Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is a bustling metropolis known for its iconic skyline, diverse culture, and vibrant arts scene. For those pondering things to do in Toronto, ascending the CN Tower, one of the world’s tallest freestanding structures offering sweeping views of the city, and exploring the historic Distillery District, with its cobblestone streets and unique boutiques, are top recommendations.
The city’s Royal Ontario Museum, a premier cultural institution, showcases a vast collection of natural history, world cultures, and art artifacts. Nearby, the Toronto Islands offer a peaceful escape from the urban hustle, with serene beaches, parks, and recreational activities.
Beyond its significant landmarks, Toronto is a melting pot of cultures, reflected in its neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Italy, and Kensington Market. For those seeking the best places to visit in Canada, Toronto’s blend of urban sophistication, cultural diversity, and lakeside beauty makes it a must-visit destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Toronto, Canada
1. CN Tower
One of Toronto’s most iconic landmarks, the CN Tower provides breathtaking city views from its 553.3-meter high observation deck. Initially constructed in 1976 as a communications tower, it has since become a staple of the Toronto skyline. While there, visitors can also experience the thrilling EdgeWalk, where they can walk outside on the tower’s ledge.
Travel Tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during weekday mornings. Sunset views from the observation deck are especially spectacular.
2. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
The ROM is Canada’s largest museum of world cultures and natural history. Housed in a unique blend of historic architecture and modern extension, it offers fascinating exhibits from dinosaur bones to ancient artifacts. There’s always something new to discover, with changing temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
Travel Tip: The museum offers free admission on the third Monday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
3. Distillery District
Once home to Canada’s largest distilling company, the Distillery District is now a charming pedestrian-only zone filled with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. The cobblestone streets and preserved Victorian-era buildings give it a unique historical ambiance.
Travel Tip: Visit during December to experience the magical Toronto Christmas Market, but dress warmly as it can get chilly.
4. Toronto Islands
A short ferry ride from downtown, the Toronto Islands offers a peaceful escape from the urban hustle. Comprising several islands, they provide beautiful beaches, walking paths, and picturesque views of the city skyline. You can rent a bike, canoe, or kayak to explore them.
Travel Tip: Pack a picnic! While some food vendors are on the islands, bringing your own lunch allows for a more relaxed experience.
5. Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
Located in Toronto’s downtown, the AGO holds an impressive collection of more than 90,000 works, making it one of North America’s most distinguished art museums. From indigenous art to contemporary pieces, it offers diverse exhibitions.
Travel Tip: On Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., admission to the permanent collection is free.
6. St. Lawrence Market
Established in the early 1800s, St. Lawrence Market has been a hub of commerce and culture for over two centuries. Today, it’s home to over 120 vendors selling everything from fresh produce and gourmet foods to unique crafts and antiques.
Travel Tip: Visit on a Saturday morning to experience the bustling Farmers’ Market – and don’t forget to sample the famous peameal bacon sandwich!
7. High Park
Toronto’s largest public park, High Park, is a sprawling green space with hiking trails, a zoo, several playgrounds, and beautiful cherry blossom trees that bloom in spring. It’s a favorite spot for locals and visitors to relax and enjoy nature.
Travel Tip: If you’re visiting in spring, check out the cherry blossoms, but be prepared for crowds.
8. Casa Loma
This historic Gothic Revival mansion is a nod to Toronto’s rich history. Built-in the early 20th century for financier Sir Henry Pellatt, Casa Loma is now a museum and landmark, showcasing decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, and beautiful gardens.
Travel Tip: The self-guided audio tour is included in the admission price and offers a deep dive into the castle’s history and inhabitants.
9. Toronto Zoo
One of the largest zoos in the world, the Toronto Zoo is home to over 5,000 animals representing 450+ species. Divided into geographical regions, visitors can explore African savannahs, the Australian outback, and the rainforests of the Americas, among others.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes. The zoo is extensive, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Check the zoo’s schedule upon arrival for unique animal encounters and shows.
10. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Located at the base of the CN Tower, this aquarium boasts an impressive collection of marine life from around the world. From the mesmerizing jellyfish display to the thrilling shark tunnel, it offers a deep dive into the wonders of the underwater world.
Travel Tip: Consider visiting during off-peak hours (weekday mornings or late evenings) to avoid large crowds and have a more immersive experience.
11. Hockey Hall of Fame
A treat for sports enthusiasts, the Hockey Hall of Fame celebrates the history of ice hockey with interactive exhibits, memorabilia, and even the Stanley Cup. Visitors can test their goaltending and shooting skills or delve into the stories of hockey legends.
Travel Tip: If you’re a big hockey fan, allocate a few hours to explore and interact with the exhibits thoroughly. Don’t forget to get a photo with the Stanley Cup!
12. Bata Shoe Museum
The Bata Shoe Museum showcases the history of footwear, from ancient Egyptian sandals to modern high-heels. It offers a quirky and exciting perspective on shoes’ cultural and functional evolution.
Travel Tip: Check out the museum’s website in advance, as they often host special events and temporary exhibitions worth attending.
13. The AGA Khan Museum
Dedicated to presenting an informed perspective on Muslim civilizations’ artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions, the AGA Khan Museum offers a rich tapestry of arts, artifacts, and installations from around the world.
Travel Tip: The museum’s serene Ismaili Centre and surrounding gardens are perfect for a reflective pause. It’s a tranquil spot to take in the contemporary architecture and design.
14. Ontario Science Centre
A family-friendly attraction, the Ontario Science Centre offers interactive exhibits and hands-on learning experiences on topics ranging from space and technology to the human body and the environment.
Travel Tip: If traveling with kids, visit the KidSpark section, a learn-through-play area for children aged eight and under.
15. The Beaches
A lovely neighborhood bordering Lake Ontario, The Beaches offers a relaxed vibe with its sandy shores, boardwalk, and quaint shops. It’s a great spot to unwind, stroll, or enjoy beach volleyball.
Travel Tip: Summertime brings festivals and events to the area, so check the local calendar when planning your visit. While the water might be tempting, Lake Ontario can be pretty chilly, even in warmer months!
16. Kensington Market
One of Toronto’s most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, Kensington Market is a mosaic of cultures, food, art, and music. The area boasts vintage shops, unique boutiques, and a wide array of international cuisines. The presence of street artists and musicians enriches the bohemian atmosphere.
Travel Tip: Pedestrian Sunday is the last Sunday of every month from May to October. The streets are car-free, making it a perfect day to explore the neighborhood on foot.
17. Fort York
Fort York is a historic site serving as modern Toronto’s birthplace. It played a significant role during the War of 1812 and has been preserved as a reminder of the city’s early military history. The fort showcases military buildings, historic exhibits, and live re-enactments.
Travel Tip: If you visit in summer, you might catch one of the many music festivals or special events held on the grounds.
18. Queen Street West
Known for its trendy boutiques, art galleries, and buzzing nightlife, Queen Street West is the heart of Toronto’s arts and design district. It’s a haven for shoppers, foodies, and art lovers alike, offering a mix of high-end brands and local artisan shops.
Travel Tip: If you’re an art enthusiast, time your visit during the annual Queen West Art Crawl, where artists display their work throughout the neighborhood.
19. Toronto Botanical Garden
This urban oasis provides 17 themed gardens spanning four acres. Visitors can stroll through aromatic herb gardens, serene water features, and a curated collection of plants and flowers. It’s a peaceful spot to escape the hustle of the city.
Travel Tip: Consider joining a free guided tour to get deeper insights into the flora and the design principles behind each garden.
20. Evergreen Brick Works
Once a brick-making factory, Evergreen Brick Works has been transformed into a hub of environmental sustainability. With markets, workshops, and a large public park, it’s a place where the community gathers to discuss and act on urban sustainability issues.
Travel Tip: The Saturday Farmers’ Market is a must-visit for fresh, local produce and artisanal goods. The Don Valley Brick Works Park offers scenic hiking trails if you’re up for some outdoor activity.
21. Little Italy
A buzzing neighborhood filled with espresso bars, trattorias, and nightclubs, Little Italy offers a slice of European charm in Toronto. Its main artery, College Street, is lined with restaurants serving mouth-watering Italian cuisine, interspersed with shops and bakeries.
Travel Tip: Visit during the annual Taste of Little Italy festival for a weekend of live music, delicious food stalls, and street performers.
22. Black Creek Pioneer Village
Step back at Black Creek Pioneer Village, a re-created 19th-century village showcasing life in early Ontario. With over 40 historic buildings, including homes, workshops, and public buildings, visitors can get a feel for life during the 1860s.
Travel Tip: Engage with the costumed interpreters. They provide first-person narratives that bring the history and daily life of the village to life.
FAQ About Things to Do in Toronto, Canada
What are the top attractions to visit in Toronto?
Some of the top attractions in Toronto include the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Toronto Islands, and the Distillery District.
Is the CN Tower worth visiting?
Absolutely! The CN Tower offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and Lake Ontario. On a building, you can also experience the EdgeWalk, the world’s highest hands-free external walk.
Are there any historical sites to explore in Toronto?
Yes, Toronto is home to several historical sites, such as Casa Loma, Fort York, and the Distillery District, which showcases the city’s rich history and architecture.
Where can I experience Toronto’s arts and culture scene?
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra are just a few places to immerse yourself in Toronto’s vibrant arts and culture.
Are there any outdoor activities to do in Toronto?
Definitely! You can visit the Toronto Islands for kayaking, cycling, and picnicking or explore the many parks like High Park and the Toronto Botanical Garden. In the winter, Nathan Phillips Square offers ice skating.
Where can I shop in Toronto?
Toronto offers a variety of shopping experiences, from the upscale Yorkville neighborhood to the bustling Eaton Centre mall. Kensington Market and St. Lawrence Market are also popular spots for unique finds.
What are some family-friendly activities in Toronto?
Families can visit the Toronto Zoo, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, or the Ontario Science Centre for fun and learning. The city also hosts various festivals and events that cater to families throughout the year.
Where can I experience Toronto’s nightlife?
Toronto’s Entertainment District is a hub for nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues. Areas like Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue also offer a vibrant nightlife scene with a mix of trendy bars and cozy pubs.