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10 Things to do in Toronto at the end of the Summer 

Fill up the tank with gas, pack a lunch, grab the kids and get ready for adventures in this diverse city! Here are ten things to do in Toronto!
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There is still time to squeeze in a road trip to Toronto while the sun is shining! So whether you live in Barrie, Oakville, Georgetown, Cambridge or Niagara and beyond, it’s worth the drive to Toronto! With a population of close to three million, Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world with more than 140 languages and dialects spoken. Half of Toronto’s population was born outside of Canada, so it’s no wonder Toronto’s motto is “Diversity is our Strength”. Toronto is easily accessible by car with multiple highways leading into the city. So fill up the tank with gas, pack a lunch, grab the kids and get ready for adventures in this diverse city! Here are ten things to do in Toronto (many of them free) to get you started. It could easily have been a list of 100, so think of this as a starting point and create your own favourites once you are here.   Let me know what they are in the comments!

Centre Island 

Centreville Amusement Park is still open weekends in September, so park your car at the ferry docks and purchase tickets for the ferry. Admission to the island is free but tickets are needed for the Centreville rides. I grew up going to the island and I love bringing my son and doing the same activities with him; the log flume, antique cars, swan ride and the train! If you cross the bridge towards the pier you can have a picnic on the beach and play in the water. A few minutes away are bike rentals for all levels. We rented a two-seater carriage and zipped around the island laughing.

Miriam Porter/ Photographer

Harbourfront 

Located on 10-acres along the shores of Lake Ontario at 235 Queen’s Quay West, Harbourfront is a non-profit cultural organization with events for the whole family. There is underground parking on-site or above ground parking one block west. There are exciting music and film series, cultural festivals, vendors, and the Queen’s Quay Promenade. Also check out Harbour Tours  where you will learn about Toronto’s waterfront from sitting in a boat!

 

Miriam Porter/ Photographer

CN Tower

If you are visiting Centre Island or Harbourfront keep your parking spot and walk over to the CN Tower for spectacular views of the city. My son loves jumping on the glass floor and the super high Skypod level is truly unbelievable. Toronto’s iconic landmark was built in 1976 and for a long time was the world’s tallest freestanding structure. In 1995, the CN Tower was even classified as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World”. The antenna on top makes the CN Tower the tallest tower in the western hemisphere and not to be missed on your Toronto visit.

Miriam Porter/ Photographer

High Park

Your car will come in handy getting here and there is lots of free parking with two main lots. High Park is at 1873 Bloor Street West with two entrances, on Bloor or Queensway Ave. The park features a pond, walking trails, gardens, natural areas to play, a newly redesigned kids playground with a castle and a train to take you around (purchase tickets for the train, entry to the park is free). It’s Toronto’s biggest park and you will not be at a loss for things to do here.

The Beaches

This lakeside community is easily accessible by driving on Queen Street East. There is free street parking but be sure to check signs. There are close to 400 businesses operating along Queen Street from just West of Woodbine to the Waterworks. The small town energy of sidewalk cafes, restaurants and trendy shops are great for eating and finding special treasures. Kids love this area for the beach, the long boardwalk and playing in the lake. You can easily spend the day at this lake Ontario beachfront soaking up the summer sun – don’t forget a bathing suit, towel and sand toys! Our favourite café for a yummy treat is Tori’s Bakeshop , an eco-friendly organic bakery – try the cupcakes or donuts!

RELATED: Top 10 one-day road trips from Toronto

Casa Loma

Toronto’s famous Castle is easily accessible by car and located at Spadina and St. Clair, at 1 Austin Terrace. The gothic revival-styled castle is a popular museum for kids of all ages. Construction began in 1911 and was completed three years later and was the former home of financier Sir Henry Pellatt. There are 98 rooms, secret passages, towers, gardens, stables and, a 300-metre-long underground tunnel. Our guide whispers haunted ghost stories and captivating events that occurred here years ago – definitely a good place to return to on Halloween!

Scarborough Bluffs

It’s worth driving to the bluffs to see eroding sand cliffs and learn what happens from the accumulation of sedimentary deposits from over 12,000 years ago. The escarpment formation was caused by a natural process of wind and water erosion and stretches for 15 KM along the shoreline of Lake Ontario in Scarborough, at Undercliff Drive and Cecil Cres. This free park features hiking trails, beaches, gardens and of course, spectacular views – don’t forget your camera!

Kensington Market

There are endless neighbourhoods to explore in Toronto – Little Italy, Chinatown, Yorkville – but one of my favourites is Kensington Market. Kensington is considered one of the best street markets in Canada and has a feel for all things trendy, alternative, and old school mixed together. You can park yours in nearby Green P lots or side streets and walk over. Check out Urban Herbivore at 64 Oxford Street for delicious healthy and kid friendly food!

Fort York National Historical Site

My first time at Fort York was chaperoning my son’s school on a field trip – it’s fun and educational and easily accessible by car from the Gardiner Expressway with Green P parking nearby. Fort York is home to Canada’s largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings and the unique history lessons accompany a tour explaining the lives of soldiers back then.

Edwards Gardens

This city of Toronto public park is the perfect place to witness the final flowers of summer. The park features rock gardens, paths, walking trails, a greenhouse, a waterwheel and fountains. It’s also located next to Toronto Botanical Gardens (TBG), a gardening education and information centre, in the Wilket Creek Valley area. It’s located at the corner of Leslie St. and Lawrence Ave East, and there is plenty of free parking. So pack your final picnic lunch of the summer and bring your camera – before it’s too late!

Not enough time to complete everything on this list? Why not turn your day trip into an overnight adventure and call it a Staycation? It will allow you more time to make your own top ten list! Toronto is home to many great family friendly hotels

Miriam Porter/ Photographer

RELATED: Top Ten Road Trips to Escape the City this Fall

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