Going out, especially in a big city, is often seen as an expensive endeavour – and it can be. But how much you spend when you leave the house depends on the activities you choose and there are more than you think that allow you to have a fun day or night out in Toronto without over-spending. In fact, there’s lots of budget-friendly things to do in the city. If you’re in search of a few things to do that don’t mean watching your bank balance dip lower than you’d like, here are 10 things to do in Toronto for $10 or less (and in some cases even free).
Take a guided garden tour
If you’re looking for inspiration for what to plant in your own garden, a garden tour can be a great way to get some new ideas flowing. Alternatively, garden tours offer an easy way to learn more about plants, flowers and garden design in general. Toronto Botanical Garden offers year-round tours of their grounds and some of the adjacent Edwards Gardens for $10 a person ($5 for children and seniors). Tours run 60 to 90 minutes and cover around four acres of gardens.
Or, if you happen to be visiting in the summer (late May through September), you can take advantage of free tours offered Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and Thursdays at 6 p.m. Volunteer tour guides conduct 90-minute informative tours for anyone interested in learning more about the gardens.
Work on your baseball swing
Whether you’re looking to sharpen your skills for a baseball league you’re playing in, or you simply want to do something active outdoors, the outdoor batting cages at Diamond Beach in Etobicoke are an affordable activity. A single session costs $3.50, which works out to 20 pitches and helmets and bats are provided. Just note that it’s cash only and there are no ATM machines on site.
Take a trip to the Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands might be a quick ferry ride from downtown Toronto, but they feel a world away from the buzz of city life. A roundtrip ferry ticket is just $7.87 and from there it’s free to explore Hanlan’s Point, Centre Island and Wards Island, all with their own sets of attractions, including beaches, Centreville Amusement Park on Centre Island, picnic areas and snack bars and restaurants.
Take a paddleboat ride on Natrel Pond
Head to Natrel Pond on the shores of Lake Ontario and hop in a paddleboat for a quick but relaxing ride. You’lll be getting fresh air and gorgeous lake views all while being active on the water. Rental is for a 15-minute ride including life jackets and costs $10 a person. Natrel Pond turns into Natrel Rink in the winter, one of the prettiest outdoor skating rinks in the city. In addition, there's plenty to do once you're in the area, from bars and restaurants to various events and festivals at Harbourfront Centre.
Catch a free flick
Summer in Toronto is the perfect time to catch a movie without having to reach into your wallet. Head to Yonge-Dundas Square or Harbourfront for free weekly screenings in July and August.
Or visit Sugar Beach, which turns into an outdoor movie theatre for one weekend in August (10-11, 2018). A two-sided screen floats out in the water so you can either watch from a boat or on land. This is the world’s first two-sided floating movie experience of its kind.
Plan a DIY picnic in the park
Toronto is filled with green spaces worthy of a picnic in the park and so long as you don’t spend a fortune on what you fill your basket with, you can easily plan an affordable afternoon in the city. Use what you already have on hand at home to put together a few sandwiches or wraps, add some nuts or chips and salsa, some fruit and a couple bottles of water and make your way to High Park, Trinity Bellwoods, Christie Pits, Dufferin Grove Park or any number of other great options in Toronto. Don’t forget to bring a blanket, some sunscreen and a Frisbee.
Listen to some free live music
Not every concert or live performance has to mean reaching into your wallet. Toronto is filled with opportunities to listen to music for free, especially in the summer. Yonge-Dundas Square in particular is a good bet for catching a free show, including heir Lunchtime Live concert series and Indie Fridays, which happen end of June to September.
Check out some art in the city
There are a few ways to get your art and culture fix in Toronto without spending much (or anything). Start with the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery on Toronto’s waterfront. The gallery, dedicated to contemporary visual art, is always free with a rotating roster of thought-provoking exhibitions. You can also visit 401 Richmond, home to many galleries featuring art of various disciplines and it’s free to browse. In addition, take a trip to one of the best neighbourhoods to see art in Toronto or visit the Art Gallery of Ontario for free on Wednesday between 6 and 9 p.m.
Take a Brewery Tour
Love beer? There are several options in the city for a free brewery tour, most of which include some samples. Henderson Brewing Co. in the Junction Triangle offers free hour-long tours. Tours happen most Tuesdays at 7pm, but just be sure to register on their events page.
Amsterdam Brewhouse also offers free, 30-minute tours led by a brewmaster and each tour includes a free tasting.
Visit Allan Gardens Conservatory
Open 365 days a year, seven days a week, the 16,000 square feet of Allan Gardens Conservatory are always free to explore. The scenic space offers visitors the chance to get up close to a wide variety of plant life that will make you feel as if you've been transported to a tropical paradise.