Updated: Nov 15, 2021
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? Three good reasons to take a walk after seeing a movie at Cinemas Beaches: hidden public art in the park + urban pond + a taste of beach life.
(Note: This courtesy self-guided tour is a complement to the The Beach SOOTHING Stroll, walk #25 in the author's Toronto guide.)
If you’re as much a movie buff as I am, you love to debrief with your friends after watching a movie.
Here’s a walk around the Cinemas Beaches which could be as short or as long as you want, depending on the complexity of the plot (current movies at this cinema include Dunes and No Time to Die). Note that you need your proof of double vaccination and I.D. card with a photo. Once inside the cinema, you may remove your mask.
About Cinemas Beaches
When Alliance opened the Beach Cinemas in 1999 (at the location of the administrative building of the Greenwood Race Track), it was most welcome by the locals! It was taken over by Cineplex in 2019 (talk about a great timing for Alliance!) and is now called Cinemas Beaches (1651 Queen East).
Here, you don’t get the giant screens of Cineplex Yonge-Dundas, but I can’t count the number of times we headed to this cinema to avoid the lines in downtown’s major movie theatres. And there’s always parking in the back of the theatre, south of Eastern ($2 for 4 hours when there's no special events).
If you’re looking for a more vintage experience, check the old Fox Theatre, further east in The Beach neighbourhood.
This park is a gem in this east part of town. A very special attention was paid to the landscaping of this park. On a windy day, we get to hear the beautiful sound of the rustling tall grass along its two ponds.
Its entrance is just south of the cinema, at the corner of Eastern and Coxwell Avenues. (Coxwell, not Woodbine, as one would assume). If you are going for the short version of the walk, you could reach the main pond and be back in 15 minutes.
By the way, a surprise awaits in the small clearing near the entrance. For years, I walked through this little nook of Woodbine Park without realizing it was there. It’s even harder to find when all the leaves are gone. Not saying what it is, so you have the same thrill discovering it as I did, but know that it’s been there since 2000!
Then follow the path running eastbound. Past the public washrooms (not sure if they’re already closed for the season), turn right to reach the main pond. When we last visited during Thanksgiving, the tall fountain was still shooting up in the air, adding to the already pretty sight of the pond, surrounded by nature.
Further south, cross Lake Shore Blvd East at the lights to get to Woodbine Beach.
Like the ocean
Woodbine Beach is impressive, with its wide expanse of fine sand. You’ll have to walk 200 metres from the boardwalk to reach the shore of Lake Ontario. Truly feels like the ocean!
Nothing beats the sound of waves, wether they are crashing on the beach or gently caressing the sand. Any time of the year, any hour of the day, this is one of the most unique experience in Toronto. Note that the weather is always colder by the waterfront. Just make sure you bundle up.
The whole boardwalk is 3 km-long. It runs westbound over .8km, to the entrance of Ashbridge’s Bay (a very nice park to explore). But I suggest instead to follow the boardwalk eastbound, to reach the historic Leuty Lifeguard Station. It was built in 1920 and standing around it, one just feels time has stopped.
For the 4.7 km circuit in this post, I suggest Leuty Station as your return point but you could continue one kilometre past the station, and reach the end of the boardwalk. Then, you could continue on the beach over 300 metres to admire some serious beach houses!
On your way back, take this opportunity to get a taste of the beach life of the locals living in the relatively new development north of Lake Shore. I don’t know of any other place in Toronto where we can see the kind of four-storey houses that were built north of Lake Shore.
Cross at the light, where you’ll see the lovely fish by Charles Weiss on an electric box, walk up Joseph Duggan Rd and take the first alley to your right. It is a fun sight. The lane garages line up like soldiers in this alley and they match the pastel palet of the tall houses.
As you go, you’ll see an opening to your left (past the “sleeping policeman” sign). It allows you to reach Boardwalk Drive. You can explore the street left and right to see the pretty landscaping jobs. A bit further north, you’ll find for the next opening to the adjacent street. Such pedestrians corridors cross the eight blocks up to the Northern Dancers Blvd.
You can then walk through Woodbine Park to your starting point.
This post is a complement to The Beach SOOTHING Stroll, walk #25 in local author Nathalie Prézeau's latest walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on torontourbangems.com/shop and amazon.ca or indigo.ca. We also deliver or contact the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.