We arrived in Toronto with slight hangovers from a friend’s wedding the night before and a list of places we wanted to see. The first orders of business were: greasy food to cure us, checking into our AirBnB, and deciding on which attractions we wanted to see first.
Because it was on the same street as our Airbnb (just down a ways), we decided to start with the Hockey Hall of Fame. Mike was very excited about this excursion and I was equally as happy to check it off the list (hockey’s not really my thing, despite Mike’s best efforts). The walk down Front Street gave us a great view of the cityscape, and the weather was perfect for wandering.
The Hockey Hall of Fame was situated in the lower level of a mall, tucked into the back near the food court. The entry fee is $19, which is a fair enough price for the amount of memorabilia they have. The standout feature was the Stanley Cup, which was proudly displayed in a beautiful room with a stained glass ceiling. They also had some really fun interactive games and exhibits, including a game where you got foam pucks shot at you as you try to defend your goal.
We exited through the extraordinarily overpriced gift shop and made our way further down Front Street to the St. Lawrence Market, which was much more my style. The market is housed in a huge, brick building and in large tents across the street and is only open on the weekends.
We went inside the building and were immediately hit with amazing smells ranging from fresh baked goods to fruits to coffee to cheese. Each stall presented a fresh new product and experience and it was so fun to walk up and down the aisles. We played with the idea of getting ingredients for dinner to cook at the Airbnb, but we didn’t want to have to run back there to drop the items off.
The cheese and wine in particular were very tempting to me, but my favorite stall was Eve’s Temptations – a bakery that sold beautiful tasty treats. I especially enjoyed their macarons (we tried chocolate caramel and cassis). Nearby to the St. Lawrence Market and Hockey Hall of Fame is the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium. We tried to tack these onto our first day of exploring and just couldn’t swing it; we were so tired.
The next morning, we woke up early, grabbed coffee from the cafe next door, Atlas, and headed over to Casa Loma via public transit. We hoofed it uphill from the train station and up a few flights of stairs to get to the castle. Like the staircase, the entry fee is a little steep at $27 per person, but it came with the guided audio tour which was cool. I will say, if you’re going to visit Casa Loma, do so during the week because it gets super crowded.
While I liked exploring the rooms (especially the library) and learning the history of Casa Loma, my favorite part of the tour was the North Tower. We had to climb two spiral staircases to get to the top of it, but the view was well worth it. I think it may be the best place to view the skyline in Toronto. We really wanted to go down through the tunnels and anunder the castle, but unfortunately it was closed due to a haunted house they were setting up.
On our second night in Toronto, we walked over at dusk to the two neighboring attractions: CN Tower and the Aquarium, and bought a dual ticket for both. The dual ticket is only available online but gives a pretty significant discount, so we bought them in the lobby of the CN Tower before heading up. The elevator to the top is preceded by posters noting facts about the towers construction and a photo-op in front of a green screen. The elevator shoots you up to the top of the 1,800 foot tower at records speed, causing your ears to pop as you look out at the city through the glass walls.
I only kind of wish we came during the day, just so we could see more of the city, but the view at night was still stunning. There are two levels from which you can get a 360 degree view of Toronto and a glass floor to scare the crap out of you. It took some cajoling to get Mike to stand on it, and even then he could only walk quickly across (scaredy cat).
Once we got our fill of the view, we hopped back on the elevator to exit through yet another gift shop to walk next door to the aquarium. I’m not usually one for visiting aquariums on vacations, but I have to say, this one was kind of amazing. Each tank and exhibit were laid out so nicely and there is a tunnel through their large aquarium that you can walk through and walk under sharks. SHARKS!! I walked through twice, it was so cool.
We had so much fun exploring and exclaiming over each fish and critter. The jellyfish exhibit was particularly entrancing. We sat for awhile watching them glide up and down in their tank. We left once we realized it was 9pm and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so we walked over to KitKat Italian Bar and Grill. The romantically-lit restaurant was the perfect spot for our impromptu dinner date. They had Montelpuciano wine on their menu, which is one of my favorites.
Mike ordered ribs and I ordered their special pasta for the evening, which was a roasted red pepper agnolotti with artichokes and eggplant. The food was spectacular and exactly what we wanted after a long day walking around. We lingered over the food and wine; the servers were so kind and attentive. It was a wonderful way to end our day of exploring Toronto’s top attractions.
Have you been to Toronto? Which attractions should not be skipped?