Toronto is known as being a fantastically diverse city which is one of the reasons it is a highly attractive city to visit and live. With these levels of diversity, the city offers a thriving food scene as well as being a hugely welcoming place for tourists to visit.
With beautiful summers and frosty winters, Toronto is truly a city that offers a range of experiences depending on the time of year you visit. From ice skating in front of the Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips square to exploring the multitude of breweries on the east side of the city. Toronto really is the perfect city break.
Below we have painstakingly chosen the top 20 things to do while in Toronto.
1. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum
The ROM as known by locals is the place to take in spectacular displays of art, culture, and nature. Whether you’re into archeology, Chinese architecture, or artifacts from the bronze age. The ROM has you covered. The gorgeous architecture of the building is a strong enough reason to visit one of Toronto’s most popular museums alone, but if you want a culturally significant experience this is a great day out.
Top tip, if you’re around Toronto in the Summer months make sure to check out Friday night at the ROM.
This unique experience gives you “the night at the museum” vibes with after-hours access to the museum. There are drinks available and local food vendors providing your not so typical museum experience. With DJ’s and musical entertainment, you can dance the night away in a really unique location.
2.Explore Casa Loma
This is a pretty unique thing in Canada. A castle.
Normally castles are associated with medieval European cities, but Casa Loma is one of a few castles located in Canada, so it’s a really unique experience in a North American city.
Constructed between 1911-1914 it provides a beautiful view of the Toronto skyline. Toronto is one of the most popular filming locations for movies and TV shows that are looking for US-style environments at competitive filming costs. Casa Loma is a very popular filming location for Hollywood movies such as X-men, Chicago, The Tuxedo, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, you can see why this stunning location has drawn so much attention.
Casa Loma offers a number of dining options including the Blue Blood steakhouse which is the perfect location for a mouthwatering fillet steak. The castle also hosts a number of different events throughout the year including murder mysteries, movie nights, and afternoon tea if your feeling boujee.
3. Experience the NBA, north of the border
There’s no better way to let your hair down than to take in a Raptors home game. Experience the raucous crowd at the Scotiabank arena where you are guaranteed to have a blast. Did I mention they’re the 2019 NBA champs? For those of you that haven’t taken in an NBA game, I highly recommend it.
An NBA game is like no other sporting experience, so no matter what your interest level is in basketball it’s definitely worth taking in a game. From the pumping tunes to the impressive displays of athletic ability it’s well worth taking in a game when you’re visiting Toronto.
Tickets can be expensive, so we suggest trying the ticket reselling apps (Gametime, Stubhub) on the day where you can sometimes grab a bargain as it gets closer to game time. As with most sporting events, drinks and food can be pretty pricey in the stadium. So, fuel up before if you want to avoid the high priced concessions.
There’s no better way to let your hair down than to take in a Raptors home game. Experience the raucous crowd at the Scotiabank arena where you guaranteed to have a blast. Did I mention the 2019 NBA champs? For those of you that haven’t taken in an NBA game, I highly recommend it.
It’s like no other sporting experience, so no matter what your interest level is in basketball it’s definitely worth taking in a game. From the pumping tunes to the impressive displays of athletic performance it’s well worth taking in a game when you’re visiting Toronto.
Tickets can be expensive, so we suggest trying the ticket reselling apps on the day where you can sometimes grab a bargain as it gets closer to game time. As with most sporting events, drinks and food can be pretty pricey in the stadium.
4. Enjoy the diverse range of local cuisines
From south Indian to some of the best Ramen I’ve had in North America, Toronto is one of the top food cities in this part of the world. There may not be any Michelin stars in this metropolis, but the standard and diversity of food found in Toronto is exceptionally high.
No matter what type of cuisine you like, Toronto will have it and it will be of a very high standard. For a high-end restaurant experience, we recommend Canoe which is located on the 54 floor of the TD center building. It has beautiful views of the city skyline as well as fine dining, but remember to bring your wallet as this is one of Toronto’s pricier locations.
For a mid-range option, we suggest Gusto just off King West. This unique spot is a converted garage and serves up some of the best Italian food in the city. The mushroom pasta is pure decadence.
For a lower-priced option, we recommend Wilbur Mexicana. Also, located on King West Wilbur serves up Burritos, Tacos, and Quesadillas. For steak lovers out there try the Cali Burrito. You won’t regret it.
5. Wander around Queen West
Queen West is a great place to wander around with your morning coffee. From boutique shops to vintage clothes stores it’s a lovely spot to kill a few hours. Known as one of Toronto’s trendiest shopping districts you’ll be spoiled for choice for some of the latest must-have finds as well as some unique vintage pieces.
Grab lunch at Terroni and take a stroll through Trinity Bellwood’s to take in Toronto’s relaxed atmosphere. Queen west is a perfect representation of Toronto’s chilled vibes. As you travel further west from Spadina and Queen you will experience more and more locally-owned shops and restaurants and the true spirit of Toronto.
Just off Queen West is Graffiti alley worth a visit for anyone that appreciates street art and the perfect opportunity to level up on Instagram game.
If you plan on staying in Queen west we highly recommend the Drake hotel. Although it’s not a collection to the self-proclaimed king of Toronto (Drake). It’s a boutique hotel that is a top-notch stay. We also highly recommend dining in the hotel’s restaurant. It one of the best spots in Toronto for people watching and great food.
6. Take the Tiki Taxi to the Toronto Islands
Get some island vibes with a boat ride out to the Toronto island. The chilled out tunes and the way out captains make the ride nice and breezing.
Once on the Island, take in the spectacular views of the city skyline. There’s beaches, bike rentals, mazes, and everything needed for a chilled out day in the sun.
It’s the best place to go for a picnic, but be sure to bring everything with you as there are a limited number of convenience stores on the island.
If you don’t feel like paying the $20 roundtrip via the TikiTaxi there is a free ferry that leaves on the hour from the Jack Layton ferry terminal on Lakeshore.
For a more chilled out island experience, go to Hanlons points where it’s a little less crowded. You can get a ferry directly to Hanlon’s point as well.
7. Visit the Ice Hockey Hall of Fame
No matter what your interest level in sports or ice hockey. The ice hockey hall of fame is a good way to kill a few hours. You’ll pleasantly surprised at how much fun you can have in this museum.
From seeing all of the jerseys on the display to learning about Bobby Orr’s famous leap it was an interesting hour and a half.
You also can practice your ice hockey skills by taking slap shots against a goalie. For hockey aficionados, you can also get your picture taken with the Stanley cup.
8. Visit Ripley’s Aquarium
We’re big fans of aquariums here at InspoVacy, so we may be a little biased for this part, but the Ripley aquarium is a great place to visit. Rated as the number 1 activity for things to do in Toronto on TripAdvisor it’s perfect for families. With over 16,000 fish and 5.7 million liters of water, this is both a great educational tour as well as a mesmerizing visual experience. With a walkway through the main tank, it really feels like you are in the ocean with these impressive specimens.
The aquarium really immerses you in the beauty of the ocean. It takes around 2 to 2 and a half hours to get through the whole experience. Is best to go early, as it gets very busy in the peak summer months.
9. Take a Pub crawl around the east end
Toronto is a city that takes its craft beer game very seriously. The east end offers a number of top quality breweries. In about a 5km radius there are roughly 8 different breweries to explore. We suggested starting off your brewery tour in Left Field Brewery where the greenwood IPA is the perfect tipple on a hot summer’s day.
From there we suggested going to Godspeed brewery, then down to Queen street east where there is a wealth of choice of breweries.
For the dog lovers out there, Black Lab Brewery is a must-visit. What’s better than dogs and beer? The food here is also very good so maybe this can be your mid-pub crawl chow down.
10. Explore the nightlife of King West
King West is the place to be on a Saturday night. Some of Toronto’s most popular clubs are within a stone’s throw away from each other in this area. So whether you are looking for a boujee bottle service or a quiet pint at Bar Wellington. King West really caters to every need.
If you keen to party the night away some of the most popular clubs in the area are EFS, Toybox, Lost & Found. Where the DJ’s are banging out the tunes until the early hours of the morning.
11. Grab lunch in the historic St.Lawrence market
Like any good city break, a trip to explore the local market is a must. At the St.Lawrence market, there is an abundance of tasty treats to savor.
One of our top recommendations is Seafood at Buster’s seafood cafe, specifically the fish and chips which is extremely delicious.
Also at the Carousel bakery be sure to get the Peameal bacon sandwich which is a perfect option for breakfast or any meal for that matter of fact.
St.Lawrence Market is also a great location to buy your supplies for a picnic on the Toronto Islands and the market is a short walk away from the public ferry to the islands on Lakeshore.
12. Sing the night away at the Gladstone Hotel
Every Friday night at the Gladstone hotel Karaoke is held, but this isn’t your usual Karaoke night. The Gladstone takes Karaoke to the next level with a live band. Channel your inner Mariah Carey and belt out some tunes. With such an opportunity this Karaoke night attracts some serious Karaoke die hearts, but like every Karaoke night there is a wide range of singing abilities on show, so don’t be afraid to go up and belt it out.
The band covers a wide range of songs, they pretty much can play anything and create a great atmosphere in the bar.
13. Addressing the elephant in the room
There’s no getting away from this massive structure when you’re in Toronto. It adds so much to the skyline and is a stunning sight and no list of things to do in Toronto is complete without including a trip to the CN tower. Just look up and it’s pretty much visible from the entire city. Although the view from the tower isn’t amazing, it’s worth seeing up close and personal, but in my opinion, it’s not necessarily worth taking the trip up. If you want a really unique experience, I’d suggest doing the edge walk at the CN tower. A word of warning, this is not for the faint-hearted.
14. Visit Kensington Market
This is one of the most unique areas of the city and definitely worth a visit. It exudes everything that makes Toronto special. It’s quirky, diverse, and just a good time. From the restaurants to the bars and eclectic shops you won’t find a Starbucks in sight.
Located at the edge of Chinatown it has a fantastic mix and business owners and residents. Whether you’re grabbing some lunch, perusing the vintage stores, or out for the night. Kensington offers a truly local experience. It’s definitely a popular spot for tourists but oddly manages to keep a local ungentrified vibe as the area has grown in popularity.
For food, we recommend Seven Lives for some choice Tacos and Veggie Delightsome of the best vegan Caribbean food around. If you’re going for drinks, try Cold tea which is tucked at the back of a convenience store. Where cocktails and delicious dumplings are served.
15. Peruse some of the worlds finest art at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario)
For you classy folks out the AGO is a stunning gallery where there are over 90,000 pieces of artwork from Canadian and international artists. Take in some beautiful pieces from Renoir, Van Gogh, and Chardin to name a few of the prestigious artists that’s work is featured in the AGO.
Located bang in the center of downtown Toronto the AGO is definitely worth a visit by art lovers and those who have an eye for the finer things in life. Viewed as one of the largest and most distinguished art museums in North America, it shouldn’t be missed.
16. Laugh the night away at Yuk Yuk’s comedy club
Opened in 1976 Yuk Yuk’s is one of Toronto’s most famous comedy clubs. Although it typically doesn’t get as much attention as SecondCity’s Toronto location I’d highly recommend a visit to the Toronto Yuk Yuk’s location. It’s a pretty intimate venue, so be prepared to be called out if you’re sitting in the front rows, but let’s be honest. Anyone that’s sitting in the front row of a comedy gig is asking to be roasted.
17. Take in a Marlies or Maple Leafs Game
Ice Hockey is a fantastic game…….. if your eyes are fast enough to follow the puck. For novice ice hockey fans like myself, following the puck can be an extremely difficult task.
As the Maple Leafs have a very large fan base in Toronto, the ticket prices can be pricey. So, if you’re not willing to splash out on Maple leaf tickets, but still want an ice hockey experience we recommend you take in a Toronto Marlies game. The Marlies are the Maple leafs feeder team, so the quality is quite high and the ticket prices are next to nothing. They mainly play in the Coca Cola center on Lakeshore, but on occasion, they do play in the Scotiabank arena, so be sure to check out their schedule to see if they’re playing when you’re in town. It’s a great experience and you can get really close to the ice to take in those thumping body checks.
18. Take a bike ride out to the beaches
The beaches are an area about a 30-minute cycle outside of the downtown core, but it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon renting some bikes and cycling along the lakeshore to the picturesque beaches area. With an abundance of greenery and an adequate beach, you would never realize that you are minutes away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto.
19. Take in some culinary events
Toronto is a great food city and it’s made great by its diversity. Canada welcomes immigrants and this leads to little pieces of each community embedding their traditions and culinary exploits into the cultural quilt that is Canada.
One of the best ways to try some of Toronto’s restaurants is through the City of Toronto’s Winter and Summer events called Summerlicious and Winterlicious.
Winterlicious typically runs at the beginning of February for a two-week duration. The summer variant of this event takes place in early July. With these events, a long list of the top restaurants in Toronto offers a special Prix Fixe menu. Some of the best places that typically participate in these events are Miku, Lee Restaurant, and Canoe to name a few. For more information check out the City of Toronto’s website.
20. Go to a Live Concert
Whether you are looking for a multi-platinum selling record artist or just some dude with a mic and a guitar there’s always something going on in this city.
There are a number of historic venues throughout the city with the most historic being the Horseshoe tavern. Having hosted bands such as The Rolling Stones and the Police and more recently Tame Impala and Arcade Fire it is an intimate venue where there’s live music in the back room most nights.
In the summer months, the Budweiser stage and Echo Beach are really great locations to catch a concert or event. They’re located in Ontario Place, Echo beach specifically and it’s a great location for concerts as the city’s skyline is your concert backdrop.