With more than 2.9 million people, Toronto is the largest city in Canada, ensuring the capital of Ontario province offers plenty of things for visitors to see and do. The list of tourist attractions in Toronto includes world-class museums, great shopping, a smorgasbord of dining options, and summer and winter outdoors activities. The city is known for its professional sports teams, including baseball’s Blue Jays and hockey’s Maple Leafs. Toronto is a vibrant city, with its large Chinatown, its restored Victorian buildings and its modern-day skyscrapers.
Toronto is ice hockey country and has been since 1917 with the founding of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s also home to the Hockey Hall of Fame, which makes it a must-see attraction for visitors who love this exciting sport. Home to the prestigious Stanley Cup, the museum features the greatest players in this sport as well as explains its history through artifacts and film. It also has state-of-the-art interactive multi-media exhibits that allow visitors to project themselves playing against the professionals or to become play-by-play broadcasters.
Visitors can shop till they drop at Eaton Centre, Toronto’s premier shopping mall. Hungry visitors can take a break at one of the mall’s many restaurants, which range from fast foot to ethnic cuisine. Altogether, Eaton Centre has more than 235 stores and restaurants, right in Toronto’s city center. This huge complex, which also contains offices, gets around a million visitors a week, making it the most popular attraction in Toronto. Unfortunately, visitors won’t be able to shop at Eaton’s, the department store chain for which it is named, since it is no longer in business.
High Park is for anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors. Toronto’s largest public park has hiking trails, a playground for children, gardens and a zoo, among other amenities. It also has a waterfront since it is on Grenadier Pond filled with ducks and other marine birds; the best view is from the observation deck at Hillside Gardens. For visitors who prefer more activity than walking the nature trails, the park also has an outdoor swimming pool, baseball diamonds and tennis courts. A “maple leaf” made up of flowers or other vegetation is considered the park’s most famous landmark.
The Royal Ontario Museum says it’s one of Toronto’s favorite museums. With the variety of exhibitions it holds, it’s hard to dispute that claim. The museum combines natural history with world cultures, with exhibits ranging from dinosaurs and prehistoric peoples to textiles and biodiversity. There are plenty of hands-on and interactive exhibits to increase visitors’ knowledge of the past and present. It is home to the largest collection of Chinese architectural exhibits outside of China, but also has extensive collections of artifacts from other countries, including Africa and the Middle East.
Casa Loma is a Toronto landmark that’s hard to miss. It’s a huge castle that has stood out since the moment it was built on a hill in the early 20th century. Casa Loma was the dream of a wealthy man who always wanted to live in a castle, so he built one. Casa Loma has 98 rooms and was the largest house in Toronto when it was built. It also has secret passageways, lovely gardens, a library, a hunting lodge and even an elevator. Three hundred people worked three years to construct this magnificent complex.
Wow doesn’t begin to describe Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which has 16,000 aquatic animals all swimming in one tank. The tank is not your ordinary home fish tank, however. It’s filled with more than 1.5 million gallons (5.7 million liters) of water. Visitors observe all this marine life by walking through an underwater tunnel that is North America’s largest viewing tunnel. See sharks, sting rays and other sea life up close. The aquarium has more than 100 interactive exhibits to teach visitors more about marine life. Live shows starring the animals are presented every two hours.
Toronto Islands is another hot-spot recreation destination. Located just offshore a ferry ride away from Toronto proper, they are the only islands in this part of Lake Ontario. Since only a few vehicles are permitted, they are the largest urban car-free zone in North America. Recreation opportunities abound, from swimming and kayaking to biking and Frisbee golf. Centerville, located on the largest island, Centre, is a 1900s style amusement park for children, complete with miniature railway and antique carousel. Toronto Islands also hosts annual arts and rock music festivals.
The Distillery District is the place for visitors to go when they want to experience the charm of Victorian Toronto. Set in the historic district just a short walk from downtown, this pedestrian-only shopping area centers around restored buildings that were once the Gooderman & Worts whiskey distillery. Considered one of the hottest spots in Canada, visitors will find more than 80 retail shops, boutiques and eateries as well as art galleries and entertainment venues. The district hosts a number of events, including art shows and music festivals, throughout the year.
Travelers are shopping in history when they visit St. Lawrence Market, which has been a going concern on the site since 1803. Today it’s contained in three buildings, including one for specialty foods, another for a Saturday farmer’s market and a third that has retail shops. The South Market is home to 120 shops selling specialty foods, such as brads and produce; Toronto’s cultural services are showcased on the second floor. The North Market hosts the Saturday farmer’s market that began in 1803; on Sundays it becomes an antique market. Built in 1850, the St. Lawrence Hall houses retail businesses.
Located in the heart of Downtown Toronto, the CN Tower is Canada’s most recognizable icon. The communication tower was built from 1973 to 1976 by the railway company “Canadian National” and standing 553.33 meters (1,815.4 ft) tall was the tallest structure in the world for over 30 years until it was surpassed in height by the Burj Dubai. A glass elevator takes visitors up to where they can look out from behind glass windows or from an outside observing area through a metal screen. Restaurant diners with reservations can avoid the queues for the observatory, and at night the lights from distant Rochester, New York are visible over the lake.