Canada has its fair share of awesome cities between Montreal and Vancouver, but sometimes it feels like Toronto is forgotten about. Toronto has no shortage of things to do in and around the city with a great vibe all year round.
We visited Toronto for our first time this winter and loved the city! Want to know why? Read on to see the best things to do in Toronto, Canada.
Best Things to do in Toronto in Winter and Summer!
1. Venture Up the CN Tower
A unique thing to do in Toronto is to head up the CN Tower. It’s the most iconic symbol of Toronto and the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere. The CN Tower reaches over 553 meters into the sky and provides jaw-dropping views of the city and harbor. The tower has multiple observations decks, a glass floor, The Skypod, and a restaurant.
2. Try the Toronto EdgeWalk
If you’ve gotten to the top of the CN Tower and still wondering what to do in Toronto try the Edgewalk! EdgeWalk is probably the most thrilling thing to do in Toronto and perfect for adrenaline junkies. As a guest, get ready to strap into a harness and walk out on a 5 ft wide ledge for an unhindered walk around Canada’s highest tower. I’m going to let the video below show you what’s in store.
3. Royal Ontario Museum
One of the best things to do in Toronto in the winter is visit a musuem!
The Royal Ontario Museum covers everything! It’s the best place to learn about world culture, natural history, and art in Toronto. As one of the largest museums in North America, it attracts more than one million visitors to see its six million items. It’s a city landmark in the neighborhood of Yorkville. We were overwhelmed by everything on display and recommend at least couple hours to explore.
4. Catch a Hockey Game
Looking for a really fun thing to do in Toronto in the winter? It’s well known that the national religion of Canada is hockey. Consider it a right of passage, but catching a hockey match is a must do while in Toronto. The Toronto Maples Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967 but still manage to draw a massive crowd. Their home arena, the Air Canada Centre, is located right in the heart of the city.
5. Ice Skate
After catching a hockey game you can always give it a try yourself. In the winter Toronto has over 50 ice skating rinks around the city. The most popular one is at Nathan Philips Square where the central fountain becomes an ice rink. Grab your hockey stick, lace up your skates, and get ready for a fun time!
This is certainly one of the best things to do in Toronto in the winter!
6. Graffiti Alley
The graffiti alley has a few names such as Rush Lane or Rick Mercer’s Alley. You can find the alley between Spadina and Portland on the south end of China Town. The street is over a kilometer long and showcases a wide range of street art.
It’s an explosion of creativity and color spread across the street covering just about everything. We love checking out areas like this as they play an important role in urban culture.
7. Get Your Canadian card
Okay, there is no such thing as a Canadian Card. However, you can get in touch with Canada’s plaid-clad lumberjack roots at Toronto’s Bad Axe Throwing and BATLgrounds. You probably guessed it by now, but the two venues host a Canadian style of darts that involves hurling axes at a target.
They’re both BYOB so you can throw on a Canadian Tuxedo and a two-four of Labatt Blue before tossing your ax. I promise I’m done with the stereotypes!
8. Catch a Concert
Toronto hosts a wide range of musical acts and has numerous venues. You can hear everything from big-name artists at the Air Canada Center, an opera at the Canadian Opera Company, or your favorite band at the historic Massey Hall.
Massey Hall is one of the most famous venues in Canada and has hosted an amazing line-up. Some of the people who have graced its stage include Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Luciano Pavarotti, the Dalai Lama, and a whole lot more.
9. Shop at the St. Lawrence Market
One of the best places to go in Toronto is the St. Lawrence Market. This famous food market has been named the world’s best by National Geographic. It’s been open since 1803 and started as a temporary weekly market.
The current structure dates back to 1845. The South Market houses over 120 vendors who sell fresh produce, meats, baked goods, and cheese. While the North Market is only open for a weekend antique market and private events. Make sure to check their website for up to date event information.
10. Art Gallery of Ontario
This art gallery is over a century old and includes more than 90,000 works from the first century onwards. This huge museum is located on Dundas street, and if you’re walking by you definitely can’t miss the 45,000 square meter building. As one of the largest museums in North America, it’s safe to say that a day here would easily be filled with contemporary art, interactive exhibits, and photographs.
The AGO is also home to Peter Paul Ruben’s The Massacre of The Innocents painting. The AGO prides itself on being kid and family friendly with tours, art-making activities, and Family Sundays and Summer camps for kids. For an up to date schedule of special art exhibitions check here.
11. Toronto Botanical Garden
One of the best things to do in Toronto in the summer is stroll around the garden.
We’ve mentioned our love for botanical gardens before and it hasn’t changed. Since leaving New York and saying goodbye to our beloved Bronx Botanical Gardens we are frequently making the effort to visit new ones around the world. The Toronto Botanical Gardens are free to visit and give visitors the joy indoor and outdoor experiences, garden tours, and even nature camps.
If you are visiting Toronto in the summer a visit here is a must and when things really liven up. There are frequent outdoor music events, garden dining, and an organic farmers market on Thursdays. The gardens are open every day besides major holidays.
12. Enjoy the Toronto Islands
Another fantastic thing to do in Toronto in the summer is check out the Toronto Islands!
I had no idea before I visited Toronto that the major city had its own little set of islands in Lake Ontario. The Toronto Islands are a group of 15 connected small islands, some even refer to it as just one island because of their easy connection of paths between one another. It’s a 13-minute ferry ride from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal.
Once you land on the islands a whole day of fun awaits for every age. It’s possible to canoe, kayak, ride your bike, or hike around the islands.
There are a few swimming beaches here including a Hanlan’s Point Beach which is clothing optional. As a Michigander, I would recommend dipping into the Great Lakes at least once in your life. Kiddies and families can enjoy the Centerville amusement park (geared for younger children, but still a treat!).
This is the perfect place to ride a bike or bring your dog for a walk in the summer. Make sure to keep in mind there are still 600 full-time residents living on the island so be respectful
13. Learn about wildlife at the Toronto Zoo
Although there are no more pandas at the Toronto Zoo there are still over 5000 other amazing animals to go around. Some of these notable animals are the one-horned rhino calf, Sumatran Tiger, and a two-toed sloth named Sally. After a year on safari in Africa, we admittingly have a tough time entering a zoo.
However, we know that not everyone can head into the wild and enjoy the many beautiful animals that populate our earth and most zoos do great things for animal conservation and funding.
Rest assured that the Toronto Zoo is one of the zoos that does amazing work and makes a huge effort to conserve endangered species. They have rescued polar bears from the wild, reintroduced over 120 animals back to the wild, and monitored and saved wild bats around Ontario through their Native Bat Conservation program.
The Toronto Zoo is actually the largest zoo in Canada and well worth a full day. There are seven regions to visit: Africa, Tundra, Indo-Malaya, Americas, Trek, Australasia, Eurasia, and Canadian. It will be hard to see everything so get there early!
14. Kensington Market
This hip Toronto neighborhood is our favorite spot in the city. It’s full of cafes, boutique shops, record shops, cool bars, and restaurants. It’s long been the neighborhood of immigrants, before turning into a hub for artists, and now a hipsters playground. The bohemian neighborhood is well worth an afternoon.
15. Walk around the Distillery District
A series of large Victorian industrial buildings is the former home to the largest distillery in the world. Now the hip area is now filled with boutique shops, upscale restaurants, a brewery, sake distillery, and a chocolate factory.
It’s all pedestrian-friendly and no cars are allowed in the district. It plays a crucial role in the soul of Toronto and hosts a number of events throughout the year. Asides from the waterfront it’s probably the most photographic area of Toronto and it’s perfect for a night on the town
16. Get Sprayed at Niagara Falls
Okay, this technically isn’t in Toronto, but it’s definitely a thing to do when visiting Toronto. The world-famous waterfall straddles the border between Canada and the US. It’s only a 90-minute drive from Toronto and is definitely worth the trip. Around 750,000 gallons of water a second roll over the cliff.
If you want to feel the full force of Niagara Falls check them out with Journey Behind the Falls. The Journey Behind the Falls takes you through a tunnel and directly behind the falls. They’re probably some of the most incredible waterfalls in the world and draw quite a crowd for a reason.
17. Get Some Healthy Eats
One our favorite things to do in Toronto is to get some healthy food. There are a number of great restaurants that specialize in health food that is tough to find outside of Canadian cities.
We tried out Calli Love and Iq Food and highly recommend them both! Calli Love has some great smoothies and poke bowls. Iq Food serves up salads, veggie bowls, coffee, and healthy baked treats.
18. Quantum Coffee
Have we mentioned that we love coffee? If you’re looking for some of the best coffee we had in Toronto head to Quantum Coffee.
19. Go on a Ski Holiday
Last time we visited Toronto we wanted to go snowboarding on the Eastern side of Canada. This led us to Billy Bishop Airport and onwards to Mont Tremblant. Mont Tremblant is one of the best ski resorts in Canada and located just a 90-minute drive from Montreal.
It is also only a very short and direct flight away from Toronto with Porter Airlines and is where many locals choose to go in the winter. Mont Tremblant isn’t just a ski hill, but instead a full winter resort experience where families can go dog-sledding, snowmobiling, and even shopping under the Laurentian mountains.
20. North Broadway
When you are cold and chilly during a Canadian winter checking out a show is one of the best things to do in Toronto!
Toronto’s booming theatre scene is referred to as North Broadway. The self-described label hosts many touring companies and has a number of wonderful theatres. The two most popular theatres are Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre, North America’s only two-floor theatre complex, and Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The Young Centre for the Performing Arts has three stages in 19th-century tank houses located in the Distillery District.
21. Eat Poutine
Poutine is Canada’s national comfort food. It’s a base of french fries that are topped with cheese curds and brown gravy. There are all sorts of variations with creative toppings, but those three ingredients make up its core components. The best poutine is said to be found at Nom Nom Nom. It’s a shipping container food stall located in the Market 707. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan head to Poutini’s House of Poutine where they make a vegan version.
Where to Stay in Toronto?
The Hazelton Hotel
This is one of the top rated hotels in all of Toronto. Located in the upscale district of Yorkville and is near Toronto’s restaurant scene this is the ultimate place to stay if you are looking for optimal comfort and a good location.
The Ritz Carlton
You know it’s not going to be a bad stay at any Ritz Carlton. Besides the name recognition this hotel is very well reviewed and centrally located downtown.
The Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar
One of downtown Toronto’s most iconic locations this hotel has live jazz and blues music every night. The location and price are fabulous and if you’re on a budget in Toronto it’s definitely not a bad option.
Should You Get a Toronto City PASS?
The Toronto City Pass is great if you want to see multiple tourist sites around Toronto. Sites like the Toronto Zoo, CN Tower, and the Royal Ontario Museum so it could be a could option if you are really planning to hit the sites.
Once activated upon first use the City Pass is good for nine consecutive days so you never have to feel rushed. You can get your City Pass before your visit to Toronto here!
Plan and Pack for Toronto
Book a Toronto Tour
It’s nice not to always do all the travel planning and book a tour ahead of time.
Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights.