Whether visiting Toronto from out of town, or taking a staycation in your own backyard, there are several “must-see” spots around the city.
Sure, you’re probably going to go to the CN Tower; I mean how could you miss the darn thing? Of course the newly-renovated Art Gallery of Ontario has been impressively revamped by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry and boasts an impressive collection of works.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you look past big-ticket attractions like the Royal Ontario Museum, or a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre. These are all great symbols of the city, and some of the top draws in town.
There are however a ton of things to do and places to see around T.O. that can be enjoyed for free (or only the price of a drink), and certainly should not be overlooked. Read on to find out what Toronto travel attractions made the list!
7 Treasures of Toronto travel that shouldn’t be missed!
Discover more great travel articles from tripatlas.com/new: Experience Toronto: 5 Spots for Culture & Arts; or for the hungry, the 5 Best Noodle Soups in Toronto’s Chinatown; or for something more adventurous, check out these 10 Amazing Getaways in Canada.
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1) Steam Whistle Brewery. The “good beer folks” over at Steam Whistle have been brewing Canada’s premium pilsner since 2000, when 3 former employees of the Upper Canada Brewery set up shop within the historic walls of a former Canadian National Railroad locomotive roundhouse. Today the brewery is unique for focusing their attention solely on one style of beer. Their unpasteurized golden pilsner is made from only 4 all-natural ingredients, and is one of Toronto’s most beloved brands.
Located directly next door to the Roger’s Centre (formerly the Skydome), informative and refreshing tours of the brewery are offered on the half hour, 7 days a week. Last tours run at 5pm Monday to Saturday and until 4pm on Sundays, so let a cool glass of Steam Whistle be your reward after a busy day of sightseeing around Toronto.
2) The Beach. OK, so it may be a stretch to lump Toronto into the same category as Barcelona, Rio Di Janeiro or Sydney, but the city is fortuitous enough to be set along some surprisingly sandy beaches. Much maligned by many locals for their perceived lack of cleanliness, Toronto’s beaches are tested daily for water quality. You can check the city’s website to ensure that weather conditions and water quality is acceptable before planning your tropical getaway.
Woodbine Beach and Kew-Balmy Beach located, strangely enough, in the neighbourhood known as The Beaches are great spots to people watch, cruise the boardwalk, tan and even brave the cool depths of Lake Ontario.
3) Discovery Walks in Toronto’s Ravine. Few major cities in the world can lay claim to anything on par with the dozens of kilometers of forested trails that run through the heart of the city like green veins. Coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and the occasional white-tail deer all call the extensive ravine system home. Here bikers, joggers, and walkers of all fitness levels will all be able to put the trails to great use.
The City of Toronto has outlined several great routes; all of which start and end near public transportation. Route brochures can be printed on this website: http://www.toronto.ca/parks/recreation_facilities/discovery_walks/discover_index.htm
The “Central Ravines, Beltline and Gardens” is the most accessible route from downtown Toronto, and takes travelers along the path of an old commuter rail road to the historic Don Valley Brick Works complex, and the sprawling Mount Pleasant Cemetery – the final resting place of several famous Prime Ministers, authors and captains of industry. For those interested in riding rather than walking, Cyclepath Toronto at 2106 Yonge St. rents bikes from 5$/hr or 25$/day.
4) Panoramic views of Toronto. It may sound surprising, but the best view in town won’t be had from the observation deck of the CN Tower. As the city’s symbol, you’ll want to view the CN tower itself from your vantage point, and therefore need a slightly different perspective. The ultra modern and sleek Panorama Lounge located on the 51st Floor of the Manulife Centre at Yonge and Bloor boasts amazing views of the city skyline from all directions. Sit back and enjoy a delicious cocktail while taking in the breathtaking views from the north and south-facing outdoor balconies.
5) The PATH: Get lost! You’d be surprised to know that the world’s longest shopping mall according to the Guinness Book of Records is completely hidden from view under the bustling streets of Toronto’s financial district. This 27 kilometers sprawling labyrinth of 1200 stores and service providers doesn’t offer the same quality of shopping in one place as the Eaton Centre, but is still worth some time to explore. Access the PATH from First Canadian Place for a very authentic “big city” experience, where you can watch thousands of white-collar rat racers scamper about on their lunch breaks.
The PATH also provides a warm and dry passageway through the downtown core during times of rain, snow and sleet and cold. As the PATH primarily serves Toronto’s business community, remember not to visit on a weekend unless you want to see a lot of closed storefronts.
6) Old Town Toronto and the St. Lawrence Market. While not an old city by European standards, Toronto boasts several Georgian and early Victorian-era structures that once made up the core of the old city of York. At the heart of this old city was the market, and today Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market still bustles from Tuesday to Saturday as one of Canada’s premier destinations for epicurean delights. I recommend hitting the market early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and to load up on picnic supplies before spending the afternoon at the beach or exploring the ravines.
7) Lesser Visited Ethnic Enclaves. Several of the city’s famed patchwork enclaves are tourist attractions in their own right; Chinatown along Spadina Ave., Greektown situated along Danforth Ave., and Little Italy on College St are all full of great shopping, bars or restaurants and attract scores of tourists annually.
But what about Toronto’s Polish community anchored along Roncesvalles Ave in the city’s west end. Here old-world delis share the pavement with flower shops and an up-and-coming collection of bars and nightspots. Toronto’s lively Koreatown at Bloor and Christie is full of great authentic barbeque houses, karaoke bars, and supermarkets that will transport you from Toronto to Seoul without having to spend 15 hours on a jumbo jet.