Summer break is here and if you’re like me going stir-crazy, living in almost-always-boring Ottawa, you might want to consider checking out Toronto one of these days.
Toronto, or as Drake calls it, the 6ix, is the largest city in Canada and is home to the Blue Jays, the Raptors, and the world’s widest variety of mangoes. Yes, mangoes. Toronto is also known for its posh and full-on, expensive downtown vibe, but what many people don’t know is that Toronto is filled with lovely sites that you can visit without hurting your wallet.
1. Museums during Free General Admission Days
Cost: Free (on certain days)
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) houses artifacts from all over the world and different time periods. It spans from prehistory to the modern times. The ROM offers free general admission on Tuesday to students who are enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions.
On Wednesdays, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto offers free general admission from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.. The AGO is one of North America’s largest galleries and it holds 80,000 art pieces spanning from the first century. There were even scenes from the TV series Hannibal and Lost Girl shot at the AGO.
2. Toronto Islands
This group of islands located on Lake Ontario is the City’s largest parkland and is also ranked as the number one place to visit in Toronto according to TripAdvisor. You can get to these islands via the ferry at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, Queen’s Quay.
If you’re too lazy to venture out to ocean or sea banks for the beach, there are numerous beaches on the islands which make it perfect for relaxing or even swimming, although not recommended during the winter. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a clothing-optional beach too. A few recommended sites you should check out are Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, Far Enough petting farm, Centreville Amusement Park, and the Royal Canadian Yacht club.
P.S.: While you’re on the ferry, don’t forget to take plenty of photos of the Toronto skyline.
3. Water Front
If you’re prone to seasickness or are not up for a boat ride but still want to enjoy the lakeside, you can sure take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront. It’s all free!
Along the waterfront, the Harbourfront Centre has year-round activities organised, it includes theatre, dance, literature, music, film, visual arts and crafts. From here, you can also view the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre Skydome.
4. High Park
High Park opened in 1876 and is Toronto’s largest park. It’s a mixed recreational and nature park that has many facilities opened to the public. This includes playgrounds, gardens, sporting facilities and even a zoo.
Dying to see the Japanese Cherry Blossoms but don’t want to travel all the way to Japan to see them? Well, High Park’s got its own Cherry Blossoms grove. So come late April to early May in order to be enchanted by the trees’ mesmerizing flowers.
5. University of Toronto (UoT) St. George Campus
UoT boasts about being one of the most beautiful universities in Canada and we can not help but agree. Just by looking at the St. George campus, you just can’t help but feel as if you’re transported back in time by the magnificent Gothic architecture. Also, don’t forget to check out UoT Robarts Library’s Rare Collection on the weekdays when you visit.
6. Kensington Market
Cost: Free (until you decide to shop)
It started off as a Jewish Market and it evolved to become one of the hippest and most multicultural markets. Here you can get a diverse number of products including fresh produce, used and vintage items, as well as ethnic goods.
This market is the ultimate blend of colourful and unruly counterculture. If you aren’t into shopping, delve into its art scene, enjoy the murals and structures.
7. Distillery District
It was founded as The Gooderham and Worts Distillery in 1832 and turned out to be the largest distillery in the world as well as the largest corporate taxpayer in Canada in the 19th century. By the turn of the 21st century, it became a historic heritage district.
The Distillery District is one site that will keep you wanting your cameras up as you take in all the well-preserved Victorian architecture. There’s much to be seen and learn, not just about booze but about the Victorian distillery industry of Canada.
So, what are you waiting for? Book that ticket to Toronto and find out why Drake loves the 6ix so much.