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July 10, 2010 12:13 PM   Subscribe

What are some fun activities for a family to do in Toronto?

My mother, father, 24-year-old brother, and I (27) are going to Toronto, Canada, for a few days next week, and we will be staying downtown. What are some fun, low-key activities for us to do? Any plays or live music we should be sure to see? Great museums? Monuments or parks that are fun to walk around in? Interesting shops that we can't go to in the US? Restaurants that we shouldn't miss?

Less expensive is always better, but we're not opposed to paying more for things that are really great.
posted by k8lin to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
These are good sites for free/cheap ideas of stuff to do in T.O.:
http://gocanada.about.com/od/canadiancities1/tp/toronto_cheap_or_free.htm
http://www.toronto.com/guide/recession/article/616601?action=recession_player_2_616601

Things I've enjoyed doing in Toronto:
-The Royal Ontario Museum:
(General admission to the Museum is free every Wednesday from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm. This offer excludes admission to specially ticketed exhibitions when applicable. Half Price admission remains on Fridays from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm; for general admission only. http://www.rom.on.ca/visit/tickets.php . Regular $24)
-Kensington Market (Free to browse)
-Casa Loma (pricier: ~$20)
-Ferry to & walk around Toronto's island ($6.50)
-The Toronto Zoo (pricier: $23)
-The Art Gallery of Ontario:
(FREE Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8:30 pm (Permanent Collection only. Excludes surcharged exhibitions.) Regular ~$20)
posted by angelaas525 at 12:39 PM on July 10, 2010


You should definitely go to the islands for a walk, photo opportunities and to see the little zoo - it's not free because you have to take a ferry across, but if you pack a lunch you don't have to spend anything over there. You can print a map of the islands from the city's official website.

There's an event called Summerlicious on at the moment in which some of the better restaurants in your guidebook have discounted prix fixe menus at lunch and dinner.

There is always something on at the Harbourfront Centre if anything catches your eye, many are free or cheap.

Whenever my parents are over they love walking through the Distillery District and having a coffee there, if you have the capacity to resist the pricy crafts that's a nice afternoon. But there are any number of neighbourhoods you can have a nice walk through and I'm sure online or in tourist guides there are many suggested walking routes.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:01 PM on July 10, 2010


Oh and for museums the Bata Shoe Museum is always the big hit with my visitors, it's pretty cool and much less of a time investment than the ROM - if you want to be frugal I believe it's "pay what you will" night there on thursdays.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:04 PM on July 10, 2010


(someone at) The New York Times called Lai Wah Heen the best dim sum restaurant in North America. My single experience there was better than the single experiences I've made to a couple dim sum restaurants in San Francisco. Those San Francisco restaurants are supposedly among the best that the city has to offer and I felt Lai Wah Heen was substantially better. It's more expensive than other Chinese restaurants. That expense supports substantially better service and decor. It's still less expensive than Western style restaurants with a similar quality of food.
posted by stuart_s at 2:31 PM on July 10, 2010


The Royal Ontario Museum:

Seconding this, since the current special exhibition is the Terracotta Army
posted by Adam_S at 3:10 PM on July 10, 2010


If you like walking (or biking), there's the Waterfront Trail which offers a lovely stroll by the lake, and passes attractions like Harbourfront, Ontario Place, Fort York, CN Tower, and several nice beaches.
posted by fairmettle at 3:21 PM on July 10, 2010


NOW and Eye are the weeklies where you'll find thorough listings of events, sorted by date, so you can choose what you feel like, especially good if some time opens up for something last-minute.

Will you be in town for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition on the 9th-11th? I always like to wander that, even if I can't buy much.

The Parkdale Bazaar is on Saturday the 17th, and it looks fun.

But, I also like to wander the Beaches (or Beach - I won't get into that) from Queen and Woodbine going East poking into shops and restaurants and ending at Ed's Ice Cream, then walking from there down to the boardwalk and finding my way back up through Kew Gardens.

These BlogTo neighbourhood maps are available for free at stores in the areas mentioned (and as mentioned on the website) - so picking up a few of those can be great for exploring, though they focus on shops and restaurants more than activities or areas of interest.

I'm always happy to recommend more specifically too, if there's a particular sort of food or type of event you're keen on. I also have a book, "Sculpture in the City - Twelve Walks in Downtown Toronto" by Helen Nolan that I'd be happy to "drop" somewhere for you, if that's something you'd be interested in.
posted by peagood at 4:26 PM on July 10, 2010


Don't miss the Hockey Hall of Fame. Even if you're not a major hockey fan, it's fun.

Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant is pretty touristy, but the food is really good. They also have dinner/show packages with The Second City.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:23 PM on July 10, 2010


The Science Centre is quite good, as is the Metro Toronto Zoo. At least, from what I remember as a kid many years ago.
posted by Canageek at 5:36 PM on July 10, 2010


I specifically disagree with eating the food at Wayne Gretzky's (it's overpriced, overcooked bar food in my experience, the beer is fine, though, if you want to go hang out while a sporting event of some kind -- obviously not hockey given the season -- is playing), but second seeing The Second City. It's fun and relatively inexpensive, and it's kind of a classic 'thing to do in Toronto'.

Toronto has lots of great ethnic restaurants in general, depending on what you have wherever you're from, you might want to check out regional Chinese, Indian, Ethiopian, West Indian/Caribbean and Portuguese as they're some of the cuisines that aren't necessarily prominent in other places that are done well here.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:09 PM on July 11, 2010


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