Toronto is filled with fun, interesting, unique, and exciting things to do whether you're on vacation or even if you call Toronto home. From the top of the CN Tower to the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world, these are 30 of the best activities and attractions the city has to offer.
See the Skyline from the Water
Toronto has a fantastic skyline, but the best way to enjoy it is from Lake Ontario. There are lots of ways to get out on the water during your visit to Toronto, whether you rent a kayak or take a Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) tour. You can find rental shops like the The Boat House on Toronto Island if you want to splash around in a kayak or, if you're feeling ore ambitious you can embark on a five-hour paddling tour from Kew-Balmy Beach to Bluffers Park with Oceah Oceah.
Sometimes the best souvenir is something you find in a thrift shop and Toronto has many to choose from. You can find costume jewelry at Courage My Love or peruse the past two hundred years of fashion at Gadabout, which sells items that date back to the 19th century. And if you're looking for menswear, Kingpin's Hideaway boasts a fine collection of vintage suits, ascots, and fedoras.
See a Show at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre
Built in 1913 as vaudeville theatres, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is the world's last double-decker theatre. The two auditoriums were built one on top of the other and are both beautiful and unique in design. While the Elgin Theatre is glitzy with a gold and red scheme, the Winter Garden Theatre is inspired by nature with columns sculpted to look like tree trunks and plants that hanging from the ceiling. You can check the event calendar if you want to buy tickets to a performance, but there are also tours available, on which you will be able to learn more about the history of the theatre and get up close to artifacts like an original silent film projector from the early 19th century.
Toronto has a large South-Asian community, which is celebrated every day in the Little India neighborhood surrounding Gerrard Street. Here you can find more traditional Indian Cuisine at restaurants like Leela Indian Food Bar or try Desi Burger, which serves up spicy burgers alongside sweet, creamy, and fruity drinks like faloodas and mango lassis. Shopping-wise, you can peruse beautiful sarees and kurtis at Nucreation or maybe find new copper dishes for your home at Kohinoor Kitchen Ware.
Visit Niagara Falls
If you haven't ticked Niagara Falls off your bucket list yet, you can't leave Toronto without taking a day-trip to the magnificent waterfall, which is about 80 miles south on the other side of Lake Ontario. Around the main waterfall, there is plenty to do in town, whether you want to hit the casinos or go shopping. If the weather's right, consider taking a boat ride, so you can get up close and personal with the waterfall's misty spray, or enjoy the view from a distance at a restaurant with a view like Top of the Falls or Fallsview Dining.
Find Solitude on the Philosopher's Walk
At the University of Toronto, the Philosopher's Walk is a scenic footpath that will take you past some of the city's cultural landmarks like the Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Conservatory of Music, and Trinity College. Here, you'll also find the Queen Alexandra Gateway, which was built in 1906. With students bustling about, it's a great place to enjoy Toronto's academic atmosphere and get away from the crowds of tourists in the city's other popular hotspots. Along the path, you'll find historical memorial plaques and a book quote on every bench.
Hang Out in High Park
Stop by Toronto's largest public park to take advantage of hiking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, landscaped gardens, and in the spring, an explosion of cherry blossoms. High Park is easily accessible by public transit and also home to an outdoor public pool, a wading pool for kids, an ice rink, baseball diamonds, and Grenadier Restaurant.
Shop for Delicious Foods at St. Lawrence Market
The city’s largest market is a definite must-do on any trip to Toronto and was even voted best food market in the world by National Geographic. The South Market is home to over 120 specialty food vendors selling everything from fresh produce and baked goods, to prepared foods, dairy, meat, and seafood. Saturdays in the summer you’ll find a bustling farmers’ market at the North Building.
Visit the Royal Ontario Museum
Canada’s largest museum showcases everything from art and archaeology to natural science in over 30 galleries. Whether you’re interested in ancient Rome, Chinese temple art, dinosaurs, or Japanese culture (to name but a few), something at the Royal Ontario Museum will likely pique your interest.
Stop by the Art Gallery of Ontario
Wandering through the Art Gallery of Ontario, whether the permanent collection or a special exhibition never gets old. Toronto is lucky to have one of the largest art museums in North America, with a collection of more than 90,000 works of art. The collection is comprised of Canadian, European, contemporary art, photography, and more.
Shop Until You Drop
No matter what you’re looking for, be it clothing and accessories, housewares, vintage finds, books, art, kids’ stuff, or something for your pet, Toronto has it. The city is filled with diverse shopping areas including Bloor-Yorkville, Yonge and Eglington, the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Kensington Market, Leslieville, and Queen Street West.
Wander the “Second Coolest Neighborhood in the World”
Toronto’s eclectic West Queen West neighborhood was named by Vogue in 2014 as the second coolest neighborhood in the world thanks to its vibrant mix of independent shops and boutiques, bars, a large concentration of art galleries, restaurants, and cafes. Start your exploration at Queen and Bathurst, heading west to Dufferin to take in everything this ‘hood has to offer.
Stroll Through Allan Gardens Conservatory
Slip into a tropical oasis in the middle of the city with a visit to Allan Gardens Conservatory where you’ll find six greenhouses filled with plants from around the world. The conservatory is open 365 days of the year and always free to enter. Some highlights include the two tropical houses filled with a variety of orchids, bromeliads, and begonia and the Palm House filled with a variety of palms, bananas, and tropical vines.
Spend a Day in the Distillery District
No visit to Toronto would be complete without a few hours (or even a whole day) spent exploring the historic Distillery District. Wander among Victorian-era buildings on pedestrian-only cobblestone streets filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. The area is also home to several art galleries, theaters, and artist workshops to explore.
Head to the Toronto Islands
Escape the city via ferry with a trip to the Toronto Islands. Whether you bring your bike (which you can take on the ferry) and explore on two wheels, relax by the water, hang out on the beach, have a picnic, or take the family to Centreville on Centre Island to check out the rides, there’s always something fun to do.
Hit the Beach
Toronto is blessed with some great beaches as evidenced by how busy they can get come summertime. Cherry Beach, Sunnyside, Ward’s Island Beach, Bluffer’s Beach, and Kew-Balmy Beach are some of the best for swimming or sunbathing. Depending on which beach you visit, there’s also the option for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.
Take in the Views From the CN Tower
Whether you head to the LookOut level of the CN Tower, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over the city. High-speed elevators whisk visitors to the top in just 58 seconds. Depending on your threshold for thrill-seeking, you can go one step further than the CN Tower’s LookOut Level or Glass Floor and try EdgeWalk. This adventure is the first of its kind in North America and has you doing a hands-free walk around the main pod of the tower, 116 stories above the ground.
Explore Kensington Market
One of the most fun and eclectic neighborhoods to explore in Toronto has to be Kensington Market. Brimming with a variety of vintage stores, a diverse array of restaurants and bars, food shopsm and cafes, it’s easy to spend a whole day wandering, shopping, and eating your way through the vibrant area.
Check out the Aga Khan Museum
One of the newest museums in Toronto, Aga Khan Museum is dedicated to showcasing the art and culture of the Islamic world, as well as the ways in which Muslim civilizations have contributed to world heritage. In addition to a vast permanent collection, the museum also offers workshops, rotating exhibitions, and special events.
Go to Evergreen Brick Works
Evergreen Brick Works is a year-round destination boasting a farmers’ market, skating rink, children’s garden, nature trails, ongoing events for the whole family, art, the Evergreen Garden Market, a bike shop, workshops, and much more.
Hear Live Music at Horseshoe Tavern
One of the best places in the city to see live music is the legendary Horseshoe Tavern, which has been going strong since 1947. The much-loved music venue has seen everyone from The Rolling Stones and Tragically Hip, to Blue Rodeo, Wilco, and Arcade Fire grace the stage. There’s usually something going on here every night of the week.
Hang out at Harbourfront Centre
Harbourfront Centre’s 10-acre waterfront site is home to more than 30 spots to explore, including theaters, art galleries, parks, gardens, restaurants, and more. The multifaceted year-round venue attracts over 17 million repeat visitors each year and is well worth checking out at any time of year. Go skating by the lake in the winter, or head out for a paddleboard or kayak ride in the summer.
Visit Casa Loma
There’s a castle right in the middle of Toronto. The former home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt, Casa Loma is one of the city’s most unique attractions and houses decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables, and beautiful five-acre estate gardens. There are usually events here throughout the year both at the castle and on the castle grounds.
Head to the Hockey Hall of Fame
Love hockey? Then you might want to visit Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame, home to the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world as well as the Stanley Cup. Visitors can also go one-on-one against life-size, animated versions of some of today's greatest goalies and shooters and watch hockey-themed movies.
Walk Around the Toronto Zoo
Canada’s premier zoo is home to over 5,000 animals covering 450 species, which include a wide range of creatures from around the world. The Zoo is divided into seven geographic regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Eurasia, Canadian Domain, and the Tundra Trek. Animals are either indoors in tropical pavilions or outdoors in environments that align with their natural habitat.
Explore Historic Fort York
Established in 1793, Historic Fort York contains Canada's largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings and an 1813 battle. It's the ideal attraction for history buffs of all ages. Fort York is open year-round and offers tours, exhibits, period settings that take you back in time, and seasonal demonstrations.
See Some Undersea Life at Ripley’s Aquarium
Located at the base of the CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada contains 135,000 square feet of interactive, underwater exhibits. This is the country’s largest indoor aquarium and is home to an amazing array of aquatic creatures, including jellyfish, sea turtles, countless colorful tropical fish, ancient giant lobsters, stingrays, and sharks. See the creatures swim above you via the underwater gallery.
Go on Some Rides at Canada’s Wonderland
Located just outside of Toronto, Canada’s Wonderland is a sprawling amusement park featuring over 200 attractions and the 20-acre Splash Works water park. There are rides and attractions here for every age and level of thrill-seeking, including an area just for kids and some of the most thrilling rollercoasters in the country.
Hike or Camp in Rouge Park
You might be surprised to learn that you can camp right in Toronto. Rouge National Urban Park is a massive green space containing one of the region’s largest marshes, beautiful beaches, the city’s only campground, and numerous scenic hiking trails. The park offers guided walks, children’s programs, fishing, watersports, bird watching, and more.
Learn About Footwear at Bata Shoe Museum
A thousand shoes and related items are on display (from a collection consisting of over 13,000 artifacts) at the Bata Shoe Museum. The collection showcases over 4,500 years of history and includes Chinese bound foot shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals, to celebrity footwear and nearly everything in between.