Skating in the great outdoors is a marvellous pursuit, free from harsh arena lighting and odours wafting from the change rooms. In Toronto, you can glide underneath the Gardiner Expressway or zip around a winding trail next to Lake Ontario, play a game of shinny in High Park or twirl outside of City Hall.
As an ex-figure skater with a history of dragging friends of every skill level to rinks all over town, I can proudly tout that I know the ins and outs of the city’s free outdoor skating options. Here are my top eight picks.
THE BENTWAY SKATING TRAIL
Twisting between the hulking concrete trestles of the Gardiner Expressway, the Bentway is situated in a locale unlike any other skating spot in Toronto. For its inaugural season, a slew of events (weather permitting) are programmed to take place along the one-kilometre trail, including ice breaking workshops, Friday DJ nights and free figure skating lessons. When you need a break, grab a hot cider and take a breather in one of the warming centres (aka, converted shipping containers).
Ideal for: The urban explorer; the approximately 70,000 folks that live within a 10-minute walk of the trail.
Monday to Thursday and Sunday 11 am-9 pm. Friday and Saturday 11 am-11 pm. Skate rentals (from 4 pm Monday to Friday, weekends all day) $5-$10, free on Mondays. From Fort York to Bathurst.
Image: Samuel Engelking for Now Magazine