10 Best Things To Do In Toronto For Free
Visiting a new city, or even exploring your own, can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be – it just takes a little research to find free opportunities. We’ve done the work for you with a roundup of the best things to do in Toronto that won’t cost a penny.
Plus, check out the 10 best free things to do in New York City.
Free night at the museum
The Royal Ontario Museum has a collection ranging from Roman busts and Egyptian mummies to samurai swords and dinosaur skeletons – and admission is free on the third Monday evening of every month. The Art Gallery of Ontario offers free admission to those under 25 every day. And every Wednesday night, it’s free to everyone. See their nearly 95,000 works, ranging from classic to modern, and Indigenous to the Group of Seven. Plus, take a break in the glass-and-wood Galleria Italia, which is arguably one of the most beautiful rooms in the city.
Discover green ravines
Toronto’s ravines are essentially slashes of urban forest and trails running through the city. The Don River Valley Park bisecting the city is a particular treat – it’s hard to believe lush wilderness lies so close to a busy road. Take a break from the city with a nature walk and enter the ravine close to downtown at Corktown Common.
Explore Graffiti Alley
If you enjoy street art more than gallery paintings, head slightly south of Queen Street West and take a walk through Graffiti Alley. The famed kilometre-long stretch of back alley between Spadina and Portland streets offers some amazing art and plenty of spots for cool photographs. And, make your pictures pop with 5 apps to make your travel photography stand out.
Stroll the Distillery District
The Distillery District comes by its name honestly – it started out in 1832 as the Gooderham & Worts Distillery. Once the world’s biggest whiskey producer, it shut down in 1990 and became a much-used film set before being reborn as a pedestrian mall full of boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Stroll the cobblestone streets and soak in the Victorian-era architecture!
Visit Harbourfront Centre
Walking Toronto’s waterfront is already a fantastic (and free) experience, but there’s even more to do at Harbourfront Centre. The area alongside Lake Ontario attracts 12 million visitors a year to enjoy the boardwalk, marinas, art galleries, and the outdoor stage with free concerts and film screenings throughout the summer.
Courtesy of Harbourfront Centre
Take a dip in a public pool
Toronto can get steamy during the summer, so thankfully pools across the city are free. Try the pools in High Park, Christie Pitts, and the Sunnyside Gus Ryder Pool near Lake Ontario. Plus, here’s a list of indoor pools in Toronto.
Hit The Beaches
This east-end Toronto neighbourhood used to be a summer vacation spot in the horse-and-wagon days, but now you can get there quickly by car or transit. Head to the boardwalk for a little exercise and people-watching, and then hit Queen Street East for window shopping.
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Wander in Kensington Market
Whether you’re looking for fresh produce, obscure cheeses or vintage clothing, you’ll find it at Kensington Market. While there’s plenty to spend money on, you can make a day of wandering while people-watching and taking in the market’s unique vibe. This is especially true once a month during the summer on Pedestrian Sundays, when cars are banned and the streets are full of people and performers. If you’re a foodie, here’s a guide to Kensington’s stellar food scene.
Check out Evergreen Brick Works
Evergreen Brick Works is one of Toronto’s best reimaginings of old industrial factories. While many similar sites have become condos, the Brickworks has become a magnet for green-minded locals and eco-tourists alike. The 40-acre site offers beautiful hikes, interesting architecture, and events including the Saturday farmers market, art exhibits, and scavenger hunts.
Head to the Toronto Islands
One of the best parts of Toronto is the collection of islands in the downtown harbour, which offer a taste of nature and amazing views of the skyline. Once you’re on the islands, you can bike, walk and even paddleboard around the islands, and the beaches range from family friendly to clothing optional. Centre Island is the largest and most popular, but there’s lots to explore on the other 14 inter-connected islands. Pack a picnic and hop on the ferry!
Photo cred: Gaby Burger
To get to the islands, catch the ferry from The Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the foot of Bay Street on Queen’s Quay. Tickets cost $7.87 for adults and includes a return trip.