Earth Matters

Top 10 Outdoor Places of Respite at Sunnybrook

Get your daily dose of green time right here at Sunnybrook!

Sunnybrook written in the grass
At Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre we are lucky to have many places on campus where patients, visitors and staff can connect with the natural environment and reap the benefits, but are we taking full advantage of our green spaces? In this week’s blog, I’m going to share my favourite outdoor places of respite. These are excellent spots around campus for spending some time to recharge and refocus.

Advocates of sustainable healthcare design such as “LEED for Hospitals” and “Green Guide for Healthcare” recognise the benefits of incorporating places of respite into healthcare design. These places provide a much needed break from our often busy and stressful workdays and can reinforce positive distractions that are necessary in our daily routines.

We know that the physical and mental health of medical staff and clinicians is key to successful patient outcomes. So if you are feeling stressed why not take a few minutes relax and recharge. We have access to green space from all over the campus so find your favourite outdoor place of respite and enjoy some more time with nature.

10. The Cenotaph

Sunnybrook cenotaph

Location: Along Bayview Avenue (Nearest to L-Wing, M-Wing & T-Wing)

The Veteran’s Cenotaph and Garden is easy to find for staff, patients or visitors as you can see the Cenotaph Memorial from Bayview Avenue. I like this outdoor spot as it is a good location for some quiet reflection.

9. T-Wing Patio

T-wing patio

Location: Behind T-Wing outside of Druxy’s Cafeteria  (Nearest to T-Wing & S-Wing)

This little nook is great for stealing a few minutes outside. Just grab a coffee at Druxy’s and enjoy your break on the patio. Unmanaged stress is unhealthy for your mind and body, so try to incorporate more nature into your breaks to help combat unwanted stress.

Fact: Stress-related illnesses are the number one reason for sick leave for Canadians. (see link to article below)

8. Grasses by G-Wing

G-wing grasses

Location: Behind G-Wing on the east side (Nearest to G-Wing, J-Wing & U-Wing)

This grassy area is great spot for when you need a little peace and quiet. Perfect for reviewing that technical report that requires full concentration without distraction. Sometimes stepping away from the busy urban environments is just what we need to improve memory and focus.

Fact: “Nature allows the conscious brain to rest, replenishing your powers of attention, and lowering anxiety.” (see article below)

7. Explore the Path North

North path

Location: Between L-Wing and P2 (Nearest to L-Wing, K-Wing and M-Wing)

On lunch break why not explore areas of campus you’ve never been to like the path between L-Wing and Parking Garage 2. There’s nothing to lift your mood like a little exploration and discovery. This path lead me to another little wooded path with benches a great little spot for some alone time.

6. Along the Ravine

Sunnybrook ravine

Location: Along the ravine on the south side (Nearest to C-Wing, D-Wing & E-Wing)

The path along the ravine which runs along the South side of the campus is great for a mid-day energy boost. Additionally, it can serve as an alternative route to walking indoors across campus.

Fact: “In 2010, a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being in nature increased one’s sense of vitality, happiness and energy” (see article below)

 5. Road to Sunnybrook Park

Road to Sunnybrook park

Location: Take the campus road past G-Wing and U-Wing  (Nearest to G-Wing, J-Wing & U-Wing)

A lunchtime jaunt down the road to Sunnybrook Park is a great way to get exercise and green time, both proven stress relievers! Be sure to watch out for cars though.

Fact:  Research indicates that exercising outdoors produces 50% improvement in mental health over running at the Gym. (see article below)

4. The Courtyard

Sunnybrook outdoor courtyard

Location: Centre of campus (Nearest to H-Wing, E-Wing, D-Wing, C-Wing and M-Wing)

This courtyard is very central so it’s a great outdoors space for meeting up with others coming from different wings. Why not even take some work discussions and informal meetings outside?

3. The Arbor

Sunnybrook arbor

Location: Between Vaughn & McLean Estates. (Nearest to K-Wing, H-Wing & G-Wing)

This spot is so gorgeous that many couples choose to get married here at the Arbor. If you’re having a dreary day try venturing over to the Estates and let nature’s beauty lift your spirits.

2. Geriatric Day Hospital Garden

Geriatric Day Hospital Garden

Location: In the courtyard between H-Wing and the Chapel. (Nearest to H-Wing & E-Wing)

This amazing garden is tucked away in the H-Wing courtyard. This garden space has everything you could want in from an outdoor place of respite from beautiful flowers and fountains, to benches and picnic tables and even a putting green. Definitely a great place to escape to for some green time.

Fact: A CBC survey of Canadian Nurses found 40% of respondents reported feeling burnt-out to a high degree. (see article below)

1. Grounds at St. Johns Rehab

Location: St. Johns Rehab Campus. (Easiest access from SJR obviously!)

The vast beautiful grounds at St. John’s Rehab are absolutely stunning, full of gardens, paths, and large trees. What more can I say!

I hope you enjoyed this blog and find your own favourite outdoor places to enjoy around campus!

More Information

Read more about how to Connect with Nature to Reduce Stress:

Read more about Nature and Mental Health:

Read more on the CBC Survey: Inside a Nurse’s World Where Stress is Status Quo

About the author


Laura Berndt

Laura Berndt (Hough) is the Manager of Energy & Sustainability in Plant Operations at Sunnybrook.


  • Very useful information indeed. Keep up your writing. The photos are great! Very creative photography.

  • Hi there thanks for your question about our Holland Centre Campus. Unfortunately green space downtown is more rare, how about trying a lunch time walk through a nearby park like Cawthra Square at Church and Montieth or James Canning Gardens at Dundonald just east of Yonge st.

  • Thanks to Mary for clarifying to me that #2 is in fact called the Geriatric Day Hospital Garden, not the Nurse’s Garden as I originally stated.