When I made the 8 hour journey from Gatwick to Toronto Pearson International in search of snowboarding, sights and snacks, I didn’t anticipate how great it would be! I had 9 days in Toronto, Canada to do and see it all, and the trip certainly didn’t disappoint! Although Toronto is predominately a city, the beauty of the surrounding areas makes up for the potholed, concrete jungle that it is. So if you’re planning a post-pandemic visit or ever wondered what there is to do in the area, below is my guide to what to do in Toronto if you want a nice mix of activities.
What to do in Toronto
Great for: Snowboarding and Skiing
Just 2 hours from the city centre, you’ll find the impressive Blue Mountain Resort, a haven for Skiers and Snowboarders alike. With 43 runs, ice skating, snowshoe tours, hiking and tubing and sleigh rides available, everyone from complete beginners through to the black-run pros will have something to keep them entertained! Never been on a slope before? No problem! Book into their snow school to learn the ropes, there were plenty of people learning. It might be an expensive pass time, but it was such fun!!
Photo credit: Doug Keer
Good For: Family friendly activities.
Now, we didn’t get to venture to the islands on our trip, but it certainly came recommended by our host as a top attraction in Toronto. The islands, which are made up of 15 islands, interconnected by bridges and footpaths is a short 10-15 minute ferry journey from Downtown Toronto. You can busy yourself exploring the beaches, hiking, kayaking, renting bikes and cycling its 5km expanse. It also has plenty of eateries and even an attraction park suitable for young chidren.
Fun Fact: Apart from service vehicles, the islands are car free and are said to be the largest urban area in North America to boast this. Talk about looking after the environment!
Great for: Sight Seeing
Okay, so the day we went, it decided to POUR with rain, then brighten up, then mist over and be generally dull and grey for the best part of the afternoon, but of what we did (could) see of the Falls, they were beautiful and oddly peaceful. Taking a walk alongside the banks, over the walkways and peering out at the vast expanse of water was calming and I actually felt like I cleared my head just walking and taking it all in.
St. Lawrence Market
Photo credit: Open Grid Scheduler
Great for: All things fresh!
I’m not the only one in the APS team that loves a food post, so I obviously had to include a trip to somewhere gastronomy plays a big part! Hence an afternoon strolling the lanes of St. Lawrence Market. Cue exceptionally large crabs, rather expensive cheddar (think $18 for a standard block 😱) beautifully fragrant fresh fruit and veg and the juiciest king prawns I have ever tried. There were plenty of stalls offering various collections of confectionary, worldwide cuisine and of course, bread!
Uncle Tetsus Cheesecake
Photo credit: GoToVan
Great For: A different kind of cheesecake
Originally from Japan, Uncle Tetsu opened their first Western store in Toronto back in 2015 and it didn’t take long for the cheesecakes to become a firm favourite amoung locals. As our hosts put it; “If you don’t mind partaking in the national sport of queuing, you won’t be disappointed!” – To be fair, most of the pictures we could find showed the mass of queues so something must be good about them!
Peller Estates Winery
Photo credit: Deb Nystrom
Great for: Wine tasting
We wanted to add a little class to our trip, so where better to head than the impressive Peller Estates Winery? Not only did we enjoy a wonderful fine dining experience, wine tasting was only $8 per flight (sampling 3 wines at a time, hic) so we got to sample a few! The gimmick aside, it was very interesting to learn about how the wine is made, the difference between the grapes and why Ice Wine is so expensive.
Great for: Being Hipster
The district is full of quirky eateries, cute gift shops and quaint chocolatiers. The paved walkways are lined with interesting art and sculptures, although getting a decent photo of them is hard, unless you’re prepared to wait your turn with 20 other Instagrammers..! If you love Mexican food as much as I do, head to El Catrin for the yummiest fish tacos, guac and mojitos in Toronto!
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Great for: Watching the jellyfish
The Planet Jellies gallery was one of my favourite things about the aquarium, you could spend ages just gazing at the ever changing backdrop whilst the jellyfish happily danced. This came after an underwater tour along a moving walkway; catch a glimpse of the sharks, rays, sea turtles and the rest of the beautiful sea life along the way. Want a truly immersive experience? There are opportunities to stroke the manta rays and get up close to the sea shrimp which, if you’re not squeamish or ticklish, is great fun!
Fun Fact: In 2019 the aquarium was home to one of the many Toronto Pride events; A Night at the AQUEERium, thus reinforcing what a diverse and LGBTQ+ friendly destnation Canada is!
Snakes and Lattes
Photo credit: Jeff Hitchcock
Great for: Geeking out (which we love)
Honestly one of the most fun activities we came across! Sit down with a beer, nachos, brownie or hot chocolate, grab a board game and play as long as you like! Imagine being in a library for board games; stir up your nostalgia with your favourite childhood game or ask your dedicated Game Master to recommend a game based on your interests – they’ll even walk you through how to play which is far more useful than sitting down to read the convoluted instructions!
Photo credit: LoozrBoy.
Good For: Picnics on the waterfront
If you get the season right, (which Winter is not!!) you will be greeted by the glorious cherry blossom in full bloom the park is known for. Walking the blossomed paths of High Park will lead you to all sorts; numerous sporting activities, a dog park, places to eat, playgrounds and of course, the glorious waterfront. So if a trip to their zoo or greehouses isn’t your thing, pack up a bag and grab a spot on the lakefront to enjoy some snacks!
Trinity Bellwood Park
Photo credit: Jane Martin.
Great For: Day Dates
Again, not a place we got to visit but another highly recommended attraction from our host. It’s slightly smaller than High Park, but is still home to plenty of activities for all to enjoy. A day at Trinity Bellwood Park could include picnics, a trip to the Farmer’s Market, self guided tree tours and even trying to spot the infamous white squirrels. It’s also perfectly situated close by to plenty of hipster cafes, quirky boutiques and antique shops to explore.
Not forgetting Sports Fans.
We were gutted there were no games to watch during our stay as we’d never been to a Hockey or Baseball game. Our host, admittedly not a sports fan herself, did however say they are a great way to pass the time, and for Brits like us, a great way to learn something new! Catch a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game at The Rogers Centre, or a Torontos Raptors Basketball game or a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey match at Scotiabank Arena.
If you get time…
A couple of other things to check out if you have the time include the CN Tower, climb to the top of the 500 meter high building and take an edge walk if you dare! If you fancy a little less adrenaline, head to El Furniture Warehouse on Bloor Street West for a cheap bite to eat in a relaxed bar, try some actual Award Winning Mac’n Cheese at Soco or sit back and people watch with an Affogato at Aroma Espresso Bar.