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They don’t call Ontario’s capital Toronto for nothing. Derived from an old Huron word meaning ‘meeting place’ the waterfront city and Canada’s biggest has definitely lived up to its ancient roots with plenty of attractions to pack in the crowds.
Some of the best attractions are the world class cultural institutions. One favourite is the Royal Ontario Museum or how the locals call it the ROM (pronounced RAW-AAHM).
Sightseers and architecture gawkers love to photograph the massive geometric crystal-like façade jetting onto the city streets. A design stunner from world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the ROM addition caused quite a stir when it was completed a few years ago.
But the biggest appeal is the extraordinary extent of its collections (try nearly six million objects!). Talk about wandering through Canada’s largest museum for hours. That’s easy. The permanent exhibitions house some of the world’s most iconic and rare antiquities.
Head to the central staircase to see glorious totem poles exquisitely carved by the Nisga'a and Haida, a ROM must-see treasure. In the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Dinosaurs, a Jurassic Park of dinosaur proportions has been cleverly resurrected at this bone yard to showcase the prehistoric monsters. The barosaurus Gordo is a huge crowd pleaser. By the Bat Cave, kids squeal at the reproduced beasties hanging around.
Feel overwhelmed? Try a museum tour or better yet find a nook on one of the floors and spend hours submerged in that period. I prefer exploring the Egyptian antiquities for my musings. Housing Canada’s largest ancient Egyptian collection, it’s there where I like to make believe I was a Cleopatra and stare closely at her granite bust.
Toronto is the kind of city that has something for everyone. Whether you are travelling there with your family, solo or with friends, there’s always something to do in this vast metropolitan area. Here are a few of Toronto’s highlights:
CN Tower: This one might seem like an obvious choice, but seeing the highlight of Toronto’s skyline is an absolute must when you visit the city. And, seeing it from ground level just isn’t enough. Head to the top and experience the glass floor, see the view from outside and, for the more adventurous at heart, see the world from the outside of the CN Tower with Edge Walk.
Harbourfront: Toronto’s Harbourfront is the perfect place to spend a warm summer’s day. Eat lunch with a great view of a lake, experience one of the many international festivals and let the kids have some fun too with family-friendly activities.
Canada’s Wonderland: Here’s a theme park that kids and adults alike can enjoy. This one is a bit outside the city, but definitely worth the trip. Canada’s Wonderland is home to one of the world’s biggest roller coasters, the Leviathan. And, no trip to Wonderland is complete without a plate of funnel cake.
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM): The ROM is a great place for families and lovers of art and culture. Situated in the city, the museum is home to artifacts from ancient cultures, a biodiversity gallery and has an area dedicated to contemporary culture, which focuses on innovations that have changed the world.
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO): Another place for art and culture lovers, the AGO is a must-see if you plan on doing a museum tour in Toronto. The gallery boasts items from Europe and Africa, and is a great place to learn about Canadian culture through historical pieces.
Hockey Hall of Fame: Here’s an attraction for sports fans. The Hockey Hall of Fame celebrates the best players in NHL history and lucky hockey fanatics might even get an upclose look at the ever elusive Stanley Cup.
Distillery Historic District: The Distillery Historic District has some of the oldest buildings in Toronto, with The Stone Distillery which was built in 1860 and The Gooderham and Worts Distillery, which became the largest distillery in the world in 1877. If you happen to be in Toronto during the holiday season, you’ll be treated to a festive outdoor Christmas Market. Otherwise, you’ll find some of the best eateries and boutiques Toronto has to offer.
High Park: Get away from the city hustle and bustle without actually leaving the city by visiting High Park. Enjoy the nature with a picnic in the park, watch an outdoor play during the summer months, or take a visit to the park’s zoo. If you visit High Park during the spring months, you’ll be treated to some beautiful cherry blossoms.