Formerly the SkyDome, this breathtaking facility is home to the Toronto Blue Jays and right in the heart of downtown. The Rogers Centre has the world's fastest retractable dome, which can help keep unexpected rain from dampening your day. To keep in trend with the home game, the refrain to the Blue Jays theme is "Okay (okay) Blue Jays (blue jays) Let's (let's) play (play) ball." Other major events from big concerts to Papal visits are often held here (and don't require theme song memorization). Typical stadium snacks are on offer, with many vegetarian options if a foot-long hot dog with exotic toppings doesn't float your boat. If you come before the game, consider participating in a Rogers Centre tour, at 11am, 1pm or 3pm.
Getting to the Toronto Islands takes just a 10-minute ferry ride, but it transports you to an entirely different world. The small, interconnected Toronto islands provide a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. These islands are North America's largest car-free communities, with some permanent residents and many summer tourists coming to enjoy a different perspective, with a view of Lake Ontario on one end and the city skyline on the other. Centre Island is the most popular and has a small amusement park for little ones to enjoy. Another quieter island is Hanlan's Point which is home to North America's oldest existing lighthouse and once had a baseball stadium where Babe Ruth hit his first home run. There is also a clothing-optional beach on Hanlan's Point (you've been warned). During the summer months, all of the islands are popular places to bike, picnic and frisbee.
Toronto is not exactly the first place you go when you get a craving for a castle. However, in the middle of an upscale neighbourhood right near downtown Toronto, there is a majestic castle which was built in 1911 by a Canadian industrialist. It was meant to be a home for him and his wife. Unfortunately, by the time it was completed, Sir Henry Mill Pellatt's financial situation was not quite as favourable due to misguided investment decisions and the post-war recession. Enter Toronto City, who seized control of Casa Loma in 1933. In the years since, Casa Loma has been open to the public and offers tours of the castle's 98 rooms, 1,800-bottle wine cellar and 800-foot underground passage leading to the home's stables.
The CN Tower is the ubiquitous symbol of Toronto. Yet it is much more than the world's tallest towering building. It provides a terrific perspective of the city, with a glass floor that can bring out acrophobia in anyone by being 1/3 of a kilometre above ground. The CN Tower's range of attractions and exhibits includes a digital animation program (Thrill Zone, which allows visitors a virtual bungee jump), a laser tag game, nightclub, 300-seat cafe, award-winning 360 restaurant (with the world's highest wine cellar!), shops, and a Simulator Theatre, which mimics air flight. Pay an extra $12 to go up in the Skypod, which will give you a more private experience of the incredible view.
The Art Gallery of Ontario, with its high ceilings, light spaces and spiral staircases could be considered art even without the paintings on the walls. However, the official art is indeed amazing, from the exhibitions to the galleries. The Group of Seven are a must see. The gallery also impresses with its wide range of programming, from free tango lessons to weekly art classes of all styles. If you are a Toronto resident, pick up the Sun Life Museum + Arts pass using your library card at your local library. Check the library website for availability but scoring one could let 2 adults and 5 children in for free.
High Park is Toronto's version of Central Park in New York. Toronto's largest 400 acre public park has been the jewel in Toronto's park system with historical buildings, amazing hiking trails, a free zoo and playgrounds. A park highlight is Colborne Lodge, which is one of 10 historic sites operated by the city of Toronto. Colborne Lodge is a monument to John and Jemima Howard, the couple who founded High Park. This house, built in 1837 still has some original paintings of early Toronto. High Park is a walker's or runner's delight with pathways connecting the park's various natural habitats, picnic areas, ponds and landscaped gardens. From spring to fall, a "trackless train" (a tractor that pulls several wagons designed to resemble a train) takes visitors around the park, stopping at various points of interest.
The Royal Ontario Museum is not to be missed, and you also literally cannot miss it. The main entrance to one of North America's oldest museums, the ROM reopened in 2007; a stunning piece of architecture made from glass and aluminum resembling a crystal by David Libeskind. It reinvented the previously tired facade of the ROM (as the museum is often abbreviated) and put a fresh face on this house of ancient artifacts. Inside, the spacious grounds include featured exhibitions of world-renowned art, dinosaur bones that will dwarf your tallest friend and even a Ming tomb. The ROM has world culture, natural history and hands-on galleries from the prehistoric to the present.
Mid Queen West was the hippest address in town in the 1990s. In the 2000s the trend has been to move West. West Queen West is where creativity and community have come to reside. With great Toronto classic hangouts like the Drake Hotel, there are also galleries, independent coffee shops and unique restaurants. It is one of the best places to shop in Toronto, and if you have your walking shoes on, you can begin your day with a cup of coffee and end with a cocktail on the same street without repeating anything. We suggest starting around Queen and Dufferin and walking east. Strap on your pedometer.
When you first find your way in between Spadina and Bathurst and then in between College and Dundas in Toronto, you may feel that you haven't found anything special at first. However, as you start your walking journey throughout Kensington Market, you quickly realized you have entered the realm of something unique. Kensington has quite a history, but today it stands as a multicultural community of noncomformists. Many Victorian homes retain some of their original architecture but have been transformed into shops that range from excellent cheesemongers to local designers. On a warm summer's day the patios are packed with happy beer-drinkers working hard to get their vitamin D. If you want a seat, go early and commit to it.
Toronto's Distillery Historic District began in 1859 as the site of the Gooderham and Worts whiskey distillery. 100 years later, the distillery was producing nearly half of the total volume of spirits in the province of Ontario, making it one of the country's most important manufacturing facilities (People like their spirits!). As war, prohibition and outsourcing changed the face of Toronto, it did its number on the distillery which closed in 1990. However, 13 years later, this historic district got its second chance and became a charming pedestrian-only village. This area of Toronto today is like no other, with cobblestone pathways and Victorian-era buildings housing restaurants, boutiques and art galleries.