Whilst it doesn’t have the mainstream picture postcard appeal of New York, there’s more than enough to keep you busy in Toronto; the hardest part is choosing when to visit. If you’re there in January or February, the chances are that you’re likely to be in thermals and ankle deep in snow – expect highs of -1°C. Alternatively, travel during the busy summer months and you’ll experience average temperatures of 25°C whilst soaking up the hours of sunshine in one of the city’s many parks or ‘beaches’ (if you’re picturing white sands and crystal waters, think again – the beaches line the great Lake Ontario). Whenever you chose to travel, you can be sure of plenty of incredible experiences….
1) Toronto Islands
If you’re lucky enough to visit outside of the harsh winter months, then a short ferry ride across to the Toronto Islands, which lay just offshore from the city centre, is well worth your time. Take a picnic, hire a bike, or simply amble around one of the largest urban car-free communities in North America and take in the incredible views of the city skyline. To plan your visit, head to the Toronto Islands site now.
2) Niagara Falls
Although not strictly in Toronto (90 minute drive or 2 hours via train), a visit to one of the world’s most incredible geographical features is an absolute must and it’s beautiful whatever the season. Head to Niagara Falls for some of the most breath-taking scenery you will ever witness and if you’re brave enough, hop on a boat and travel to the base of the Horseshoe Falls for an up-close experience.
3) CN Tower
Think of any of the world’s great cities and you’ll often find a man-made structure front and centre in your mind’s eye. London has Big Ben; Paris the Eiffel Tower and New York the Statue of Liberty; and although not from the same historical calibre, it’s hard to think of Toronto without thinking of the CN Tower. Completed in 1976, the CN Tower was the world’s tallest free-standing structure for over three decades; now it’s one of Toronto’s most popular tourist attractions offering spectacular views across the city. The CN Tower site will tell you everything you need to know, including how to purchase tickets.
4) St Lawrence Market
Voted No 1 Food Market in the World by National Geographic, this beautiful building located on Front Street and walking distance from the Financial District, has been home to Toronto’s Farmers Market for over 200 years. Every Saturday, over a hundred food vendor’s set-up shop at St Lawrence Market to offer locals and tourists alike incredible tastes from all over the world; our favourite was the Peameal Bacon Sandwich from the Carousel Bakery – the perfect way to start the weekend.
5) Kensington Market
Home to one of the city’s most colourful and multicultural neighbourhoods, has become a mecca in Toronto for locals and tourists alike, with incredible sights, smells and tastes around every corner. Occupying an area to the west of the city centre, Kensington Market is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon, soaking up the incredible clash of cultures, with food and music from across the world. One of our favourite spots is the Poetry Jazz Café on Augusta Avenue, where you can lounge with friends and watch sets by an eclectic mix of performers from across the world.
6) Air Canada Centre
For an authentic Canadian experience, head to the Air Canada Centre (ACC) to watch the best of the best play the country’s national sport – Ice Hockey. The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most decorated teams to ever play the game having one thirteen Stanley Cup championships (second only to the 24 championships of their primary rival, the Montreal Canadiens). Alternatively, if Ice Hockey isn’t your cup of tea – the ACC also plays host to Canada’s only NBA team, the Toronto Raptors; tickets for both teams can be bought online in advance or head down early to get tickets at the door.
7) Hockey Hall of Fame
If you choose to go and see the Maple Leafs whilst in Toronto, then you really should make some time before or after the game to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. Located on the corner of Front Street and Yonge, just a few minutes’ walk from the ACC, this interactive mecca will teach you everything there is to know about ice hockey and some of the best to ever play the game. You’ll have the opportunity to get your photo taken with the Stanley Cup and explore the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world. Finish your day with dinner and drinks at Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant, which plays host to a huge collection of memorabilia from arguable the greatest player of all time.
8) Rogers Centre
In the late Eighties and early Nineties, the Toronto Blue Jays became a Major League Baseball (MLB) powerhouse, culminating in two World Series titles (the top prize in the game). In the years that followed, their success has somewhat waned, but heading to the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome) in the shadows of the CN Tower for a game with beer and hotdog in hands is a fantastic way to spend a sunny afternoon in the city. Tickets range from $16 in the Upper Tier to $50 in the Lower Tier, buy from the box office on the day or from the official Blue Jays site.
9) High Park
Get away from the hustle of downtown Toronto, and spend an afternoon in the city’s answer to Central Park. Located just to the West of the downtown area, High Park is easily accessible by public transport from the city centre and is a great place for relaxing with a picnic or letting the kids loose in one of the playgrounds; it’s a great alternative to the Islands for spending some much needed time in the outdoors.
10) Royal Ontario Museum
The largest museum in Canada, the ROM receives over one million visitors every year; and a trip the ROM can very quickly turn into an all-day affair. As Toronto’s equivalent of the Museum of Natural History, the British Museum and the Tate Gallery all rolled into one, the ROM is a museum of art, world culture and natural history, featuring over sixty million items, presented in forty galleries. To find out about the latest exhibitions at the ROM and to purchase tickets head to the official site.