Of my various times spent in Canada, Toronto has not been a regular visit for me due primarily to family visits dictating other destinations. It’s a fine visit though and especially good value from the UK. Here’s a personal take on some of the things I have enjoyed about my times in Ontario.
The Hockey Hall of Fame is a classic visit. You don’t necessarily have to be into the ice game to appreciate this fantastic place. There’s lots of interactive stuff in there, commentate on a ‘game’, take slap shots at a computerized goalie or get to feel what it’s like ‘between the pipes’ yourself. The Stanley Cup is here too. Although it’s very much a fun visit it you will come away understanding a lot more about Canadian culture through it’s favourite game.
For a touch of history visit Old Fort York. On the outskirts of the city and incongruous with the modern highway nearby. It’s a diverse little visit for a couple of hours, away from a modern North American city full of skyscrapers and glass .
For something a little different try a visit to St. Jacobs Village just north of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. It’s a Mennonite community with many interesting stores, crafts and not a little living history about these fascinating people.
Things are always going on at Ontario Place. It’s a popular theme park with an IMAX theatre, rides, performances, and an ampitheatre with top acts.
As previously mentioned it’s well worth taking in The Rogers Centre (Skydome) for a little sport. A tip is to book a table at The Hard Rock Cafe overlooking the playing area and watch a game from a table while you dine up there.
For shopping The Eaton Centre has practically everything you’re going to need. It’s a huge shopping mall with its own LRT station.
The Air Canada Centre is a wonderful venue and home to Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey and Toronto Raptors basketball. Go for a hockey game is my advice. You may even get lucky and see a real team performing there such as The Montreal Canadiens…
Chinatown off Dundas and Spadina Avenue is worth spending some time there. Taste the flavours, experience the ethnic stores or take a walking tour.
The Harbourfront Centre at the Quay is a good place for entertainment, shows, the arts, family stuff and outdoor skating .
Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant. Visit The great One’s eating establishment and get yourself kitted out with the famous ’99’ jersey or tee-shirt.
Please go and visit Niagara Falls as it’s a must-see. Niagara Falls is about as close as Canada will ever get to Blackpool being full of tourist junk. Niagara-on-the-Lake however IS gorgeous. Don’t bother going over to the US side to see their Falls. They’re pretty spectacular in their own right but pale into insignificance when you’ve seen the Canadian Horseshoe Falls (the ones you see pictured everywhere – yes even US travel brochures!) It’s difficult to get a view over on the Buffalo side anyway. The customs guys have never been particularly friendly to me there either!
The best deal is to buy the day ticket which enable you to take the drop-on/off buses that run by the lakes between sights. It entitles you to a ride on the Maid of The Mist and all the other activities and places of interest along the way.
The CN Tower will be another must-see perhaps if only for the view. The revolving restaurant up the top is good but not necessarily good value for money as is the way with these types of places. It’s worth standing on the transparent floor and looking down to ground level from up above though.
Your money will go a long way in Toronto, particularly for eating, petrol and even accommodation. Most things are cheaper than here even in Toronto. A night at the hockey especially can be expensive for tickets, beer and food these days. I’d still recommend it as an authentic Canadian experience though.