10 Toronto tourist attractions that don't suck
Toronto tourist attractions that don't suck will help you keep your relatives occupied, and might even be worth checking out on your own. Let's be honest, while the CN Tower is a great compass, it's not exactly a thrill to pay almost $30 to go up and look down. And the obligatory drive to Niagara falls is often too far. Besides, how many awkward pictures standing in front of gushing water do you really need?
Here's a round-up of tourist attractions in Toronto that don't suck.
The Scarborough Bluffs
I lived in this city for years before I discovered the awe-inspiring Scarborough Bluffs which stretch along Lake Ontario from the Eastern Beaches in the west to East Point Park at the eastern edge of the city. You'll be astonished at how wind and water erosion can create such stunning natural sculptures. Bring your camera; better yet, bring a sketchbook.
Evergreen Brick Works and the Rosedale Ravine
You don't need to trek out of the city to find serene hiking trails. The Rosedale Ravine is one amazing example of a trail right in the centre of Toronto. It starts at Heath St. E. near Yonge and St. Clair and takes you to an immersive forest path along the creek to the Brick Works.
The Toronto Islands
If getting lost in the forest with your relatives is a little too Hansel and Gretel - the terrifying Grimm brothers version - you might want to pack a picnic blanket and head to the Toronto Islands. They offer the best view of our cityscape as well as respite from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle.
Live Theatre in the Distillery District
Toronto's theatre scene is going strong and any thespian would appreciate a show at Soulpepper. Even if the play doesn't impress, you'll have the architecture of the Distillery District to marvel at, not to mention all the amazing places to eat and drink there. Make sure to garb a souvenir from Soma for artisan chocolates.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Even in the off Hot Docs season this theatre is a destination spot for great documentary films. There's always a great flick to catch and you can grab a beer to wash down your popcorn during the show. Bonus: you can to tour the Annex and the cinema is across the street from the iconic Lee's Palace, site of the colourful Al Runt mural.
TIFF Bell Lightbox
The TIFF Lightbox is ground zero for spotting filmmakers and promoters during festival season. This is also a haven for film lovers; the picture and sound quality are state of the art and the building also comes with a gallery space and a few great spots to eat and drink. Make sure to grab a glass of wine before the show at Luma on the second floor.
The St. Lawrence Market
Restaurants can cost an arm and a leg, so why not treat your foodie guests to a tour of the places where the chefs shop. The market is a great one-stop destination for all your grocery needs, and it's strategically located in an architecturally stunning historic neighbourhood populated by buildings like the historic Flatiron. While you're in the area swing by Brookfield Place
I love the crowds and noise in this city, but on a hot summer day it's always nice to get away to a cool oasis. Philosopher's walk nestled between two Toronto landmarks The Royal Conservatory of Music and the ROM has been one of my go-to places. You can often hear the sound of beautiful music streaming from the conservatory.
I generally cringe away from cheesy tourist spots but this aquarium is fascinating for both adults and kids. It's also situated at the foot of the CN Tower, steps from the ACC and the Rogers Centre (or the SkyDome as I still like to call it). Basically, you can say you did the tourist thing, all in one shot.
As a fan of graffiti, I always take my out-of-towner friends to see graffiti alley, behind the shops on Queen West between Spadina and Bathurst. The art is stunning and many people have seen shots of the alley in films or TV shows. It's constantly changing, so you're bound to see something new when you visit.
What other Toronto tourist attractions would you recommend? Add them to the comments.
Follow Sima Sahar Zerehi on Twitter @SimaSaharZerehi. Photo by Andrew Williamson.
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