Top things to do in Toronto – no matter the season

Top tips for making the most of your time in Toronto, Canada.

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More than 40 million tourists flock to Toronto every year and it’s easy to see why. For starters, the city is right next door to one of the world’s most famous natural wonders.

Then there are Toronto’s green spaces, its foodie scene, and its offshore islands that serve up everything from hiking opportunities to sunbathing spots.

Top things to do in Toronto in winter


Tick seeing Niagara Falls off your bucket list

Niagara Falls is the stuff of bucket lists. It's up there with Machu Picchu and The Grand Canyon on the list of the world's most must-see places.

More than six million cubic feet of water careens over these falls every minute. To put that into perspective, there's about 90,000 cubic feet of water in an average swimming pool.

There's a long list of activities to take part in at the falls. You can do everything from cruise the river at the foot of the falls to view the water from a slightly higher perspective on the lookout platforms.

Dining, drinking and shopping experiences also surround Niagara's white water. To pack as much in as possible, you can also take a guided tour .


Shop to your heart's content at St Lawrence Market

The timeline of St Lawrence market can be traced back more than 200 years.

Today there are three buildings on the site. The South Market is open from Tuesday to Saturday and features more than 120 specialty stalls ranging from artisan jewellery makers to bakery stalls where you can tuck into specialities like peameal bacon sandwiches.

The North Market is best known for its Saturday farmers market when stalls are stacked with antiques and produce.

It's easy to lose a few hours here by yourself but if you want a deeper insight into the market's history and producers you can book onto a guided tour with as many as 14 food tastings included.

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Jingle your bells at the Toronto Christmas Market

Tucked away in the historic distillery district, this festive ho-ho-holiday market is fun for the whole family. Starting in mid-November, you can shop for all kinds of Christmas goodies at stalls in the main square. And when you're finished your shopping? Don't worry, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy.

Grab a hot chocolate and count the lights on the market's massive 50-foot Christmas tree. Or take the kids to Santa's house for an old-school meet-and-greet. And don't forget to stop for a moment to sing along with the old-fashioned carollers weaving through the market in the evenings.

Admission is free during the week but you'll have to pay $6 to enter during the weekend after 5pm. If you want to know more about this iconic neighborhood, hop on to the Christmas Market Tour for a deep-dive into the history of this quaint 19th century hub.

Top things to do in Toronto over summer


Explore Toronto's islands

Just off the mainland of Downtown Toronto, 15 islands sit like lily pads in the waters of Lake Ontario. Each one has its own world within a world quality.

Some are completely bearded with forest, some feature Blue Flag beaches, others are laced with cycling trails and picnic spots, and one – Centre Island – is packed with family-friendly activities like an amusement park and a farm.

You can catch the ferry from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in Queen's Quay to Centre Island, Hanlan's Island and Ward's Island.

Or you can can leave the logistics to someone else and explore the islands on a guided tour.


Unwind in Toronto's High Park

Towards the east of Toronto you'll find High Park. This is the place locals go to take a time out.

The pooling green space is home to a large collection of cherry blossom trees, an outdoor swimming pool, a zoo, and lots of wild open spaces criss crossed by nature trails.

In winter an ice rink pops up at the park and locals visit to do a spot of cross country skiing.

If you're short on time you can explore the park on its trackless train, which will take you around the attraction in 30 minutes.

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Beat the heat at Woodbine Beach

Running along Lakeshore Boulevard, you can find the sprawling sand dunes of Woodbine Beach. With multiple volleyball courts, a skate park, a boardwalk, running trails and an outdoor swimming pool, this not-so-hidden gem is Toronto's go-to spot for fun in the sun.

Use the dedicated BBQ area to grill up some burgers. Or enjoy a romantic picnic with a view of the city skyline. And if you're feeling extra adventurous, jump in on a game of ultimate or try your backhand at the Kew Gardens Tennis Club, only a stone's throw away from the main stretch.

This beach is also pet-friendly, so it truly is fun for the whole family. There's even a fenced-in area where you can let your pets off the leash for a romp in the surf. Just make sure to keep them indoors for Victoria Day and Canada Day, when the beach becomes a hot spot for holiday fireworks.

Unique things to do in Toronto


Discover the Distillery District

Just over ten years ago, a group of entrepreneurs converted 47 old Victorian warehouse buildings, formerly known as Gooderham and Worts Distillery, into a new cultural quarter for Toronto.

The characterful area now features boutique shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, art galleries and accommodation options. There's also a brewery on site where you can take tutored beer tasting of products like bierschnaps – a spirit that's distilled from oatmeal stout.

To really get under the district's skin you can take a tour – go for something conventional like a walking tour or try something a bit different like a segway tour.

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Fill your boots at the Bata Shoe Museum

Whether you're a fan of high heels, high tops or highkickz, you won't mind footing the bill to visit the Bata Shoe Museum. With its unique blend of fashion and history, this place showcases footwear from dozens of countries, making for a unique day out in Toronto

From Chinese foot-bound shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to wooden clogs and sequined platforms, there are thousands of shoes on display. With over 4,500 years of history stored away on its shelves, there's always something new to see at this one-of-a-kind museum.

Definitely one on the map, the Bata Shoe Museum is one of many stops on the City Sightseeing Toronto bus.

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Dare your devil with the CN Tower Edge Walk

While most people are familiar with the world-famous CN Tower, only the most avid thrillseekers will know about Edge Walk. Toted as a "Canadian Signature Experience", this knee-shaker of a good time will bring you to the brink of a 116-storey ledge for a bird's eye view of Lake Ontario and the Toronto skyline.

As the world's highest hands-free walk it's for the brave only. Of course, if you still want the views without the butterflies you can nab a ticket to the top of the CN Tower instead.

Kid-friendly things to do in Toronto


Get cultured inside Toronto's museums

Toronto is home to a trove of museums. Highlights include the Royal Ontario Museum that's set inside a building that looks like it's made from several oversized shards of glass. Its exhibits explore art, culture and natural phenomenon from around the world.

There are 40 galleries and more than six million objects on display.

Other options range from the Textile Museum of Canada, where the collection of garments, fabrics and cloth spans 2,000 years, and the Bata Shoe Museum, where every shoe on show has a story.

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Take a ferry to Centre Island

Fancy a spin in an old-fashioned tea cup? Or maybe you're after a big pile of cotton candy straight from the cone. And while you're at it, why not throw in a pony ride for good measure. You can have it all at Centreville Amusement Park.

Park attractions include a ferris wheel, carousel, log flume, miniature roller-coaster, bumper boats and several rides suitable for children. There's also miniature golf, a midway and all the greasy food you can eat.

And the best part is? You get to take a boat across so it feels like an all-day adventure. There are also plenty of free activities to enjoy if you don't want to shell out for Centreville. You can ride your bike along the water, peruse the shops on the boardwalk or let the kids cool off in one of the many wading pools.

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Play Old MacDonald at Riverdale Farm

If you want to escape the urban grind of the city but don't want to venture too far out of town, Riverdale Farm is the perfect spot for you. Pack up the kids and head to the heart of downtown Toronto for a visit to this 7.5-acre working farm.

Complete with wooded areas, ponds and gardens, the farm is bustling with animals galore. Check out the horses, cows, chickens, turkeys, goats and sheep.

Riverdale is free to visit so it's perfect for families on a budget. You can also tack it onto a larger guided tour so you can see it, along with other Toronto highlights such as the Distillery District, within a day.

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