That sweet, pungent garbage odour; glass boxes of death called streetcars; a lake that still has Torontonians debating whether or not it’s swimmable -- it’s summer in the 6ix! We haven’t quite figured out what central air conditioning is (10 fans ≠ one air conditioner, sorry), but don’t despair -- there are other ways to survive. The city of Toronto has 58 public pools available for both leisurely daytime swimmers and maybe-not-so-legal nighttime pool-hoppers (not that we’d ever condone illegal activities). Pool-hopping is an essential Toronto institution where people from all walks of life trespass on -- er, reap the benefits of the city’s pools after dark. Hopping is so integral to the Toronto summer, the city sanctioned it during some of the hottest days of the 2013 heat wave, and an essential guide to pool-hopping circulated virally in 2014. Whether you’re looking to hop or not, bring boxed wine and hit up some of the best pools this city has to offer:
Like many Toronto pools, it’s free to cool off at Alexandra Park Pool, so expect it to be packed on weekends and especially sweltering days. This pool’s location is central, and its proximity to Kensington Market makes it a hot spot for late-night pool-hopping hookups and clothing-optional swims. At a mere 7ft, the fence is easy to hop, but you may want to forgo swimming in the nude at Alexandra Park -- the pool is visible from the street.
With the beach, park, and boardwalk just meters away, Torontonians flock to Sunnyside Pool on Lakeshore Blvd, the largest pool in the city, which makes for some excellent people-watching. If you’re heading to the pool because you actually want to swim for exercise (... what?), there are dedicated lap lanes, so you won’t have to worry about dodging leisurely paddlers. Sunnyside is ideal for the high-risk pool-hopper: it’s completely exposed -- meaning there's no ideal getaway route -- but your risk could be worth the reward, as the fences are low and the pool is one of Toronto’s best.
Alex Duff Memorial Pool is one of Toronto’s favourites, attracting a diverse crowd from the Christie Pits area. The pool has one of the city’s best water slides, and is open until 8pm for those not seeking to jump a fence or two. Even so, it’s one of the city’s most popular pool-hopping spots -- jump the fence from Crawford St and enjoy this Toronto pool-hopping staple. While currently closed for rehabilitation, Alex Duff will be reopening its doors later this summer for daytime (and nighttime) swimmers.
High Park spans about 400 acres, so we’ll forgive you if you didn’t know there was a free outdoor pool hidden in its vast expanse. The change rooms are in need of a few updates (and a thorough clean), but if you’re looking to beat the heat after your sticky afternoon stroll in the lush greenery of Toronto’s largest park, High Park Pool will not disappoint. Pool-hoppers beware -- the pool is under surveillance almost 24/7, and probably not your top pick for nighttime adventures. But no risk, no reward?
Riverdale Park East offers the best view of Downtown, located on sloping hills east of the Don Valley Parkway. After your picnic or afternoon stroll in the dog park in Riverdale Park West, you can relax on the elevated seating at the pool. It's a known east-side pool-hopper haunt, with the best entrance on the southeast corner. Authorities rarely appear, and the tree cover makes for a swift and easy getaway.
Donald D. Summerville may not be a pool-hopper’s paradise, but take a break from your nighttime activities to check out this pool on Woodbine Beach. There’s something for everyone, with a 50m pool for serious swimmers as well as two additional pools for leisure and diving. Stop by after the beach, and lounge on the deck by the lap pool for excellent people-watching and sunbathing.
Monarch Park is a great east-side stop at Danforth and Coxwell. The facilities include a dog park (because four legs good, two legs bad), a 25m pool, a wading pool, a raised seating area for some pool-side lounging, and most importantly, a two-storey waterslide. This was a local pool-hopping haunt in years past, though activity has decreased as of late -- resurrecting its popularity would make it a new/old frontier for nighttime adventurers.
In a quiet patch of King St West devoid of restaurants and clubs, you can find one of Toronto’s most under-the-radar public pools. Pull up a BBQ and make this your own personal pool party -- if you’re lucky enough to catch this little pool at the right time, you and your friends could have it all to yourselves. While the barbed wire makes this pool a difficult hop, this park isn’t generally frequented by authorities, making it a favourite among pool-hoppers.
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