A Local’s Guide to Toronto: 6 Things You Can't Miss

It’s Canada’s largest city and the economic hub of the country, but there’s a lot more to Toronto than skyscrapers and business meetings. Our insider, Arienne, let’s us in on the local secrets.


Photo © iStock/starmaro

See Toronto’s CN Tower

Every first-time visitor to Toronto has to see the CN Tower. It defines the city skyline. Views from the top can stretch to cities as far away as Hamilton and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

If you’re up for an adrenaline rush, test your wits by perching yourself precariously on the CN Tower’s Edge Walk.

Pack a Picnic for Toronto Islands

To get that picture-perfect Instagram shot, pack a picnic and head over to the Toronto Islands, or stay on the mainland and capture the sun setting over the skyline from Polson Pier or Trillium Park at Ontario Place.

Visit Toronto’s Charming Neighborhoods

The charm of Toronto lies in its neighborhoods where the city’s multiculturalism is on full display. Kensington Market is the most vibrant neighborhood in the city and has been home to many different waves of immigrants over the past century.

Colorful buildings of Kensington Market. Photo credit: iStock

In the west-end, make a point to visit Little Italy, Parkdale, and West Queen West. While in the east-end, the neighborhoods of Leslieville, the Danforth, and The Beach shouldn’t be missed.

A man dances during the Danforth festival, Toronto. Photo credit: iStock

Take a step back in time and visit the Distillery Historic District, once home to the largest distillery in the world and boasting beautifully preserved Victorian industrial buildings. This pedestrian-only district is filled with restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops, art galleries, a brewery and a distillery.

Festivals and Events in Toronto

Need another reason to visit? A trip to Toronto during one of these top festivals and events will really bring your experience to life. The Toronto Pride Festival is held in June, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival in July, the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and the Toronto Christmas Market in December.

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Day-Trips from Toronto

Rent a car and explore some of the surrounding areas on one of these great day-trips from Toronto.

Nature lovers and will enjoy a visit to Hamilton, known as the waterfall capital of the world with over 100 waterfalls found around the city. Hamilton is also quite the hot spot for foodies these days too.

A little over an hour’s drive from Toronto is the charming little town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, known for its wineries, summer Shaw Festival, and buildings dating back to the 19th century.

Horse-and-carts outside old-school buildings. Photo credit: iStock

If there’s only one day trip you take from Toronto, you must visit Niagara Falls, a collection of three waterfalls on the US-Canadian border. The Horseshoe Falls are the largest and most popular, and visitors can get an up-close viewing with a ride on the Hornblower Niagara Cruise.

Niagra Falls at sunset. Photo credit: iStock

Kids will love a visit to Canada’s Wonderland, a 330-acre theme park located about 40 minutes north of the city boasting 16 rollercoasters, live theatre performances, and a 20-acre water park.

Navigate Your Way Around Toronto Like a Local

The Toronto Transit Commission (or the TTC as locals call it) is a network of subways, streetcars and buses that will get you around the city. A day-pass is worthwhile if you’ll be making 4 or more trips in a day, especially on weekends when a single day-pass is good for 2 adults and up to 4 youths.

Bike Share Toronto is another great option for getting around the city on two wheels. They have over 2,000 bikes spread across 200 stations in the city. And of course, nothing beats walking!

Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.

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