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Home to 2.8 million people, Toronto is the largest city in Canada. Population go well over 6.3 million if you include the metro and surrounded areas. While Toronto is the city I was born and raised in, half of the residents are born outside of Canada, making Toronto one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.
If you google “things to do in Toronto”, Google will undoubtedly give you a nice mix of tourist attractions: the CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, Ripley’s Aquarium, the list goes on. But after visiting the “must-see” attractions of Toronto, what else is there to do in this city?
Here, I share with you 5 of the BEST hidden gems you have to visit in Toronto.
1. Honest Ed’s
If you can only visit one place on this list, make it Honest Ed’s. This iconic discount store is scheduled to close forever on December 31st, 2016. In its heyday, Honest Ed’s attracted top musicians and movie stars from around the world. Their Christmastime turkey giveaways and their birthday parties giving free cakes and meals would draw crowds of Torontonians every year. Today, with theatre posters still lining every inch of the wall and great bargain items for sale, it still definitely makes for an interesting shopping experience. Plus no one comes up with slogans to sell products quite like Honest Ed’s… “Honest Ed’s no midwife — but the bargains he delivers are real babies!”
To get a break from the busy pace of the city, simply hop on a ferry at Queen’s Quay Terminal and head over to the Toronto Islands. As North America’s largest car-free urban community, the Toronto Islands is a nice natural respite from the hustle and bustle. Wander past idyllic clusters of cottages, relax at the beaches, and make sure you pack a camera because this is the best place to capture Toronto’s stunning skyline.A quaint cottage on the Toronto Islands
3. Kensington Market
This National Historic Site of Canada showcases Toronto’s multiculturalism at its most authentic. The eclectic shops sell everything from vintage clothing to fresh produce to baked goods. Both hippies and hipsters walk the streets, and while there is a slightly intimidating feel to this place, it is rarely unsafe.
4. The University of Toronto
Is visiting universities a strange practice? Ever since I was young, my family and I would always stop by the local universities in the cities we visited and explore their campuses. (If you’re reading, thanks for starting this, Dad!) But, I mean, with Hogwarts-esque buildings like Soldiers’ Tower, how can you not pay the university a visit? Soldiers’ Tower is a bell and clock tower at the University of Toronto, making it the only Canadian university with a functioning carillon.
5. Scarborough Bluffs
It’s no secret that I love spending time by the water. So, of course, I had to include another water-related place on this list. The Scarborough Bluffs, also known as “The Bluffs”, stretch for about 15 km along the shores of Lake Ontario. This beautiful and tranquil place a real gem amidst the chaos of city life. With its awe-inspiring cliffs and stunning views, this place has one of the best beaches in Canada. My favourite times to come here are at sunset and sunrise. Come here early in the morning to enjoy the beauty all to yourself!
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