Canada’s largest city has a cosmopolitan flair that celebrates the excitement of urban living while embracing its peaceful natural setting on Lake Ontario.
Toronto is home to a vast ravine system of protected green space, creating an urban forest that’s one of the city’s best-kept secrets. An easy one to find is the Rosedale Ravine Trail, which can be accessed at Yonge and St. Clair. Leave the hum of busy streets behind and connect with nature on serene trails where sightings of red-tailed hawks, beavers, and other wildlife are almost guaranteed.
Flanking the eastern edge of Toronto is Rouge National Urban Park, the largest urban protected area in North America. But much closer to downtown is Tommy Thompson Park, a wilderness nature preserve known for its many species of migratory birds and important role as a butterfly habitat. Cycling to the park’s lighthouse at the end of the peninsula is a favorite weekend pastime for nature-loving city dwellers.
With six million objects in its collection, including an impressive gallery of dinosaur fossils, the Royal Ontario Museum is one of Canada’s top cultural destinations. Budding archaeologists can “dig” for dinosaur fossils in the hands-on kids’ zone, while all ages will enjoy jockeying for a photo op in front of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal addition designed by American architect Daniel Libeskind.
Toronto is a designated UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts as a result of its leadership role in digital media and technology in the arts. You’ll view the world in a different way after attending events such as Nuit Blanche, a sunset-to-sunrise celebration of thought-provoking contemporary art that takes place each September, or imagineNATIVE, the world’s largest presenter of indigenous film and media arts.
Toronto’s year-round festivals—many of them free—offer opportunities to celebrate the city’s multicultural heritage, which is drawn from more than 200 different ethnic origins. Eat or dance your way around the world at events such as Taste of the Danforth in early August, where Greek cuisine and culture take center stage, and Caribana, where festivities kick off with a colorful Caribbean mas parade.
Best Day Trip
Escape to cottage country without the highway traffic by hopping on one of the breezy island ferries to the Toronto Islands, a pastoral archipelago in the Toronto harbor. Wander the blissfully car-free lanes among pastel-hued cottages on Ward’s Island, entertain the kids on the rides at Centreville Amusement Park, or join the bohemian crowd at Hanlan's Point Beach, Toronto’s only official clothing-optional beach.
Off the Beaten Path
Take a shuttle to Evergreen Brick Works, a former industrial quarry located in the Don River Valley that’s now a hub for community environmental education, inspiration, and activism. Hike the meandering trails, browse eco-inspired goods in the gift shop, and dine on farm-to-table organic cuisine while learning about strategies to help save the planet.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Most Iconic Place
Dominating Toronto's skyline is the iconic CN Tower. Although it no longer claims bragging rights as the tallest building in the world, it still soars a whopping 553 meters (1,853 feet) and is as jaw-dropping as ever. Highlights include three observation levels, a walk-on-me-if-you-dare glass floor, a virtual reality ride, and a revolving restaurant offering sweeping views of Lake Ontario and the city. For an adrenaline rush, don’t miss the EdgeWalk attraction, where participants are strapped into harnesses to circle the circumference of the top of the CN Tower hands-free.
Explore the cobbled lanes of the Distillery District historic site, a 13-acre urban hub of art galleries, indie boutiques, craft beer brew houses, artisanal coffee shops, and restaurants such as trendy El Catrin, known for its small-plate Mexican dishes, mezcal menu, and bold Day of the Dead decor. Channeling the entrepreneurial spirit of Toronto in the 1800s, the pedestrian-only paths are home to the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America.
Major league sports stoke the city's spirit year-round. Ice hockey fans will want to catch the Toronto Maple Leafs in action and stop by the Hockey Hall of Fame for an introduction to Canada’s hockey heroes, a photo with the Stanley Cup, and an opportunity to face-off against a virtual goalie in the Interactive Zone. The Raptors, Blue Jays, and Toronto Football Club keep the city's basketball, baseball, and soccer fans fired up. Catch the hometown spirit at a live game or packed sports bar, where face-painted sports fans congregate in a quintessentially Canadian raucous yet polite fashion.