This public destination has been a not so secret retreat for decades: at 7.5 acres in size, the Riverdale Farm smack in the middle of a dense residential area in downtown Toronto, Ontario (201 Winchester Street), is a rural sanctuary from city chaos. Riverdale is a living farm museum designed to give urbanites big and small the chance to experience farm life such as seeing two Clydesdales – Rooster and Dolly – being fed, groomed, cared for and sheltered. The smell of rural living is in the air, and it’s remarkably calm and quiet along the trails between the animal pens of chickens, cows, and donkeys, and past the butterfly gardens and duck pond.
If you’re in the Toronto area, plan to get there soon. Lack of municipal funding has already threatened closure and in 2013 the W. Garfield Weston Foundation donated 25-million dollars (Canadian) to keep the farm open for the short-term. Schedule an hour if you only want to see the animals, or at least two hours if you bring a picnic and walk the trails past wetland habitat preserve at the base of the Don Valley Parkway. Only the distant sound of highway traffic reminds you where you really are. The farm is open all year, 9am to 5pm, and admission is free.