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Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to travel for work to Toronto, Canada’s largest city. While I’ve been to Toronto before with family, this would be the first time I was in the city alone to explore it on my own terms.
Whenever I’m in a new city, I like hitting up all the free activities to keep my costs down. Especially in a large city like Toronto, accommodation costs are always really high even in the middle of winter when I was visiting. You can save 20% on your accommodation with Radisson by booking in advance here.
Here are 7 free things to do in Toronto:
East of downtown Toronto, the Distillery District, a National Historic Site of Canada, is made up of more than forty heritage buildings and ten streets. Originally the buildings were used for the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, but today is home to shops, restaurants, galleries and theatres. Wandering through the area is a fascinating juxtaposition of the old and new that makes it a joy to explore. Tired of walking? Stop at Soma Chocolate for a sweet souvenir or grab a drink Mill St. Brewery.
Despite its name, Kensington Market isn’t a “market” in the conventional sense of the word. Instead, Kensington Market is a multicultural neighbourhood full of funky shops and dining establishments. It’s an eclectic collection of vintage clothes, ethnic grocery stores, vegan cafes and art galleries to suit every interest and tastes. Beyond the storefronts, it’s the vibe and bohemian feeling in the neighbourhood that makes it fun to walk through. Everything is vibrant and fun, and there are lots of interesting things to look at or taste.
Bata Shoe Museum
Every girl knows, you can never have too many good shoes. But since I’m not a fan of buying lots of things, looking at good shoes is a close second and you can do exactly that at the Bata Shoe Museum (BSM). With over 13,500 items in its collection, the BSM documents shoe development through history and cultures. Thursday evenings from 5 – 8 PM are pay what you can admission.Not a shoe lover? You can also visit the permanent collection of The Art Gallery of Ontario (The AGO) for free from 6 – 8:30 PM on Wednesdays.
St. Lawrence Market
Founded in 1803, the St. Lawrence Market was named the #1 food market in the world by National Geographic. The market’s three buildings are filled with specialty vendors selling everything from baked goods to fish and poultry to milk and cheeses. On Saturdays, you can find the Farmers’ Market and on Sundays an antique market opens up. If you’re feeling peckish, stop by the Carousel Bakery and pick up a peameal bacon sandwich. It’s delicious!
Graffiti Alley is located in Toronto’s edgy fashion district, running just south of Queen Street West. It is also known as Rush Lane. With almost a kilometre of street art from Spadina Avenue to Portland Street, there is a piece for everyone. Art by renowned Toronto street artists can be found here typically reflecting the artists’ thoughts and feelings on life, personal experiences or current events. The alley is constantly evolving as artists paint over their old works with new pieces. The bright colours of the alley make it a good place to grab some Instagram-worthy shots of your explorations.
Skate or Swim
Depending on the season, you can skate at Nathan Phillips Square or swim at one of Toronto’s many beaches. In the winter, Nathan Phillips Square becomes a skating rink where you can skate for free if you have your own skates (rentals are available on site as well) under the lights. Despite being landlocked, it may be easy to forget that Toronto sits along the shores of Lake Ontario. Woodbine Beach is the largest of the four beaches in the Beaches neighbourhood where you can swim, walk along the boardwalk or soak up the rays.
Dundas and Yonge
With large billboard screens and over 100,000 pedestrians using it daily, this intersection is the epicentre of Toronto and there is always something interesting happening. From free concerts and movies to fun festivals and street performers, it’s the place to sit and catch your breath as you people watch. There are also a couple water fountains that you can use to cool off in on a hot summer day and I have fond memories of running through them in the middle of the night after a conference in my university days.
Giveaway [ CLOSED ]
Thanks to Radisson, I am giving away an e-certificate for a complimentary night at a Radisson of your choice in Canada or the US.
- Click here to locate a Radisson in your favourite Canadian city or closest to you.
- Leave a comment and tell me where you would go to #StayCanada
Terms & conditions: Contest closes October 3, 2016 at 23:59 PST after which one winner will be selected randomly. Some restrictions on the e-certificate may apply.
Update: A winner for the giveaway has been chosen and notified. Thank you for entering!
Have you been to Toronto? What free things in the city did you do?