We used to spend quite a bit of time in Toronto. It’s a big city but has many unique neighborhoods that add so much character to it. Since Walter was born, we’ve been sticking closer to home, but I can’t wait to show him all that Toronto has to offer. It is a vibrant, exciting city for adults and children alike and has so many great activities to offer everyone. You want good music? Great food? The arts? Fun nightlife? History? You name it, Toronto has it, including some fantastic freebies! Check out these free things to do in Toronto!
is… well, just that – a farm! It’s located right in downtown Toronto and shows visitors what an early 20th century working farm would be like. Wander around the 7 acre space and check out the cows, horses, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens and other farm animals. You might even get to see the farm workers as they feed and care for the animals. Nearby is Cabbagetown, a gorgeous neighborhood that claims one of the largest areas of preserved Victorian houses in all of North America as well as Forsythia Kids’ Playground – both a short walk from Riverdale.
is a charming village in downtown Toronto open only to pedestrians. This area boasts beautiful heritage buildings and truly unique stores and galleries – in fact, no chains or franchises are allowed. In June, it’s home to the Distillery Blues Festival. Head to the Distillery Visitor Centre where you can find tours of the area. Other parts of town I love to wander through are the various ethnic neighborhoods such as Chinatown and Little Italy.
just can’t be missed. I’ll never forget the first time I was there as a child – I got so freaked out by the ducks and chickens hanging in the Chinese grocery store’s window that I ran away screaming. But as the foodie in me developed, I realized the charm and the deliciousness that is the St. Lawrence Market. There are two parts to the market. One has 50+ vendors including butchers, green grocers, cheesemongers, bakeries, and more! The other is used on Saturdays as a local farmers’ market. Check out the fresh baked Portuguese buns and butter tarts – yum yum!
4. High Park
This park has so much to offer! There’s a fantastic children’s playground (just rebuilt in 2012 following a fire), plenty of picnic areas, off leash dog park, waterfront walking trails, areas for sports such as tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields, a mini zoo, and some of the most beautiful gardens you’ll ever see. Hard to believe all of this is FREE!
On Wednesday nights from 6-830 pm you can access the Art Gallery of Ontario without paying any admission fee at all! With collections from around the world including European masters, the Group of Seven, and my favorite pieces there, the ones from Paul Peel (an artist from London, Ontario where I live), you’re sure to find something to please every art lover.
Not only do they often have a huge variety of fun events, but if you are a local area resident, you can borrow one of their family passes once every few months. These passes cover the entrance fees for you and your family to get into the following attractions: the Aga Khan Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, the AGO (in case you want to go at any other time besides Wednesday evening), Black Creek Pioneer Village, the Gardiner Museum, Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto History Museums, and the Toronto Zoo.
There’s plenty of free fun to be had at Toronto’s harbourfront. Just watch the boats or take in a free arts or cultural event. Wander through the Toronto Music Garden – a reflection via landscaping of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, designed by internationally renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma in collaboration with landscape designers and architects. In winter, you can go ice skating at Harbourfront too. Free movies are shown here during the summer months.
The home to many major free community and special events in the city including the holiday Cavalcade of Lights, ringing in the new year, and more. You can also take a tour of city hall (located at the square) and visit the Toronto City Hall podium roof, a public green garden featuring landscaping, courtyards, terraces, and walkways which provide beautiful views of downtown Toronto.
No, the operas are not free but from September to May, they do offer free jazz, piano, vocal, dance, chamber, and world music concerts in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre from September to May. This also gives you the opportunity to take in the beauty and grandeur of the Opera House. It is stunning.
A beautiful green space in the city that includes an indoor pool, running track, volleyball and tennis courts, playground, off-leash area for dogs, and a farmer’s market. Trinity Bellwoods is also home to a rare white squirrel so keep your eyes open.
This is a former industrial site that has been cleaned up and turned into a revitalized natural space. National Geographic even shortlisted it as one of the world’s top 10 geotourism hotspots. There are beautiful indoor gardens, a year round farmer’s market, pathways to hike and bike, and so much more. Evergreen Brickworks offers weekend guided hikes, weekend artisan markets, and weekend nature play in the children’s garden. You can learn about the historic kiln building, see the John Price Brick Press, and check out the many amazing pieces of art. In winter, there is outdoor skating and an Evergreen Winter Village with activities and a holiday market.
The Allan Gardens Conservatory is over 100 years old and covers over 16,000 square feet. The garden is open year-round and contains tropical plants from around the world as well as seasonal plantings.
It is exactly what it says it is. Check out the murals of graffiti art here!
Another self-explanatory one. Play a round of golf using Frisbees in place of the traditional golf equipment.
Another option that isn’t free but certainly is a good bargain (especially if you’re not a resident and don’t qualify for the library passes) is a Toronto CityPass. With this pass, you can save 36% on some of Toronto’s major attractions like the CN Tower, Toronto Zoo, Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Casa Loma (a castle), and the Ontario Science Centre. For only $88 for adults and $59 for children you get admission to all five of these attractions! If you’re planning to really see all the highlights in the city, this is the best deal around!
Attractions Ontario also often has coupons for 2 for 1 or discounted admission to many attractions around Ontario, including in Toronto. Check out their website for current deals.