This guide to the top 10 things to do in Toronto is based on my research and experience traveling in Toronto over my lifetime. Originally published in September 2017, this post has been updated in July 2019. In full disclosure, my most recent trip to Toronto in May 2017 was hosted by Tourism Ontario. I thank Tourism Ontario for their hospitality and bringing me back to Toronto. This post also contains some affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As always, all opinions shared in this post are my own.
Over the past three decades, I’ve traveled to Canada’s largest city four times. From my first visit as a 10-year-old on a family vacation to my most recent as a professional travel and food writer, I’ve experienced a wide range of Toronto’s diverse attractions and activities. With a variety of museums, unique neighborhoods, and a diverse dining scene, Toronto offers plenty to explore during a weekend getaway.
If you are visiting Toronto for the first time, I hope you’ll find my list of the top 10 things to do in Toronto a helpful starting point for planning your trip. I’ve also included bonus ideas if you have extra time, are a return visitor seeking an activity off the beaten path, or are road tripping and could add a destination near Toronto as a day trip.
To access this post offline and with GPS navigation to the attractions I’ve recommended, you can download the free GPSmyCity app and then take this Toronto guide with you on your trip. Want to learn more about how GPSmyCity works? I wrote about the app in this post.
As you read this post, one important thing to know is all prices are listed in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted. At the moment, the Canadian loonie is worth 76 cents in U.S. currency. For my fellow American travelers, right now is a financially beneficial time to visit our northern neighbors. 😉
Without further ado, I give you …
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Things To Do In Toronto
- 1. See The View From The CN Tower
- 2. Eat Your Way Around St. Lawrence Market
- 3. Stroll Along Canada’s Walk Of Fame
- 4. Indulge In The Arts
- 5. Take A Touristy Photo
- 6. Visiting Toronto With Kids? Go To The Ontario Science Centre
- 7. Walk Down Graffiti Alley
- 8. Drink A Flight Of Local Craft Beer
- 9. Take In The Skyline At Toronto Harbour and Toronto Islands
- 10. Taste Toronto’s Diverse Dining Scene
- If You Have More Time In Toronto
- Day & Side Trips From Toronto
- Where To Stay In Toronto
- More Resources For Your Visit To Toronto
- Have you done any of these top 10 things to do in Toronto? Did you do anything else in Toronto that I haven’t mentioned in this post?
10 Best Things To Do In Toronto
1. See The View From The CN Tower
Iconic to the skyline and offering 360° bird’s-eye views of Toronto, Canada’s National Tower is visited by 1.5 million tourists each year. If you are a first-time visitor to Toronto, consider taking a Toronto city tour that includes admission to the CN Tower’s two observation levels.
If, like me, you have already visited the CN Tower, consider seeing the view with an experience — dining or adventure. For adventurous souls, scale the outside with EdgeWalk — the highest hands-free external walk around a building in the world. Don’t worry — you’ll be harnessed! During my last visit, I dined at 360 Restaurant. As I enjoyed my meal of Canadian wine, fresh heirloom tomatoes, and Fogo Island seafood, the dining room made a full rotation offering stunning sunset views over the Toronto skyline.
Plan Your Visit To The CN Tower
Location: 301 Front Street West
Hours: Open every day except Christmas from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Cost: General admission tickets start at $26
Bring: Camera, ticket (if you pre-purchased and printed at home), money for food and souvenirs in the gift shop. Note: Bags are OK as long as they are smaller than 25″ long x 15″ wide x 20″ high and will be searched at security.
360 Restaurant Reservations: You can make your 360 Restaurant reservation via OpenTable.
Pro Tip: Whether you plan to dine at 360 Restaurant or visit the observation decks, schedule your CN Tower visit for sunset. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get through security, wait in line, and up the elevator to see the city in sunlight. Then stay to see the city lights at night.
Disclosure: My visit to the CN Tower and dinner at 360 Restaurant was provided by Tourism Toronto.
2. Eat Your Way Around St. Lawrence Market
A Toronto culinary destination since 1803, this historic marketplace has 120 vendors including farmers, bakers, butchers, and artisans. Graze from stall to stall, or shop for groceries to make your own dinner back at your Airbnb rental. For a real Toronto classic, try a peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery. Want a local to show you the market? Sample Jewish bagels, Ukrainian pierogies, and local cheeses on a guided food tour of Old Toronto and St. Lawrence Market!
Plan Your Visit To St. Lawrence Market
Location: 93 Front Street East
Hours: Open from Tuesday through Saturday. Hours vary by day, so you’ll want to check Google before you go.
Cost: Free admission, but how much you spend depends on what you purchase 😉
Bring: Spending money and your appetite
3. Stroll Along Canada’s Walk Of Fame
Anyone else have a crush on Brandon Walsh of Beverly Hills, 90210? Just me? I was a little geeked to find my
childhood celebrity crush’s name and autograph inscribed along King Street West. Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Canada’s Walk of Fame inducts actors, directors, producers, and musicians. However, Canada’s Walk of Fame also inducts a wider range of occupations including writers, cartoonists, models, playwrights, athletes, and coaches.
Plan Your Visit To Canada’s Walk of Fame
Location: You’ll find Canada’s Walk of Fame stars downtown along King Street West between John and Simcoe streets and along Simcoe Street between King Street West and Wellington Street.
Hours: Whenever you want!
Bring: Walking shoes and your camera
Pro Tip: Have a particular Canadian celebrity whose star you’d like to find? Michael Bublé? Céline Dion? Ryan Reynolds? Check out this Inductee Star Map beforehand to locate their star, and you’ll save time searching for your photo op.
4. Indulge In The Arts
Interested in ceramics, fashion, paintings, or sculpture? Love to see Broadway musicals? If you enjoy experiencing the arts when you travel, Toronto has plenty for you to see. During my first two visits, I saw The Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages Theatre. Now called Ed Mirvish Theatre, it remains one of several regal theaters to see a show in Toronto.
Explore The Arts At These Toronto Museums, Galleries, and Theatres
- Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Drive, Closed Mondays
- Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St W, Closed Mondays
- Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor St W, Open daily but hours vary
- Ed Mirvish Theatre, 244 Victoria St
- Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park, Open daily at 10 a.m. but closing times vary
- The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, 231 Queens Quay W, Closed Mondays
- Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King Street W
- Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King Street W
- The Second City Toronto (comedy and improv shows), 51 Mercer St
- Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Avenue, Open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; open until 8 p.m. Wednesdays
- Young Center for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane
5. Take A Touristy Photo
If you didn’t snap, Instagram, or Facebook your trip, did it really happen? Of course, it did. But, isn’t it so much more fun to share your trip with friends and family back home? Those of us who aren’t ashamed of a touristy photo op have several noteworthy settings for those perfectly Instagram-worthy shots. Get your smartphones and cameras ready!
My Picks For The Best Instagram Pics in Toronto:
- CN Tower — Not only will you be able to photograph the exterior of the tower, but you’ll find a 3-D CN Tower sign. The sign is lit up at night, too.
- Nathan Phillips Square — At this plaza near Toronto City Hall, you’ll find the colorful Toronto sign. Installed for the 2015 PanAm Games, it has become an iconic photo op for visitors. Be sure to stay a few minutes to watch it change colors. I recommend timing your visit for dusk when you’ll see the lights’ reflection on the water.
- Graffiti Alley — I’ll delve into this more later, but you’ll find vibrantly colored murals and graffiti for a hipster-chic background.
Take One Of These Top-Rated Toronto Walking Tours To Find Photo Ops:
- Arts, Food, & Culture Toronto Walking Tour — On this two-hour tour, walk through Toronto’s most popular neighborhoods to Queen Street, Chinatown, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Kensington Market.
- Private Half-Day Guided Toronto Walking Tour — On a 1.5-mile (2.5-km) loop through downtown Toronto, your knowledgable local guide will show you the CN Tower, St. Lawrence Market, and more all while sharing tales of the city’s history.
- Loon Escape’s “Heart of Toronto” Tour — Take a two-hour tour of Toronto’s famous sights — the iconic Toronto sign, Ontario College of Art & Design, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Dundas Square — with photo ops captured by Polaroid camera, trivia games, and tasty Canadian snacks.
6. Visiting Toronto With Kids? Go To The Ontario Science Centre
Ok, this suggestion will take you outside Toronto proper, but it is worth the drive if you are visiting Toronto with kids. Granted it has been 20 years since I last visited the Ontario Science Centre on a middle school field trip, but I still remember the baseball pitch of the Sports Arena. Though the sports exhibit is now rented out to other museums, the permanent collection includes The Living Earth. There young explorers can walk through a rain forest, crawl through a cave, touch a tornado, and see a coral reef and poisonous dart frogs.
Plan Your Visit To The Ontario Science Centre
Location: 770 Don Mills Rd, North York, Ontario
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5.m. Sunday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Holidays
Cost: $22 Adults, $16 Seniors (65+), $16 Youth (13-17) & Students with student ID, $13 Children (3-12), Free for ages 2 and younger
Bring: Camera and money for admission, IMAX tickets, souvenirs, and parking ($10 per vehicle)
7. Walk Down Graffiti Alley
Street art seekers, this is where you’ll find vibrant murals and graffiti in Toronto. I’d recommend spending 30 minutes to an hour walking through the alleyway of Rush Lane. If that’s not enough to quench your thirst for street art, Tourism Toronto has a curated guide of where to find more street art in Toronto. You can also learn more about Toronto’s colorful street art by taking this free graffiti tour.
Plan Your Visit To See Toronto’s Street Art
Location: Rush Lane, one block south of Queen Street West, between Spadina Avenue and Portland Street
Hours: Go during daylight hours, and plan to spend 30 minutes to an hour exploring
8. Drink A Flight Of Local Craft Beer
Move over, Molson! There is so much more happening in the Toronto beer scene these days. During my recent visit, my first stop was Amsterdam BrewHouse for Lake Ontario views from what has been voted one of Toronto’s best lakefront patios. It’s certainly a popular destination on game days, and the Toronto Blue Jays’ ballpark, Rogers Centre, is only a 10-minute walk. With 480 seats outside and another 500 indoors, you might be able to squeeze in for a beer flight even during the busiest of times. I certainly did. At Amsterdam BrewHouse, you can select a flight from pre-arranged options, and there is a full food menu. The roasted vegetable and goat cheese pizza is delicious.
Plan Your Visit To Amsterdam BrewHouse On The Lake
Location: 245 Queens Quay West
Hours: 11 a.m. – Midnight Sunday – Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Cost: $7.50 20-oz. draft beer, Flight costs about $10
Bring: Money and ID
More Toronto Breweries And Craft Beer Bars To Visit
- Steam Whistle Brewing
- Mill Street Brew Pub
- Birreria Volo
- C’est What
- Bier Markt
- The Granite Brewery & Tied House
- Indie AleHouse
Toronto Brewery & Beer Tours
- Small-Group Toronto Beer Tour — On this four-hour guided walking tour of Old Toronto, learn how beer is a part of the city’s history as you visit three classic Toronto pubs and sample beers at Mill Street Brewery.
- Toronto Craft Brewery Tour — Hop aboard the 10-seater van to three West Toronto breweries to get a behind-the-scenes look at brewing, learn how to do a beer tasting, and sample 60-oz of local craft brews on this guided tour.
- Toronto East End Brews and Dark History Tour — Taste locally made craft beer and cider while learning of Canada’s prohibition, jails, crime, and capital punishment with a stop at the historic Don Jail.
- East End Craft Beer & Bites Tour — Explore Toronto’s historic East End on this four-hour guided tour of gastropubs, breweries, and a trendy cider house. Transportation is wheelchair accessible, and service animals are welcome.
9. Take In The Skyline At Toronto Harbour and Toronto Islands
One of the best views of Toronto’s waterfront skyline is from the Toronto Islands. You can take a 10-minute ferry ride out to the islands from the downtown ferry dock. If you don’t have time to visit the Toronto Islands, you will find plenty to see and photograph along the waterfront including Lake Ontario, sailboats, skyscrapers, and the CN Tower peeking though the buildings. This bustling area of downtown is also host to lively weekend festivals and events.
Plan Your Visit To Toronto Islands
Location: Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, 9 Queens Quay West
Hours: Ferries mostly run from 6:35 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Cost: $8.19 for adults, $5.37 for ages 15-19 and 65 and older with ID, $3.95 for ages 2-14, free for children younger than 2 | All prices quoted are for round-trip tickets and were accurate as of July 2019.
Bring: Printed ticket if pre-purchased online or money to purchase ticket at ferry terminal, camera for skyline photos
Recommended Waterfront Hotel Near Toronto Harbour: Radisson Admiral Toronto Harbourfront
Toronto Harbour Cruises
- Toronto Inner Harbour Evening Cruise — Cruise the inner harbor and island lagoons as you take in breathtaking views of the city lights at dusk on this one-hour narrated boat ride.
- Toronto Inner Harbour and Island Cruise — See the Toronto skyline on this one-hour narrated sightseeing cruise with a weather-permitting stop on Centre Island.
Bike Tours Of Toronto Islands
- Toronto Islands Morning Bike Tour — Pedal 3.5 miles around the Toronto Islands, the largest car-less community in North America. Points of interest include Gibraltar Point Lighthouse and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. Bikes and helmets are provided.
- Toronto Islands Evening Bike Tour — Enjoy an after-dinner bike ride around the Toronto Islands for stunning city views from Gibraltar Point Lighthouse and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. Bikes, helmets, and dessert from an island cafe are included.
10. Taste Toronto’s Diverse Dining Scene
Last but certainly not least, Toronto’s food scene should not be missed. With Toronto’s diverse population, you’ll find Korean, Chinese, Italian, Indian, German, Jamaican, and all sorts of ethnic cuisines. I’ll let your mouth start watering with this tantalizing ice cream cone pictured below. Named the Red Rapture, vanilla soft serve is covered in red velvet cake and meringue crumbs, cream-cheese frosting, and raspberry puree from the Sweet Jesus in downtown Toronto.
Plan Your Visit To The Toronto Restaurants I’ve Visited
- Sweet Jesus — soft-serve ice cream with unique toppings at 106 John Street
- La Carnita — hip Mexican restaurant serving street tacos and tasty cocktails at 106 John Street
- RUDY — classic burger joint at 619 College Street
- Drake One Fifty — swanky brasserie with patio serving Canadian cuisine and delicious sourdough pizza at 150 York Street
- Amsterdam BrewHouse — pair a craft beer flight with a wood-oven pizza or burger with lakefront views at 245 Queens Quay West
- Baro — Latin restaurant serving delicious cocktails at 485 King Street West
- 360 Restaurant — a unique dining experience at the CN Tower where Canadian wine and cuisine is served in a rotating dining room offering bird’s-eye views of Toronto
Toronto Food Tours
- Kensington Market Food Tour — Explore Toronto’s most internationally diverse food scene with six samples of such global dishes as Tibetan momos and Jamaican patties. Tours run Saturdays and Sundays only.
- Toronto’s Original Brunch Tour — This three-hour tour takes you through Toronto’s coolest neighborhoods to taste double-smoked bacon, flaky croissants, and more brunch dishes with a local culinary guide.
- Queen Street West Pastry Tour — Taste mouthwatering treats with coffee or tea at four local bakeries and pastry shops on this 2.5-hour tour.
If You Have More Time In Toronto
Visiting for longer than a weekend? Not your first time in Toronto? Here are a few more ideas of things to do in and near Toronto:
- Attend a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game or Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game
- Hockey fan? Don’t miss Hockey Hall of Fame!
- Explore the Distillery District
- Shop until you drop at the Eaton Centre, Bloor-Yorkville’s designer stores, or Queen West’s boutique shops
- See the animals at the Toronto Zoo or Ripley’s Aquarium
- Visit Casa Loma or the Royal Ontario Museum
- Rent a bicycle and pedal around the city
- Sail on Lake Ontario or kayak the Toronto Islands’ lagoons
- And check out even more ideas for how to experience Toronto like a local
Day & Side Trips From Toronto
Is seeing Niagara Falls on your bucket list? If it isn’t, it should be! These thundering waterfalls are absolutely majestic. Straddling the Canada-US border, Niagara Falls is less than two hours by car from Toronto, and you can even take an organized day trip from the city. A typical excursion to Niagara Falls includes cruising on the Hornblower (pictured above), eating a buffet lunch, visiting the Whirlpool Rapids observation deck and the Floral Clock, and wine tasting at a Niagara-on-the-Lake winery. Want to extend your time to an overnight trip? Visit TripAdvisor to search for Niagara Falls hotels.
Thrill seekers, did you know Canada’s premier amusement park is less than a hour’s drive from Toronto? At Canada’s Wonderland, you can ride 17 roller coasters, including Canada’s tallest and fastest. On the Yukon Striker, you’ll hang for three seconds over a 90-degree drop before diving 245 feet into an underground tunnel at speeds reaching 80 mph (130 km/h). Little ones will find thrills too at two family-friendly zones, KidZville and Planet Snoopy. And when you need to cool down, head over to the 20-acre waterpark Splash Works. Plan to stay near Canada’s Wonderland? Search TripAdvisor to find the best deals for your travel dates!
Located about 80 miles (128 km) from Toronto, Headwaters is a region of natural beauty, charming towns, artistic and cultural events, and culinary experiences to be had. Certainly, Adamo Estate Winery is a must-visit stop. A small-batch boutique winery, Adamo Estate produces terroir-driven wines from grapes grown on their own estate and by some of Ontario’s top growers. Tastings are offered daily with tours at noon and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. When you’re feeling hungry, head over to Paddock Café, the intimate, farm-to-table restaurant right in the heart of the winery. To stay in the Headwaters region, look for hotels in and near Orangeville, Ontario.
Where To Stay In Toronto
Now that you have ideas for fun things to do in Toronto, you’ll need a place to stay. You’ll find the best deals for Toronto hotels on TripAdvisor and Booking.com. I’ve also shared five Toronto neighborhoods convenient for travelers. In that post, you’ll find accommodation recommendations for each neighborhood. To get you started in your Toronto hotel research, here are my top recommendations by category:
Where I’ve Stayed: Sheraton Centre
My Top Pick: The Drake Hotel
Most Stylish: Bisha Hotel Toronto
Five-Star Luxury: Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
Four-Star Luxury: Fairmont Royal York
For Hilton Points: Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Downtown
For Hyatt Points: Hyatt Regency Toronto
For IHG Points: Holiday Inn Express Toronto Downtown
For Marriott Points: Residence Inn by Marriott Toronto Downtown/Entertainment District
For Radisson Points: Radisson Admiral Toronto Harbourfront
Airbnb Superhost Properties:
- Upscale 60th Floor Condominium in the Clouds
- Serene Condo With Roomy Balcony in Downtown Core
- Central Downtown Luxury Apt Steps to CN Tower/Lake
More Resources For Your Visit To Toronto
- The official Ontario and Toronto tourism websites are wonderful resources to begin planning your trip.
- Find unique, self-guided Toronto walking tours that you can download to your mobile device before your trip!
Pin this Toronto guide to reference when you plan your trip!
Have you done any of these top 10 things to do in Toronto? Did you do anything else in Toronto that I haven’t mentioned in this post?
I’d love to hear about your Toronto travel experiences. Tell me about your trip in the comment section!