As well as a good deal of major art museums—the Art Gallery of Ontario, Feheley Fine Arts’ collection of Inuit art, and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art—the city is home to hundreds of smaller galleries located in popular districts such as Queen West, Ossington, Queen East and the Distillery District. There’s also Nuit Blanche, an all-nighter of an arts festival that takes over the city from dusk until dawn.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)—seen as the second most important festival of its kind, after the Cannes Film Festival—dominates the calendar of events for September. For the past 40 years of TIFF’s existence, the city fills with film buffs and the world’s top celebrities alike, bringing a buzz to Toronto like no other. TIFF starts the Thursday night after Labour Day (or the first Monday in September) and runs for 11 days.
Toronto’s top museums are naturally the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), but you can also explore alternative cultural hubs such as the unusual Bata Shoe Museum and the Hockey Hall of Fame, among many others. If you love museums, you won’t want to miss ROM Friday Night Live, held weekly from May 5 – June 30, 2017. This wildly popular event keeps the ROM’s doors open late into the night, with live indie artists, top DJs, and food and drinks. Dressed to the nines, you can explore the galleries or hit the dance floor for a museum visit like no other.
Situated just a short ferry ride away from the city, the Toronto Islands offer paths and green spaces for hiking, biking, and picnicking, as well as sandy beaches, and the unexpected Ward’s Island residential community to explore. Although they’re technically only a few moments from the downtown core, the islands offer a peaceful retreat from the bustle of the city and its interminable commutes. Viewing Toronto’s distinctive skyline at sunset is alone well worth the ride.
Edgewalk is the world’s highest full-circle, hands-free walk, located around the top of the CN Tower’s main pod. This one-of-a-kind experience puts you at the top of one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, which also happens to be the city’s most prominent attraction. Beyond Edgewalk, you can enjoy the cityscape and the view of Lake Ontario and beyond from the LookOut Level at 346 meters (1,136 feet), walk across the Glass Floor and outdoor SkyTerrace at 342 meters (1,122 feet), and check out the views from the very peak, the SkyPod, at 447 meters (1,465 feet) above the city.
Throughout the summer, there are numerous scenic spots playing free outdoor movies across Toronto. Bring a blanket or a towel, some snacks, and enjoy a film as the sun goes down over Harbourfront, Yonge-Dundas Square, the TIFF in the Park series at David Pecault Square, and, of course, the unique Sail-In Cinema over at Sugar Beach.
Two other reasons for visiting Toronto highlight practicality. Well situated in the northeastern region of North America, it is easily accessible to and from Chicago, New York, Washington, Boston, and Montreal. At Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, a recently constructed rail link, however, now aims to help travelers avoid the taxi-in-traffic part of getting from the suburban airport to the city proper. The Union Pearson Express shuttles passengers between the airport and Union Station, a 25-kilometer (15.5-mile) journey that takes 25 minutes, with departures every quarter of an hour. Even more convenient is Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, now connected to the downtown core by an underwater pedestrian tunnel linking the island terminal to the mainland.
If you’re coming from the United States or Europe, you’ll probably find the prices in Toronto to be quite reasonable. Watch out for tax, though, since you’ll have to add around 13% to tag prices on most items. Toronto is a great shopping destination, and you’ll want to head over to the Toronto Eaton Centre in particular. With over 250 retailers, this mall is North America’s busiest and is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.