While Vancouver offers spectacular views and a plethora of activities in the great outdoors, Toronto has its own claim to fame. As Canada's largest and most diverse city, Toronto offers a practical smorgasbord of activities to tempt first-time visitors and long-time residents alike. World Atlas lists Toronto as the "world's most multicultural city," with more than half of its three million people born outside of Canada, and the Toronto Star celebrates its diversity with a dedicated news section named, appropriately, Toronto: Diversity Our Strength.
In addition to its cultural aspects, this metropolitan city offers indoor and outdoor sports, gorgeous views and a range of marketplaces and neighborhoods to explore. Whether you're looking for something unique to do or searching for a gift experience for Toronto friends, you’re bound to find the perfect inspiration in this guide to the best things to do in Toronto.
1. Cuddle by a Firepit
Is there anything cozier than a firepit on a chilly day? Ontario Place, the scenic lakeside park that hosts public events of all sorts, makes it easy to replicate the cottage experience without leaving the city. You can currently rent one of four lakeside firepits, complete with seating and a stunning view of the lake. Visitors do have to provide their own firewood, but Ontario Place has partnered with Hotel X to provide Firewood and S'Mores Packages to add to the experience. In addition, guests of the hotel can indulge in a deluxe picnic experience, complete with a fully stocked picnic basket and a blanket.
2. Take a Guided Walking Tour
Most seasoned travelers agree — the best way to get to know a city is at street level. Walking tours offer you that opportunity — and despite the name, many of the walking tours are wheelchair and stroller accessible. Whether you're looking for a general introduction to the city, a ghost tour to explore Toronto's haunted history or a tour of Toronto's distillery district, you'll find that walking tours are among the most budget-friendly fun things to do in Toronto.
|Tip: Check out the Tour Guys during the warm season for free walking tours that include an inspired Graffiti Tour (but be sure to tip the tour guide!).
3. Visit Niagara Falls
No visit to Toronto would be complete without a chance to view the natural beauty and majesty of Niagara Falls, and there's no shortage of ways to enjoy a visit to the falls. Queen Tours offers a Niagara Falls day trip that includes pickup at one of several central locations, a narrated drive in a comfortable minibus or van, and a number of add-ons to make the experience more memorable. The day ends with another narrated trip, this one across the Niagara Parkway, with stops along the way for selfies and close-up views.
|Tip: Order a box lunch from your favorite restaurant or your hotel dining room and give yourself plenty of time to explore the Clifton Hill neighborhood. For a truly heart-pounding experience, add a Journey Behind the Falls or a trip to the Skylon Tower Observation Deck to your itinerary.
4. Take a Sunset Helicopter Tour
For the ultimate romantic gift experience, book a sunset helicopter tour for the happy couple. They'll be the only passengers on the flight over Toronto that takes off just as the sun begins to dip below the horizon, enjoying a breathtaking view of the iconic skyline as the city becomes a sparkling evening wonderland. The tour includes a special gift basket of wine and chocolates, as well as a souvenir photo and a close-up view of the world's tallest building. Toronto Heli Tours also offers several daytime helicopter tours for couples and families.
|Tip: Sunset only happens once a day, so book early if you're trying to reserve a special date for an anniversary or honeymoon gift.]
5. Bury the Hatchet at an Ax Throwing Bar
Over the past few years, ax-throwing bars have swept the continent, with big cities and small towns alike joining the trend of mixing a few brews with a sharp, heavy object. Since the trend actually started right here in Toronto, it should come as no surprise that there are lots of bars and other venues that let you hang out with your pals, down a few pints and huck an ax — or a hatchet — at a wooden target. BATLgrounds, the home of the Backyard Ax Throwing League, has several Toronto locations, most offering same-day booking and walk-in appointments for two or more people, as well as private group and team building events.
6. Play Archery Tag With Friends and Frenemies
If an ax isn't quite your style, perhaps a bow and arrow is more your speed. Archers Arena hosts the hottest team game since laser tag — archery tag. Your group will get a short lesson and a set of protective equipment, and then be set loose in one of the Arena's courts to hunt each other down. The venues offer party packages for hen nights, bachelor parties, team building, birthdays and just about any other kind of event you can imagine, as well as the opportunity to join in one of the public games. Private groups can even book a second hour for a whopping 2/3rds discount.
|Tip: If you don't see the time you'd like to book for your party, call and ask if you can book a custom time.
7. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame
Toronto's Hockey Hall of Fame is so much more than a museum. In addition to exhibits and displays, the HHOF features a whole host of immersive interactive experiences that allow your favorite hockey fan to get on the ice against world-renowned hockey players, past and present. There’s even a dedicated sports center studio where budding sportscasters can settle in and record their own play-by-play of some of the game's most iconic moments — and download it to share with their social networks. In addition to public admission, the Hall of Fame is also available for rent as a venue for private parties, corporate meetings, and more.
8. Experience CN Tower
CN Tower, Canada's National Tower, is a marvel of modern engineering. Standing 553.33 meters in height, the tower is the highest building on the continent and an iconic feature of Toronto's landscape. The award-winning dining and entertainment destination has been one of Toronto's most must-see destinations for more than 40 years. The complex offers a variety of experiences, from the glass-fronted elevators that take you to the top observation decks in under a minute to the Edge Walk, a unique walk around the outside of the building — 356 meters above the ground. The Glass Floor offers a challenge to those with nerves of steel, while the Sky Pad provides an unparalleled view across the city from 447 meters in the air.
|Tip: If you're planning a sight-seeing tour or need fun activities for family vacation week, buy a Toronto CityPass, good for admission to five of Toronto's top attractions, including Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, the Toronto Zoo and the CN Tower. The CityPass will save you up to 40% over the cost of purchasing admission to each attraction separately.
9. Escape From a Castle
Casa Loma puts a twist on the classic escape room with escape games set in the most famous castle in Canada. Built in the early 1900s by Sir Henry Pellatt, the castle took 3 years and the work of 300 men to complete. Sir Henry and his wife took occupancy in 1914, but only got to enjoy the palatial home for 10 years before finances forced them to give up the castle. The castle is now owned by the City of Toronto, and is open to the public for self-guided tours and special events. The real fun, though, happens after hours as talented staff transform the castle into a 1920s speakeasy, a medieval fantasy castle, or a Murdoch's Station No. 4 for a series of escape games, both onsite and virtual.
|Tip: If onsite games aren't an option for your group, get everyone together for a virtual escape room adventure. There are two options for play — a virtual 360 room or a Remote game where you control a live actor onsite.
10. Tour the Exhibits at Canada’s Largest Museum
Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum is known for its culturally and artistically diverse exhibits and galleries. Its collections include nearly 1 million objects of art and culture from around the world, and one of the largest collections of natural history specimens in the world. While there are some permanent installations, other exhibits change frequently and are often topical. At the time of this writing, for example, one of the exhibits showcases the artistry, style and messaging of the face masks that emerged in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, while another continues sharing the story and history of the great whales of the North Atlantic.
|Tip: Have friends or family who live in Toronto? Consider gifting them with a ROM membership, which offers free unlimited admission to ROM galleries and exhibitions, including many surcharged exhibitions.