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Scarborough is the area in the east end of Toronto. It used to be an independent city before the 1998 amalgamation of the five areas surrounding downtown Toronto, during which time it was deemed a borough of the entire city. That is why Toronto is now nicknamed the six.
Scarborough gets a reputation as a place of low income and high crime. However, that is not the Scarborough that I know and love, and that should not be its label.
While Toronto is known to be one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Scarborough plays a huge role in that statistic. It’s the area where many immigrants settle down, making it one of the most diverse parts of the city. The little Filipino, Tamil, or Chinese communities in Scarborough are unparalleled in the rest of Toronto.
If you do only one thing in Scarborough before going back to downtown Toronto, make sure to visit the Scarborough Bluffs, right on the waterfront of Lake Ontario!
How to Get to Scarborough, Toronto
Scarborough is in the east end of Toronto. Its borders are Victoria Park Avenue in the west, Steeles Avenue in the north, the Scarborough-Pickering Townline in the east, and of course, Lake Ontario in the south.
From downtown Toronto // From downtown Toronto, the easiest way to get to Scarborough is by public transit (TTC). Take the subway line 2 (green) east towards any of the two Scarborough stations: Warden or Kennedy. From there, you can transfer to line 3 (blue) or take one of the numerous buses that bring you into the heart of Scarborough. If you have a car, take the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) from downtown, merge onto Highway 401 East, and continue until you find your exit.
From Pearson International Airport // The easiest way to get to Scarborough from YYZ airport is by car. Without traffic, it takes about 20-40 minutes on Highway 401. Depending on traffic, it could take anywhere between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to get to Scarborough. There are rental cars available for pick up at Pearson International Airport. If you do not have your own car, you can hire a licensed airport taxi service, or call a ride-share like Uber or Lyft. If you want to save money and have ample amount of time, your last option is to take the TTC. Take the 900 express bus from the airport to Kipling station. From there, ride the subway from west to east on line 2. Make sure to find a seat because you’re in for a long ride!
Getting Around Scarborough
TTC is the cheapest option for transportation. Each fare costs $3.25 and can be paid by using a Presto Card or cash. There are bus lines on every major street in Scarborough, and many of them eventually end up at a subway station. These buses can bring you anywhere in Scarborough, or to neighbouring boroughs like North York and East York. Some of them will bring you into Markham, the city north of Toronto.
Public transit is not always the most reliable – there could be subway closures or bus delays that put a roadblock on your plans. Driving is the next most common way to get around in Scarborough. Uber, Lyft and taxi services are readily available throughout this area of the city.
Scarborough is not a very walkable area compared to downtown Toronto. All the roads have well-maintained sidewalks, but destinations are often too far apart to make walking a reasonable choice.
Bike lanes are not prominent in much of Scarborough, so cyclists tend to ride at the edge of the road.
Where to Eat in Scarborough for Dinner
Ital Vital // A small local restaurant that offers vegan versions of Caribbean dishes! Nestled at the corner of a small plaza, this place is unassuming but worth every penny. There is limited seating inside, but on a warm day, there’s a picnic table for outside dining as well.
Liuyishou Hot Pot // Open until midnight, this hot pot restaurant is an excellent choice for dinner after work. Vegetarians need not fear – there is a mushroom broth and many veggie options, and the staff is accommodating to allergies. This chain has another location in downtown Toronto and many other locations in North America.
Johnny’s Hamburgers // Located at the border between Scarborough and North York, this iconic burger joint has been around for 50 years! It’s a must-try for any burger lover. Unfortunately, there are still no veggie burgers, but the onion rings and fries are delicious. No seating is available inside, but it is common to see customers scarfing down their burger outside on the curb!
Jatujak // This is my favourite Thai restaurant in Scarborough. The restaurant itself is deceptively roomy, with a comfortable atmosphere and décor. It has earned some recognition for best Pad Thai in the city!
Incheon House // One of the best places for Korean and Japanese food. This is my go-to place for bibimbap in Scarborough!
Things to Do in Scarborough at Night
Get bubble tea // There are endless bubble tea options in Scarborough. The Midland Avenue / Finch Avenue intersection is one of the best areas to find Chatime, The Alley, Coco and others. Many are open past midnight!
Shopping at Scarborough Town Centre // STC, as locals call it, is an epicenter of Scarborough – the place for shopping, food, the spa and the cinema. This mall is for everyone: it’s a hangout for high schoolers and a meeting point for mall-walkers. As the largest shopping mall in Scarborough, this has everything an avid shopper might need.
Workout at the Pan Am Centre // This facility was built for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. Since then, it has been open to the public for fitness classes, recreational activities, and lessons. The facility includes a fitness centre, an indoor track, a climbing wall, a gymnasium, and a beautiful swimming pool. For a small fee, take part in drop-in activities like badminton, basketball, and lane swim. Check out the extensive list of drop-ins on their website.
Wander around Scarborough Bluffs // As this is the #1 thing to do in Scarborough, it’s a great place to visit after work because it is quieter in the evenings and parking is not as expensive. Go for a stroll on the public beach or walking trails, and see the stunning views of Lake Ontario from the top of the cliffs themselves. You won’t see a good sunset from over the cliffs, but it’s worth a visit in order to de-stress in nature after a long day.
Visit Rouge National Urban Park // At the very east end of Scarborough sits Rouge Park, the perfect place for an evening hike or to learn about the ecosystem and biodiversity on a guided walk.
Get some work done at the UTSC library // If you have work to take home after 5 pm, revisit your university days and head to the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto. The library itself is a modern glass building, and inside you’ll find plenty of table space to get to work.
Scarborough is off the beaten path for most Toronto visitors. If you find yourself in this east end of Toronto, don’t hesitate to try something out of your comfort zone. After a visit to Scarborough, you’ll get a real sense of what Toronto is all about!
Also check out:
- Trinity Bellwoods, Toronto After 5:00 pm
- Scarborough, Toronto After 5:00 pm
- Yorkville, Toronto After 5:00 pm
- Montreal, Quebec After 5:00 pm
- Gatineau, Quebec After 5:00 pm
- Ottawa After 5:00 pm