Located on the western shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario, Canada. The city is an important socio-economic hub not only for the immediate surrounding area but the entire country as well. With a population of 2.4 million, Toronto has the largest population of any metropolitan settlement in Canada and the fifth largest in North America. The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) contains over 5.7 million people, is comprised of 25 municipalities and encompasses over 7000 sq km (2702 sq miles)!
However, Toronto is much more than just a political centre. It is a flourishing world-class metropolis due to its prospering economy, rich cultural heritage, low crime rate, reputable educational facilities, as well as the numerous recreational and amusement venues. Despite its vast size, Toronto manages to maintain a greenspace ratio of nearly 20% of total land area. Combined, these attributes facilitate an atmosphere that is attractive to residents and visitors alike.
With its welcoming atmosphere, the City of Toronto is amongst the most multicultural cities on the planet, with over 80 ethnic groups and 152 languages and dialects spoken within its borders. Although Canada has only 2 official languages: French and English, street signs and advertisements are produced in several other languages in various neighbourhoods.
Like any large urban centre, Toronto operates an exceptionally efficient public transit system utilizing multiple types of transit including: subway, bus and streetcar. GO trains and buses also provide transportation to outlying cities in the GTA. Public transit is the recommended form of transportation, especially if you plan on visiting the downtown area. Should you choose to drive to your destinations, avoid rush-hour traffic from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 7 p.m. Below are several of the most popular attractions to visit.
This futuristic arena is home to many sports including: basketball, hockey, football, lacrosse, and skating. During the summer months be sure to get your tickets to a Raptors game, to see your favourite band or to "the greatest show on earth": the circus. Visit www.theaircanadacentre.com for more information.
Stand in the shadow of Casa Loma, the former home of financier Sir Henry Pellatt. If you've never admired the grandeur and elegancy of an authentic castle visit this masterpiece. While ladies might enjoy the intricate grace of the decorating, men might enjoy the functionality of the amazing structure, built in 1911. Children will no doubt enjoy the secret passages and tunnel. Visit www.casaloma.org for more information.
Check out the view from the world’s tallest completed freestanding structure: the CN Tower. Standing 553.33m (1815ft 5in) tall, the tower is a focal point for the city as it can be seen from many kilometres away. Travel up to 447m (1465ft) and look for Niagara Falls, stand on the glass floor and test your nerve, or enjoy a 360 degree view while you dine. Visit www.cntower.ca for more information.
Attracting approximately 50 million visitors annually, the Eaton Centre is "the" place to shop in downtown Toronto. The six-storey glass-ceilinged structure alone is something to admire. With over 250 stores and boutiques to browse through, the Eaton Centre can truly be an all-day shopping experience. Visit www.torontoeatoncentre.com for more information.
Ontario Place is a web of structures built upon three man-made islands along the Lake Ontario waterfront. With a full-scale waterpark, the gigantic Cinesphere IMAX theatre, a motion simulator journey and many other rides and attractions. As well, the Molson Amphitheatre is home to some of the best concerts and shows around. Due to the waterfront location and the open-air architecture of the venue, it is not likely a show you would ever forget. Visit www.ontarioplace.com for more information.
The Ontario Science Centre dazzles the minds of young and old alike with the wonders of modern science and technology. With hundreds of indoor interactive exhibits to try out, this is your rainy day destination or the place to cool off in the summer heat. Your children will be thrilled with the exciting things they can try and you'll be thrilled with the amazing things they'll learn without even knowing it. Visit www.ontariosciencecentre.ca for more information.
Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome) was the first stadium in the world to have a fully retractable motorized roof. The four roof panels either slide or rotate so that the 345,000 square foot stadium can open on sunny days and close on rainy days. The best day to check out a Bluejays baseball game would be one that starts out looking nice and quickly turns rainy as you can witness the 20 minute process of closing the roof. Visit www.rogerscentre.com for more information.
The ROM is full of diverse collections of world cultures and natural history. Popular exhibits include Egypt, Dinosaurs, and Canadian History although the museum contains so many exhibits that not all can be displayed at any point in time. This museum also offers interactive space for youngsters to participate in hands-on activities and reveal the mystery of the past. Children get to try on armour and dig for dinosaur bones! Visit www.rom.on.ca for more information.
Visitors to the Toronto Islands have enjoyed their lakeside charm for centuries. Visit the parkland with a view. If you're looking for a day of relaxation in the sun, or a place to get out and stretch your legs in a natural setting you've found it. Take the kids to Centre Island Amusement Park where they can have a couple of hours of fun and you can have a chance for family bike ride or campfire later in the day. Visit www.toronto.ca/parks/island for more information.
Hear the roar of a lion or see the slow, silent movement of a giraffe. As one of the world's largest zoos, the Toronto Zoo is home to over 5000 animals including more than 460 species! You can choose to walk through the 10km (6miles) of trails or hop on the zoomobile transportation ride to view the enclosures. Give the kids a chance to get up close and personal with animals at the Discovery Zone. Visit www.torontozoo.com for more information.
Enjoy the lush parks, music festivals, craft fairs, tennis courts, sailing, canoeing, surfing, rollerblading, cycling, swimming, lawn bowling, kite flying, dining, dancing, karoake, comedy, coffee, billiards, amateur theatre, and pubs of the famous waterfront. The activity in this beautiful section of the city is tremendously entertaining. Visit http://www.thetorontobeaches.com/ for more information.
For more information on Toronto and its numerous attractions, visit the City of Toronto official website via our links.