I must admit that in the past, despite living close to Toronto for most of my life, I have typically avoided the capital of Ontario. I have a love/hate relationship with it because of its sheer size and quantity of people.
With a population just shy of 3 million, it is easy to feel lost in the midst of locals shuttling to and from work, or overwhelmed by crowds of tourists meandering the streets and swarming the attractions. The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) alone weighs in with a whopping 6,815,000 people, meaning that if you drive, you WILL get stuck in traffic.
On the flip side, there is definitely an allure to such a diverse city – and quite frankly, sometimes it’s just fun to play tourist in your own backyard. Here are some of Toronto’s top tourist attractions that I recently visited and info for your own tourist adventure in Ontario’s big city!
CN Tower – Toronto, ON:
Standing at 457 metres (553m including the spire), the CN Tower is the world’s 7th largest structure. Taking a trip up the tower is a staple for any first time visitors to Toronto. It has even become a place for thrill seekers to get their adrenaline fix with the edge walk experience. If hanging off a building isn’t really your thing, you can stand over the glass floor and look 342 metres straight down, or simply take a stroll out on the observation deck.
Tip: If you are planning to eat lunch or dinner at the CN Tower’s 360 Restaurant, you can access the tower’s observation deck for free (with a minimum purchase of two 2-course meals off the fixed price menu). If you are planning on eating there, save yourself the admission ticket by booking a reservation at the booth at the entrance.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – Toronto, ON:
As a scuba dive enthusiast, I was super excited to check out the aquarium. With over 16,000 marine animals to discover, it was interesting to spot our favourite creatures and attempt to identify others. I especially loved seeing the wispy jellyfish all lit up in a mesmerizing florescent pink.
On the lower level, there is an interactive gallery with horseshoe crabs you are able to learn about and touch.
At first glance they may look like mini stingrays. But you will notice them scuttling along the bottom of the tank on their little legs and quickly realize they do resemble an ocean sand crab.
Tip: If you plan to visit both the tower and the aquarium, you can purchase the Toronto City Pass. With the purchase of the pass online, you not only skip the ticket line, but you also get admission to multiple other attractions (such as Casa Loma, the Science Centre/or the Zoo, and the Royal Ontario Museum). Also, if you are a Costco.ca member, you can purchase the Toronto City Pass for a discounted price on the Costco website.
Steam Whistle Brewery – Toronto, ON:
The Brewery is a great cap off to an afternoon of sightseeing. It is just across the road from the tower and aquarium.
Take the tour of the facility or just stop in for a pint and relax!
Tip: Make sure to book ahead of time if you want to take the tour…they sell out quickly!
The Distillery District – Toronto, ON:
With an array of bars, restaurants, and quirky architecture, the distillery district is a one stop shop for a fun evening.
If you are just feeling a stroll, stop to get a coffee before admiring the art along the brick walkway. Be sure to notice all the quirky doors!
*This is just a small snapshot of the vast things to do and see in Toronto. These 4 ideas are a good starting place whether you are new to the city or just “playing tourist” like myself!*
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