While there’s plenty do in the big city of Toronto, the capital of the province of Ontario, in the spring that will cost you a few dollars, there are also a lot of great options that won’t require you to open your wallet. If you’re looking for a few fun things to do that will help you save rather than spend, the Canadian city has various activities to enjoy as the weather (finally) warms up.
Check Out the Cherry Blossoms in High Park
Join throngs of snap-happy park-goers when the Sakura cherry blossoms pop open into full bloom in High Park. The yearly event is one of the most popular spring events in the city and it’s totally free. The delicate pink blooms are only around for about two weeks, so make sure to keep an eye on the cherry blossom tracker to get an idea of the best time to go. If you can, steer clear of weekends, which is peak-viewing time. Regardless of when you visit though, the blossoms are a pretty amazing sight and a great way to welcome spring.
Birds are synonymous with the onset of spring and you can celebrate the season (without dipping into your wallet) with a visit to Tommy Thompson Park. The annual Spring Bird Festival takes place on May 9, 2020 and celebrates International Migratory Bird Day. Tommy Thompson Park is not only one of the city’s best green spaces, it’s also an important stopover for migratory birds. The festival gives you a chance to learn more about some of your favorite feathered friends and involves all sorts of educational activities. Sign up for a birding 101 workshop, go for a guided birding walk and take part in conservation activities for both kids and adults.
Stroll Through a Street Festival
Street festival season is just getting warmed up come spring, but there are a few options to get out and enjoy the fresh air and neighborhood camaraderie at a street festival over the next several weeks. Street festivals in Toronto usually mean live music, food vendors, games, family-friendly activities and local goods for sale, depending on the festival. Some upcoming street celebrations in Toronto this spring include Spring into Parkdale Sidewalk Festival and Night Marketon May 11, Dundas West Fest on June 1 and 2, and Junction Summer Solstice on June 22 for 2019.
Explore Kensington Market on a Sunday
Kensington Market is always a great place to explore (and it's always free if you don’t buy anything), but starting in 2019, Pedestrian Sundays returned—which means you can explore the area without having to share space with cars. As with all of Kensington’s Pedestrian Sundays, which happen on the last Sunday of every month from May through October, you can expect music, street food, vendors, street performers, a lively atmosphere, and more.
Laugh Your Way Through the Toronto Comics Art Festival
Held at the Toronto Reference Library since 2009, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) is happening May 11 and 12, 2019. The week-long event celebrates comics and graphic novels and their creators and gives festival-goers the chance to check out hundreds of comics creators from around the world. Other TCAF events include workshops, readings, panel discussions, interviews, art installations and much more.
Take a Spring Walking Tour
Rediscover the city this spring (or discover it if you’re new in town) with an informative—and free—walking tour. Jane’s Walk happens throughout the city in early May and involves locally-organized walking tours that bring communities together. These tours can cover any aspect of a neighborhood and anyone can lead one. Alternatively, you can take one of four free tours of Toronto with the Tour Guys. Options include a tour of St. Lawrence Market, a downtown tour, an Old Town history tour and a Queen St. West graffiti tour.
Browse a Farmers' Market
Toronto’s many farmers’ markets get into full swing near the end of May and if you’re not tempted to buy something, browsing is a no-cost way to spend some time this spring (but it can be tough not to be tempted by fresh produce and baked goods on offer). If you do want to keep your visit cost-free, you can usually find live music on offer, samples being doled out by vendors, and other activities to choose from.
Get Back to Nature
Spring is the perfect time to embrace the great outdoors and celebrate the fact that it’s safe to come out of winter hibernation. One great place to do that is the Humber Arboretum, which includes over 6 kilometers of walking trails as well as gardens, both of which are free and accessible to the general public. Other places to get up close to nature (for free) include Allen Gardens Conservatory and the Toronto Botanical Gardens. Otherwise, head to one of Toronto’s many parks for a day outdoors, or grab your hiking boots and take a hike right in the city at one of the city’s many hike-friendly parks.
Have Fun at a Farm
If you’ve got little ones, a visit to Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown is a fun (and free) way to spend a day in the city once spring hits. The farm, a representation of a working rural farm in Ontario, consists of 7.5 acres featuring animals, historic farm buildings, gardens, pathways, wooded areas, and ponds. Kids can learn from the farmer during daily chores such as cow milking, egg collecting, and animal feeding.