wasteland in the winter months that comes alive at the very first hint of warmth, and by June is the boozy social epicenter for the city’s young and beautiful.
Toronto rests on the waterfront of Lake Ontario, and although it doesn’t have the urban beach culture of another Great Lake metropolis like Chicago, Torontonians still make the most with what they have, a fact embodied by the Beaches neighborhood, an upscale enclave east of the downtown core, packed with bars, restaurants, parks, tennis courts, a boardwalk, and yes, a swimmable beach.
Another way to experience Toronto lake is via ferry to Toronto Island, a ten-minute ride from the city center to a getaway that’s crisscrossed with bike paths, dotted with jam-packed patios with scenic views of the city’s formidable skyline, and home to several music festivals throughout the season. Oh, and there’s a nude beach.
Best Patio: Cold Tea, named after Torontonians’ code word for the illicit beer Chinese restaurants serve after-hours, is tucked away in the back of a tiny mall in Kensington Market, and in the summer becomes one of the city’s most popular spots thanks to its ambient patio which feels like an urban hideaway. Go on Sundays, when some of the cities best DJs and coolest kids converge to eat, drink, and be merry.