Neighbourhood Profile: The Beaches
With its sandy shores, shop-lined boardwalks, and plenty of popular outdoor events such as the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival, one might picture The Beaches as the ideal neighbourhood for a day trip or eclectic shopping excursion. However, there’s a charm in the air to this community, and once you let it wash over you, it’ll be easy to see why this charming community must just be home sweet home.
Here’s a peek at The Beaches’ inviting brilliance.
The Beaches is situated just south of East York and east of Old Toronto, respectively. Bordered by Kingston Road to the north and Lake Ontario to the south, the neighbourhood is known for its vast, artificially enlarged beaches that were appropriated along with the Kew Gardens private park grounds by the Toronto Harbour Commission in the early 1900s. Visitors have been drawn to the area for this reason for decades.
Queen Street forms the heart of the community, and is lined with more than 390 businesses, comprising mainly of independent specialty stores. Much of the neighbourhood is dedicated to residential zoning and green space, and The Beaches is generally regarded as a great place to settle down and raise a family due to having a low crime rate as well as an abundance of schools.
Most residences are semi-detached and large-scale Victorian and Edwardian homes, as well as a few low-rise apartment complexes and townhouse developments. Modern developments have also crept in, but the community continues to strive to preserve the vintage charm of the area by appointing some streets with heritage designations, and by maintaining traditional homes.
This is a family-friendly neighbourhood , thanks to the abundance of educational facilities and open green space. It makes for an all-around less chaotic lifestyle, being more laid-back and contemplative, but not one bit dull.
TTC Bus and streetcar routes run along Queen Street, Gerrard Street, Kingston Road, Victoria Park Avenue, Main Street, and Woodbine Avenue. These routes connect to Toronto’s rapid transit lines and subway stations, allowing for access to the downtown core. By car, the neighbourhood is easily accessible via the Don Valley Expressway, the Gardiner Expressway, and Lake Shore Boulevard.
Coupled with the neighbourhood’s verdant park system and the allure of living along the shoreline, The Beaches is a quaint yet vibrant area akin to a traditional seaside retreat. That doesn’t mean things get stale, however. The hundreds of stores along Queen Street change quite often, for example, which keeps the neighbourhood constantly fresh and exciting — sometimes dramatically so. It’s not uncommon to see people flocking to Woodbine Beach and Kew-Balmy Beach in the warmer weather, or taking to the generous park system along the southern half of the area to take advantage of seasonal activities or gatherings there. All in all, the shoreline location and preservation of key public spaces has allowed for a more convivial neighbourhood than one might expect from the Toronto area.
The Beaches is the best of both worlds. There’s a sense of calmness and charming old-world warmth harmonizing with an eclectic vibrancy and freshness that rejuvenates the area every year. With an intuitive transportation system in place, there’s no reason not to visit this neighbourhood and experience its charming aesthetic.
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