In only 7 minutes, an 800-passenger ferry takes you to 245 hectares (605 acres) of island parkland crisscrossed by shaded paths and quiet waterways -- a glorious spot to walk, bike, picnic, feed the ducks, putter around in boats, picnic, or soak up the sun. Of the 14 islands, the 2 major ones are Centre Island and Ward's Island. The first is the most popular with tourists; Ward's is more residential (about 600 people live on the islands). Originally, the land was a peninsula, but in the 1800s, storms shattered it into islands.
On Centre Island, families enjoy Centreville (tel. 416/203-0405; www.centreisland.ca), an old-fashioned amusement park that's been in business since 1966. You won't see the usual neon signs, shrill hawkers, and greasy hotdog stands. Instead, you'll find a turn-of-the-20th-century village complete with a Main Street; tiny shops; a firehouse; and the Far Enough Farm, where the kids can pet lambs, chicks, and other barnyard animals. The kids will also love trying out the antique cars, fire engines, old-fashioned train, authentic 1890s carousel, flume ride, and aerial cars. An all-day rides pass costs C$21 for 1.2m (4 ft.) tall and under, C$30 for those taller than 1.2m (4 ft.); a family pass for four is C$90. Centreville is open from 10:30am to 6pm daily from mid-May to Labour Day, and weekends in early May and September.