If you love lively cities and a relaxed time at the beach, Toronto, Canada is the perfect place for you. Situated just over the US/Canada border this dynamic city is sure to catch your eye — and your heart — for the rest of your life. From chilling by the waterfront to snapping enough photos to keep your Instagram running for the next month or holding your breath on top of the CN Tower, Toronto is the perfect place to plan your next trip to.
Not convinced yet? While Toronto may not be on everyone’s travel radar, there’s no good reason for it — and there’s certainly no shortage of things to do while you’re there. Here are eight of the things that you can’t miss in Toronto.
1) HANG OUT BY THE WATERFRONT
Beaches and Canada don’t traditionally go hand in hand. So you might think I’m crazy when I say that when you’re in Toronto, you should head to the beach. But if you’re there in the summertime, then this is definitely the thing to do. Explore the harbor, yell at the seagulls, or just grab a beach chair and while away the afternoon while you watch the locals go about their days. You can also spot planes landing on the Toronto Islands from this vantage point (but more on them later).
2) EXPLORE THE DISTILLERY DISTRICT
Toronto’s Distillery District is pretty much hipster and Instagram paradise. Its location in the old buildings of Gooderham and Woorts Distillery make the atmosphere unbeatable. Get some shopping done, grab a coffee, indulge your sweet tooth at one of the bakeries, or just snap away on your camera every time you turn a corner.
If you’re lucky, there might even be an event on when you visit. For an events calendar and all things Distillery District, be sure to check out the district’s website. My one piece of advice? Don’t turn up hungry. There’s going to be a wait for whatever restaurant you want to get into.
3) HEAD UP THE CN TOWER
There’s nothing better than getting a bird’s eye view of a new city, and as the tallest building in Toronto (by far — the thing dominates the skyline), the CN Tower is the best place to do just that. Head down to the lower observation level to have nothing but a pane of glass between you and the streets of Toronto. That’s right, there’s a window in the floor and it is straight up terrifying. If the glass floor didn’t scare you, though, why not try out the Edge Walk?
4) DAY TRIP TO NIAGARA FALLS
If you have the time, taking a day trip to Niagara Falls is an absolute must do. While the surrounding town is ridiculously touristy, this natural wonder of the world will blow your breath away (and leave you just a little bit absolutely drenched). A day trip from Toronto is most easily done by car, but if you don’t have access to one there are plenty of companies that offer guided day trips.
While you’re there, be sure not to miss a Hornblower Voyage to the Falls Cruise. If you’re looking for a place to grab a quick lunch, head to Yank’s Bar and Grill. It’s just out of the most touristy area and the wings are to die for!
5) GRAB A CHIMNEY CONE FROM EVA’S ORIGINAL CHIMNEYS
Not only is Eva’s Original Chimney’s consistently listed as one of the best ice cream places in Toronto, but these crazy chimney cakes are (literally) viral Facebook video worthy. They may be a little bit expensive, but the price (and the food coma you’ll be in afterward) are TOTALLY worth it.
6) VISIT CASA LOMA
Ever dreamed of getting rich and building yourself a castle? Don’t get too excited. Financier Henry Pellat went broke after building his castle — but you can still visit it if you want to pretend for an afternoon. This ridiculously lavish house (it had indoor bathrooms before they were standard) is certainly a sight to behold. Be sure to make your way up to the top of the tower for more great views of the Toronto skyline!
7) SHOP IN KENSINGTON MARKET
While it isn’t a market in the traditional sense, the neighborhood of Kensington Market is still a great place to get some shopping done – especially if you’re a fan of vintage clothing. You could pop in and out of shops all day if you wanted, though your wallet might cut you off at some point. Kensington Market is also Toronto’s most diverse neighborhood, particularly because of its proximity to Chinatown, making it the perfect place to grab some delicious food.
8) CHILL ON THE TORONTO ISLANDS
Did you know that Toronto has its very own islands? Well, it does! For a little escape from the city, hop on a ferry to one of the islands (Centre, Ward’s, or Hanlan’s) and get exploring! The Toronto Islands are the perfect place to rent a bike a take a cruise or to enjoy even more of Canada’s surprising beaches. Oh, and the views of the Toronto Skyline are pretty ridiculous too. If you’re traveling with kids, then be sure to check out Centre Island’s very own amusement park: Centreville!
If all of this hasn’t persuaded you to go to Toronto yet, I don’t know what will (although the fact that the USD/CAD exchange rate means you get more bang for your buck is another good reason). Whether you follow the advice I gave here or say “screw it” and make your own way, I guarantee you there’s no way you’ll be let down. Seriously. There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t go. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to go to Toronto!
Have you ever been to Toronto? We’d love to hear your advice and tips in the comment section below! Read Next > Why Montreal Should Be On Top Of Your Bucket List