31 Best Things To Do In Toronto For First Timers

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32 Best Things To Do In Toronto For First Timers 32 Best Things To Do In Toronto For First Timers

With over 200 distinct ethnic groups and over 50% of residents born outside of Canada, Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It is not surprising, then, that its offerings for tourists are also some of the most diverse. From history museums to graffiti alleys to sports hall of fame to boardwalks and islands, Toronto has something for everyone. Here is our list of the 31 best things to do in Toronto for first timers and repeat visitors alike.

32 Best Things To Do In Toronto For First Timers

Best Things To Do In Toronto For History & Culture Lovers

1. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

100 Queens Park | Website
10am to 5:30pm daily
$23 CAD

A natural history and world cultures museum in one, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is at the top of our list of the best things to do in Toronto for a reason. World cultures galleries at the ROM feature countries from all over the world, adequately representing the diverse resident makeup of the city. General admission tickets cost $23 CAD for adults, $14 CAD for children, and $18 CAD for seniors and students. On Monday nights from 5:30-8:30pm, admission to the ROM is free for everyone.

2. Distillery District

Parliament to Cherry St. & Mill St. to Distillery Lane | Website
M-W 10am to 7pm; Th-Sa 10am to 8pm; Su 11am to 6pm

Be prepared to go back in time in this historic pedestrian-only district lined with cobblestone streets and 19th century buildings that once housed a large whiskey distillery and now houses hip indie restaurants, bars, art galleries, outdoor stage performances, and boutique shops. Entrance to the distillery district is free, except during special events like the annual Christmas market in December.

3. Casa Loma

1 Austin Terrace | Website
9:30am to 5pm daily
$20 CAD

If you thought you could only find beautiful, historic castles in Europe, you’re in for a treat. Originally built in 1914 by financier Sir Henry Pellatt as his dream house, it unfortunately was abandoned only 10 years later when the effects of World War I left Sir Pellatt with no money to complete his planned expansions. Casa Loma was later converted into a luxury hotel for a few years before being purchased by the City of Toronto, which remains the owner of the property to this day. You can tour this beautiful castle and grounds for $30 CAD for adults and $20 CAD for children and seniors.

4. Fort York

250 Fort York Blvd | Website
M-F 10am to 4pm; Sa-Su (daily in summer) 10am to 5pm
$14 CAD

Fort York is a military fortification in downtown Toronto that houses Canada’s largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings. Although it is open year round, Fort York is a lot more festive in the summer, with interactive events and the Fort York Guard demonstrations. Tickets cost $14 CAD for adults, and discounted tickets are available for seniors, children, and families.

Fort York Toronto

5. Black Creek Pioneer Village

1000 Murray Ross Pkwy | Website
M-F 10am to 5pm; Sa-Su 11am to 5pm
$15 CAD

Go back to 1860s Toronto at the Black Creek Pioneer Village, an authentically re-created country village containing 40 historic buildings, 70 heritage breeds of animals, 10 gardens grown from heritage seeds, and plenty of programs and events to keep you engaged. This is a great way for the whole family to not just read about history, but to live and experience it first hand. Tickets cost $15 CAD for adults, and discounted tickets are available for seniors and children.

Best Things To Do In Toronto For Art Lovers

6. Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

317 Dundas St W | Website
T, Th, Sa, Su 10:30am to 5pm; W, F 10:30am to 9pm; Closed Mondays
$25 CAD (25 & under FREE)

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America, with over 45,000 square meters of physical space and nearly 95,000 works of art spanning from the first century to present day. This is a must visit for art lovers. As an added bonus, admission is free for anyone 25 years old and under.

7. Aga Khan Museum

77 Wynford Dr | Website
T, Th-Su 10am to 6pm; W 10am to 8pm; Closed Mondays
$24 CAD

The Aga Khan Museum celebrates Islamic art, Iranian art, and Muslim culture. Not only does this museum offer important perspectives for Torontonians who live amongst a large Iranian and Muslim population, but it offers an important perspective for visitors from all over Canada and the world, especially given our political climate today. Tickets are $24 CAD for adults, and discounted tickets are available for seniors and children.

8. Graffiti Alley

Rush Lane between Spadina St and Portland St | Map
Always Open

You’ll want to make sure you come with your camera or a fully charged phone because this half-mile strip on Rush Lane is covered in beautiful street art. Like most cities around the world, street art wasn’t always accepted by the authorities and city officials, as the line between street art and vandalism can often be blurred. However, Toronto’s StART initiative has created art programs that have resulted in beautiful murals like the ones you’ll see in Graffiti Alley. This outdoor alley is always open and free to visit, although you’ll be able to see much more and take much better photos during the day.

Toronto Graffiti Alley

9. Bata Shoe Museum (BSM)

327 Bloor St W | Website
M-W, F, Sa 10am to 5pm; Th 10am to 8pm; Su 12pm to 5pm
$14 CAD

If you live with a parent or significant other who constantly criticizes you for the amount of shoes you have in your closet, bring them to the Bata Shoe Museum (BSM). BSM regularly displays over 1,000 shoes from a collection of 13,000 shoes and shoe-related artifacts spanning 4,500 years, from Chinese bound-foot shoes to ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut-crushing clogs to glamorous platforms. Tickets cost $14 CAD for adults, and discounted tickets are available for seniors, children, and families.

Best Things To Do In Toronto For Nature Lovers

10. Edwards Gardens & Toronto Botanical Garden

777 Lawrence Ave E | Website
Dawn to dusk, daily

Even though the Toronto Botanical Gardens and Edwards Gardens are physically intertwined, they are actually two separate entities. Edwards Gardens are owned by the City of Toronto, while the Toronto Botanical Garden is a volunteer-driven charity, but both are equally beautiful – and free to visit.

11. Harbourfront

Lakefront between Bathurst St and Yonge St | Website
Always Open

The harbourfront is a gorgeous strip of parks, trails, shops, galleries, and restaurants along Lake Ontario. During the summer months, the harbourfront is constantly filled with street performers. tourists, and pop up shops. There are also pop up shops and performances at the Harbourfront Centre regularly, so make sure you check the schedule before you go.

12. Toronto Islands

Ward’s Island to Hanlan’s Point | Website
8am to 11pm, or whenever ferries are running
$8 CAD

The Toronto islands are a great place to escape the city and enjoy nature and quiet. Ferries run between the islands and downtown regularly throughout the day, and the ferry ride only takes 13 minutes from downtown to the islands. Once on the islands, you can rent bicycles, kayaks, canoes, or simply enjoy the wide open green spaces and many swimming spots, including a nude beach. Ferry tickets cost $8.19 for adults, and discounted tickets are available for seniors and children. You can either purchase your tickets online in advance or in person at the dock.

Toronto Islands

13. High Park

1873 Bloor St W | Website
Always Open

High Park is Toronto’s largest public park with something for everyone. In addition to hiking trails, High Park also features a beautiful lakefront, diverse vegetation, sports facilities, a dog park, zoo, greenhouses, picnic areas, playgrounds for children, and more. There is no entrance fee to the park.

14. Scarborough Bluffs

Lakefront from Eastern beaches of Toronto to East Point Park | Website
Always Open

Scarborough Bluffs spans 15 km (9.3 miles) and contains 11 parks with views of the bluffs, Lake Ontario, gardens, and plenty of hiking trails. Spend the whole day out there, or go for a short hike at one of the parks – you’ll enjoy yourself either way.

15. Niagara Falls

6650 Niagara Pkwy | Website
Always Open

Located only 80 miles from Toronto, Niagara Falls is the perfect day trip for someone visiting Toronto for the first time. While the Falls are a must see, don’t miss the other fun activities around the Falls, like hiking trails, wineries, and the cutest little historic town. Check out this post for fun things to do in and around Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls Canada

Best Things To Do In Toronto For Sports Lovers

16. Attend a Professional Sporting Event

Raptors (Scotiabank Arena)
40 Bay St | Website

After surprising all of the U.S. and Canada by winning the NBA championship in 2019, the Raptors are Toronto’s pride and joy. Find out what #WeTheNorth is all about by attending a Raptors basketball game, or hang out at Jurassic Park outside the arena and watch with the masses.

Toronto Raptors

Maple Leafs (Scotiabank Arena)
40 Bay St | Website

Hockey is a religion in Canada – a religion to which everyone subscribes. Cheer on an authentically Canadian team in an authentically Canadian sport at the Scotiabank Arena, and see how the arena is transformed from a basketball court to a hockey arena and back overnight.

Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)
1 Blue Jays Way | Website

There’s no better way to spend a beautiful summer day than at the baseball stadium, and that holds true in Toronto. Regardless of how well the Blue Jays are playing, its fans are loyal and spirited, which makes for a fun game every time.

17. Hockey Hall of Fame

30 Yonge St | Website
M-Sa 9:30am to 6pm; Su 10am to 6pm (hours vary by season)
$20 CAD

Whether you’re a hockey fan or not, you’ll be impressed by the Hockey Hall of Fame, which has been in the making since the early 1940s. Be prepared to spend at least a few hours here and maybe still leave with some exhibits unseen. Tickets cost $20 CAD for adults, and discounted tickets are available for seniors and children.

Best Places In Toronto For Shopaholics

18. Eaton Centre

220 Yonge St | Website
M-F 10am to 9:30pm; Sa 9:30am to 9:30pm; Su 10am to 7pm

You’ll be able to shop to your heart’s content at Toronto’s Eaton Centre, the only urban shopping mall in downtown Toronto. With over 230 retailers from Canada and worldwide, there is something for everyone here. If you get hungry, head to the lower level for the food court, or look for one of the seven dine-in restaurants inside the mall.

Eaton Centre Toronto

19. Bloor-Yorkville

Bloor St between Avenue Rd & Yonge St | Website
Hours Vary

For more upscale and designer shopping, head to Bloor-Yorkville, a block of shops between Avenue and Yonge. You’ll find a mix of high end department stores, as well as one of a kind contemporary boutiques, on this fashion strip. Hours vary at each store, so make sure you check the website and look for the specific hours for the stores you’re interested in.

20. St. Lawrence Market

93 Front St E | Website
T-Th 8am to 6pm; F 8am to 7pm; Sa 5am to 5pm; Closed Sundays & Mondays

St. Lawrence Market is made up of three main buildings and hundreds of years of history. The South Market is the area you’ll likely be spending the most time in, as it houses over 120 specialty vendors selling fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, fish, grains, baked goods, and some non-food items as well. Some of these vendors have been around for over 200 years and have dedicated their life’s work to operating their shop at St. Lawrence Market. I love stopping in for a dessert and coffee, and when I’m hungry for a full meal, my go to is the seafood vendors. The North Market is mostly known for its Saturday Farmers’ Market, a tradition that started back in 1803 and continues to this day, and St. Lawrence Hall houses more retail businesses on the ground floor. Note that St. Lawrence Market is closed on Sundays and Mondays, so try to plan your visit accordingly.

32 Best Things To Do In Toronto For First Timers

21. Kensington Market

Bathurst St to Spadina Ave & Dundas St to College St | Website
Hours Vary

While St. Lawrence Market is steeped in history, Kensington Market is steeped in contemporary arts culture. Kensington is Toronto’s most diverse neighborhood, and you’ll see that reflected in the eclectic collection of boutique shops and food stands there. You can find a full list of the vendors at Kensington Market here, as well as a map of where all the shops are located.

22. Queen Street West

Queen St between Bathurst and Gladstone | Website
Hours Vary

Queen West has, in recent years, obtained the title of trendiest neighborhood in Toronto (and was even named the second coolest neighborhood in the world by Vogue magazine), and the shopping there definitely contributes to its status. You’ll find some of the most cutting edge boutique shops here, from clothing to footwear to textiles. The best part is when you start feeling hungry after all the shopping, Queen West also has some of the trendiest restaurants and bars, so you won’t be far from delicious eats.

Best Places In Toronto For Good Views

23. CN Tower

301 Front St W | Website
8:30am to 11pm daily
$38 CAD

At 1,815 feet tall, the CN Tower is the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the 6th tallest in the world. There are multiple floors you can explore at the top, including a glass floor and a brand new overlook with floor to ceiling glass walls. If you’re feeling fancy, you can also dine at the rotating 360 restaurant, which serves up a delicious meal and gives you 360 degree views of the city during the course of your meal. Tickets start at $38 CAD for adults, with discounted tickets available for seniors and children.

CN Tower

24. Thompson Hotel Rooftop

550 Wellington St W | Website
M-W, Su 11am to 1am; Th-Sa 11am to 2am

If you have a spare few hours and want to grab a drink or snack somewhere, head to the Thompson Hotel Rooftop for free views with your drink. Out of all the restaurants in the city, the Thompson rooftop offers some of the best views of the skyline. It does get quite packed at night, so you’re best off stopping in for an afternoon drink during their slower hours.

25. Nathan Phillips Square

100 Queen St W | Website
Always Open

Nathan Phillips Square is the perfect place to go for your iconic TORONTO photo. In the summer, there is a fountain in front of the sign, and in the winter, the pool is converted into an ice skating rink. Events are regularly held on the large open plaza, so make sure you check their website before you go to learn of any fun events taking place during your visit.

Best Things To Do In Toronto With Kids

26. Canada’s Wonderland

1 Canada’s Wonderland Dr | Website
10am to 10pm daily
$42.99 CAD

Canada’s Wonderland is the perfect place to take your kids for a day of excitement and fun, but by no means do you need to have kids to go there. With rides, shows, events, and plenty of drinking and dining options, there is something for the whole family. Tickets start at $42.99 CAD for adults when you purchase online at least four days in advance, and discounted tickets are available for seniors and children.

27. LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

1 Bass Pro Mills Dr | Website
M-Sa 10am to 8pm; Su 10am to 7pm
$19.95 CAD

If your kids are obsessed with LEGOs, they will love LEGOLAND. Here, you’ll find two rides, 10 LEGO build and play zones, a 4D cinema, and more. Make sure you purchase your tickets online, as you’ll be able to save $8 CAD per ticket. Tickets start at $19.95 CAD online for both adults and children.

28. Ripley’s Aquarium

288 Bremner Blvd | Website
9am to 11pm
$33 CAD

Ever since Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opened next door to the CN Tower several years ago, there has been a constant line of visitors out the door who want to experience the world’s longest underwater viewing tunnel. The good news is that you can purchase your tickets online in advance and reserve a time slot for your visit, so that you can skip the line when you arrive. Tickets start at $33 CAD for adults, and discounted tickets are available for seniors and children.

Ripley's Aquarium Toronto

29. Toronto Zoo

2000 Meadowvale Rd | Website
9am to 7pm daily (hours vary by season)
$29 CAD

The Toronto Zoo has over 5,000 animals representing 450 species. There is also a Kids Zoo, Splash Island, and four rides to keep the whole family entertained. Tickets start at $29 CAD for adults, and discounted tickets are available for seniors and children.

30. Riverdale Farm

201 Winchester St | Website
9am to 5pm daily

Just because you’re in the city doesn’t mean you only get to experience skyscrapers and crowds. The diversity of Toronto extends beyond ethnicity to break down urban/rural boundaries with a 7.5-acre farm in the middle of the city. With over 3 km (1.9 miles) of trails, vegetable and flower gardens, and barns with farm animals, you have the opportunity to fully experience farm life at Riverdale Farm. The farm is open every day from 9am to 5pm, and admission to the farm is always free.

31. Ontario Science Center

770 Don Mills Rd | Website
Su-F 10am to 5pm; Sa 10am to 8pm
$22 CAD

The Ontario Science Center has been inspiring the young and old alike to explore science and technology since 1969. Its interactive exhibits make science fun and engaging for everyone, and there’s even an IMAX theatre inside. Tickets start at $22 CAD for adults for the science center only, or $28 CAD for the science center and the IMAX film. Discounted tickets are available for seniors and children.

32 Best Things To Do In Toronto For First Timers

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