Toronto Islands#1 in Best Things To Do in Toronto
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.
Entry to the islands is free, but you will have to pay for the ferry ride. Tickets for the ferry are CA$7.71 (about $6) for adults and CA$3.72 ($2.85) for children ages 2 to 14. You can find the ferry to the Toronto Islands in Queen's Quay, which is located in the Harbourfront neighborhood in downtown Toronto, next to Union Station. During the summer months (May to September), ferries run from as early as 6:35 a.m. to as late as 11:15 p.m.; winter service to the island is shortened. If you'd like to ride a bike around the islands, you'll find a bike-share station on the city side of the ferry terminal, which you can take with you on the ferry. For more information on what to see and do, check out the Toronto Islands website.
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#2 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.
Travelers say the best part of this attraction is its ambiance. Yes, the food is tasty and the shops are unique, but simply visiting to take in the atmosphere of one of Toronto's most beloved hangout spots is worth a walk around alone. If you're not around in the summer don't fret – Torontonians and winter visitors alike say the Christmas Market is a gem, especially with some mulled wine in hand. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Thursday, Friday and Saturday hours are extended until 8 p.m., but on Sundays, businesses are only open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can find the Distillery District near downtown Toronto, a little more than a mile from the King subway station. For more information, visit the Distillery District's website.
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