Must-See Tourist Attractions in Toronto
May 3, 2016
Living in stunning Toronto for my whole life, and exploring the many unique spots around this vibrant metropolitan hub, it might leave me slightly biased when I claim that there are a plethora of reasons to come visit this city: the endless eateries, the intriguing people you can spot on a stroll through the downtown streets, and the mixture of several-story older buildings amidst towering glass skyscrapers.
To say the least, this is a city always bustling with sights and is the perfect place for any tourist to come visit, where you can dine in absolute luxury.
While you’re here exploring, be sure to check out these six great tourist attractions all located conveniently in downtown Toronto!
301 Front Street West, Toronto, M5V 2T6
The epitome of Toronto tourist attractions, the CN Tower is a 1815.4ft communications and observation tower built in 1976 and located near the Lake Ontario waterfront.
Between the time of its construction and the year 2007, it was the tallest tower in the world, but still remains the largest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.
The image of the tower against Toronto’s skyline is both picture perfect and well-known…personally, I can’t imagine my city existing without it.
Even at my home located outside of the downtown core, I can always see the CN Tower in the distance.
Despite being a truly remarkable piece of architecture, standing on the 2½” glass floor of the observation deck is enough to give you a near heart attack.
On my visit up there as a kid, it took me nearly the whole time we were on the deck to finally step foot on the translucent flooring. However, the official website boasts that each panel of glass can actually hold the weight of 35 moose (how very Canadian of a weight comparison).
Personally, I preferred flying over the CN Tower in a helicopter ride back in 2009.
Something about being in an aircraft seems a lot less frightening to me than standing on a glass floor over a thousand feet in the air…which might actually make no sense, now that I think about it.
But nevertheless, check out the cool photograph above I got while on my Heli Tour!
Places to grab a bite nearby:
- 360 Restaurant (located inside the Tower; you have to make reservations in advance, but get free entry into the Tower with your meal purchase)
- Horizons Restaurant (also located in the Tower, but on the lookout level for access with general admission)
- The Badali Bar and Cucina, 156 Front Street West
- The Loose Moose, 146 Front Street West
10 Dufferin Street, Toronto, M6K 3C3
Another really awesome place to check out while you’re downtown would be Medieval Times.
You get to watch an entire performance complete with epic jousting battles while eating a feast fit for a King or Queen…with your bare hands (bring disposable cutlery, if you’re weird about touching your food like I am).
Not to mention the spectacular falconing segment that makes me want to drop everything to be a falconer every time I see it. I’m not even joking about that part. That would be a seriously cool job to have.
Above is a picture from the last time I went to a show, back in December of 2010.
In all honesty, I’ve been dying to go back ever since. If you like The Medieval Times’s Facebook page, they are always posting giveaways to win free tickets to a show.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll be lucky! I’ve been trying to score some tickets on basically every contest post for the past couple of years to no avail, but there is still hope yet.
Maybe you’ll have more luck than me. 😉
Places to grab a bite nearby:
- No need! A meal comes with the performance here. It’s all part of the amazing show.
Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)
210 Princes’ Boulevard, Toronto, M6K 3C3
Always spanning over the last couple of weeks in August (over Labour Day weekend), the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is a yearly tradition my dad and I have been doing for my birthday since I was just six years old…bringing 2016’s planned excursion to our sixteenth year!
Not a great deal has changed since I first started going, aside from the new ridiculous, albeit interesting, food concoctions that have been appearing each year (What’s consists of Timbit poutine? For anyone living outside of Canada, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about and you can understand my immense confusion by seeing what poutine and timbits are).
When attending the CNE, you have a variety of things to do all day long, including shopping, going on rides at the fair, playing games in the midway, eating more than you thought was humanly possible, and also adoring little farm animals in the Farm Building.
When I go, I always buy an all-day ride pass, otherwise it becomes much too expensive to buy tickets for each and every ride that you want to go on.
Though kind of pricey for this day pass, it actually works out to be better than paying for each one individually if you’re planning on riding more than about five or so times.
If you’re not convinced of how great the Exhibition is already, check out the beautiful panoramic photograph above I shot at the 2014 CNE at sunset, while on the ski lift-type ride. Gorgeous!
Places to grab a bite (all on the CNE grounds):
- Food Truck Frenzy (a bunch of food trucks just inside the Princes’ Gates from August 26th to 28th of this year)
- Tiny Tom’s Donuts (Food Building)
- Beaver Tails (Food Building)
- A corndog, from the kiosks lining the midway
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, M5T 1G4
If you love art even half as much as I do, then you should visit the Art Gallery of Ontario on your next trip into Toronto.
If you’re able to make it on a Wednesday between 6 and 9pm, admission into all the galleries are absolutely free! How perfect is that?
Regardless, the admission fee is minimal when you consider what the gallery itself has to offer, and you can make the better part of a day from it.
This Torontonian art gallery holds a large number of paintings by Canada’s own Group of Seven (and other Canadian artists), as well as photographic, African and Oceanic, European, modern and contemporary, and prints and drawings collections. Because flash can ruin artwork, I always refrain from using my camera while in the AGO.
You can see more of their collections by visiting their website, and discover for yourself the many reasons as to why this is a great attraction to visit.
Places to grab a bite nearby:
- FRANK Restaurant (located inside the gallery, therefore the same address)
- Sin & Redemption, 136 McCaul Street
- Bodega, 30 Baldwin Street
- Wild Wing, 225 Queen Street West
Nestled between Parliament, Mill, and Cherry Streets
Filled with little cafés, yummy restaurants, and stunning little boutiques, the Distillery District might just be my favourite area in Toronto.
Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988, this commercial (and residential) district in the city consists of buildings that made up Gooderham & Worts’ nineteenth century distillery.
In fact, it’s the largest industrial site of Victorian-era architecture in North America; I was even told once that Al Capone would frequent the area during America’s Prohibition to acquire alcohol to sell on the U.S. Black Market.
This boasts the perfect European-esque atmosphere year round, and is the ideal place to simply go for a stroll and window shop, though there are boutiques in which you can actually purchase things located all around the Distillery District.
In the summer, there is often a fair of sorts going on in the main square with rides for children and different performers throughout the day for entertainment.
In the winter, they host the Christmas Market, which I go to every year. These are all events that are not to be missed!
I’ve included my own picture of the main square, taken on New Years Day of 2014 when all the retail shops were closed and my friends and I went for dinner together at the Mill Street Brew Pub (see restaurant listings below).
In fact, I’ve tried quite a few of the eateries in the Distillery District, and have always found them quite delicious! Make sure to check out the homemade apple cider during the winter in the cafés. So, so good.
Places to grab a bite in the Distillery (all of which I have tried and give my Foodie approval):
- Mill Street Brew Pub, 21 Tank House Lane
- Brick Street Bakery, 27 Trinity Street
- Caffe Furbo, 12 Case Goods Lane
- Tappo Restaurant and Wine Bar, 2 Trinity Street
Toronto Eaton Centre
220 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2H1
This mall at the Toronto Eaton Centre is great, and with each new large-scale renovation, it just gets better.
When your university is located literally steps away from this magnificent mall with over 200 retailers, it can get a little bit challenging to manage your spending habits.
I mean, with a glass ceiling decorated with some very Canadian geese in mid-flight, as in the one pictured above, it’s difficult to keep yourself away from one of Canadians’ favourite places to shop.
That being said, Saks Fifth Avenue recently opened up in the mall by side adjoining The Hudson’s Bay Company, and I had the opportunity to attend the store’s preview in mid-February via an invitation I received from the National Ballet of Canada (a perk of buying so many ballet tickets, I suppose).
The store has so many beautiful high-end clothing, shoes, accessories, and makeup that you’ll certainly want to check it out while visiting the city, if fashion is a particular passion of yours.
During that evening where I was able to peruse their inventory, I was captivated by the extensive selection they have available for purchase, and I even spotted my favourite Tom Ford lipstick for sale while I was there.
Places to grab a bite in the mall (all share the same address as the mall):
- Bâton Rouge
- Joey Eaton Centre
- Richtree Natural Market
- Akashiro by Sushi Q
For tips or questions regarding Toronto life, please feel free to contact me via any of my social media pages!
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