Going to the beach is a classic summertime activity, but you don’t always have to travel far to find one. These five urban beaches are centrally located within cities across Canada, offering golden sand, scenic views, recreational activities and more.

English Bay Beach, Vancouver

Vancouver is full of urban beaches, but English Bay Beach is arguably the best one. This downtown beach is dotted with tree logs, perfect for lounging, and visitors can rent chairs, umbrellas and kayaks. There are also two beach volleyball courts if you feel like practicing your serve. Be sure to visit English Bay Beach during the annual Honda Celebration of Light (July 28, August 1 and 4) for unparalleled views of the fireworks. There’s also plenty to do in the surrounding area; the beach is steps away from the Seawall (which connects it to Stanley Park) and close to popular dining and entertainment stretches like Davie Street.

Willows Beach, Victoria

Photo by Deddeda Stemler

Located in Victoria’s Oak Bay neighbourhood, family-friendly Willows Beach is a great spot to spend a day in the sun. The beach is ideal for sunbathing or swimming, and has a concession stand, a local tea room and picnic tables nearby in case you work up an appetite. And with Mount Baker standing proud in the distance, the view from the sand isn’t too shabby, either. When you’ve spent enough time in the sand, go for a walk in the grassy area surrounding the beach called Willows Park.

Sugar Beach, Toronto

Looking at Sugar Beach now, it’s hard to believe it was once the site of a parking lot. Ever since the beach opened in 2010, Torontonians have flocked to East Bayfront to dig their toes in the sand, lounge on white Adirondack chairs underneath pink umbrellas and climb the red-and-white striped rocks. Sugar Beach is just a short walk from hot spots such as the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and the Hockey Hall of Fame. But there’s fun to be had right on the beach, too. The annual Sail-In Cinema in August (check back for 2018 dates) features an outdoor movie screening that can be watched from a boat in Lake Ontario or from the beach.

Clock Tower Beach, Montreal

Photo courtesy of Old Port of Montreal

Clock Tower Beach in Montreal’s historic Old Port was closed in 2016 but has reopened this summer. Designed by the same architecture and design firm behind Toronto’s Sugar Beach and HtO Park, this man-made beach is a picturesque spot thanks to its blue umbrellas and blue-and-white Adirondack chairs. Although there is no swimming in the water, the golden sand stretches along the port, overlooking the ships and St. Lawrence River, while the beach’s stately namesake (the Montreal Clock Tower) looms over the area.