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Things to Do in Ontario

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Hockey Hall of Fame
17 Tours and Activities

Hockey is akin to a religion in Canada and its shrine is The Hockey Hall of Fame, located at the foot of Front and Yonge near the Financial District in downtown Toronto.

The Hockey Hall of Fame offers something for fans and non-fans alike: the finest collection of hockey artifacts at all levels of play from around the world; interactive games that challenge shooting and goalkeeping skills; themed exhibits dedicated to the game’s greatest players, teams and achievements; multimedia stations; theaters; larger-than-life statues; a replica NHL dressing room; an unrivaled selection of hockey-related merchandise and memorabilia; and NHL trophies. The piece de resistance, of course, is hands-on access to The STANLEY CUP. A new addition to the Hall of Fame is to view The Clarkson Cup, awarded annually to the team that wins the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) championship. Donated in 2013, it is named after former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson.

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Scotiabank Arena (Air Canada Centre)
7 Tours and Activities

Well known as the ACC, The Air Canada Centre is home of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). Some of the art deco facade on the outskirts of the arena pays homage to the building’s history previously occupied by Canada Post’s Toronto Postal Delivery Building.

Since its inception in 1999, the outlying area of the ACC has developed into Maple Leaf Square, with the Le Germain hotel and condominiums as well as a number of restaurants, supermarkets and office buildings in the vicinity. The ACC is a premier concert and event venue. The Tragically Hip played ACC’s first concert and other bands like Bon Jovi, U2, The Police and Rush have played up to 4 or 5 concerts in one tour at the ACC.

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Toronto High Park
1 Tour and Activity

High Park, with its numerous cultural institutions, sports facilities, playgrounds and even a zoo, is the largest park in the Canadian metropolis Toronto and serves as a recreational area for locals and visitors alike. About a third of the park is left in its natural state and is home to both large groups of trees, shrubs, grasses and Canadian flowering plants as well as the many species of birds that are native to the area. High Park is especially beautiful late April and early May, when the Sakura cherry trees around Hillside Garden are in full bloom and spread their wonderful fragrance. The first of these trees that now make up a huge big pink canopy were given to High Park as a present from the citizens of Tokyo, while later on more and more Sakuras got donated by various sources.

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Humber Bay Park
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Humber Bay Park consists of two man-made peninsulas, that jut out at the mouth of Mimico Creek just before it joins Lake Ontario. Humber Bay Park East is a great place to go animal watching, as a large number of cormorants, geese, herons, swans and ducks congregate here. Also frequently seen are Great Egrets and Red-Tailed Hawks, and you might even spot a turtle basking in the sun on a nice day. Most people combine this with a walk on the many trails that either lead along the shore of the lake or through the greenery of the park. Along the shore, you will find two sandy beaches and if you are a photographer, Humber Bay Park is also a great spot to see the spectacular Toronto Skyline with the CN Tower rising up in the midst of the skyscrapers. The two peninsulas are connected by a small pedestrian bridge and on the other side at Humber Bay Park East, visitors can find a parking lot and the big marina.

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Niagara Falls IMAX Theatre
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17 Tours and Activities

The Niagara Falls IMAX Theatre offers a number of Niagara Falls-related experiences all in one place. First of all, there is their “Niagara: Miracles, Myths & Magic” IMAX movie which tells the true stories of the world-renowned Niagara Falls, beginning with the native peoples and how their culture relates to the Falls to the daredevils who tightroped their way across to the adrenaline junkies who took a plunge over the falls in a barrel. You’ll not only leave the 3D film with a better understanding of Niagara Falls, you’ll feel like you took part in its history.

“Elysium: The IMAX Experience” is another IMAX film option. Opened in this location in September 2013, the futuristic movie takes place in 2154. It tells the story of the two classes of people that exist -- the wealthy who live on the beautiful Elysium space station, and the rest who live in poverty -- and the one man willing to do anything to bring equality.

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Fort York National Historic Site
3 Tours and Activities

Fort York is one of Canada’s most important and earliest historic sites and was in use between the 1790s and 1880s. The military fortifications consisting of stone and wood barracks, powder magazines and officers’ quarters were put in place by the British Army and Canadian militia troops as the primary harbor defense of the city of York, Toronto’s old name and back then the capital of Upper Canada. It guarded the entrance to Toronto Harbour and Fort York saw action three times, the most notable of these battles being the Battle of York in 1813, when the invading U.S. Army destroyed the fort and the retreating British soldiers blew up the powder magazines, killing hundreds. Of course, the British government was not pleased by the defeat and subsequent ransacking of York and this event spurred the much better known British invasion of Washington D.C. a year later, which resulted in the burning of Congress and the White House.

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Toronto Kensington Market
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18 Tours and Activities

Kensington Market is a must-see on a visit to Toronto. The lively market is filled with a mix of food stores selling a variety of meats, fish, and produce. If that isn’t enough to make your mouth water, you can browse bakeries, spice and dry goods stores, and cheese shops. It is also home to many restaurants covering a wide variety of styles and ethnicities.

Along with the plethora of food shops in Kensington Market are a wide variety of new and used clothing boutiques plus discount and surplus stores. And just when you need a respite from all the shops, grab a seat in cozy café or stop for a meal in one of the many restaurants. In summer, Kensington Market hosts several car-free Sundays, and a pedestrian mall unfolds on the narrow streets. Live music, dancing, street theatre and games are among the special events on the closed streets.

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Toronto Chinatown
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11 Tours and Activities

One of three Chinatowns in the Greater Toronto area, the area that runs from College just before Queen on Spadina as well as along Dundas, west of Beverly Street ( past the Art Gallery of Ontario) is the largest Chinatown in the city. The two other Chinatowns are located at Gerrard and Broadview in Toronto’s east end and in Mississauga, in the Greater Toronto area. The Chinese community is one of the largest ethnicities in Toronto. According to the 2006 data from Statistics Canada, there were 283,075 Chinese people living in the city; the Chinese population is the second largest visible minority--after South Asian--comprising of 11.4 per cent of Toronto residents.

It is no wonder that Chinatown is one of the most densely concentrated and chaotic areas of Toronto. Whether you’re trying to buy fruit at one of the many markets on a Saturday morning or find a bargain at one of the many shops, you’ll always be surrounded by excitement.

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Art Gallery of Ontario
9 Tours and Activities

After undergoing an extensive renovation by Toronto-born Frank Gehry, the Art Gallery of Ontario has reopened in a dramatic new building that strikes a dazzling balance between art and architecture, and makes great use of natural light.

The Art Gallery of Ontario holds a staggering 79,000-plus works, as well as a huge photograph collection. Highlights include rare Québécois religious statuary, First Nations and Inuit carvings, and major Canadian works by Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. European art is also well represented with works by Thomas Gainsborough, Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and René Magritte.

The AGO also displays a comprehensive collection of contemporary art in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, projection art, painting, and instillation art. A wide spectrum of exhibitions round out the AGO’s art-filled experience.

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Canadian War Museum
6 Tours and Activities

The Canadian War Museum tells the story of Canada’s past conflicts, how the country and its people were affected, and remembers the sacrifices made by those that served the country in wartimes. Among an ever-changing display of new exhibitions and themes, there are several permanent exhibitions. The Legion Hall of Honour, for example, commemorates the past through personal stories, photographs and artifacts and explores common burial practices throughout history. The Military Technology Collection on the other hand is more scientific and documents the technological progress through both personal stories and a collection of different artillery and vehicles, such as fighter jets.

Four Canadian Experience Galleries called “Wars on our Soil, For Crown and Country, Forged in Fire and A Violent Peace” delve into separate conflicts and battles.

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More Things to Do in Ontario

Entertainment District

Entertainment District

3 Tours and Activities

True to its name, the Entertainment District hosts Toronto’s extensive performing arts, club and sports scene. The Roy Thomson Hall, home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, might look like a big glass container, but once inside is an architectural and acoustic marvel. At the Royal Alexandra Theatre, famous productions such as Mamma Mia! and the LionKing have been performed and for more shows, musicals and plays, head to the Princess of Wales theatre. At that venue, you will find amazing views from all angles and it is said, that there isn’t a single bad seat in the whole theatre. Sport fans should visit the Air Canada Center, an indoor sporting arena and home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors, as well as the Rogers Centre, the gigantic baseball stadium where the Blue Jays play.

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Toronto Harbour

Toronto Harbour

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The Toronto Harbour comprises of a few areas. Running east to west from Jarvis, just south of Queens Quay to lower- Spadina along and south of of Queens Quay is the downtown Harbourfront area. The focal point of the Harbour also known as The Harbourfront is where the Harbourfront Centre, Power Plant art gallery and Queens Quay Terminal are located. At Bay and Queens Quay, the walkway to the ferries ($7 per adult each way) to access the Toronto Islands.

The Harbourfront has transformed over the years due to the proliferation of condo developments and a new population that never existed. It is now become more of a destination due to its revitalization. You can picnic, rent a boat or take a tour over to the Toronto Islands or simply walk along the boardwalk. Key spots to picnic other than the islands are on the man-made beaches, mainly Sugar Beach (named after the Redpath Sugar Factory nearby) and the HtO Park.

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Queen's Park

Queen's Park

4 Tours and Activities
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Harbourfront Centre

Harbourfront Centre

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One of the most enjoyable activities for both locals and visitors is spending time on the Toronto Harbourfront. It’s a great place to stroll, have a picnic, shop, duck in and out of art galleries, or grab a ferry to the Toronto Islands. Queen’s Quay is usually the first stop for visitors to the Toronto Harbourfront. Ferries to Toronto Islands and harbor boat rides depart from here. At York Quay are a series of galleries including the Photo Passage and the Craft Studio, which runs courses in ceramics, jewelry, glass-blowing, and textiles. Concerts are held at the Toronto Music Garden, the Power Plant is a contemporary art gallery, and the Premiere Dance Theatre host many dance performances. Throughout the summer, especially during the weekends, the Toronto Harbourfront puts on a kaleidoscopic variety of performing arts events at the York Quay Centre; many are aimed at kids, some are free. Performances sometimes take place on the covered outdoor Concert Stage beside the lake.
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CF Toronto Eaton Centre

CF Toronto Eaton Centre

6 Tours and Activities

Known as a landmark as well as one of Canada’s most well-known retail centres--with over 200 shops-- it’s hard to miss the Eaton Centre in the heart of Toronto’s downtown core, stretching over two city blocks. Named after the now-defunct Eaton’s department store chain led by Timothy Eaton, the retailer filed for bankruptcy in 1999; Sears acquired all assets, though the Centre still retains its name.

Architecturally, the Centre is known for its flock of Canadian geese, designed by artist Michael Snow, suspended from the centre of a glass-galleria. During the holiday season, a massive Christmas Tree towers in the centre of the mall -- the swarovski crystal decorations have been popular with visitors and shutterbugs. The mall has 7 different restaurants and a modern food court --renovated in 2011--appealing to all tastes. The mall is still undergoing renovations near the Queen entrance yet the Centre remains one of Toronto’s biggest tourist attractions.

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Toronto Financial District

Toronto Financial District

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4 Tours and Activities
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Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach

2 Tours and Activities

Sugar Beach is an urban beach that was opened in 2010 in an attempt to make the shoreline more accessible to the public and to revitalize the space. The name Sugar Beach is a reference to the Redbath Sugar Refinery, which can be seen just opposite the beach and the park was clearly designed with that sugar theme in mind. The fine, white sand looks almost a bit like sugar, the large granite rocks are painted in red and white stripes similar to a bonbon and then there are the patio umbrellas in that perfect shade of pink candy floss. Contrary to what the name “beach” might actually suggest, the area does not allow for swimming or bathing in the Lake Ontario water and instead is a recreational and relaxation space. Beneath the pink umbrellas, white beach chairs dot the sand and invite for a relaxing afternoon with a book or some good company.

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Yonge-Dundas Square

Yonge-Dundas Square

11 Tours and Activities
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Bata Shoe Museum

Bata Shoe Museum

2 Tours and Activities

This quirky museum is dedicated to the style and function of footwear in four impressive galleries. With over 10,000 pairs of shoes, displays range from different cultures from China to Egypt and even a collection of 20th century celebrity soles

The museum has three types of exhibitions:

The main exhibitions, which include one semi-permanent and three changing exhibitions in specially-designed galleries, which can go on to become Travelling Exhibitions

'Snapshot' exhibits, on display for one or two weeks and feature five to ten display cases

Online exhibitions

Semi-Permanent exhibitions give you an overview of footwear history such as the All About Shoes flagship display, a voyage through 4500 years of footwear.

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Toronto Islands

Toronto Islands

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10 Tours and Activities
A quick ferry ride from the city center, the Toronto Islands are chain of small islands that offer a pleasant respite from the bustling city. Come here to soak up the sun, laze on the beaches, or take a peaceful bike ride. One of the most popular Toronto Islands is Centreville, which is a favorite for visitors. The island includes a children's amusement park, tiny shops on a turn-of-the-20th-century Main Street, and the Far Enough Farm, where the kids can pet lambs, chicks, and other barnyard animals. Kids will love riding the old-fashioned carousel and the miniature railway. The other popular islands, more residential than Centreville, are Ward’s Island, Algonquin (Sunfish Island), and Olympic. The Toronto Islands have several swimming beaches, including Centre Island Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Hanlan's Point Beach and Ward's Island Beach. The Islands also host a number of events, including the Olympic Island Festival, an annual rock concert.
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ByWard Market

ByWard Market

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12 Tours and Activities

Canada’s oldest market, operating since 1826, the ByWard Market is one of the most entertaining attractions in Ottawa.

Come here year-round, rain or shine to get a taste for Ottawa’s food culture and lively city ambiance.

There are more than 260 fresh produce, arts and crafts stands to browse, and 500 businesses operating within the market. Choose from 88 restaurants, two dozen nightlife venues, and scores of shops and boutiques. You’ll also find the National Gallery of Canada nearby.

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Confederation Square

Confederation Square

1 Tour and Activity

Confederation Square is a triangular plaza wedged between Wellington Street and Elgin Street right in front of Parliament Hill. It is a planned urban space that was, together with the National War Memorial, officially completed around 1939. The big granite memorial sits at the very center of the square and was originally a tribute to the Canadians who fought in World War One, but has since become more of a symbol of all Canadians serving the country in times of war. Bronze soldiers, including infantry, nurses, dispatch riders and many more regiments and corps portray “The Response” under the big granite arch, the heroic sacrifices made by Canada. They are watched over by two figures representing peace and freedom mounted on the top of the arch. Located at Confederation Square and right in front of the National War Memorial is also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a second monument that holds the remains of an unidentified soldier fallen during the First World War in France.

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Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall

4 Tours and Activities

Rideau Hall is the residence of the Governor General of Canada, and because of the country’s status as a member of the Commonwealth, is also where the monarch stays when visiting Ottawa. Rideau Hall was built in 1838 by the lumber baron Thomas MacKay and eventually became the official residence for the Canadian head of state in 1867. Most of the 175 rooms in the federal heritage building are used for state business, formal ceremonies and functions, with only a small space being dedicated to living quarters.

The grounds are just as historical as the stately mansion and represent Canada’s character and cultural diversity to the core. During the summer months the hourly changing of guard ceremony can be observed at the main gate. A characteristically colorful totem pole with a thunderbird gracing the top and a fisherman holding a salmon stands in the garden as a gift from the Kwakwaka´wakw people in the Pacific Northwest.

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Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

13 Tours and Activities

Opened on October 16, 2013, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, next to the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower. It features a total of has 5.7 million liters of marine and freshwater habitats, including a spectacular and crowd-pleasing walk-through tank. It is organized into nine galleries featuring 16,000 animals from different areas of the world: Canadian Waters, Rainbow Reef, Dangerous Lagoon, Discovery Centre, The Gallery, Ray Bay, Planet Jellies, Life Support Systems and the Shoreline Gallery. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is home to more than 13,500 exotic sea and freshwater specimens from more than 450 species, including octopuses, eels, sharks, stingrays, seahorses, exotic fishes, sea dragons, and many more. It also hosts many unique events for an additional fee, including a Stingray Experience, Friday Night Jazz, sleepovers, yoga, Sea Squirts for children, and photography classes. There is a store and café on-site.

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