The best things to do in Toronto right now (2024)

The best things to do in Toronto right now (1)

From world-class museums to famous festivals and iconic architecture, the best things to do in Toronto offer a surprising mix of fun

Photograph: Shutterstock/Songquan Deng

Written by Charmaine Noronha

Contributors: Paul French, Jessica Davey-Quantick & Sinead Mulhern

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Toronto’s been on the international travel map long before Drake started from the bottom here, but it’s definitely evolved since he introduced the ‘6ix’ to the world. Today, the city is blanketed with construction cranes as its downtown core undergoes rapid development, including building burgeoning new neighborhoods and sites such as a newly opened, design-forward 320,000-square-foot retail space, The Well. Aside from the iconic CN Tower that stands proud before Lake Ontario, the city’s skyline has been transformed and redefined to meet the needs of an ever-evolving population.

Roll through the 6ix for the best ethnic eats in one of the world’s most diverse cities (more than half its population of 3 million was born outside of Canada, and upward of 180 languages are spoken here). And stay for its urban green spaces, world-class museums and family-friendly attractions. Below, the best things to do in Toronto for tourists and locals alike.

This guide was updated by Toronto-based writer Charmaine Noronha.At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see oureditorial guidelines.

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Best things to do in Toronto

1.CN Tower
  • Attractions
  • Harbourfront
Photograph: Courtesy Destination Toronto

Once the world’s tallest tower, this iconic 553.33-meter (1,815.4-foot) structure is still impressive. Visiting Toronto is impossible without seeing the CN Tower, mainly because its spire dominates the landscape. You can take in the view from the main observation level (a circular floor that provides a 360-degree view of the greater Toronto area), or the main observation level plus Sykpod, the latter of which is the highest observation platform in the Western Hemisphere. Skypod is 33 stories higher than the main observation level and 447 meters (1,465 feet) above the ground. The elevator has multiple glass floors on your way up and on the main observation deck. Or if you’re really feeling adventurous, strap into the EdgeWalk: the world’s highest hands-free walk, on a 1.5m-ledge, 356 meters (1167 feet) above the streets. Reward your efforts with a Canadiana-inspired meal at the famous 360 Restaurant overlooking the city.

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2.Hockey Hall of Fame
  • Museums
  • St Lawrence Market
Photograph: Courtesy Destination Toronto

Even if you’re not a seasoned hockey fan, the Hockey Hall of Fame is well worth visiting. It has a seriously impressive collection of memorabilia, records, jerseys, and more, and the building itself is pretty spectacular, too. Now, if only those Leafs could get out of round one…

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3.The Distillery District
  • Things to do
  • The Distillery District
Photograph: Shutterstock/Kiev Victor

Where are some of the best pubs in Toronto hiding? The Distillery District. Formerly the home of the largest distillery in the world, this is now a bustling pedestrian neighborhood, but there are more than just local watering holes, too: the nabe is full of trendy shops, art galleries, top-notch restaurants, and many, many patios. The developers maintained the Victorian industrial aesthetic, complete with cobblestone walkways and old-timey buildings, making it a fun place to wander if a little more pre-packaged than other neighborhoods. It also hosts several major local happenings, like the annual Toronto Christmas Market.

4.Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Art
  • Chinatown
Photograph: Shutterstock.com / Daniela Constantinescu

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) features more than 905,000 works, making it one of the biggest art galleries in North America, attracting approximately one million visitors annually This gallery has everything from collections of Canadian indigenous artwork to the work of the iconic Group of Seven, who drew inspiration from the country’s rugged landscape. Good news for travelers on a budget: Wednesday nights (6pm to 9pm) are free, but tickets must be pre-booked online. If you plan on returning to the city within the year, consider paying CAD$5 more on the entrance fee for an annual pass.

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5.St. Lawrence Market
  • Shopping
  • St Lawrence Market
Photograph: Shutterstock.com / Daniela Constantinescu

Once named the world’s best food market by National Geographic, St. Lawrence Market is the top spot for fresh produce, delicious eats and artisanal goods. This downtown market has been going strong since 1803, and today, it is home to more than over 120 vendors selling everything from fresh-from-the-farm veggies to mouth-watering meals to gourmet bread straight out of the oven. It isn't just about tummies, though. A farmers' market hijacks the North market on Saturdays and on Sundays, experience everything from antique sellers to Moroccan cooking classes. Check its website for details.

6.Royal Ontario Museum
  • Museums
  • Bloor Yorkville
Courtesy: Royal Ontario Museum/Sam Javanrouh

The massive collection of cultural and historical items at this museum is unparalleled. Toronto is full of museums, but the ROM is the scene’s crown jewel. One of Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museums is home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects, and natural history specimens. It is featured in 40 galleries and exhibition spaces, displaying everything from Roman antiquities to indigenous art. The museum also hosts various rotating exhibits, including the Japanese-Canadian experience through history and mummy portraits, some of the world's earliest-known fine arts portraits.

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7.The Beaches

The best things to do in Toronto right now (16)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (17)

This eastside neighborhood buzzes in the summer as locals and tourists flock to spend a day by the water. A boardwalk runs most of the length of the southern boundary along four beaches that make up the shoreline. The Beaches connect to the Martin Goodman Trail, a popular biking and hiking trail that runs west to east through the city.

Wander through the cute, boho neighborhood filled with cafes and restaurants before grabbing homemade ice cream at long-standing Ed’s Real Scoop. With your cone in tow, head to the beach to stroll the boardwalk, join in one of the many volleyball games or hop into the water to cool off. Hit up one of the many music/cultural festivals in the summer, such as the month-long Beaches Jazz Festival, which is one of the country’s largest free music festivals in July. If you find yourself in the city during the winter, the annual Winter Stations—an outdoor art exhibit that runs for six weeks in February and March—will hopefully warm your insides.

8.Toronto Islands

The best things to do in Toronto right now (18)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (19)

A visit to any of Toronto’s islands will make you feel as though you have escaped three hours north to cottage country. The adventure starts on the ferry ride that takes passengers away from the bustling downtown core across the choppy waters of Lake Ontario. The cluster of adjoining islands features the popular Centre Island with an amusem*nt park, Centreville Amusem*nt Park, shaded picnic areas, and a beachfront. Although Centre Island is the most popular, Ward’s Island is far prettier with a scenic boardwalk, hobbit-like cottages, sailboats in view, and a cute beachy café that serves flatbreads and burgers and often features live music acts.

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9.Ontario Science Centre

The best things to do in Toronto right now (20)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (21)

Keeping things in the North York neighborhood, the Ontario Science Centre is one of the first interactive science museums in the world. Here, kids and adults alike can enjoy more than 500 interactive stations and numerous art installations. Catch a film about the night sky at Toronto’s only public planetarium, or take in a show at its 400-seat auditorium or domed IMAX theater. Wander through a living rainforest to learn about tropical vegetation, play educational games in the Science Arcade, and learn about 150 years of Canadian natural history and much more. In 2025, construction of a new state-of-the-art Science Centre will begin at Ontario Place, with an opening slated for 2028. So check out this tried and true facility before it moves house and then return for the grand opening.

10.Aga Khan Museum

The best things to do in Toronto right now (22)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (23)

Located northeast of Toronto, this beautifully designed building is the largest museum dedicated to Islamic arts and culture outside any Islamic country. Designed by Pritzker Prize architect Fumihiko Maki and founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili community, this site is worth the 15-minute drive from downtown Toronto. The permanent collection of more than 1,000 pieces of paintings, textiles, ceramics, glassworks, manuscripts, and more spans 10 centuries from China to the Iberian Peninsula. Temporary exhibits have included the works of Rumi, and Night in the Garden of Love, a multisensory exhibition by British artist Shezad Dawood, inspired by African-American Muslim musician, composer, and polymath (Allāmah) Dr. Yusef Lateef. Catch a show in its 336-seat auditorium or a bite at Diwan, a restaurant that delves into a fusion of Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian cuisines.

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11.Rogers Centre

The best things to do in Toronto right now (24)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (25)

Catch the Toronto Blue Jays batting against Major League Baseball teams at the Rogers Centre, where the boys in blue play their home games. During the summer months (if the Jays are playing), Torontonians show their support by donning team jerseys and blue hats. Catch the action by the waterfront, where they play their home games, and don’t miss out on a hot dog and a beer while cheering on the only Canadian team in the league.

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12.Kensington Market
  • Shopping
  • Kensington Market
Courtesy: Shutterstock

In a city full of diverse neighborhoods, Kensington Market is a standout. This pocket of Toronto has a distinctly wonderful, eclectic, bohemian vibe, with charming cafés, the city’s best Mexican snack foods, decades-old vintage stores, record shops and tasty vegan lunch joints. If quirky hipster hangouts and underground speakeasies are your scenes, this slice of the city is for you. Kensington has long been an artists’ hub, a fact that is apparent from its counter-culture performance spaces and art galleries.

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13.Toronto International Film Festival

The best things to do in Toronto right now (28)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (29)

Toronto’s internationally famous film festival takes place every September and is packed with everything from blockbusters to foreign films. Basically, this is film heaven. As you can expect, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) showcases some of the world’s best films from the year. Spot stars hobnobbing in the city’s streets and restaurants between premieres. The TIFF Lightbox Theatre plays classics all year round.

14.Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre
  • Eaton Centre
Photograph: Shutterstock.com / EQRoy

This double-decker theatre complex puts on an impressive array of performances and is the last of its kind in the world. Toronto bills itself as “North Broadway,” and with many touring companies coming through town, the city has plenty to offer drama lovers. There are theatres aplenty, but the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres are special as they’re both the last operating double-decker theatres and a national historic site.

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15.Roy Thomson Hall
  • Music
  • Eaton Centre
Photograph: Shutterstock

In a city that prides itself on its thriving arts scene, the must-visit Roy Thomson Hall provides captivating performances that are a real treat for the ears. Whether you want to check out the next Drake show at one of the many live music spots around town or take in an aria with the Canadian Opera Company, there’s always something to hear. The interior of the Roy Thomson Hall is pretty spectacular, too.

16.Trinity Bellwoods Park

The best things to do in Toronto right now (34)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (35)

From May through October, Trinity Bellwoods Park is one of the liveliest spots in the city, where dog owners and millennials flock to soak up the sun. Toronto is a cool city all year round, but it is particularly vibrant during the summer when Trinity Bellwoods Park turns into one of the best spots to people-watch and observe the city’s vibe. For the proper experience, come with a piping hot order of Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese served from a takeout window around the corner.

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17.Winterlicious and Summerlicious

The best things to do in Toronto right now (36)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (37)

Toronto is a food city, and for two weeks in both summer and winter, 200 of the town's best restaurants put on a festival to showcase their best dishes. Those living in the 6ix know how to chow down, and tourists should follow suit. For more than 15 years, restaurants that participate in the annual Winterlicious and Summerlicious food festivals have had their menus on point, serving diverse cuisine that has tourists and locals abandoning their diets entirely.

18.Humber River

The best things to do in Toronto right now (38)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (39)

The river that runs through Toronto’s West End, with its mouth opening up at Lake Ontario, is perfect for an afternoon of kayaking. Toronto is a bustling city, but it’s also dubbed “a city within a park,” and anyone who opts to kayak down the Humber River will see why. Outdoorsy tourists who wish to enjoy nature can easily ogle at birds, turtles and wildflowers as they float toward the iconic Humber Bay Bridge. Since you’re still in the city, making it on time for happy hour in the Entertainment District post-paddle will be no issue.

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19.The National Ballet of Canada
  • Downtown Toronto
Photograph: Bruce Zinger

Canada’s premiere ballet company performs the full range of classics and contemporary choreography. You'll see lead dancers who have truly mastered the art of graceful movement. The schedule is ever-changing, so follow their website for updated show listings.

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20.Bad Dog Theatre Company
  • Comedy
  • Dufferin Grove
Photograph: Courtesy Bad Dog Theatre Company

Previously known as Theatresports Toronto, this full-time improvisational theatre was a breeding ground for talents like Mike Myers and Colin Mochrie. Almost four decades old, this accessible and affordable venue is as important as ever. Canada has produced some notable funny folks, and many got their start at Toronto’s Second City or Bad Dog Theatre Company. Think you’re the next big thing? Sign up for one of the weekly drop-in improv classes.

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21.Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

The best things to do in Toronto right now (44)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (45)

For two weeks in spring, North America’s biggest documentary film festival will have you ditching your Netflix account. With more than 200 films to choose from, there’s something for everyone on the big screen at this fabulous festival. From docs focusing on social justice issues to the backstories of some of the world’s most talented artists, this is a film festival that showcases some of the most captivating tales from around the globe. The best part? They’re all true stories, of course.

22.Buddies In Bad Times Theatre
  • Greater Toronto
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Sorrell Scrutton

If you want to catch a local production, head to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, which, for more than 40 years, has put on alternative shows you won't find anywhere else. Located in the heart of Toronto’s Gay Village and next to top bars and restaurants, this theatre celebrates the LGBTQ community and is the largest and longest-running queer theatre worldwide. You might also want to catch the yearly Toronto Fringe Festival, where many big names first started (The Drowsy Chaperone first tread the boards at Fringe before winning a Tony).

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The best things to do in Toronto right now (48)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (49)

Around 11 million axes are thrown at these arenas every year. This is serious business. Canada is not, contrary to the stereotype, a frozen tundra populated by igloos and lumberjacks. But, okay, yeah, we still enjoy our plaid and sometimes want to get in touch with our burly, rugged history. Learn to throw an axe with the Backyard Axe Throwing League, where you and your friends can enter a group tournament to see who has the chops to triumph.

24.Haunted Walk

The best things to do in Toronto right now (50)
The best things to do in Toronto right now (51)

Many stories recalled on the Haunted Walk may be fictional, but they are enough to make even the most hardened horror-lover shudder. This macabre walking tour is also a great way to acquaint yourself with the city’s nooks and crannies. A cloaked tour guide carrying a lantern will lead you through Toronto's spookiest spots, including haunted theatres and the Mackenzie House, supposedly one of the city's most active paranormal sites. Not worried about nightmares? Grab a ticket for a night-time seance, where the Victorian supernatural awaits you.

Find more things to do in Toronto

More great things to do in Toronto

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