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Things to Do in Toronto

Cosmopolitan and culturally diverse, Toronto sits nestled on the banks of Lake Ontario. Visitors come from far and wide to experience its food, buzzing nightlife, and colorful festivals, though things quiet over the winter season—when heavy snows and plummeting temperatures push people to the ski slopes. Within the city limits, top Toronto attractions abound, such as the majestic castle of Casa Loma; CN Tower, the third tallest tower in the world; Dundas Square; Toronto Eaton Centre shopping mall; and the richly multicultural neighborhood of Kensington Market. Visitors will find plenty of shopping and sightseeing options—with guides on hand to shine a light on the region’s rich history. Travelers can take to the air by helicopter, spin through the streets on a bike or hop-on hop-off bus, or cruise the waves of Lake Ontario for fine views of the city skyline. The world-famous Niagara Falls is less than a two-hour drive around the shores of Lake Ontario on the border with the United States, and travelers using Toronto as a base can opt for a day tour with transportation for easy access. For something a little more sedate, delve into the wilderness on an Algonquin Park canoe tour. You can fine native bears, beavers, and moose in their natural habitats; swim in crystal-clear lakes; and discover the best of the Ontario wilderness—all within reach of bustling Toronto.
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CN Tower
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For many visitors to Toronto, this needle-like telecommunications tower—often seen from the airplane window—is their first glimpse of the city. When it was erected in 1976, the CN Tower was the world’s tallest freestanding structure. Though it no longer holds that title, it is still the tallest tower in Canada, and the spectacular views from its observation decks are second to none.

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Toronto Chinatown
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Located in the heart of downtown and a hub for the city’s Chinese-Canadian community, Toronto's Chinatown is a bustling neighborhood lined with an appealing range of small businesses. Visitors and Toronto residents flock here to dine at the area’s popular eateries and shop for produce and imported specialty items at corner grocers.

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St. Lawrence Market
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A foodie paradise, the long-running St. Lawrence Market occupies the historic South Market House building, which previously served as Toronto’s city hall and jail. Since 1803, residents and visitors have come here to meet, eat, and shop for food items ranging from Prince Edward Island oysters to peameal bacon to Montreal-style bagels.

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Rogers Centre
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Located in downtown Toronto at the base of the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre is a sports and entertainment complex that is home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team. The Rogers Centre is a great place to catch a Major League Baseball (MLB) game or other event held under its fully retractable roof—the first of its kind in the world.

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Hockey Hall of Fame
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A sacred site for Canadians—for whom ice hockey is a national obsession—the Hockey Hall of Fame holds a treasure trove of memorabilia, including the original Stanley Cup. Housed inside a grand 19th-century Bank of Montreal building, it also features interactive games including a virtual shoot-out where visitors can test their skills.

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Toronto High Park
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As the largest park in Toronto, High Park offers a bounty of recreational opportunities. Locals and visitors alike hop from activity to activity, including playgrounds, a dog park, zoo, hiking trails, tennis courts, swimming pools, baseball fields, and an ice skating rink. High Park is a popular spot for concerts and for enjoying nature, especially in spring’s cherry blossom season.

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Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
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Established in 1914, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is Canada’s largest museum. Housed inside a heritage-meets-modern building, it boasts a 6-million-strong collection, which focuses on objects relating to world culture and natural history. It includes everything from First Nations’ crest poles to Egyptian mummies to T-rex skeletons.

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Bata Shoe Museum
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The quirky Bata Shoe Museum in downtown Toronto showcases the changing style and function of footwear across four galleries. What started as a personal collection for Sonja Bata in the 1940s is now a museum with more than 20,000 shoes dating from ancient Egypt to modern day, including a selection of celebrity soles. It’s an unusual chance to view world history through the lens of footwear.

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Distillery Historic District
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Once home to the 1832 Gooderham and Worts’ mammoth distilling facility, Toronto’s charming arts and entertainment quarter is now a popular strolling spot for off-duty creatives. The cobblestone streets are lined with Victorian-era industrial buildings, which have been repurposed to serve as contemporary art galleries, third-wave coffee shops, concept boutiques, restaurants, and bars.

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Toronto Kensington Market
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Eclectic, diverse, and graffiti-slathered, Toronto's Kensington Market neighborhood is one of the city’s most distinctive enclaves. The district is packed with produce vendors, food sellers, vintage clothes shops, bric-a-brac boutiques, buskers, cafés, and restaurants, and attracts a steady stream of bohemian types.

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More Things to Do in Toronto

Humber Bay Park

Humber Bay Park

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Humber Bay Park, created from two man-made peninsulas near Mimico Creek and Lake Ontario, is a popular recreation hub in Toronto. Park pursuits include bird-watching, biking, hiking, and photographing the CN Tower and Toronto skyline, as well as lounging at the sandy beach area and taking dogs to the off-leash park.

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Toronto Harbour

Toronto Harbour

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Toronto Harbour is located on the north shore of Lake Ontario, the smallest of North America’s five Great Lakes. Protected from the lake’s tides by the Toronto Islands, the harbor offers smooth conditions for a wide range of water activities, including boat tours, ferry rides, sailing, and kayaking.

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Yonge-Dundas Square

Yonge-Dundas Square

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The flashy urban scene of Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square is reminiscent of New York City’s Times Square. More than 56 million people visit this iconic spot every year, making it one of the busiest intersections in Canada. This is where you find glowing billboards, Eaton Centre, Ed Mirvish Theatre, and great spots to people-watch.

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Toronto City Hall

Toronto City Hall

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New City Hall, which replaced Old City Hall in 1965 to accommodate a rapidly growing city, is the current seat of Toronto’s municipal government. Designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, winner of the city’s international competition, Toronto City Hall is comprised of two curved towers as well as Nathan Phillips Square, Canada’s largest public square.

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Toronto Islands

Toronto Islands

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Though Toronto’s high-rise skyline is in sight, the Toronto Islands—a chain of islands scattered off the shore of Lake Ontario—feel a world away. The islands, once a narrow peninsula, were cut off from the mainland by violent storms, and now their sandy coastlines and verdant parklands serve as a peaceful escape for the city-weary.

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Casa Loma

Casa Loma

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Looking more at home in Europe than it does in Ontario, Canada, this faux medieval castle was a filming location forChicago andX-Men. Built for an eccentric businessman between 1911 and 1914, Casa Loma (literally House on a Hill) features a pastiche of old-world styles that include turrets, Tudor-style chimneys, underground tunnels, and secret passages.

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Scotiabank Arena (Air Canada Centre)

Scotiabank Arena (Air Canada Centre)

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The Scotiabank Arena (formerly the Air Canada Centre) is Toronto’s major concert and professional sports venue. The facility clocks in at 650,000 square feet (60,387 square meters) and seats nearly 20,000 event-goers. The adjacent Maple Leaf Square hosts a variety of shops and restaurants, plus a hotel and condominiums.

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Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

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In downtown Toronto, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada houses approximately 16,000 water-bound species from across the world. The displays are arranged by region, and visitors can explore the tropical Rainbow Reef, check out the Dangerous Lagoon shark tank, and learn more about the marine life found in the waters around Canada.

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Art Gallery of Ontario

Art Gallery of Ontario

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A leading Canadian museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario is home of more than 79,000 works of art in its collection, including First Nations and Inuit carvings, noted Canadian works, and European art from Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso. Toronto-born architect Frank Gehry designed the gallery’s latest renovation.

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Harbourfront Centre

Harbourfront Centre

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Occupying a prime 10-acre (4-hectare) site on the edge of Lake Ontario, the nonprofit Harbourfront Centre offers a jam-packed year-round program of events. The complex comprises more than 30 sights, including parks, outdoor and indoor performance venues, squares, art galleries, a boardwalk, artist studios, restaurants, and retail outlets.

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Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach

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A small recreation area in Toronto on the shore of Lake Ontario, Sugar Beach is not the place for a dip as swimming is prohibited. Its sandy shores are just fine for relaxing on a sunny day under the shade of a pink patio umbrella. Visitors have views of cargo ships and the Redpath Sugar Refinery, which inspired the name.

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University of Toronto

University of Toronto

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One of Canada’s most prestigious universities, the University of Toronto is known to academics and scholars. But the downtown campus is also a top attraction for visitors to Toronto, who stroll its well-tended paths, check out the stately buildings, and wander through the leafy Philosopher’s Walk.

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Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

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The oldest landmark in Toronto, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is also one of the earliest lighthouses built on the Great Lakes. Though what was once a critical navigational beacon is no longer operational, visitors still enjoy viewing and taking photos of the 1808 lighthouse. The inside only opens for special events.

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Fort York National Historic Site

Fort York National Historic Site

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Fort York was constructed in 1793 by the British Army and Canadian militia troops for the defense of York (now Toronto). Today it’s a National Historic Site with Canada’s largest group of original War of 1812 structures. Explore the stone and wood barracks used during the 1813 Battle of York, when the U.S. invaded and destroyed the fort.

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