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Toronto, Canada

I am planning a long weekend trip to Toronto Canada in the fall. I've never been to Toronto, so I would appreciate any advice on what area to stay in, what attractions to see, etc. I enjoy going to museums, off the beaten path activities, seeing the famous sites and would also like to do a day trip to Niagara Falls. I've done a little research online but would like any advice or suggestions from people that have visited the city.

Thank you :)

Posted by
11280 posts

The Ontario Science Center is the best one I've been to - anywhere (well, I guess the Deutsches Museum in Munich is equal). Plan on a full day here, including transit since it's a bit outside the center.

Be sure to see some of the "ethnic" neighborhoods - Chinatown (unlike most, it's huge and sprawling), Greektown, etc.

Posted by
1172 posts

Will you have a car? The easiest way to get to the Falls is by car. Fun activities at the Falls are maid of the mist and the Journey behind the falls
https://www.niagaraparks.com/visit/attractions/journey-behind-the-falls/
If you like wine, there are some great wineries along the way to Niagara falls too.

As far as where to stay in Toronto, I would say downtown somewhere in the entertainment district.

Museum wise, the ROM ( Royal Ontario Museum) is great
http://www.rom.on.ca/en
The AGO ( Art Gallery of Ontario) is worth a visit
https://ago.ca/
Casa Loma is also pretty cool
http://www.casaloma.ca/

One that is a little different is the Bata Shoe museum
http://www.batashoemuseum.ca/

The most famous site is the CN tower.

The distillery district is very fun to walk around and has great cafes, shops and restaurants.

The Kensington market is always great on weekends.

If the weather is nice, taking the ferry over to the islands and renting bikes is a good way to spend a few hours.

Will think some more and come back :)

Posted by
3923 posts

I'm assuming you'll have a car...

Well, it's easy to give a few sights - the CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium, Toronto Zoo, Royal Ontario Museum. It bored my husband to tears (payback for the Warplane museum) but we did the BATA Shoe Museum. St Lawrence Market was nice. I wasn't overly impressed with Kensington Market - a little too...gritty...for me and we didn't stay long. Didn't get to the Distillery District, but I guess it's nice (it's near St Law Mkt).

If you had time, Niagara on the Lake is a great place to stop for a few hours to wander on the way to the Falls - some great shops. Niagara Falls itself is very touristy - kinda like Times Sq north...but maybe one less touristy thing would be to visit the Botanical Gardens and the Butterfly House. Skylon Tower gives some nice views. Of course, Maid of the Mist (which we didn't do either trip) and I guess there is a zip line now...check out the fireworks schedule if you can find it - we were there on a Wed night and the fireworks were amazing. I avoid Marineland.

We stayed in two diff airbnb's in TO (we had 6 nights, 3 in each). One was out towards the Scarborough area, to the east of TO proper, with the lake in the backyard (it was gorgeous). The other was in the York area, a little NW of centre. Both were nice areas with easy access to bus/subway. I'd def plan on parking the car, so look for somewhere with free parking if possible and easy access to the public transport system (bus/tram/subway).

Oh, traffic can be mental on the highway - I know when we were going from Niagara Falls to TO, we stopped in Hamilton for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (for hubby) and when we were heading for TO, our GPS said something like an hour and it took over 2 hrs, so factor in highway holdups.

Posted by
6850 posts

This is a great planning site for Toronto. There are several great museums, it just depends what you're interested in. I like the residential neighborhoods (Cabbagetown, etc) much more than the city center in terms of where to stay. The city center hotels are really boring and overpriced.
http://www.seetorontonow.com/

Posted by
1315 posts

A previous poster mentioned Chinatown - if you have a car journey out to Pacific Mall in Markham, which isn't really very far from Toronto proper. As well as browsing the stalls, you must hit the food court. I also recommend the Chinese bakery "Brothers" in the plaza across the parking lot from Pacific Mall. We go to Pacific Mall and the area several times a year.

Posted by
1315 posts

Forgot to mention, we often stay at the Sheraton on Queen -- pretty expensive, but nice.

Posted by
8975 posts

I recommend the behind the scenes tour of the historic Elign and Winter Garden Theaters. It's the last remain
double-decker theaters in the world and both (especially the Winter Garden), are stunningly beautiful.

Posted by
2698 posts

If you're driving to the Falls, visit the wineries along the way and purchase some ice wine. It's special!

Posted by
537 posts

The Hockey hall of fame is in Toronto - so much fun if you like hockey. CNN tower is amazing. We took a tour of Blue Jays stadium if thats your thing - it was good.
I thought Niagara Falls was amazing - even as a tourist trap, the educational things and walkways were great. Do the maid of the Mist but bring extra ponchos or change of cloths, shoes. We took the trolley to the end point on the gorge- it was very interesting as well.and the night light show was great.

Posted by
4637 posts

The CN Tower used to be the tallest in the world. Views from there are almost like from airplane. Notice: it's CN Tower. It has nothing common with CNN. CNN headquarters are in Atlanta. Toronto is a fantastic city and unlike most cities in this country also civilized. My sister used to live there and I visited Toronto (and her) every year. You won't be disappointed.

Posted by
1315 posts

Maid of the Mist is now on the American side of the Falls only; the Canadian side runs essentially the same thing but its called Hornblower cruises.

Posted by
251 posts

How is driving in Toronto? I've heard it's bad, but I'm sure it couldn't be worse than driving in Chicago. I'm still undecided on if I should fly or drive. It would only be a 9 hour drive and 1 1/2 hour flight. Many of the AirBnBs I have been looking at include free parking.

Posted by
8975 posts

Driving within the city center is surprisingly sane by urban standards. Toronto is a fairly "new" city by North American standards, and the grid pattern it's built around makes things very orderly. On the flip side the freeways on the outskirts (like Ontario 401) are not for the faint of heart! It's one of the busiest highways in the world, 15 lanes wide at some points. Makes the New Jersey Turnpike look like a country lane;)

My advice is to fly Porter Airlines from Midway Airport. Billy Bishop Airport is right smack in the middle of the city. You can literally walk from the airport to places like the CN Tower, Rodgers Stadium and the Entertainment District along King St West.

Posted by
3923 posts

We didn't find driving thru the city bad - but we parked the car once we arrived - or drove it to where we could park and ride the subway. Driving from one side to another (to get to our Airbnbs) wasn't that bad, but the highways are so clogged - like anywhere, if you can avoid the rush hours - morning and afternoon commutes, you'd be much better off.

Posted by
1172 posts

Driving here is no different than any major city. If you can drive in Chicago, then you will be fine. You can just work your car once you get to the airbnb and walk/bus/subway to where you are going
The Billy Bishop airport is awesome if you are thinking of flying as it does fly to the island which is a stone's throw from downtown