Author Topic: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?  (Read 1015 times)

CalFIornia

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Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« on: June 17, 2018, 10:04:05 AM »
The DH just learned that he needs to be in Toronto for work mid-July. I've decided to cash in on his sweet, paid-for room at the King Edward. I've never been to Toronto. Suggestions for free or cheap things to do on my own without a car for 5 days during the work week? I'm a quiet, outdoorsy gal, and although I'm a Bay Area native and lived in SF for many years, we're in the wine country now and I prefer to steer clear of big crowds and tourist ghettos.

I love taking in cities by foot. Best districts for walking / walking tours (self-guided or small group)?
Favorite local coffee shops for hanging out?
Top places for nice views?

Thanks so much!

Shinplaster

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2018, 02:11:09 PM »
Whenever we visit Toronto one of our favourite things to do is take the ferry over to Center Island.  The upper deck of the ferry is open, and it's a really nice ride over and back, with great views of the city.  (One ticket/fare covers trip over and return).  Once you get past the dock and amusement area, the crowds thin out. Center island has walking trails, a beach, bike rentals, garden and picnic areas, and a few fast food outlets.  If you take the path to Ward's island you will see some very cute cottages, sailboats, chapel, etc.  There is also a ferry stop there which will return you to the mainland again.  Pack a lunch or snack, and you can spend an entire afternoon there people watching, hanging out on the beach or under a tree, or walking.  If it's a hot day, the islands are always cooler because of Lake Ontario.

http://www.torontoisland.com/

High Park is also a nice place to walk.  Easily accessible by subway from downtown.

http://www.highparktoronto.com/

Jintana

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2018, 07:25:56 AM »
I lived in Toronto for 6 months back in 2001/02 so things have probably changed a lot, but I second the islands suggestion.  It feels like a world away from the city, especially mid-week on the furthest side to the city.  Niagara Falls is also just a Greyhound hop away and it's easy enough to escape the crowds who only head for the nearest viewpoint to the visitor centre.  If you have time there are plenty of provincial parks and nature walks within a day trip of the city, many accessible by public transport.  I really wish I'd spent more time exploring them.  The main harbourside waterfront around the CN Tower & stadium is fairly disappointing, I rarely bothered going there except for the odd hockey game.

If you like natural history and art then the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) is great, and I think it was free one night a week. The art gallery on Dundas St West was good too. 

High Park is nice enough and there are often events on there, but to be honest I wouldn't make a special trip for the park alone. If you enjoy specialty shops there are plenty around Chinatown & Kensington Market (oh, how I miss the cheese shop at Kensington!). 

It's quite quiet and leafy around the university for a nice wander, and there are often free public events there.  I moved to Vancouver shortly afterwards and was really struck by how different the lifestyles were. Toronto was far more community/event oriented whereas Vancouver was outdoor destination-based, so it's worth doing some research online before you go to find out if there are any festivals or events going on.

TOgirl

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2018, 08:37:10 AM »
We live in Toronto, but when being tourists in our own city, we've purchased the CityPass - gets you into 5 or 6 attractions and lets you skip the lines, which is fantastic. It also costs a fraction of the price that regular admission would be for these places. Includes: CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium, Casa Loma, Royal Ontario Museum, and then either the Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre.

rubybeth

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2018, 10:48:01 AM »
Following.

CalFIornia

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2018, 05:28:46 PM »
Thanks so much, fellow Mustachians. I will be checking into all of your tips. If you find yourself heading to the SF North Bay and would like the same, I'll happily return the favor!

ElleFiji

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2018, 05:50:13 PM »
Kensington market is an excellent urban wandering area- and quiter on weekdays.

In July there will be free festivals and events, definitely on weekends, most start Thursday or Friday.

The Harbourfront area has been revitalized and has a gallery

Freedomin5

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2018, 09:56:41 PM »
I second Kensington Market as well as St. Lawrence Market. Also, the beach is a nice for spending the day.

And yes, tons of free festivals during the summer.

https://www.toronto.com/summer-festivals/
https://festivalstoronto.com
http://events.seetorontonow.com
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 09:58:21 PM by Freedomin5 »

CalFIornia

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2018, 03:21:26 PM »
Fantastic! Thanks for the info. Really helpful!

Koogie

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Re: Toronto travel hacks: top free, cheap things to do?
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2018, 04:36:58 PM »
Rent or borrow a bike and bike the Waterfront Trail.  Go West past the CNE all the way to Mimico and out into Humber Bay Park or East all the way out to the Beaches and out onto the Leslie St. spit.  Wander around the Beaches, always a fun area.   Wander down Roncesvalles. Walk the Beltline Trail (I also like walking around Mt. Pleasant cemetery but I am one of those people that likes atmospheric cemeteries).

Go to Edwards Gardens and walk down the valley to the Science Centre.



https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-transportation/cycling-in-toronto/cycling-google-map/