The Best Things to do in Toronto, Canada

The 15 Best Things to Do in Toronto, Canada

Toronto is Canada’s most populous city, a proper international metropolis. Its skyline consists of huge skyscrapers punctuated by the iconic CN Tower. While Toronto is the center of Canada’s arts, business, and media industries, it’s retained an unpretentious aura.

Comprised of many distinctive neighborhoods, you’ll find that Toronto feels like multiple cities forming a continuous whole. Stay a while, and you’ll quickly learn that there’s always something new to uncover – a hidden park by the water, a tiny gallery in Chinatown, a basement dive bar in Old Town. Between its lakefront vistas, massive public parks, amazing culinary scene, and world-class museums, it’s truly Canada’s most dynamic city.

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Toronto for you. Stick to these fun and unique Toronto bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an incredible time exploring this buzzing metropolis!

The 15 Best Things to do in Toronto, CN

1. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum

Best Things to do in Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum

The enormous Royal Ontario Museum is one of the must-see Toronto attractions. As one of the largest museums in North America, you will definitely find it difficult to get through all the exhibits, galleries, and halls in one visit!

The museum covers natural history, classic and contemporary art, and cultural exhibitions, ranging from antiquity to modern day, as far-flung as ancient China and as nearby as local Indigenous artworks. The Dinosaur Hall is a hit, especially for families, and Minerals and Precious Stones is a smaller hall that’s always worth a look. Make sure to check out the rotating special exhibits, too.

We recommend planning out your visit and priorities prior to going, as even a brisk walk around could take longer than three hours. Many exhibits are specially designed to be child-friendly, so if you’re bringing along little ones, inquire about these once you’re inside.

2. Stroll Through the Gardens at Casa Loma

Toronto Bucket List: Casa Loma

Casa Loma is a gorgeous castle-like mansion dating back to the early 1900s. The estate has been carefully restored and open to the public so that you can now walk through its enchanting corridors, beautifully appointed rooms, historic gardens. This estate is also one of Toronto’s premier wedding venues, and once you visit, you’ll quickly understand its fairytale appeal. 

Because the mansion is so massive, crowds are rarely a worry save for holidays. To complete the experience, you might stop and have a cup of coffee in the Liberty Cafe or share a meal on the garden patio, which opens up for casual dining during the summer months.

You might spend up to five hours exploring the home and grounds, so budget ample time. Special events are frequently held at Casa Loma, including candlelit concerts, high tea weekends, and film screenings in the basement theater, so if you’re looking for unique things to do in Toronto, you might plan your visit around these as well!

3. Enjoy Jamaican Cuisine at Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen

What to do in Toronto: Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen

Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen is arguably the foremost restaurant serving Jamaican food in Toronto, a city renowned for international cuisine in general and Jamaican cuisine in particular.

The restaurant is situated in a charming and historic row house. Walking in, you’ll notice the unique ambiance of the interior design, which melds an eclectic tropical style with contemporary design and natural materials.

Toronto Things to do: Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen

You definitely need to try the jerk chicken and the oxtail soup. And don’t sleep on the vegetable dishes – fried okra and collard greens are staples for a reason. And we’d be remiss not to mention the craft cocktails on the menu, the perfect accompaniment to your meal.

Canadian patio season is a real thing, so if you’re there in warmer months, outdoor seating is the way to go and tends to be more readily available. Otherwise, make sure to call ahead for a table inside – Chubby’s is a staple dining destination and one of the top Toronto attractions for foodies.

4. Geek Out at the Hockey Hall of Fame

Cool Things to do in Toronto: Hockey Hall of Fame

If you’re a hockey fan or just traveling with one, the Hockey Hall of Fame is yet another one of the must-do things in Toronto. The museum is housed in a historic building filled with ornate rococo detailing that complements the many awards, trophies, and statues on display.

The gem of the museum’s collection is the Stanley Cup, dating back to 1893. The cup, along with an assortment of Stanley Cup championship rings, and other major NHL trophies, tell a complete story of how these items came to be and what they mean to the sport.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hall of Fame without homages to the athletes who changed the game. A digital collection plays documentary clips that narrate the greatest moments of the last 20 years of the sport while exhibits chart the histories of franchise teams and international hockey, including a replica of the famed Montreal Canadiens Dressing Room. Special displays include rare fan memorabilia and equipment donated by players themselves.

5. See Sharks After Dark at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Fun Things to do in Toronto: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

An aquarium visit is always a great way to unwind on a trip, and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is no exception. If you’re looking for things to do in Toronto at night, the aquarium is open until 9 pm most nights. Plus, if you’re in town on the second Friday of the month, the aquarium hosts special Friday night jazz concerts each month.

The exhibitions featuring species of fish and underwater landscapes unique to Canada are a must-see on your visit. The aquarium is home to a massive kreisel tank, one of the largest in the world, so you can get a 360-degree view of different species of jellies. And what would an aquarium visit be without sharks? Just head to Ray Bay or the Dangerous Lagoon to spot them.

This is one of the most popular Toronto attractions, so if you want to avoid crowds, weekdays and evenings are the best times to go. It takes about two and a half hours to go through the entire aquarium, so plan accordingly.

6. Spend the Day in the Distillery District

What to do in Toronto: Distillery District

The Distillery District is the city’s premiere arts district, and it’s the go-to spot for boutique shopping, artisan coffee, and unique dining experiences. If you’re looking for cool things to do in Toronto, you’ll be spoiled for choice in this historic district.

This is an easy place to spend an entire day. Start with fresh coffee and a roll at one of the district’s many roasters (we recommend Arvo Coffee or Balzac’s). After that, stroll through Galerie Beauchamp, then grab some special gifts (and maybe a few things for yourself!) at Blackbird Vintage Finds or Bergo Designs before watching a dance performance or theater production at the Young Center.

By then, you’ll be peckish enough for dinner at one of the many tapas bars, izakayas, bistros, or pubs around the Distillery District. Of note is El Catrin Destileria, which dishes out small plates of upscale Mexican fare on their heated patio. After that, finish up with a nightcap at SpiritHouse, or a decadent chocolate dessert at CACAO 70.

7. Kayak Through the Toronto Island Lagoon

Cool Things to do in Toronto: Toronto Island Lagoon

How about a day trip without actually leaving city limits? The Toronto Islands are perfect for that and offer some of the coolest things to do in Toronto. You can rent a boat, kayak, or canoe for your trip through the lagoons and stop where you like along the way.

Centre Island is Toronto’s most popular island, and it’s full of attractions, including cherry blossom trees, an amusement park, and beaches. Enjoy the walking trails and settle down for a picnic while you’re here. 

Best Things to do in Toronto: Toronto Island Lagoon

Those with little ones will enjoy Centreville and the Franklin Children’s Gardens. The Turtle Pond is a treat, as is the short walk that leads to the best view on the island.

Meanwhile, Hanlan’s Point to the west is full of nature and the least busy. Rent a bike and head down the trail to the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. Make sure to get a glimpse of the beautiful sand dunes near the beach and catch the sunset while you’re there!

8. Check Out the Exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Unique Things to do in Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario

Featuring over 120,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of North America’s premiere art museums and a must on your Toronto bucket list if you’re an art lover. This place is home to an impressive collection of classic and contemporary masterpieces from North America, Europe, and beyond.

Notable works include Peter Paul Rubens’ The Massacre of The Innocents, and the gallery recently acquired Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, a room-scale installation by the famous artist. It’s an absolute must-see and requires a timed reservation.

The gallery also houses an amazing collection of works by contemporary Canadian artists in The J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art. Another groundbreaking collection features the art of global Africa and the African diaspora.

The gallery is very accessible, offering free admission for anyone 25 and under and a weekly free night on Wednesdays. If you’re looking for free things to do in Toronto, plan a visit to this incredible art museum!

9. Enjoy the Views at Riverdale Park East

Must do things in Toronto: Riverdale Park East

One of the top Toronto attractions, visiting this 18-acre park is a great reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Bring your picnic basket and watch the sunset over the skyline. As the sky darkens, you’ll get an amazing view of the city lights to boot.

In the spring and summer, this park is home to an outdoor pool. You might take a dip, check out the running track, or play a game of tennis on one of the many courts. In winter, you’ll be able to skate across an artificial ice rink or toboggan down the hill.

What to do in Toronto: Riverdale Park East

There are plenty of walking trails, and the little ones can enjoy the playground. The most beautiful time to visit would be during fall, just as the leaves start to change color. But no matter when you visit, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy at Riverdale Park East.

10. Peruse Vintage Shops on Kensington Avenue

Toronto Things to do: Kensington Avenue

Kensington Avenue is one of the most iconic areas in Toronto. With its eclectic shops, independent cafes, and open-air market, this bohemian neighborhood offers a unique experience for visitors.

You’ll enjoy the Victorian architecture that defines this area. These historic buildings are some of the most photographed in Toronto for a reason!

The many thrift stores in Kensington aren’t as polished as the boutiques you might find in the Distillery District, but they carry a much more eclectic range of styles, from Japanese vintage finds to dance outfits to streetwear. With so many shops to go through, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find a hidden gem.

We’d recommend sticking to the area around the three main streets in Kensington Market: Augusta Ave and Baldwin Street, all the way up to College Street are the best places to hang out.

11. Visit the Arctic Wolves at the Toronto Zoo

Unique Things to do in Toronto: Toronto Zoo

Visiting the Toronto Zoo is one of the top things to do in Toronto and a must if you’re traveling with kids. Visiting the zoo is a trip in itself – you could spend an entire day walking around, marveling at all the exhibits, and attempting to spot all of the 300 animal species housed here.

The tigers, red pandas, polar bears, and arctic wolves can’t be missed, but you’ll find all manner of creatures here, whether they make their home in the tundra, the desert, the rainforest, or the ocean.

The best time to visit is in the warmer months when all the exhibits and shops are open. There are plenty of activities, including a jungle gym, zipline tour, and chairlift ride. The Kids Zoo is one big outdoor playground featuring a tree house, a slide, a waterpark, and guest-starring alpacas.

You can rent a stroller or wagon when you get there, making it easy to convey the little ones, or just pull along your stuff. If you decide you’ve walked enough, the zoo operates a Zoomobile that will take you wherever you’d like to go.

12. Walk along the Shore at Lake Ontario

What to do in Toronto: Lake Ontario

Toronto borders the western shore of Lake Ontario, a body of water that runs over 7,340 square miles, the south end of which reaches all the way to the state of New York. The lake’s massive size means that Toronto enjoys nearly 30 miles of shoreline.

Lake Ontario boasts some of the best things to do in Toronto. One of the most popular attractions is Woodbine Beach, the largest of the four beaches. Take a waterside stroll along the five-mile boardwalk before you pull out your picnic set and dig into a summer beach read.

Must do things in Toronto: Lake Ontario

For views, we’d recommend checking out Scarborough Bluffs Park, which features a white sand beach, as well as dazzling white cliffs that tower over the lake. Watersports are popular on the lake. You’ll spot plenty of boats, jet skis, canoes, and paddleboards on the water, and rentals are easily found if you’d like to join in.

13. Enjoy Patio Season at the Steam Whistle Brewing Biergärten

Toronto Things to do: Steam Whistle Brewing Biegarten

The Steam Whistle Brewing Biergärten is a classic, European-style beer garden right in downtown Toronto. The brewery itself is one of Toronto’s finest, serving up premium craft brews and amazing German fare to match.

Steam Whistle Brewing got its start in 1998, and since then, has established itself as a nationally beloved, multi-award winning brand. Visiting the biergärten, you’ll instantly get a sense of what Steam Whistle is all about.

Try the classic pilsner, either as a straight pint or in a beer cocktail. The biergärten also serves beers of all styles from other breweries located across Canada and the United States, so you’ll have plenty to choose from.

Menu standouts include the bratwurst and pork hock. Now, if you’re in town for a baseball game, this is definitely the place to hang out afterward to soak up the post-game energy.

14. Catch a Concert at the Toronto Music Garden

Cool Things to do in Toronto: Toronto Music Garden

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Toronto, make your way to the Toronto Music Garden. This beautiful park by the waterfront has a design inspired by Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1.” You’ll find six distinct sections, starting with a curving Prelude pathway, flowing through different landscapes with the other movements.

During the summer, the Toronto Music Garden hosts free concerts every week. You might spend the afternoon walking along its winding paths, wildflower-filled meadows, serene orchards, and gorgeous pavilions before taking a seat in the grassy amphitheater to enjoy the music.

The musical acts vary every week. You might see a drum circle, a string quartet, an a cappella group, or even a traditional harp player. Arrangements styles range from classical to contemporary, near and far. You might look at the season schedule beforehand or just settle in for a nice surprise.

Either way, the beautiful arrangement itself is reason enough to make a stop here during your Toronto sightseeing. Guided tours exploring the park’s history and design are available on Wednesdays in the summer.

15. Day Trip to Niagara Falls

Toronto Bucket List: Niagara Falls

While there’s plenty to keep you occupied in Toronto, we have to note that the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls are only three hours away, putting this in day-trip territory.

It’s perfectly possible to visit the falls in a day. You’ll be able to view the falls from many angles and locations, including from the basin itself and behind the massive cascades of water. Journey Behind the Falls offers observation decks for you to get an awe-inspiring snap.

You can also get a bird’s-eye view from the Skylon Tower observation deck or book a personalized tour that will take you to the best sightseeing vistas. The Niagara region itself is filled with amazing wineries and restaurants, so you could easily fit in a tasting or a special dinner on your way back. Or just stay the night in one of the beautiful hotels overlooking the falls!

Interestingly, Niagara Falls marks the divide between Ontario and New York, meaning that there is a Canadian bank and an American bank, and crossing over to the other involves going through the border.

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Toronto. What’s your favorite thing to do in Toronto?



  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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