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Free Things To Do in Toronto

If you have extra time, St. Lawrence Market is worthwhile.

#1

#1 in Toronto

Free
When you're in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of Canada's biggest city, hop a ferry to the Toronto Islands. This collection of islands and islets offers a welcome touch of green to the city's skyscraper-speckled mainland. The three islands, Centre, Ward's and Algonquin, are all connected, so you don't have to worry about having to get on and off a boat to fully experience the area. Each main island offers something different. Centre Island lives up to its name, providing the most in terms of activities. There, visitors will find expansive picnic areas, beaches, sporting rentals and the Centreville Amusement Park, which features more than 30 rides, a petting zoo and a boating lagoon. Ward and Algonquin are more laid-back, dotted with 1920s-style cottages and English gardens. Hanlan's Point, located next to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport at the northeastern tip of the island, features the area's only clothing optional beach, as well as a lighthouse believed to be haunted. All of the islands are largely car-free, making them the perfect venue for a peaceful stroll, bike ride or picnic. And while the winter brings biting winds and lots of snow, the Toronto Islands are also a great place for cross-country skiing and ice skating.
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Parks and Gardens Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Toronto Islands
When you're in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of Canada's biggest city, hop a ferry to the Toronto Islands. This collection of islands and islets offers a welcome touch of green to the city's skyscraper-speckled mainland. The three islands, Centre, Ward's and Algonquin, are all connected, so you don't have to worry about having to get on and off a boat to fully experience the area. Each main island offers something different. Centre Island lives up to its name, providing the most in terms of activities. There, visitors will find expansive picnic areas, beaches, sporting rentals and the Centreville Amusement Park, which features more than 30 rides, a petting zoo and a boating lagoon. Ward and Algonquin are more laid-back, dotted with 1920s-style cottages and English gardens. Hanlan's Point, located next to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport at the northeastern tip of the island, features the area's only clothing optional beach, as well as a lighthouse believed to be haunted. All of the islands are largely car-free, making them the perfect venue for a peaceful stroll, bike ride or picnic. And while the winter brings biting winds and lots of snow, the Toronto Islands are also a great place for cross-country skiing and ice skating.
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#2

#2 in Toronto

Free
Back in the early 1800s, this waterfront neighborhood was home to Canada's largest distilling company, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Today, this historic pedestrian-only neighborhood – flanked by industrial-style Victorian buildings and paved with cobblestone once tread on by horse-drawn carriages – overflows with art galleries, performance spaces, cafes, restaurants and yes, a brewery. For a true glimpse into Toronto's past, this is the place to go. Enjoy festivals and outdoor exhibitions throughout the year, join an art class or kick back, relax and enjoy an authentic Canadian brewski.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Distillery District
Back in the early 1800s, this waterfront neighborhood was home to Canada's largest distilling company, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Today, this historic pedestrian-only neighborhood – flanked by industrial-style Victorian buildings and paved with cobblestone once tread on by horse-drawn carriages – overflows with art galleries, performance spaces, cafes, restaurants and yes, a brewery. For a true glimpse into Toronto's past, this is the place to go. Enjoy festivals and outdoor exhibitions throughout the year, join an art class or kick back, relax and enjoy an authentic Canadian brewski.
... more

#3

#3 in Toronto

Free
Located in Toronto's historic Old Town, the St. Lawrence Market has seen many faces since its construction in the 17th century. Along with being a marketplace, the St. Lawrence Market has served as the city's social center, as well as its City Hall. Today, the market sells goodies galore, from gourmet cured meats on one end to handcrafted jewelry in the other. The St. Lawrence Market is divided into three buildings: the South Market, the North Market and St. Lawrence Hall. The South Market features 120 vendors that sell a mix of food and retail items. There are also cooking classes held at the Market Kitchen as well as exhibitions on the city's art, culture and history held in the Market Gallery. The St. Lawrence Hall houses retail businesses, while the North Market is famous for its historic farmers market. Every Saturday since 1803, purveyors from Southern Ontario gather at the North Market to sell their seasonal produce. On Sundays, the farmers market converts into a flea market, where more than 80 vendors sell antique items.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
St. Lawrence Market
Located in Toronto's historic Old Town, the St. Lawrence Market has seen many faces since its construction in the 17th century. Along with being a marketplace, the St. Lawrence Market has served as the city's social center, as well as its City Hall. Today, the market sells goodies galore, from gourmet cured meats on one end to handcrafted jewelry in the other. The St. Lawrence Market is divided into three buildings: the South Market, the North Market and St. Lawrence Hall. The South Market features 120 vendors that sell a mix of food and retail items. There are also cooking classes held at the Market Kitchen as well as exhibitions on the city's art, culture and history held in the Market Gallery. The St. Lawrence Hall houses retail businesses, while the North Market is famous for its historic farmers market. Every Saturday since 1803, purveyors from Southern Ontario gather at the North Market to sell their seasonal produce. On Sundays, the farmers market converts into a flea market, where more than 80 vendors sell antique items.
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#4

#4 in Toronto

Free
Situated along the banks of Lake Ontario, this 10-acre attraction has transformed from a derelict shipping terminal to an upscale neighborhood bustling with hundreds of things to do. Abandoned warehouses have been transformed into theaters and an art gallery, giving it an atmosphere comparable to Pier 39 in San Francisco and Baltimore's Inner Harbor. There's also multiple eateries around as well as several small parks, including the Toronto Music Garden, designed in part by cellist Yo Yo Ma. And if you're around during the summer, you can kick back on Sugar Beach, a former parking lot transformed into an urban beach. What's more, Harbourfront Centre hosts upward of 4,000 events throughout the year to service the 17 million people that pass through the area annually.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Harbourfront Centre
Situated along the banks of Lake Ontario, this 10-acre attraction has transformed from a derelict shipping terminal to an upscale neighborhood bustling with hundreds of things to do. Abandoned warehouses have been transformed into theaters and an art gallery, giving it an atmosphere comparable to Pier 39 in San Francisco and Baltimore's Inner Harbor. There's also multiple eateries around as well as several small parks, including the Toronto Music Garden, designed in part by cellist Yo Yo Ma. And if you're around during the summer, you can kick back on Sugar Beach, a former parking lot transformed into an urban beach. What's more, Harbourfront Centre hosts upward of 4,000 events throughout the year to service the 17 million people that pass through the area annually.
... more

#5

#5 in Toronto

Free
If you don't mind a bit of chaos, the Kensington Market in a Toronto must-see. Previously a Jewish neighborhood, the market came to life around the 1920s when families would set up stands in front of their houses to sell one another goods. Today, this marketplace has grown in both size and diversity. Streets are lined with shops and restaurants selling a variety of goods from Europe to Asia and beyond. Note: Kensington Market is the name of the neighborhood in which these shops and restaurants reside, not an actual outdoor market. The last Sunday of every month, however, is the closest you'll come to having that traditional market experience. The area goes completely car-free and fills up with shoppers, along with some lively street performers.
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Shopping Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Kensington Market
If you don't mind a bit of chaos, the Kensington Market in a Toronto must-see. Previously a Jewish neighborhood, the market came to life around the 1920s when families would set up stands in front of their houses to sell one another goods. Today, this marketplace has grown in both size and diversity. Streets are lined with shops and restaurants selling a variety of goods from Europe to Asia and beyond. Note: Kensington Market is the name of the neighborhood in which these shops and restaurants reside, not an actual outdoor market. The last Sunday of every month, however, is the closest you'll come to having that traditional market experience. The area goes completely car-free and fills up with shoppers, along with some lively street performers.
... more

Free
According to recent visitors, the Toronto Botanical Gardens is a great spot for visitors and families of all ages, as it offers free admission to the grounds and tours, nature camps, courses and a summertime farmers market. For those looking for a more in-depth look at the attraction's 17 themed gardens, guided tours run between 45 and 90 minutes (depending on the tour booked) and cost $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children. If you want to walk around on your own, there's also an app-guided tour that'll take you around the grounds.
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Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Toronto Botanical Gardens
According to recent visitors, the Toronto Botanical Gardens is a great spot for visitors and families of all ages, as it offers free admission to the grounds and tours, nature camps, courses and a summertime farmers market. For those looking for a more in-depth look at the attraction's 17 themed gardens, guided tours run between 45 and 90 minutes (depending on the tour booked) and cost $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children. If you want to walk around on your own, there's also an app-guided tour that'll take you around the grounds.
... more
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