Hogtown on a Budget
September 11, 2010 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Visiting Toronto as a broke single gal...

I'll be going to Toronto from Sept 13-16 to catch some films at TIFF and was looking for other things to do while there. I already plan on doing the CN Tower and ROM but funds are limited and anything to do that is free or very low cost would be greatly appreciated!
posted by googlebombed to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
though i've never been there myself, i always hear good things about the Bata Shoe Museum. it's only $8 if you have a student ID, and i think Thursday nights are pay-what-you-can.

if you're into games, check out Snakes and Lattes, a board game coffee shop.

if you like to read, take a book and a blanket to a spot near/on the lake. reading by the water in the fall is so delicious.

also, check your MeMail.
posted by gursky at 6:03 PM on September 11, 2010

The AGO is free on Wednesday evenings. I also think the Bata Shoe Museum is fun -- a neat way to look at different cultures & their products through a very specific lens; they have 'pay-what-you-can' admission on Thursday evenings.

Toronto Islands are beautiful when the weather is good, and the ferry is only something like $7. You get there from the base of Bay street, downtown.

The Fisher Library at U of T is very pretty inside and worth seeing.

Kensington Market
is worth a wander, although if you don't want to spend money I recommend NOT going in the absolutely delicious cheese shop, because you will invariably want to buy many types in large quantities. Lots of inexpensive eats in Kensington.

I think that Curbside rents bikes -- or, at least, they did in the summer. There are lots of bike lanes in the city.

The Distillery District is a nice place to wander. They have lots of art galleries in there, and it's downtown-adjacent.
posted by monkeymonkey at 6:04 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

The ROM is half-price on Friday nights and the Art Gallery of Ontario is free on Wednesday nights (and well worth a visit). The Bata Shoe Museum is pay what you can on Thursday nights.

I second Kensington Market and the cheese shop warning (it's a fantastic cheese shop). Queen West is also a good walk, out to Trinity Bellwoods Park, but it is almost all stores but there's a few art galleries too. Yorkville is said to be where all the celebrities hang out during TIFF - it's very pricy but if you want to see famous people... The Islands are gorgeous and give a great view of the city. I also like the Beach(es), where there's a boardwalk along the water.

You can get a free tour of Queen's Park, the Ontario legislature, which may sound dull but it's a really beautiful building. Ditto for Osgoode Hall, though I don't know if they normally do tours and their website is terrible. If you like books or libraries, visit the Toronto Public Library, which has several locations around TIFF venues, often in repurposed old buildings, and the Hart House library at U of T, which is my favourite place to sit around in the city.

High Park is a big park in the west of the city which is great to walk around in. They do a Shakespeare play there every summer but it looks like that finished last weekend.
posted by kyla at 6:21 PM on September 11, 2010

The ROM offers free guided walking tours of Toronto's historic neighbourhoods.

If you're the type to be able to wander in and out of shops without a crippling desire to buy things, Queen West (the chunk of Queen Street west of Spadina) and the Danforth (starting at Broadview subway station and going east) are neat to explore.

The U of T often has interesting free-or-nearly-free events going on. If you're into jazz, The Rex Hotel on Queen St. has free shows (though they do pass around a tip jar) and is not too pricey when it comes to food/drink.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 6:36 PM on September 11, 2010

The National Film Board Mediateque can be a lot of fun, and it's completely free. Sit down at one of their kiosks and you can watch whatever NFB films you want! I don't know what movies you're seeing, but it's right around the corner from the Scotiabank Theatre, which is a TIFF venue.

Just make sure you watch Logdriver's Waltz while you're there.
posted by Newbornstranger at 7:22 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you brought your swimming gear, all outdoor pools (Stanley Park and Alex Duff pools are pretty good) are completely free. Taking a day trip out to the island could be fun. I think the ferry is $6.50. But, weather has been kinda gloomy lately, so both of those might be out.

The Distillery District (expensive and enticing shops), Kensington Market, High Park, Trinity Bellwoods park are great places to walk around and read/write/think.
posted by rrrico at 7:42 PM on September 11, 2010

If you like coffee and can drink a lot of it, you could get one of these coffee passports. IMO Toronto has a pretty decent coffee culture for an east coast city. However the passport doesn't include some of the long-time favourites like Dark Horse and Bulldog.

TTC day passes are $10. Without a day pass, you could still pay the normal fare and ride the 501 streetcar. Avoid the busiest times of the day and go on a day with good weather.

I personally like to take my out-of-town guests on very long walks all over town, usually at least hitting Kensington/Chinatown, Harbourfront, Queen West, Yonge Street, and University of Toronto. If we hop on public transportation I would also take them to the Beach/Beaches and the Distillery.

NOW and EYE are two print sources for event listings.
posted by bread-eater at 8:53 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure the outdoor pools are closed for the year now.
posted by ManInSuit at 8:54 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

The ROM is free on Wednesday from 4:30 until closing at 5:30. It doesn't give you enough time to carefully study the exhibits in the galleries, but it's good enough for sweeping through the Crystal and deciding if it works or not. If I'm going to AGO free night I usually stop in at the ROM first, leave at closing time, then take Philosopher's Walk through the University and head down McCaul to get in line at the AGO just before opening.
posted by TimTypeZed at 8:55 PM on September 11, 2010

Allan Gardens (botanical garden) is free to visit.
posted by Gortuk at 7:56 AM on September 12, 2010

Definitely go to Allen Gardens but I'd recommend a single woman tourist to approach from the north (Carlton St.) side, past the off-leash dog areas. The other directions often have very sketchy characters hanging about.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:16 AM on September 12, 2010

Thanks for all the great suggestions! AskMe does it again!
posted by googlebombed at 2:56 PM on September 12, 2010

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