The meeting’s over. You’ve got a little time to explore. It’s your chance to get out of that hotel room, get off the beaten path, and experience the culture, the flavor, and the people.
Toronto is one of our favorite cities — cosmopolitan, friendly, and with the special beauty of a city on a lake. So weve pulled together fascinating activities and places in Toronto that most travelers never experience. Next time you’re in town and find yourself with a few free hours, check out the list and go home with your best stories ever.
1. Get out in nature at the lyrical Toronto Music Garden, inspired by J.S. Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello. Stroll through the garden’s six ‘rooms,’ on curving pathways, past a ‘stream” of boulders, a birch forest, a wildflower meadow, a flower parterre, and more. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a concert in this lovely, relaxing spot.
2. Step into the Bata Shoe Museum’s shoebox-shaped building to check out more than 10,000 ‘pedi-artifacts.’ You’ll see everything from 19th-century French chestnut-crushing clogs to Chinese bound-foot shoes to the glamorous platforms of Elton John and the simple sandals of Indira Ghandi. More than 4,500 years of history and a collection of 20th-century celebrity shoes are on display. No wonder the museum’s tagline is “For the curious.”
3. If you’re hungry, head over to the St. Lawrence Market, where you can mingle with locals and choose from a delicious selection of everything from Montreal-style bagels, poutine, sushi, and chicken sandwiches “about as big as your head” at Mustachio’s and120 other specialty food stalls and restaurants. You’ll see lots of action, including buskers and classical trios, along with fishmongers, bakers, and butchers calling out their wares in silly voices.
4. Even if you’re not a fan, you’ll enjoy the Hockey Hall of Fame. Incongruously located inside the rococo former Bank of Montreal building, it houses a fascinating collection of goalkeeping masks, the gigantic Stanley Cup (hockey’s biggest prize), and loads of nostalgia and interactive multimedia exhibits.
5. Send your postcards from Toronto’s First Post Office, built in the 1830s and now a living museum. You can write a letter with a feather quill dipped in an inkpot, seal it with wax, and for a small extra fee, send it along to your amazed recipient postmarked “York-Toronto 1833.” You can also see historical displays and a full scale model of Toronto from around the same time your letter’s postmarked.
Photo attribution: Thomas Hawk