The 6ix – as Drake named Toronto for the six boroughs it’s been formed from – has so much to offer. Whether you’re a food-lover, a sports fan or an outdoorsy type who likes to get away from it all. Since I moved here, I got to know many great neighbourhoods, restaurants, parks, and of course, touristy sights. So, I decided to write a series of Toronto mini-guides, each focused on one category, and share with you everything that makes this city great! Let’s start with the touristy spots today, since that’s the first thing I always search for when I travel to a new city or country.
The first travel tip of this article is… buy the Toronto CityPASS and save 37% on admission on the city’s top attractions: CN Tower, Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium and Toronto Zoo OR Science Centre. Honestly, I don’t think the ZOO or Science Centre are worth the trip–both are located quite far from downtown–but with the pass you’ll save money od admissions even if you visit only 3 or 4 attractions.
CN Tower: See the city from above
This iconic 553m tower is not only monstrous, but it stretches out of the city cluster with a super cool 70s retro look. Completed in 1976, the CN Tower became a symbol for the rise of Toronto as an innovative, global city and marked a new era in high rise development of the downtown.
The CN Tower was once the tallest tower in the world, until the completion of the Canton Tower in 2009 and Burj Khalifa in 2010. For over 34 years it set the bar for tall buildings across the world.
To enjoy a “really, really touristy” activity, you can head up to the top to get panoramic views of the city and the islands, or enjoy a meal in its 360-degree rotating restaurant.
Travel tip: Access to the LookOut and Glass Floor levels are complimentary with the purchase of a prix fixe at 360 Restaurant.
Geeky day at ROM or AGO
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is easily one of the most diverse museums in North America. It is home to six million objects ranging from dinosaurs to artwork and archaeology to biodiversity. Opened in 1914, the museum expanded in 2002 with a unique design that draws people from all over the world. The ROM is the only place in Toronto to hear an active beehive, explore a bat cave, see Egyptian treasures or take a dino-selfie.
Toronto also has one of the largest galleries in North America, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Highlights include a sculpture gallery that extends the length of a neighboring street and allows curious visitors to see inside parts of the museum. The gallery expanded in 2008 with design led by renowned Toronto native Frank Gehry, who designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Spain. Instagrammers, have your phones prepared – the AGO’s interior is one of the most photo-worthy locations in the city.
Casa Loma: One piece of the Canadian history
Casa Loma, which means “Hill House” in Spanish, is definitely a must see in your Toronto itinerary. Although this castle is a little ways outside of the downtown core, the sheer detailing of the ceilings in 98 rooms and 30 washrooms and the stunning furniture, chandeliers and imported porcelain, make the castle a worthwhile commute on the TTC.
Casa Loma was originally the private home of Henry Pellatt, the son of British aristocrats who founded the Toronto Electric Light Company in 1883. His travels in Europe inspired his dream castle. While he eventually went into debt, it remains one of Toronto’s most iconic tourist attractions.
Travel tip: Escape room, anyone? Try out one of Casa Loma’s adventures that blend facts with fiction and theatre with gaming.
It’s getting repetitive, but Ripley’s Aquarium is also the largest of its kind in the country. It’s a great attraction for rainy and cold weather days – and believe it or not, we have those in Canada 🙂
The aquarium is very educational, with various stations for adults and kids alike to learn more about what kind of creatures we can find in deep waters. What I love about the exhibition is that it is floor to ceiling and you feel like you are inside their habitat. It’s also located next to the CN Tower so you can do both attractions one after the other.
If you have a thing for sharks, you’ll definitely enjoy the Dangerous Lagoon. The Lagoon is filled with sharks, sea turtles, unique fish and splendid marine plants and algae. You can either walk at your own pace or go on the moving sidewalk which will take you through the exhibit in 16 minutes.
Travel Tip: The second Friday of every month, Ripley’s Aquarium opens for after-hours, self-guided tours and live jazz.
St. Lawrance Market
The St. Lawrence Market is one of the most iconic spots in Toronto. National Geographic magazine even named this landmark the world’s best food market in 2012.
This historic market is home to more than 120 merchants and farmers and it’s easily considered a haven for foodies. Its restaurants, grocery stores and food stalls are located in a building that dates back to 1803. The market offers juice bars, meet markets, cheese shops, but what it’s mainly known for is the famous eggplant sandwich from a little corner bistro called Uno Mustachio.