Taking a trip to Toronto is more about the pre-planning than anything, and that’s due to the fact that the city is so large that you can’t do it all in one day. Locals and visitors co-exist within the “city of neighbourhoods”, but seldom do the two groups interact together.
That’s because of what we’re talking about today!
Here are the Top 10 Things to do in Toronto (with local tips)
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Ranked as the #1 thing to do in Toronto via TripAdvisor, it’s difficult to go against the grain when you put together the fact that it’s right in the heart of the tourist-zone and has over 17k reviews since opening in 2013.
That being said, we’ve been so many times that there’s a method to not being trapped like a sardine (get it, because it’s an aquarium and sardine’s are….)
- Go early or late in the day. You definitely don’t want to be there between 1030am and 430pm, due to school groups during the week and families on the weekend.
- CityPASS or Sharks After Dark, as discounts are always a good idea!
- Eat before you go, as the facilities on site are limited due to space.
- Don’t worry about photos – the tank glass is rounded and you’ll always have glare. It’s just the way it is:)
St Lawrence Market
Free stuff to do in Toronto is all about knowing the “ins and outs” that too many forget to plan for, and the St Lawrence Market is definitely a location that can either be epic or a huge disappointment.
Why is this? The market has infrequent hours that just works against last-minute planning.
The South Market (or main attraction) hours are:
- Tuesday – Thursday – 8am to 6pm
- Fridays – 8am to 7pm
- Saturday – 5am to 5pm
- Sunday & Monday – Closed
Let’s look at what you should do when you’re actually at the St Lawrence Market.
- Peameal Bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery
- Fish & Chips at Buster’s Sea Cove
- Greek food at Yianni’s Kitchen
Interested in the history of the market? Think about joining a walking tour of the market with Bruce Bell. With reservations available Daily at 10am, why not get the real local tips from one of our favorite tour guides in Toronto!
Ok, so going to the CN Tower when you’re in Toronto is like planning to do the Empire State Building in NYC or the Space Needle in Seattle…you know it’s labelled as a “tourist trap” on paper, but is that because of prices, crowds or because most locals haven’t been since they were on a field trip in elementary school?
In the CN Tower’s case, there’s actually a case that folks don’t have a checklist of things to do when you’re up the tower that you feel like it’s just an expensive elevator ride.
That being said, I absolutely love the views that you can get from the tower! As a photographer and local, my recommendations are geared towards the best experience vs the popular move.
What should you know going into a trip to the CN Tower?
- If you’re planning on doing the CN Tower AND Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada…look at the CityPASS. When you’re already scheduled to do both…then the numbers make sense to pick up the pass before you arrive due to the added savings.
- Plan on early morning or mid-afternoon, right before the sun goes down. Best times for crowds and photos!
- Add-ons are important but not essential. From the EdgeWalk to the SkyPod, the full experience depends on your budget and your schedule.
When step off the ferry onto the Toronto Island community, you’re able to take a deep breath and realize that you’re not in the hustle & bustle of the 4th largest city in North America anymore. In fact, you’re in the way-back-machine that you really have to plan for.
Perfect for adventures from May to September, you probably don’t want to plan to be out there in the off-season. That’s due to the fact that there just isn’t a lot to do when the businesses and attractions aren’t open. We’ve done it…great photos, but also eerie due to the lack of people!
- You’ll need to take a ferry or water taxi to get over there, but the ticket for both includes the fare back. Ferries leave every 15 minutes, though the schedule changes throughout the year depending on seasons.
- Not really an all-day activity, you’re probably budgeting 2 hours on the island.
- Bring food! Oh my goodness, the number of times that we’ve had to buy overpriced meals because we didn’t expect to be out there for longer than we did…just bring a bagged lunch with you and you’ll thank me later:)
- Hydration is key, so bring your own water bottle with you instead of buying it.
- Know before you go…Centerville Theme Park tickets are cheaper through their website than on-site.
Museums and Galleries
In Toronto, we have a number of indoor museums, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Just like other cities, there are tips and tricks for all of these educational and historic institutions. For this article, my goal is to point out that the experiences within the museums are geared towards various interests, budgets and schedules.
My ranking of the Museums & Galleries:
- Royal Ontario Museum
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- Art Gallery of Ontario
Concerts and Theatre
It’s impossible to predict the impact that a live-performance will have on your time in Toronto, as there is such a huge variety of shows and venues! We’ve found that heading over to Ticketmaster or SeatGeek will provide you with an outlook of the potential activities while you’re in the city…but what are the Top Venues?
- Scotiabank Arena (Formerly the Air Canada Centre)
- Rogers Centre (Formerly the Skydome)
- Budweiser Stage (Formerly the Molson Amphitheatre)
- Princess of Wales Theatre
- Mirvish Theatre
A couple of those are on TripAdvisor’s top things to do in Toronto, but our point of view is that it’s less about the venue and more about the performance that you’re actually seeing.
Fun fact, between 2011 and 2016, I ran a private walking tour company in Toronto. Although I don’t facilitate tours anymore, there are definitely a group of tours that you should check out during your vacation planning phase.
- Bruce Bell Tours
- Muddy York Tours
- Toronto Bike Tours
- Go Tours (Formerly Segway of Ontario)
- Steam whistle Brewery
From professional teams to experiences that are created to put smiles on sports’ fans faces…we’ve got ya covered!
Toronto is home to the Toronto Blue Jays (Baseball), Toronto Raptors (Basketball), Toronto FC (Soccer), Toronto Maple Leafs (Hockey), Toronto Argos (Football) and many more professional, university and semi-pro teams. Finding a game to watch is always an option, be it in person or at a sports bar.
In addition, the city is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant and a real life Quiddich league!
I tried to stick to 10…but there’s so much to do in Toronto that each category could have it’s own Top 10 list;) #Foreshadowing! Just make sure to bookmark WifiAdventures or follow us at Pinterest.com/wifiadventures to stay up on all the latest from us!