Harbourfront Centre

#4 in Best Things To Do in Toronto
Harbourfront Centre picture1 of 2
Harbourfront Centre2 of 2
Arpad Benedek/Getty Images

Key Info

235 Queens Quay W

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Food Scene
  • 3.0Atmosphere

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.

Travelers and locals alike both agree that Harbourfront Centre makes for a pleasant visit, not to mention the perfect place for a peaceful stroll. Travelers loved the city and lake vistas, but some warned visitors to pack an extra layer to brave the lake winds, no matter what time of year you visit. If you happen to be around in the winter, locals strongly encourage an ice skating excursion here, simply for the views.

You can find Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto, about half a mile from the CN Tower. Access to the area is free. If you're coming via public transportation, the 509 Harbourfront streetcars run between Union and Exhibition, while the 510 Spadina streetcars run between Spadina and Union. You can get off either at the Harbourfront Centre stop. Union Station is the closest subway stop. Considering parking can cost between $5 and $24, depending on the day and time, it may be best to leave your rental car at your accommodations. Hours vary by venue. For more information on the Harbourfront Centre, and a calendar of the events happening throughout the year, check out its website

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More Best Things To Do in Toronto

Toronto Islands1 of 15
Distillery District2 of 15
Type
Time to Spend
#1 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.

Travelers and locals alike both take to the Toronto Islands. Recent visitors said it's a great place to take a long breather from the big city atmosphere of Toronto. Many say the incredible views of the city's skyline are reason alone to visit. However, some visitors found the area to be overrun, especially in Centre Island. Others also expressed disappointment with the inflated prices for amenities in and near the Centreville Amusement Park. Otherwise, the majority of visitors, especially those with families, thoroughly enjoyed their time on the island.

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