Exploring Toronto, Canada – visitor or resident? It doesn’t matter!

Toronto is a special city… for me at least.  I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto but moved away to a different country once I got married.  Now, every couple of years, I get an opportunity to take my kids back to Toronto and every time we do, we explore a bit more.  In this post, I would like to take the opportunity to describe some of the cool places worth visiting (at a minimum) when you visit Toronto.  We generally travel on the local subway and buses within the GTA region.

City Pass and the places you see

CityPass is a nice value-for-your-money option that is available to explore Toronto.  Do take advantage if you are visiting the city.

CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium (1 day)

On one of the trips, we decided to be tourists and explore Toronto.  When we reached the CN Tower (our first stop), we decided to purchase the CityPass.  We also purchased the additional tickets to go up to the SkyPod at CN Tower.  The kids were too young for the Edge Walk so we did not consider the option.

As we went on a weekday, the crowds were light.  We were able to quickly go up and enjoy the views.  Luckily, it was a clear day and the views were spectacular!  After spending adequate time, we headed back down and had lunch close by. 

Since we still had time to spare, we decided to go to the Ripley’s aquarium near by.  The kids had a blast.  After spending a couple of hours there, we headed back home.

Royal Ontario Museum & Queens Park (1/2 day)

Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed going to the ROM.  During the years I was a student at U of T, my love for it only increased.  So, every time we visit Toronto, I take my kids to the ROM to check out the special exhibits.  One year we checked out the “Terracotta Warriors”.  This year, we visited the “Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story” exhibit. So, do check out their website and plan your visit accordingly.

At the ROM you can check out the million dollar coin!

Casa Loma (1/2 day)

Believe it or not, even though I grew up in the GTA, I never visited Casa Loma as a kid.  It was always one of the those places I had heard about but never went.  Depending on where you are staying, it does take some time to get there by subway and bus, but, the visit is totally worth it.  We really enjoyed the views of downtown Toronto from the rooms from the top of the castle.  We also had a good lunch in the cafeteria.

Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre (1/2 day)

In our case, we picked the Science Centre.    The kids had a lot of fun exploring the interactive exhibits.

As a kid I visited the Toronto Zoo several times and if you have young kids, it is certainly a place worth visiting.

Other places worth seeing

Sky Dome, BMO Field, Air Canada Centre and Hockey Hall of Fame

If you are a sports fan, depending on the time of the year, there are several options to explore.  The kids were able to enjoy watching a football game at BMO Field and an Ice Hockey game at Air Canada Centre during separate visits.  Always fun to watch professional teams play.

Hockey Hall of Fame – enough said!

HarbourFront Area, Toronto Centre Island, CNE

During the summer, awesome areas to just hang out and chill.  The lake and the surrounding areas have a nice vibe during these months and often, there are a lot of different activities / festivals in the area.

Eaton Centre, University of Toronto, Nathan Phillips Square

Eaton Centre is a nice place to visit for shopping and just enjoying downtown Toronto in addition to  shopping along Yonge St.  Nathan Phillips Square also has activities depending on the time of the year.  I have always enjoyed taking the kids around the U of T campus, showing off the beautiful buildings.

Art Gallery of Ontario, Gardiner Museum,  Bata Shoe Museum

These are a few of the more specialised museums worth visiting around downtown Toronto.  I often combine a museum visit with a restaurant visit of one of the many different cultures in the area!

The Beaches Area

A nice area to visit during the summer months.  There is a nice boardwalk and the beach area is generally clean.

Kensington Market, St. Lawrence Market and Chinatown

Both markets are a joy to visit… especially if you are not just a visitor and love to cook!  Spadina Ave. from Dundas St. to Queen St. has a nice Chinatown.  Amazing restaurants that fill your plate with more food that you can eat. 

Head out to Gerrard St. to experience Little India!

Theatre District

Over the years had the pleasure of enjoying several shows in the theatre district.  Depending on the time of the year, the options are pretty nice.

So, there it is…. a list of a few of my favourite places to visit while in Toronto.  There are so many great places to eat and enjoy nightlife but if you are a tourist, I would definitely recommend you check out all of the above!


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