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 June 2022.
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 for bringing me back to Toronto. This post also contains some affiliate links. 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 taking a road trip 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 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.
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 the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. From its base to the top of its antenna, the tower measures a stunning 1,815 feet (553.33 meters).
You can view the city from two levels of observation decks — the main observation level and 33 stories higher at the SkyPod. For a nighttime view of the Toronto skyline, consider taking a Toronto night tour with a final stop at the CN Tower’s main observation deck.
If, like me, you have already visited the CN Tower, you could enjoy the view with a unique experience — culinary or adventure!
For adventurous souls, scale the outside of the CN Tower by braving the EdgeWalk! At 116 stories above ground, the EdgeWalk is the highest full-circle, hands-free external walk around a building in the world. Don’t worry — you’ll be harnessed!
The CN Tower EdgeWalk is a 90-minute experience with about 30 minutes spent walking the edge with a guide. Though you are not allowed to bring your phone, camera, or other recording devices on your EdgeWalk, you will be provided a video and two printed photos of your walk. You can book your EdgeWalk directly on the CN Tower website.
The EdgeWalk is also wheelchair accessible. Accessible EdgeWalk experiences must be booked by phone at 416-601-3833.
360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower
During my last visit to Toronto, Tourism Toronto hosted my gourmet Canadian prix-fixe dinner at 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower.
I enjoyed my meal of Canadian wine, fresh heirloom tomatoes, and Fogo Island seafood. Meanwhile, the dining room made a full rotation offering stunning sunset views over the Toronto skyline.
The prix-fixe dining option at 360 includes complimentary admission to the CN Tower’s two observation decks. You should reserve your table ahead of time via prompts on the restaurant’s webpage.
Plan Your Visit to the CN Tower
Location: 301 Front Street West
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Timed General Admission: Adult (14-64), $43; Senior (65+), $30; Youth (6-13), $30; and Child (3-5), $14
- Timed General Admission + SkyPod: Adult, $50.50; Senior, $37.50; Youth, $37.50; and Child, $21.50
- EdgeWalk: $195+
Bring: Camera, ticket, money for food and souvenirs in the gift shop. Note: Bags are OK as long as they are smaller than 53 x 23 x 38 cm (approximately 20 x 9 x 14.5 inches) and will be searched at security.
Recommended Hotels Near CN Tower:
- Mid-Range: Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto (450m, 5-minute walk)
- Luxury: Fairmont Royal York Gold Experience (500 m, 6-minute walk)
- Trendy: Le Germain Maple Leaf Square (750 m, 9-minute walk)
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.
2. Eat Your Way Around St. Lawrence Market
A Toronto culinary destination since 1803, St. Lawrence Market is a historic marketplace with 120 vendors including farmers, bakers, butchers, and artisans. You can graze from stall to stall or shop for edible souvenirs. For a real Toronto classic, try a peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery.
Plan Your Visit to St. Lawrence Market
Location: 93 Front Street East
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Friday at the South Market, 5 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday at North and South markets, and 5 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday for the Antiques Market
Cost: Free admission, but how much you spend depends on what you purchase 😉
Bring: Spending money and your appetite
Recommended Hotels Near St. Lawrence Market:
- Historic Luxury: The Omni King Edward Hotel (500 m, 7-minute walk)
- Modern with City Views: One King West Hotel & Residence (600 m, 8-minute walk)
- Romantic Boutique: The Ivy at Verity (650 m, 9-minute walk)
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
Recommended Hotels Near Canada’s Walk of Fame:
- Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto (Approximately 280 m, 3-minute walk)
- Modern: Le Germain Hotel Toronto Mercer (Approximately 450 m, 6-minute walk)
- Glamorous Boutique: Bisha Hotel Toronto (Approximately 550 m, 7-minute walk)
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 what-was-then-called Pantages Theatre. Now called Ed Mirvish Theatre, it remains one of several regal theaters where you can see a theatrical performance in Toronto.
Explore the Arts at Toronto Museums and Galleries
- Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Drive, Closed Monday
- Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St W, Closed Monday
- Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor St W, Open daily
- Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park, Open daily
- The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, 231 Queens Quay W, Closed Monday and Tuesday
- Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Avenue, Closed Sunday – Tuesday
See a Performance at a Toronto Venue
- Ed Mirvish Theatre, 244 Victoria St
- Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King Street W
- Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King Street W
- The Second City Toronto, 51 Mercer St
- 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 unashamed of a touristy photo op have several noteworthy settings for those perfectly Instagram-worthy shots. Get your 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 3-D Toronto Sign. The original was installed for the 2015 PanAm Games, and it become an iconic photo-op for visitors. A replica of the illuminated sign replaced the original in September 2020, and a 3-D medicine wheel symbol was added in 2018 in recognition of North American Indigenous peoples, their culture, traditions, and spirituality. 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.
6. In Toronto with kids? Go to the Ontario Science Centre!
This suggestion will take you outside of Toronto proper, but it is worth the drive if you are visiting Toronto with kids. 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. In this thrilling exhibit, young explorers can walk through a rainforest, 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. – 4.m. Wednesday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, Closed Monday and Tuesday
- Adult (18-64): $22
- Senior (65+): $16
- Youth (13-17): $16
- Students with student ID: $16
- Child (3-12): $13
- Free for children younger than 3
Bring: Camera and money for admission, souvenirs, and parking
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.
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
Recommended Hotels Near Graffiti Alley:
- Luxury Boutique: Bisha Hotel Toronto (800 m, 11-minute walk)
- Boutique Design: The SoHo Hotel & Residences (850 m, 11-minute walk)
- Modern: Le Germain Hotel Toronto Mercer (900 m, 12-minute walk)
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 most recent visit, my first stop was Amsterdam BrewHouse. I wanted to take in the Lake Ontario views from what has been voted one of Toronto’s best lakefront patios. It’s certainly a popular destination on game days since 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 beer flight from several pre-arranged options. Also, there is a full food menu, and the roasted vegetable and goat cheese pizza I ate was delicious.
Plan Your Visit to Amsterdam BrewHouse On The Lake
Location: 245 Queens Quay West
Hours: 11 a.m. – Late Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Cost: Flight costs about $10, Main dishes range from $15 to $25
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.
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 through 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: Hours vary by island and season, so please refer to the ferry schedule.
- Adult: $8.70
- Senior (65+): $5.60
- Youth (14-19 with ID): $5.60
- Junior (2-13): $4.10
- Infant (Younger than 2): Free
Bring: Printed ticket if pre-purchased online or money to purchase your ticket at the ferry terminal, camera for skyline photos, face mask
Recommended Hotels Near Toronto Harbour:
- Lake Ontario Views: The Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto
- Waterfront: Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown
- Modern & Trendy: Le Germain Hotel Toronto Maple Leaf Square
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
- 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 — A unique dining experience at the CN Tower where Canadian wine and cuisine are 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. Vegetarian options are available.
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 the 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 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), visiting the Whirlpool Rapids observation deck, and seeing the Floral Clock. Some bus tours from Toronto also include a stopover or wine tasting in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Thrill-seekers, did you know Canada’s premier amusement park is less than an hour’s drive from Toronto? You can ride 17 roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland, 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). It’s the longest, tallest, and fastest dive coaster in the world! 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 Waterpark.
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.
Where to Stay in Toronto
Now that you have ideas for fun things to do in Toronto, you’ll need a place to stay. To get you started in your Toronto hotel research, here are my top recommendations for where to stay in Toronto:
- TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice 2022 Hotel: One King West Hotel & Residence
- Cool Design Hotel: The Drake Hotel
- Glam, Luxury Design Hotel: Bisha Hotel Toronto
- Luxurious Hotel Fit for a Queen: Fairmont Royal York Gold Experience
- World-Class Luxury Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
- Budget-friendly, Adult-only Hostel: The Only Backpacker’s Inn
More Resources for Your Toronto Trip
- The official Ontario and Toronto tourism websites are helpful resources to begin planning your trip.
- Find unique, self-guided Toronto walking tours that you can download to your mobile device before your trip!
Grab Our Travel Guides to Other North American Cities
- 10 Culinary Experiences to Savor in Atlanta
- Essential Boston: Five Things to Do in Boston During Your First Visit
- Where to Eat in Chicago
- Essential Colorado Springs: Top Five Things to Do in Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Fort Lauderdale Weekend Getaway Guide for Foodies
Save this Toronto guide to your “Canada travel” Pinterest board 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. Please, tell me about your trip in the comment section!
Just an awesome post. I am very impressed after reading this article, the way you cover all the things very clearly and also the pictures of every moment are wonderful. Great Work.
We’re taking a Canada road trip next year to celebrate my 30th birthday and Toronto will be our final stop. Thanks for showing all there is to do here. I may have to visit every one of those breweries!
DIY Travel HQ
I’ve ticked a few off this list from my visit to Toronto 10 years ago! I love the street art & big signs though I don’t recall them from my visit. I do however remember taking a day trip out to 10,000 Islands I think it’s called & that was lovely
The street art, Toronto sign, and other touristy signs for Canada 150 are all recent additions to the city. I’ll have to keep the Thousand Islands day trip in mind for a future Ontario trip!
What a fantastic list! And great photos, to boot. We’ve been to Montreal and are heading to Vancouver this coming week… hoping Toronto is next 🙂
I’ve never been to Toronto but it’s been on my bucket list for years. This list is great. Pinned for future reference when I do get there!
I can’t believe it, but I have never been to Canada! I am so looking forward to visiting Quebec City next May!!!!
Me too! See you at WITS!
May I add, take in a concert by the Canadian Opera Company? When I lived in London, I used to take the bus down for the weekend to visit my friend in Missasauga and catch the latest opera.
Great addition! I’m going to add it under the “Indulge in the Arts” section.
i’ve been to Toronto countless times and so many things i haven’t done!
Ooooh Toronto looks like such an awesome place to visit!!! We have been talking about planning a trip there and now I am sold!! Thanks so much for sharing! XO
Life Of A Med School Wife
I’ve never been to Toronto, but it sounds so fun! These are all great tips.
I’ve been to Toronto and loved St. Lawrence Market, too!
Toronto was my first visit outside of the US so it holds a special place in my heart. I haven’t been for years – but have a twinkle in my eye for a trip next spring. Thanks for sharing – I’m saving for all 10 look like something I’d like to do.
eek reading this post had got my super excited for my trip to Canada next year… So close yet so far! I shall be coming back to look in more detail at your dinning suggestions closer to the time! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Great list! I am way overdue for a return trip to Toronto (it’s been 16 years) and I should have gone when I still lived in Chicago! I have yet to meet a Canadian city that I didn’t love!
Nicole @ Gofargrowclose
I grew up in Toronto but left first to go to Montreal for University, and then, to Vancouver, which is now my home. So many of the things that you listed reminded me of my childhood. Other things that I remembered doing as a child is go to the CNE and going to Ontario Place (an epic water world). I’m not sure if they are still going strong. I’d also recommend going to the Beach part of town, and to Greek Town for great food.
I didn’t know you were from Toronto, Nicole! I think I had gathered from your blog that you lived in Vancouver. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the nostalgia for your hometown while reading this post. I really wanted to get to the beach while in Toronto, and though it was late May, the first day was sunny, gorgeous weather, and quite warm. Next time I’ll plan for a true summer trip and get to the beach. I also had a Greek restaurant on my agenda, but didn’t make it there either. I did eat some delicious Greek food in Toronto on my previous trip 10 years ago. Definitely need to visit again!
Momma To Go
I live in NY State and have only been to Canada for ONE DAY! To Niagara Falls, over to the Canadian side … so lame I Know! I would love to visit MOntreal or Toronto!
You should look into attending the Women in Travel Summit in spring 2018, Harmony. It’s going to be held in Quebec City, which is only a short drive or train ride from Montreal if you want to visit both cities. WITS is one of my favorite blogging conferences to attend each year, and I think you’d find it really beneficial and inspiring, too. I’m definitely going and so excited to explore more of Canada. I haven’t been to any province other than Ontario yet.