Whilst Toronto isn't as manic and busy as some major cities, it is still a built up and thriving place to be and as a result can be a little overwhelming after a while. It isn't a terrible thing though, because the city offers a number of ways and places to get away from the husle and bustle and to chill out in peaceful surroundings.
Unlike most beaches, Toronto's don't line the sea, but actually Lake Ontario. That said the lake is so expansive that sitting on the edge is like being by the sea - the water carries on into the horizon and there is nothing to see but blueness for miles. The beach area in Toronto is made up of very small pebbles so isn't everyone's idea of a beach, but it is still a lovely place to go and enjoy the sun and a good book. It is often very quiet so is very peaceful and is an enjoyable way to while away the hours. The beach is lined with a boardwalk, often occupied by roller bladers and runners, that stretches for miles. There are a number of cafes that sit at the side of the boardwalk offering snacks and much needed ice creams.
High Park is a huge park on the edge of the city that is easily accessible using the subway system. There are wooded areas and huge expanses of open grassy fields that are ideal for ball games and picnics. There are plenty of pretty gardens including one that features a huge maple leaf (the national emblem that features on the Canadian flag). There are plenty of benches and tables to relax at and there is a fun play park filled with swings and slides for younger visitors. The park is free to enter.
Take a ferry ride from the harbour front over to the island for just $6 return and you'll not regret it. The islands offer a lovely escape from the city with plenty to do if you want action and plenty of quiet spots if you don't. You can visit the reasonably priced Centreville theme park if rides are your thing or you can head to the far side of the island for a relax on the beach there. I'd strongly recommend that you hire a bike because it's a fabulous way to explore the island. You can peddle along the boardwalks at the edge of the Lake or you can head round to the other side of the island to get terrific views of the Toronto skyline across the harbour.
Casa Loma is a little on the expensive side (upwards of $20 per person for admission) and the house itself, in my opinion, is OK but not great. However the Casa Loma is set in wonderful expansive gardens that are filled with little hidey holes and interesting features that provide a wonderful, peaceful place to sit and enjoy nature. Whenever I've been, I've always thought that it would be a lovely and inspirational place to write a book - maybe one day I'll do just that!
So, whilst you must enjoy the sights, sounds and smells that Downtown Toronto offers, there is always a number of highly enjoyable ways to escape the city to a more peaceful place.