In under 10 minutes, an 800-passenger ferry delivers 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 two major ones are Centre Island and Ward’s Island. Originally, the land was a peninsula, but in the 1800s, storms shattered it into islands. Ward’s is more residential (about 600 people live on the islands), while Centre Island is the most popular with tourists—in no small part because of the Centreville Theme Park (tel. 416/203-0405), an old-fashioned amusement park that’s been in business since 1966. You won’t see the usual neon signs, shrill hawkers, and greasy hot-dog stands here. 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. Cafes, pizza joints, and even a beer-and-BBQ restaurant provide the fuel. An all-day ride pass costs $26.50 for 1.2m (4 ft.) tall and under, $35.35 for those taller than 1.2m (4 ft.); a family pass for four is $114. Centreville is open from 10:30am to 6pm daily from mid-May to Labor Day, and weekends in early May and September.
You can also rent bikes and boats in season on Centre Island. Bikes can be rented at the family-owned Toronto Island Bicycle Rental, which offers not only single and tandem bikes ($9–$16/hr.) but two- and four-seater quadracycles ($18–$32/hr.); deposit required. Rent canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats at the blue-painted Toronto Island Boat House.