Updated: May 3
(COVID Update as of May 1, 2021: Read parking info at the end of the article, after the map.)
In this second instalment for early birds, I feature a week of sunrises admired from March 17 to 23 AND a good 6-km circuit including the boardwalk + two excellent gourmet addresses opening very early. (You know. The carrot before the stick.)
March 17 to 23, 2021
Blue and gray dominated the first two sunless mornings of my 2nd week of sunrises but the rest of the time the sun bathed everything in coral and gold. It's good for the soul, no matter the weather.
A few dog walkers witnessed the moment while a man, from the top of the lifeguard station, meditated. Alone in the world.
Another good thing for the soul: the three giddy girlfriends sitting “in the first row” on the Muskoka chairs facing the lake. Coffee in hand, they chatted lively until the sunrise, which plunged them in unison in a spiritual silence... Poster girls for BFFs.
I-Spy at Woodbine Beach
When the sun has left the horizon, I like to wander the beach, looking for little bits of stories. Here, a mystery; someone has planted bunches of fresh-cut flowers in a circle. There, heavy chairs have been placed around an improvised open fireplace. I counted over 50 colourful chairs, grouped in small clusters of two or three.
On week days, most people start arriving around 8am. A bit earlier on the weekend. On my way to the boardwalk, I was surprised to see a nun in her black and white habit... running on roller skates!
I learned that she was a member of the Sisters of Life, a religious entity of New York origin, officially recognized in 2004. There are a few sisters in Toronto and you can regularly see them jogging, biking or rollerblading in the neighbourhood!
6-km circuit around Woodbine Beach
The boardwalk in The Beach is 3-km long. The two kms extending eastward, beyond the Balmy Beach Club at the foot of Silver Birch Avenue, are best known. But there is another km of boardwalk continuing west from Woodbine Beach. It ends in a semicircle, with a breathtaking view of the great beach. For this week’s circuit, we’re going east.
The tall trees cast long shadows and the sun peeking through their silhouettes is beautiful. Many benches line the boardwalk. All of them bear a memorial plaque erected in honour of departed loved ones. The same goes for several trees, dedicated to someone. There is one particularly ornate tree that catches the eye at the foot of Glen Manor Drive, adorned with book, shoes, jewels, drawing and more.
Beyond the boardwalk is the second section of the beach allowing dogs to romp off-leash. Oddly enough, few people continue their walk to this point. It is very pleasant to stroll along the large dreamy houses with the best view in town.
I suggest you take the second staircase you pass, to reach Neville Park Boulevard going up to Queen Street. On Queen, turn left for two gourmet appointments. You will have to choose.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a battle between the salmon & cream cheese bagel from Bagels on fire (2248 Queen east, open from 6am to 8pm, 7pm on Sundays), and the apple-cheddar scone from Remarkable Bean (2242 Queen east, open from 6:30am to 9:30pm every day). Remarkable Bean's coffee always wins!
Bagels on fire offers many varieties of bagels baked on site. The smell is amazing when you walk in! And Remarkable Bean also serves homemade cinnamon buns and many other treats.
I then like to head west to Balsam Avenue, the prettiest intersection in the area, including the aging Fox Cinema. Then we walk back down Balsam to the beach, admiring the beautiful homes along the way, to enjoy our booty on a Muskoka chair.
On April 18, I went to Ashbridges Bay at around 8 a.m. There was a police car but they allowed cars to come and go. By 9 a.m., they were installing a yellow tape to prevent people from parking around Woodbine Beach (they only let the marina people and out).
On May 1, a policeman at Woodbine confirmed to me that the parking lots won't be closed after all during the May lockdown... (but the City's website still say that we can't).
Note that the parking meters are back in the City parks from May to September. But we only need to pay from 5 pm to 9 pm on weekdays (max $5), and from 9 am to midnight on weekends or holidays (max $9).
In case the parking lots are closed you want to watch the sunrises, you need to know the following:
• The residential streets around Woodbine Beach won't allow you to park between 12 midnight and 7 a.m. Since the sun currently rises earlier than 6:30 a.m., it's a problem!
• We're allowed to park for free on the south side of Eastern Avenue (west of Coxwell), but ONLY on weekends.
• If you don't mind paying for parking, you'll find plenty of spots in the Green P parking lots south of Queen (#183 to #187, between Winners Cricle and Woodbine). It might cost you $8 if they charge the fixed rates for the time before and after 7 a.m. (max for 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. is $3, and max for 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. is $5).
• You can park for free on the south side of Queen East BEFORE 8 a.m. Monday to Saturday and before 1 p.m. on Sundays, but ONLY east of Woodbine.
Liked this? You will like: 1st Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (1/4): With 6-km walk around Queen East
3rd Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (3/4): With 3.6-km walk around street art
4th Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (4/4): With 4.7-km walk around Ashbridges Bay
Today's post is a complement to THE BEACH Soothing Stroll, one of 26 walks featured in my latest walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You can order it through your local bookstore, or online on amazon.ca, Indigo.ca or directly from the author. You can also pick up copies at 299 Booth Avenue by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org