Toronto is filled with fun, interesting, unique and exciting things to do whether you’re new to the city, here on vacation, or you’ve called Toronto home for a while. From the top of the CN Tower to the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world, here are 30 of the best activities and attractions the city has to offer.
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, textiles from the 1st century BC to the present day, or Japanese culture (to name but a few), something at the ROM will likely pique your interest.
Stop by the Art Gallery of Ontario
Wandering through the AGO, 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, theatres 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 paddle boarding.
Take in the Views from the CN Tower
Whether you head to the LookOut level of the CN Tower at 346m/1136 feet or one level down to the Glass Floor and Sky Terrace at 342m/1122 feet above the ground 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 storeys above the ground.
Take a Food Tour
Toronto has become a full-fledged foodie destination and one of the best ways to experience the diverse culinary scene is via a fun and tasty food tour. A few good ones to check out include those offered by the Culinary Adventure Co. and tours offered by Foodies on Foot including their popular 501 Streetcar Food Tour.
Explore Kensington Market
One of the most fun and eclectic neighbourhoods to explore in Toronto has to be Kensington Market. Brimming with a variety of vintage stores, a diverse array of restaurants and bars, food shops 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.
Learn Something at the Ontario Science Centre
There’s always something new to learn and discover at the Ontario Science Centre with its array of interactive, hands-on exhibits that cover everything from the human body and outer space, to the living earth and rocks and minerals. Exhibits here are geared towards a range of age groups, from tots to teems.
Go to Evergreen Brick Works
Named one of the top ten geotourism destinations in the world by National Geographic in 2010, 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.
Catch a Flick at TIFF Bell Lightbox
There’s always something interesting playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox so it’s worth checking the listings to see what’s showing since it’s not likely something you’ll see at your local multiplex. The complex occupies an entire city block in Toronto's media and entertainment district. In addition to film, TIFF Bell Lightbox also hosts various events, talks and festivals.
Hang out at Harbourfront Centre
Harbourfront Centre’s 10-acre waterfront site is home to more than 30 spots to explore, including theatres, art galleries, parks, gardens, restaurants and more. The multifaceted year-round venue attracts over 12 million visits each year and is well worth checking out any time of year. Go skating by the lake in the winter, or head out for a paddle board 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 Underground via Toronto’s PATH
Toronto is home to what Guinness World Records notes as the largest underground shopping complex in the world. PATH is a 30-kilometre (19-mile) network that runs under the downtown core. Stretching from Queens Quay in the south all the way up to the Eaton Centre, the maze of subterranean walkways is filled with shops, restaurants (from food courts to high-end dining), fitness centres, spas and entertainment.
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. In addition, visitors can 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 zoogeographic regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Eurasia, Canadian Domain and the Tundra Trek and the 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 1813 battle site and is 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 colourful tropical fish, ancient giant lobsters, sting rays 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 70 rides 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.
Visit a Brewery
Over the past several years Toronto has experienced a major craft beer boom. There are new breweries popping up all the time offering their own unique twist on one of the most popular beverages in the world. Many breweries offer tours and tastings, or tap rooms where you can sample a flight or two of freshly brewed beer. Some to check out include Bandit Brewery, Halo Brewery, Kensington Brewing Co., and Blood Brothers Brewing (to name but a few).
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
Learn all about the history of footwear at Bata Shoe Museum, where a thousand shoes and related artefacts are on display (from a collection numbering over 13,000). 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.