Cherry Beach Dog Park — Cottage Country Walks with City Views
For most dogs that live downtown Toronto, Cherry Beach has long been touted as hands down the best dog park to visit in terms of:
- Overall Size
- Terrain Diversity
- Dog-friendly beaches in Toronto
While it certainly does live up to its reputation as being one of the largest off-leash dog parks in central Toronto, let’s take a deeper dive into the dog park itself to determine if it’s the best dog park for you and your pooch.
Cherry Beach Dog Park Overview
Here’s a quick summary of the park before we dive into the detailed overview:
Hours of Operation: Sunrise — Sundown
Address: 1 Cherry St, Toronto, ON M5A 0B7
Directions and Parking Instructions at Cherry Beach Off-Leash Area
Cherry Beach Dog Park is located just south of the Netflix production hub in Toronto.
As you head further south from Lake Shore Ave E onto Cherry St, the downtown landscape of Toronto steadily gives way to industrial parks and the steady construction of The Port Lands — a 308-acre area that will be eventually transformed into sustainable parks and communities in 2024.
By Public Transit:
- From Union Station — take the 72 bus South East to Villiers St & Cherry St stop before walking 1.4 KM south to the beach
Parking Details at Cherry Beach Off-Leash Area:
The address: 1 Cherry St, Toronto, ON M5A 0B7 will direct you to the parking lot located by the entrance of Cherry Beach park.
Parking here is free. However there is very limited parking — about 45 official slots and fines for parking on the curb, in the middle of the lot, or off to the side are strict.
Last summer, we received a hefty $100 fine for parking an alcove (which was previously an empty dirt lot, now newly paved with parking lines) — which other locals have agreed is a honey hole for police officers looking to dole out parking tickets to meet their quota.
If the lot is full your best bet is to head further East to the large public parking lot servicing the East end of Cherry Beach.
Review of Cherry Beach Dog Park
We’re calling it right now — you’re going to get some slight cottage country walk vibes while traversing the short off-leash trail offered at Cherry Beach.
Despite seeing the Toronto skyline in the backdrop occasionally peeking through the trees, it’s easy to forget you’re near such a large city as you walk the lake’s edge off-leash with your dog.
We visited on a chilly April weekend morning and as we were strolling through the west beach end, it really felt like we were enjoying some time at a lakefront dog-friendly cottage rental further north.
P.S. If you’re looking for a dog-friendly lakefront cottage, I’d recommend checking out Pine Falls Lodge)
Based on our visits, here are our overall views of Cherry Beach’s Off-Leash Areas:
❤️ What we loved
- Multiple Shallow Entries to Lake Ontario
- Sandy Off-Leash Beach
- Scenic City Views
- Benches and Shade Throughout
😐 Things to Note
- Always Busy — Ultra Popular Destination for Commercial Dog Walkers and Weekend Visitors
- Not fully enclosed
- Single gated entryways
❤️ Multiple Shallow Entries to Lake Ontario
Whether you’ve got a young puppy who’s learning how to swim for the first time or whether you have a water-loving dog, Cherry Beach’s Dog Park offers multiple spots for your dog to explore and play in the water.
This was Limone’s first foray into swimming as an 8-month-old pup and the shallow shorelines were a perfect introduction to teach her how to swim. Now, at 2 years old the shores are the perfect wading height for her to cool off and take a short swim.
Skilled dog swimmers will also enjoy that the shore deepens to swimmable depths after 2–3 metres into the water.
❤️ Sandy Off-Leash Beach
While you can’t expect the finest grade of sand here at Cherry Beach, we do love that this beach has soft, fine-grained sand. The sandy terrain is a much softer option on Limone’s paws and we’re really glad that we don’t have to drive as far as Long Point Provincial Park to access an off-leash sand beach for Limone.
P.S. Long Point Provincial Park’s off-leash dog beach offers much finer sand and much warmer water thanks to the warmer waters of Lake Erie!
❤️ Scenic City Views
Thanks to its location at the Lower Don Lands, you’ll be able to enjoy an unobstructed view of the city’s skylines as you make your way toward the west end of the off-leash dog park.
❤️ Plenty of Benches and Shade Throughout
Unlike most dog parks in the city that offer a large rock, just a single seated bench, this off-leash area is packed with benches located throughout the enclosed area. During our walk, we counted at least 6 different benches located throughout the area.
In addition, most benches are located within the shaded canopy of the ‘forested trails’ — Cherry Beach Dog Park was designed to be a comfortable place to stay and linger for you and your pup.
😐 Always Busy — Ultra Popular Destination for Commercial Dog Walkers and Weekend Visitors
Given its huge size and its nearness to the city centre, you’ll rarely find this dog park completely empty.
Whether you’re visiting during a weekday between 11:30 AM — 2:00 PM or you’re dropping in on a weekend, you’re sure to meet plenty of dogs on your way in and out of the dog park.
For some, this constant influx of new dogs is a great opportunity for socialization and play. During the weekdays, you’ll likely see several groups of commercial dog walkers visiting the space
Others, however, may want to steer clear of these time slots and visit Cherry Beach during a quieter time.
😐 Open Lake Access
While the land portion of Cherry Beach’s off-leash dog area is fenced off (including a clear fenced area demarcating the public beach vs the dog off-leash beach), the lake is completely open to you and your pooch.
Most owners love that their dogs can get a really good swim here at Cherry Beach. However, owners of avid doggy swimmers may find their dogs swimming away from the off-leash boundaries.
Having a strong recall in this dog park is a must to keep them nearby.
😐 No Dedicated Small Dog Area
Unfortunately, Cherry Beach does not offer a dedicated small dog area as part of its off-leash area. However, thanks to its large size and varied terrains, most active and large breeds tend to stick closer to the beachside, leaving ample room for smaller dogs or shy dogs to enjoy the quieter, northern parts of the beach without issues.
😐 Garbage bins only by the entrance
Given its huge size, I do wish that there were more bins located throughout — but much like Etobicoke Valley, most dog owners are generally good about picking up after their dogs and walking the poop out to the entrance. However, you will still see the occasional poop bag or unpicked-up poop — further in the dog park.
When I write my dog park reviews, I try to include seasonal details — even if I’ve only visited the dog park location a few times. I refer to Google Reviews for some additional seasonal information if I’ve only visited a few times to fill out the other seasonal information as much as possible.
Here are some key points to note depending on which season you are visiting this dog park.
Spring — I recommend practising standard lake safety after it rains and to wait 24–48 hours before visiting Cherry Beach with your dog. Rain washes contaminants into lakes so it’s always best to let it settle before letting your dog (or yourself!) in for a swim.
Summer — Amazing space to take your dog off-leash — there is plenty of shade and lots of water access to keep your dog cool no matter when you visit. Be sure to wear some long sleeves or pack some insect repellent as there are mosquitoes around the area.
Fall — N/A
Winter — A great time to admire frozen lake views with some ice shards that can pile up to several feet high on occasion — definitely a change in your normal scenery!
What Other Reviewers Are Saying
With over 980+ Google reviews, and averaging 4.6 stars out of 5, Cherry Dog Park is a very positive experience for most dog owners visiting this park. Here are the recurring positive comments:
- Great spot for summer
- Beautiful scenery
- Great for dogs that love to swim
- Well behaved dogs
In terms of negative or low-rated reviews, this is what most dissatisfied visitors have to say:
- Parking Tickets are the worst if the parking lot is full
- Can get busy during weekdays with lots of commercial dog walkers
Cherry Beach Dog Park Summary
Overall, definitely give Cherry Beach a visit If you’re looking for:
- A Commercial Dog Walker friendly off-leash park
- An approved off-leash 400m trail
- An approved dog beach
- Engaging and varied terrain (e.g. trees, sand, water, dirt, etc.)
- Spacious size
- Free parking nearby
If however, you’re looking for a dog park with:
- Dedicated (explicit signage) small dog park area
- Fully fenced/enclosed space
- Less crowded dog park
Perhaps you may want to visit Jack Darling Dog Park in Mississauga instead. Jack Darling is a massive 22-acre off-leash fully fenced dog park with a dedicated small dog area — it’s one of our top three favourite dog parks ever!
Thanks to its massive size, there’s still plenty of space to run around and find a quiet space for you and your pooch to enjoy — even on the busiest of days.
If weekend crowds are an issue at Cherry Beach for you (especially during the weekend), but you still want to enjoy an off-leash beach day with your dog, I’d suggest trying your luck visiting the slightly less popular, but nearby: Kew-Balmy Beach Dog Park instead.
Disclaimer: We haven’t been to Kew-Balmy Beach Dog Park yet — so take this recommendation with a grain of salt. It’s on our list to visit and check out! Be on the lookout for a review soon!
Looking to make a full day trip visiting a beach? I’d highly recommend visiting the warm waters of Lake Erie at Long Point Provincial Park too! They have much softer sand, gentle sand bars perfect for dogs that like to wade, and incredibly warm waters too.
What We Always Bring With Us to Dog Parks
What’s on Limone:
Depending on the situation we rotate Limone through various harnesses and collars:
- Our Everyday Harness: Julius K-9 IDC ® Longwalk Harness
- ‘Photo-Op/Meeting her Grandpawrents’ Harness: Knick Knack Paddy Whack Harness in Prime *locally made in Toronto
- ‘I’m dirty, my harness is dirty, and I need a shower so I can’t wear a harness anymore’ Collar: KONG® Comfort Weave Padded Dog Collar — we bring this with us whenever we know Limone is going to get muddy or go into the water for a swim and we can’t bother with a harness
Similarly, we rotate Limone’s leash based on our needs. These are the three leashes we use regularly:
- Everyday Leash: 4 My Merles Creations — Standard Braided Leash. *locally made in Orillia, Ontario. Here are the custom options we chose if you’d like the exact same one:
- Embroidered Handle
- Poly Webbing Color: Yellow
- Fleece Color: Red
- Fleece Color 2: Royal Blue
- Embroidery Color: Black
- ‘I’m going to get dirty and drag my leash around OR I’m going to be tied onto a doggy zipline’ Leash: Amazon’s Choice Dog Training Leash with Padded Handle — 6ft in Grey
- Long Line Lead: Amazon’s Choice 20ft Long Lead in Black
Did Cherry Beach make it to your top dog park lists?