Beyond the buzz of corporate skyscrapers, colourful neighbourhoods and world-class restaurants, Toronto offers plenty for the curious bucket lister. With the help of CityPASS, we’ve gathered a few local favourites plus some hidden gems to make your trip to Toronto especially memorable.
Ontario’s capital isn’t known for doing things by halves, but when it comes to this quirky Toronto attraction, that’s exactly what happened. The famous Toronto Half House is the result of wonky real estate development. In the mid-20th century, six identical and interconnected Victorian homes were in the sights of a real estate developer. Five of the houses were demolished and only number 54½ remained. With some very careful demolition tactics, this incredible ‘half house’ remained standing, and has been privately owned since 2013. Visitors to the street can photograph its characterful exterior.
Look to the lake
Lake Ontario is one stunning piece of natural beauty that’s not to be missed, and can’t be missed, as Toronto faces the lake. The lake is the main drinking water source for almost half of Ontario’s population, as well as for some Americans in New York state, and is one of the most ecologically significant attractions in Toronto, with 150 different species of fish. V The lake has an incredible history, from the last time it froze over (in 1934) to the melting glaciers, which formed Lake Iroquois, a scaled-up version of Lake Ontario, about 13,000 years ago.
Spooks on campus
Looking to get away to Toronto for Halloween, or do you just love a scare all year round? For an unconventional thrill, head to the Lakeshore Campus of Humber College. Some of the campus buildings started their days as a psychiatric asylum back in the late 1890s, which was fully operational until 1979, before Humber College signed a lease for the land and buildings in 1991. Ghost stories of inmates are commonplace – be sure to ask a few questions when you book on a campus tour or look out for spooky “tunnel tours” throughout the year.
If you’d rather get your kicks by peering out over Toronto’s diverse skyline, then a trip to the CN Tower is a must.. As one of the most highly rated things to do in Toronto, the CN Tower stands at 553 metres. Don’t worry though – you can experience it all from the safety of the Glass Floor at a far more comforting 342 metres. Better yet, suit up for a thrilling stroll, outside along the edge.
Toronto boasts many different architectural styles, but one theme you’ll find cropping up in many places in central Toronto is gothic, and the best example is Casa Loma. Construction first began on “House on the Hill” – Casa Loma – in 1911 and today it is home to a museum, five acres of gardens, a stunning great hall and a 244-metre tunnel. It’s also been used in many film sets, including the X Men series and Scott Pilgrim vs the World, and by night serves as a concert venue or function room for private events. Casa Loma was temporarily transformed into Hogwarts for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s also featured in the CityPASS sightseeing list, making this the best value option to see Casa Loma’s four floors of attractions.
While Toronto will keep history buffs busy for hours, science fiction fans will also marvel at the delights of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, which features 72,000 pieces of science fiction, magic realism, parapsychology and much more. You can access these limited edition items at the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library, though visiting times are limited, so be sure to check on the library website.
With everything from natural beauty to structural behemoths and historical wonders, Toronto has something for everybody. Visitors should look into the 9-day pass from CityPASS, which will save you money on all the family favourites including the Toronto Zoo and the Ontario Science Museum.