Lookouts: Riverdale Park

Heading out to a lookout point is one of my favourite things to do, to put it lightly. I especially love lookouts over a cityscape lit beautifully at night (though I have yet to find the camera that will enable me to take photos that fully capture its beauty). I’ve spent hours and hours doing that, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone, well into the early hours of the morning.

Today, I’ll be writing about Toronto’s Riverdale Park.

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The entrance to the east end of Riverdale Park from Broadview Avenue.

Riverdale is a massive, public park spanning the Lower Don River from Cabbagetown at its west end, to Broadview Avenue at its east. Irina and I enter from the east end, having left my car parked in the convenient Loblaws lot just up on Broadview. The daily maximum permit cost is $7 and there is a flat rate of $4 after 6pm until the following morning at 6am. There are cars parked along the street leading to Riverdale as well, which is permitted within a designated timeframe; I scarcely ever feel confident enough to take my chance parking on the street when I can avoid it, however.

Riverdale features many useful amenities, such as a pool, tennis courts, an outdoor hockey rink, fields for soccer and other recreational sports, and more. Not to mention a phenomenal view over Toronto:

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Riverdale, while  smaller, is comparable to New York City’s Central Park in that it is a green haven within a major metropolis that is a go-to getaway for many city-goers. Irina and I spend several peaceful hours in the park, alternately seated on the hill overlooking the cityscape or strolling around the greenery. A group of kids plays Ultimate frisbee out on the field and a pair of ladies take turns running up and down the steep portion of the hill, cheering each other on through the exercise. A husky and a bulldog chase each other through the grass, nipping and pushing at each other playfully.

To the southeast of the park, there is a silvery monument depicting the famed revolutionary and Father of Modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. He is holding his novel, The Three Principles of the People, in which he writes about nationalism, democracy, and socialism.

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Graciously donated by funds raised by the community, including a considerable number of Chinese locals.

We head southward and then turn onto the footbridge constructed over the Don Valley Parkway, which connects the Gardiner Parkway in downtown Toronto with the Ontario Highway 401. Emerging into view of a myriad of cars zooming down the expressway is yet another defining aspect of a green space within a heavily urbanized environment; you’re just barely one step away from re-immersing yourself in city life.

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Don Valley Parkway (DVP)

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A view from the footbridge over the DVP, in the opposite direction of the previous photo.

There are narrow paths under the bridge, which are very popular with cyclists. We see a number of them carrying their bicycles up and down the stairs leading from the bridge to its underside. And with the ubiquity of cyclists comes the reflexive jerk to either side of the road upon hearing the bell signalling someone coming up behind you. Not to mention the  instinct of sensing an incoming close call with a cyclist that turns to avoid you at the last possible moment. It’s almost a zen state of mind.

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Under the bridge.

All in all, Riverdale Park is an exceptionally gorgeous area boasting varied recreational activities and a unique lookout over the skyline of Toronto. Its serene beauty makes for a perfect getaway from the city within the city. The next time that I return, I look forward to relaxing under the stars on the grassy hills and watching the city light up.

~A

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