This is based on my visit to the city in the summer of 2012. Contrary to the beliefs of the folks ignorant of meteorology, such as myself, Canada is not all snowstorms and parkas. It actually gets flipping hot out there. Make sure to check the weather before you go.
Anyways, I highly recommend Toronto as a tourist destination. There’s great transportation, a variety of culture, an emerging (at that time) food scene, and friendly people. Here are a couple of highlights in Toronto . . .
So you may have seen this on the cover of a Drake album. It’s not called “Views,” but the CN Tower (CN = Canada’s National). Think of a giant Space Needle. Definitely a tourist spot, but you get some pretty interesting views of Rogers Centre and downtown Toronto from the top. Take a walk out on the SkyPod for one of the highest views in the city. Take those Instagram-worthy selfies on the Glass Floor. Hungry? Stop at the 360 degree restaurant at the top — I ended up just walking in, but if you plan ahead, you may need to make a reservation. Bottom floor is the gift shop where you can buy a number of generic Canadian souvenirs. PRO TIP: As with most tourist attractions, you can buy most of the same souvenirs from the CN Tower at multiple other locations throughout the city.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
I seriously spent a whole day here. The ROM is pretty heavy with dinosaur bones and cultural artifacts, and you definitely can get lost in here. I highly recommend this for those museum geeks out here (like me). It’s in a funky-looking building that is easily accessible by public transportation. If you like shiny things, make sure to check out their gem and mineral collection. It makes you want the things you can’t have/afford. PRO TIP: I was told by a former Toronto resident that the ROM offers discounted admission on Fridays for the summer. Google the ROM website for more details.
Make sure to stop by the Kensington Market for one of the most interesting neighborhoods I’ve ever visited. And yes, I know this photo is off center — I took it in noontime sun and was not able to see my screen. You get the idea. Anyways, there are a bunch of eclectic shops and a wide variety of eats. You can find everything from vegetarian cuisine to all-day breakfast. Sundays are also pedestrian market days. Check their website for further details about festival dates as well.
The Toronto Zoo
This place is just a little ways outside of Toronto, in the suburbs, but is still very accessible by public transportation. Take the train and transfer onto the bus that takes you right to the entrance of the zoo. It’s also an all day thing, unless you have little ones that can’t keep up. It can get hot walking around and there’s lots of walking, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes. And probably a hat. Preferably not a Canadiens one ( ha ha).
Ontario Science Centre
I know this doesn’t look like much, but it was some sort of contraption where you stand in front of a camera and this screen of wires and ball-bearings came together and formed a giant picture of you rising towards the ceiling. This museum was actually pretty cool. Not as extensive as the ROM, but more hands-on in my opinion. There were a number of interactive displays, animal exhibits, and live science demonstrations. This place is also outside of the main downtown Toronto area, but is very easy to reach by way of bus. Probably a better place to take the young ones who like to touch everything. Just take a bottle of hand sanitizer with you.
St. Lawrence Market
If you like food, this is a place you must visit. This is not only a collection of prepared food stands, but also locals merchants who sell anything from interesting meats to jarred specialty mustard. And yes, I got talked into a jar of mustard with pretzels. They were delicious and I regret nothing. Buster’s Sea Cove was my favorite food place here — I fell in love with their clam strips. PRO TIP: St. Lawrence Market has weird hours. Google their website before you go to make sure it will be open when you want to visit.
Toronto is a great city, and I encourage a visit if you get the chance. There are quite a few attractions that I missed on this trip (including the Hockey Hall of Fame, long story about why), but definitely have plans for a second one.
What are you favorite sights in Toronto?