10 Things to Do in Toronto (that aren’t CN Tower)
The CN Tower is the first thing most people think of when they hear about Toronto. It’s hard to blame them. The CN Tower was once the tallest free-standing structure in the world. You can see the whole world from up there. But there are so many things to do in Toronto that aren’t the CN Tower.
Toronto is an incredibly diverse and multicultural city. There is a variety of exciting activities and delicious culinary treats to try. There are parks, museums, gardens, and more. Read more to see what I think are the 10 best things to do in Toronto.
St. Lawrence Market
Food is always the first thing on my mind when I visit a foreign country. St. Lawrence Market offers a wide selection of produce, meats, cheeses, and more. You can stroll through the stalls and fill your belly with any number of treats. But the market also has a culinary school called the Market Kitchen, where you can take classes and take part in more hands-on dinners.
Not to mention, the architecture of the market is stunning too. The main building was created in 1902. But part of the Old City Hall was incorporated into the market. That dates back to 1845, so you have a good chunk of history to marvel at.
Since we just talked about food, let’s talk about drinks. The Distillery District was once home to an old distillery company. There are still breweries and distilleries in the area. So feel free to take a tasting at the Mill St. Brew Pub or the Spirit of York Distillery.
But you don’t have to go there just to drink. The Distillery District has been transformed into a cultural hub with many hip shops and restaurants. You can walk along the charming, cobblestone streets and explore one of the many boutiques, restaurant galleries.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Another one of my favorite things to do in Toronto is to go to the Art Gallery of Ontario. There are close to 100,000 pieces in their collection. So you can spend all day marveling at the artwork. Featured in the gallery are works by great artists of the past, such as Rembrandt and Picasso. But the art museum also showcases collections of Canadian and Indigenous art.
If you’re a fan of contemporary art, head down to the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto. That may be a better fit for you and your art fix.
There are two things to know about Kensington Market. First, it’s not a market. Second, it’s the best place to enjoy Toronto’s multicultural food scene. You can find food from all backgrounds: Ethiopian, Venezuelan, Jamaican, and more. NU Bügel is a great spot if you can’t get enough of Montreal bagels.
If you’re desperate for that market experience, come on the last Sunday of the month. The neighborhood blocks off the road and lets shoppers fill the streets. At the time, you’ll also find plenty of live street performances.
If you want a break from the hustle and bustle of Toronto, hop on a ferry and head to the Toronto Islands. Each of the islands is connected, so you don’t need a boat to from one place to the next.
Other than stunning views of the skyline, each island offers something different. Centre Island is the most popular. It has several beaches and picnic areas. But it also has the Centreville Amusement Park, which is perfect for the kids.
All the islands are pretty relaxed and car-free. In fact, there’s a nude beach at Hanlan’s Point. There probably won’t be as many people in the winter. But winter is the perfect time for cross-country skiing and ice skating.
Another great place to walk around. On the shore of Lake Ontario, Scarborough Bluffs is a nine-mile stretch of cliffs, where you can hike. The natural beauty of the area is incomparable. There are 11 different parks for you to explore. One of them, Bluffer’s Park, features a sandy beach, which is great for picnics by the lake.
Also on the shore of Lake Ontario is the Harbourfront Centre. The area was once a derelict shipping terminal and not something you’d expect on a list of 10 things to do in Toronto. Since then, it has become an upscale neighborhood with eateries, galleries, and theaters.
The Toronto Music Garden is also in the area. This garden was designed in part by Yo Yo Ma. Also, in the summer, you can stop by Sugar Beach. It’s an abandoned parking lot turned urban beach. If that’s not for you, don’t worry. The Harbourfront Centre has thousands of events throughout the year. You’ll find something you like.
Toronto is not the first place you’d expect to find a castle. But Casa Loma is one of the most popular things to do in Toronto. The 98-room chateau was built in 1914 by a Canadian businessman, who promptly went bankrupt after completing his castle.
Does it look familiar? You might recognize Casa Loma from the X-Men movies. The castle has become a popular location for filming. But on most days it serves as a museum. You can do a self-guided tour and look at the many gardens and secret passageways.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Ripley’s Aquarium is one of the most famous aquariums in the world. The aquarium has 5.7 million liters of water and thousands of different sea creatures. You can spend an entire day looking at the fish there. But the aquarium also offers more than 100 interactive opportunities. So yes. You can look and touch.
Toronto Botanical Garden
Let’s say you’re not a fish person. Maybe you prefer flowers. The Toronto Botanical Garden is called “the little garden with big ideas.” This is because the gardens are designed to educate people with indoor and outdoor learning experiences.
But don’t let the nickname confuse you. The Toronto Botanical Garden offers 17 award-winning gardens over nearly four acres. You can enjoy a wide variety of fragrant flowers and explore the space.
Toronto has so many wonderful locations to dine and stroll. You don’t have to waste your time on the CN Tower. While in Canada, you can explore some other locations like Niagara Falls or Montreal. Canada has a lot to offer. Don’t be shy. Go explore!