Take a Streetcar Tour
You can traverse the breadth of the city – above-ground – on any number of streetcar lines. Yes you’ll have to go through a bit of weather to catch one, but then you’ll be tucked inside and can watch the city glide past at your leisure and on your own agenda. Or hop on and off with your TTC day pass as much as you like.
The Queen (501) car goes from the quaint Beaches neighbourhood in the east through Riverside/Leslieville (where the Degrassi TV series was situated), the downtown core, on to trendy Queen West then all the way to the Roncesvalles neighbourhood in the west.
Although it’s a shorter route, the Harbourfront (509) car is hands-down the most scenic as it glides along Queens Quay West and the waterfront past HtO beach and the Music Garden then on to Exhibition Place, home of the annual CNE, with its collection of Beaux-Arts style buildings and striking Princes’ Gates. Take it from Union Station to the Exhibition Loop then back again and enjoy the view.
Also check out the Carlton/College (506) route for Little Italy, the Gay Village and Little India; Spadina (510) for Chinatown and Kensington and King Street (504) for the Design District, Financial Centre, Entertainment District and Liberty Village. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) website has all the info.
Your best friend in foul weather is the 30-kilometre (19-mile) network that runs under the downtown core. According to the Guinness World Records, the PATH is the largest underground shopping complex in the world. The PATH stretches from Queens Quay in the south all the way up to the Eaton Centre, a mecca of retail. This warren of walkways is packed with stores of every stripe, eating opportunities from food courts to high-end dining, fitness centres, spas and entertainment.
Play Some Games
Toronto has plenty of places for traditional games like pool and darts. For trendier activities like ping-pong, SPiN on King St. W. combines adult beverages with the back and forth. Or get edgy with axe throwing at several places in Toronto including Bad Axe Throwing in the Junction neighbourhood. Add archery to your skills at STRYKE Target Range.
Explore Union Station
Go traipse around Union Station. Although restoration work is still in progress, many stunning architectural details are viewable and as a hub of commuter and cross-country trains and buses – as well as some food shops, with more to come – the place has a distinct buzz about it. The main floor with its massive high ceiling is especially historic and photogenic. (Connected to the PATH.)
Take in a Museum
Of course Toronto has grand art and artefact houses – the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) are the biggies and should always be on your to-do list. But when the weather outside is frightful, the niche museums are also delightful. The Bata Shoe Museum, Gardiner (for ceramics) and Ryerson Image Centre all have collections worth delving into.
See the CBC
Especially dear to many Canadians’ hearts but interesting for any fan of broadcasting, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s building is a shrine to radio and TV personalities past and present. There is a sweeping atrium, a museum and archive and if your timing is right, TV tapings that need an audience. Don’t forget to pick up an iconic CBC logo t-shirt in the gift shop before you leave and take a selfie with the clever bronze Glenn Gould statue out front. (Connected to the PATH.)
Hear a Free Concert
A concert series regularly takes place in one of Toronto’s most breathtaking spaces – the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre. From late September to June, music in a range of genres fills the space most Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon and some Wednesdays at noon or 5:30 p.m. They fill up quickly but if you can nab a spot, you’re in for a rare treat. (Connected to the PATH.)