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).
01 of 10
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. Tours run 60 to 90 minutes and cover around four acres of gardens.
02 of 10
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, 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.
03 of 10
Go back in time at Historic Fort York
If you haven’t been to Fort York, it makes for an interesting afternoon exploring Canada's largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings and 1813 battle site. The cost of admission is $9 and with that you have access to the various structures and exhibits that highlight what life would have been life for soldiers and officers at Fort York. In the summer there are guided tours, cooking demos, muscat and cannon firings and Fort York guard demonstrations.
04 of 10
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 $7.50 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.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
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 $8 a person. Natrel Pond turns into Natrel Rink in the winter, one of the prettiest outdoor skating rinks in the city.
06 of 10
Catch a free flick
Summer in Toronto is the perfect time to catch a movie without having to reach into your wallet. Tuesdays at dusk you can head to Yonge-Dundas Square for their free movie series beginning June 28. You can also head down to Harbourfront for free weekly screenings on Wednesday evenings from June 22 to August 31, or visit Sugar Beach, which turns into an outdoor movie theatre for one weekend in August (18-20). A two-sided screen floats out in the water so you can either watch from a boat or on land.
07 of 10
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.
08 of 10
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. Their Lunchtime Live concert series runs Mondays 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. May 9 to June 13 and again September 5 to October 3. Your other option at the Square is Indie Fridays, which happen June 24 to September 2.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
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.
10 of 10
Tour Steam Whistle Brewery
Love beer? And in particular Steam Whistle beer? Get yourself to the brewery for a guided tour where you’ll get to learn about how your favourite beer is made. There are tours at various price points, but the basic “Tour and Taste” will run you $10 and includes, as the name suggests, a tour and a sample of beer. Tours run for 30 minutes Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can book in advance Monday to Thursday, but Friday to Sunday tours happen on a first come, first served basis.