Most of us have warm, fuzzy memories of soaring down neighbourhood streets in our very first pair of inline skates – more commonly referred to by the brand that made them famous, Rollerblade (and what I will refer to them as).
Rollerblading shot to popularity in the early 90s, with a pair of shiny new inline blades on the birthday wish list of kids and teens across the globe. Rollerblading remained both a popular mode of transportation and fun recreational activity for a good solid decade – at least. But sometime in the early 2000s, Rollerblading pretty much disappeared altogether, becoming seemingly uncool overnight and remaining so until recently.
The good news is, we’re slowly and surely beginning to see a resurgence of the Rollerblader. From a romantic budget-friendly date night, to a way to tone your butt and thighs, the benefits to Rollerblading are numerous. Though Toronto’s downtown streets and sidewalks may be a tad ambitious (i.e. stupid) for the Rollerblader, the city is full of paved recreational paths to spend a freeing Sunday Funday on blades.
Here are seven places to bring back Rollerblading in Toronto.
The Martin Goodman Trail
One of the best places to Rollerblade in Toronto – especially on a balmy summer day – is on the Martin Goodman Trail. The 56-kilometre paved path takes you along the waterfront from one end of the city to the other, from the Humber Bay Arch Bridge to the Rouge River. One of the best parts about this trail is that it runs through the Beaches, just parallel to the boardwalk, so you can channel your 90s California beach babe vibe – and cool off in the process.
Leslie Street Spit
For a Rollerblading excursion with a side of some of the best views in the city, hit the Leslie Street Spit – an easy option if you’ve already clocked in some time on the Martin Goodman Trail. Here, you can connect with nature on the paved trails through Tommy Thompson Park, as well as take in the (super Instagram-worthy) city skyline views. Bringing a picnic in your backpack is highly recommended.
Don Valley River
Another option for getting up close and personal with nature is the along the wildlife-filled Don River from Lawrence Ave W south to the Harbourlands, a path that will almost make you forget you’re in Toronto and connects with a handful of others. The downtown dwellers can access the trail via the Evergreen Brick Works or Riverdale Park.
For a breezy day among trees, head to Sunnybrook Park – accessible off Leslie just north of Eglinton – with your Rollerblades. In the greenery-filled park, you’ll find a mix of both low-volume park roads and bike/Rollerblade pathways. Bring along a football, baseball, or Frisbee – there’s a lot of open space for active fun.
In the east end, the Taylor/Massey Creek pathway offers a paved path from Taylor Creek Park through East York, ending at Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough. This trail comes with things like ponds, cement bridge crossings, and no shortage of opportunities to connect with nature.
The Toronto Islands
To make a day of it, grab your Rollerblades and hit the ferry docks for a day of blading the Toronto Islands. Here, you can enjoy about 5 kilometres of car-free paved roads from one end of the island to the other, enjoying stops along the way to lounge on one of the beaches, have a drink on a patio, get lost in the maze, or win a prize at a carnival game at Centreville Amusement Park.
If you want to bring back Rollerblading in a more adventurous way – as in, in a city skate park – hit the street art-filled Underpass Park. Located beneath the expressway ramp under the bridge south of King St. E off St. Lawrence St., here, you’ll find a sheltered smooth terrain and smaller versions of typical skatepark staples, where you can relearn all the Rollerblading tricks you knew back in the day.
Just remember, it’s technically illegal to inline skate in the streets of Toronto and Rollerbladers are expected to follow the same laws as pedestrians.
Featured image: Instagram/ @gorollerblade
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