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Toronto is home to a host of free and truly cheap activities, ranging from noshing on classic Canadian sandwiches to catching rays on one of the city’s many beaches. Here’s a budget traveler’s guide to the best things to see and do for free or less than 10 Canadian dollars ($7.50).
So, you’ve got no money. Spending a hefty chunk of your budget on top-line Toronto attractions may not be an option (a trip up the CN Tower will easily set you back 40 Canadian dollars [$30]). However, that doesn’t mean you have to shell out your hard-earned cash to enjoy the city. Skip the sticker shop, and think tours of the city’s oldest market, complimentary nights at the Art Gallery of Ontario and free rock shows at the Harbourfront Centre. All activities here cost less than 10 Canadian dollars ($7.50) or not even a dime.
Thinking of Canada probably doesn’t equate to visions of white-sand beaches, but let Woodbine Beach Park change your mind. Located in The Beaches neighborhood, this 37.5-acre (15.2-hectare) park is home to 1.8 miles (three kilometers) of sandy beaches on the shores of Lake Ontario. Picnics, sunbathing and swimming are a given. The park is also home to children’s playgrounds, beach volleyball courts and an Olympic-size pool, as well as necessities such as change rooms, washrooms, snack bars, water stations and beach-side showers. In the winter, the lifeguard stations are transformed into site-specific works of art, making a case to visit Woodbine even when the temperature drops to sub-zero lows.
From September through May, the Canadian Opera Company hosts free concerts during certain weekday lunch hours (check its website for the schedule). The opera’s company will perform, but visitors will also be treated to performances by everyone from acclaimed taiko (Japanese drumming) ensembles to famed pianists and string musicians. Over 70 concerts will take place over the season, so keep an eye on its Facebook page for more information.
Every September, film stars flock to the city to attend the much-lauded Toronto International Film Festival. Tickets to the actual shows are hard to come by and generally expensive, so get in your celebrity sightings on the city streets. Many of the notables stay in Yorkville, also dubbed the city’s Mink Mile for its saturation of designer boutiques and five-star hotels. Grab a seat in the park, and try to spot a star or two. Even if you don’t see anyone, the crowd the neighborhood draws (expect mink coats, flashy cars and catwalk-ready couture) makes people-watching a hoot.