Downtown Toronto is a great place to go with friends and family to enjoy a plethora of activities within a short walking distance. Whether you are looking for culture, history, entertainment, nature, or cuisine, you will find something to suit your interests and budget in this vibrant and diverse area. It is the gateway to Toronto’s historic and epic districts such as the Entertainment District, Distillery District, Fashion District, Financial District, and more. Here are some of the best things to do in downtown Toronto that you should not miss.
Getting to Downtown Toronto
First, though, lets talk about getting here. Getting to downtown Toronto is very quick and easy with plenty of transportation options. From the airport you can take the Union/Pearson Express or UP train. It is the most direct train to downtown Union Station. The UP train stops a various UP Express Stations, namely, Bloor, Weston, and of course, Pearson and Union stations. You will get off right at the CN Tower. Other options include GO train, and TTC bus or streetcar or subway lines. If you plan to explore Toronto away from the downtown Union Station, you should consider getting the PRESTO card which is easily reloaded at any station location. It will save you time and money if you will be taking public transportation. The city has done a great job in making it very easy to travel, saving you the stress of driving, looking and paying for parking. You can just focus on enjoying the wide variety of things to do in Toronto downtown.
Visit the CN Tower
The CN Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Toronto and Canada’s most recognizable symbol. This 553-metre-tall tower was built in 1976 as a telecommunications antenna and observation deck. It offers spectacular views of downtown Toronto and beyond from its three levels: the LookOut Level at 346 metres, the Glass Floor at 342 metres, and the SkyPod at 447 metres. You can also experience the thrill of walking on the EdgeWalk, a hands-free walk around the tower’s exterior ledge at 356 metres. Or you can dine at the 360 Restaurant, a revolving restaurant that serves fine Canadian cuisine and wine.
Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is one of the largest and most impressive aquariums in North America. An educational and fun experience in downtown Toronto that includes things like The Canadian Waters Gallery, The Rainbow Reef, The Dangerous Lagoon, The Discovery Dive, The Planet Jellies, The Ray Bay, as well as a range of events and programs. It is open daily from 9am to 9pm. Admission is $44 for adults, $29 for youth, $12 for children, and $29 for seniors, 65 years and older.
Watch a Toronto Blue Jays game
If you are a sports fan, you should not miss the opportunity to watch a Toronto Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays are Toronto’s professional baseball team and Canada’s only Major League Baseball franchise. The Rogers Centre is a state-of-the-art stadium that can seat over 50,000 spectators and features a retractable roof that can open or close depending on the weather. You can enjoy the excitement and atmosphere of a live game, cheer for your favourite players, or indulge in some snacks and drinks at one of the many concession stands.
Have a meal at the Sportsnet Grill in Rogers Centre
Whether it is game day or not, you can enjoy a delicious meal at the Sportsnet Grill with stunning views of the stadium. Of course, on home game days it is always busy and high energy. But even if it isn’t a home game day, you can still have a massive window view of the stadium. If it is an away game day, you can enjoy watching the Blue Jays play on large screen TVs conveniently situated throughout the restaurant. It has a delicious array of menu items and a fully stocked bar. Definitely come on game day if you can. If you are unable, you can still enjoy the stadium views and a delicious meal.
Walk through the Distillery District
The Distillery District is a charming neighbourhood that showcases Toronto’s industrial heritage and artistic flair. This pedestrian-only area was once home to the largest distillery in the world, and it now houses over 40 boutiques, galleries, cafes, restaurants, and bars in the restored Victorian-era buildings. You can stroll along the cobblestone streets, admire the architecture and public art, shop for unique souvenirs, or enjoy a drink at one of the many pubs and breweries. The Distillery District also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Christmas Market, the Light Festival, and the Art Fest.
Go food tasting at St. Lawrence Market
St. Lawrence Market is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Toronto, and it’s even a favourite spot for many locals to visit. This historic market has been operating since 1803, and it features over 100 vendors selling fresh produce, meat, cheese, baked goods, seafood, and more. You can sample a variety of delicious foods, such as the famous peameal bacon sandwich, the butter tart, the Montreal-style bagel, and the pierogi. You can also join a guided tour or a cooking class to learn more about the market’s history and culinary culture.
Explore Kensington Market
Kensington Market is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways and one of the city’s most vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods. It’s the ideal place for some retail therapy as well as to eat, full of indie retailers, vintage boutiques, art spaces, and speciality food shops and eateries. You can find everything from clothing and accessories to books and records to spices and herbs to ethnic cuisines and street food⁶. Be sure to spend a good couple of hours wandering the streets, many of them lined with colourful Victorian houses⁴. You can also join a walking tour or a bike tour to discover the history and culture of this eclectic area.
Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame
The Hockey Hall of Fame is worth a visit if you are a sports fan or want to experience the great Canadian tradition of hockey. It is inside Brookfield Place, a complex that combines office, retail, and cultural spaces. One of the main benefits of visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame is that it provides an educational and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
Take photos at Graffiti Alley
Graffiti Alley is a hidden gem in downtown Toronto that showcases some of the best street art in the city. This alleyway runs for about a kilometre along Queen Street West, between Spadina Avenue and Portland Street. It features hundreds of murals and paintings by local and international artists, covering various themes and styles. You can admire the creativity and talent of these urban artists, snap some Instagram-worthy photos, or even watch them in action as they create new pieces.
Wander around the Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are a group of small islands in Lake Ontario that offer a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto. You can take a ferry from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to reach one of the three main islands: Centre Island, Ward’s Island, or Hanlan’s Point. Each island has its own attractions and activities, such as beaches, parks, gardens, trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, amusement rides, and more. You can also enjoy stunning views of the city skyline from various vantage points on the islands.
More Scenes from Downtown Toronto
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