Toronto Islands picture
calvio/Getty Images

Key Info

9 Queens Quay West

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.6

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

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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Type
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#2 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.

The St. Lawrence Market is often regarded as one of the best food markets in the world by foodie experts, and travelers couldn't agree more. Not only were recent visitors impressed by the overwhelming amount of delicious food under this market's one roof, but they also loved how reasonably priced items were. According to some visitors, the food is only half the fun. Many strongly recommended holding out on a visit for Saturday, when the market truly comes alive with vivacious vendors hawking their fare to both hungry tourists and locals. If you're not one for big crowds, make sure to get there really early. Some visitors say you cannot leave the market without getting a peameal bacon sandwich at the Carousel Bakery. A signature dish in Toronto, the sandwich is simple – Canadian back bacon stuffed between a Kaiser roll – but packs a flavorful punch.

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