Fun Things to do in Toronto on a Budget
There are lots things to see and do when visiting Toronto. Many attractions charge for admission, however some offer reduced admissions at certain times and there are many things you can enjoy and do for free. By using Toronto's public transit system to get around and see the sights and attractions you can keep the cost of your family vacation to a minimum.
For getting around Toronto you can ride the Subway, Streetcars and buses. For only $11.50, one can purchase a day pass and ride the Toronto Transit system in any direction all day long. On weekends and holidays a single day pass may be used by an entire family of up to 6 people (2 Adults and up to 4 children). This is an excellent value for tourists exploring Toronto. The Toronto Transit Commission has added a new trip planner on their website here and TourbyTransit.com - Toronto has a lot of helpful information for tourists about the following attractions and more along with easy directions for getting to them all by public transit.
Many people come to Toronto for the theatre. If you are flexible on shows, many shows will have a lottery before the night of the show - even if sold out. THE AMAZING THING IS THAT THE TICKETS ARE 1ST ROW ORCHETRA FOR $25 (vs $100s)! What they do is they put a row of 'director' chairs in front of the 1st row of attached chairs. Check at the box office directly. You sign up for the lottery at 6:00pm (for an 8:00pm show). Drawings are at 6:30pm. You can sign up for up to 2 tickets. It is typical that they will draw for 20-25 tickets. Note, both parties must be present at 6:30. You must pay for the tickets in cash. If the box seats have not sold these are included in the lottery. Great deal and good luck. )
PARKS & GARDENS
Toronto has many beautiful parks and gardens where you can spend days exploring without cost. The following parks are all easily accessed by public transit.
High Park provides almost 400 acres for you to explore. It features both natural areas that include a large pond as well as some beautifully landscaped garden areas. There is also a children's adventure playground and a zoo. Both paved an unpaved pathways provide pleasant walks throughout the park.
The Toronto Music Garden is a 3 acre themed garden located close to downtown Toronto in the harbourfront district. The garden consists of 6 sections inspired by the movements of Bach's Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello. There is no admission fee and in the summer months there is a free 'Summer Music in the Garden' concert series held in the gardens on Thursdays at 7 pm and on Sundays at 4 pm.
Allan Gardens is one of the oldest gardens in Toronto. Admission is completely free. The gardens feature a conservatory and 6 greenhouses with 16000 square feet of display area showcasing tropical plants from around the world. There are special seasonal displays
for Easter, Autumn and Christmas. Since the gardens are primarily in greenhouses this is a great place to visit in any weather.
Ashbridges Bay and Beaches Park feature 2 kilometers of beautiful sandy beaches along the shore of Lake Ontario. There are also trails, a boardwalk, a children's play area and a waterpark. These are very popular during the warm summer months.
Edwards Gardens is another beautiful botanical garden operated by the City of Toronto. Located on a ravine north of downtown, this beautiful garden features perennial and rose gardens, rhododendrons, wildflowers and a rockery. The beautiful settings make this a popular locale for wedding photography. These gardens are open from dusk until dawn. Once again admission is free.
Information on these an all other Toronto Parks and Gardens is available from the official City of Toronto Website here .
There are several excellent and inexpensive walking tours featuring Toronto architecture.
If you are into Toronto's unique architectural heritage, check out the weekly (weekend) free tours offered by Heritage Toronto: http://heritagetoronto.org/programs/t.
If skyscrapers, cultural and the arts buildings interest you, check out www.torontoarchitecturetours.com run by the local Toronto Society of Architects (the TSA is a non-profit volunteer led organization). They offer three different tours held every weekend from mid May through to the end of September, including the "Towers Tour" focusing on the tall buildings of the financial district, the "Art & Performance" tour featuring Toronto's cultural renaissance of theatres, galleries and performance venues. "Culture & Campus tour" walks you through some of the most innovative contemporary architecture on the University of Toronto Campus as well as some of Toronto's top museums. All tours are approximately 2 hrs in length and only $10 per person when tickets are purchased online in advance. The TSA also offers group tours during off-schedule times including off-season. For more info on group tours please email walk at torontosocietyofarchitects dot CA or visit thewebsite. Follow the TSA on Twitter @tosoarch or @torarchtours
www.citywalks.ca offers unique and personalized walking tours of several of Toronto's most unique and distinct heritage neighbourhoods. Guide Marta O'Brien, an architectural historian highlights often-missed architectural details and the stories behind them.
Another thing you can do for free is to take a tour of the Ontario Legislative Building. Tours are generally available year round from 9am until 4:30 pm every weekday and everyday during the summer. Full details of all available tours and events are available from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website .
Free Downtown walking tours are also offered by Tour Guys. The guides work for tips though.
Attractions with reduced admission charges include the Royal Ontario Museum with 1/2 price admission after 4:30pm on Fridays and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art with 1/2 price admission after 4pm on Fridays.
The Art Gallery of Ontario offers free admission to the permanent collection on Wednesdays after 6pm.
Many visitors to Toronto want to take a day tour to Niagara Falls. There are many tour operators offering these, however you can save up to $140 for a family of 4 by using the Go Train and/or Go Bus system to make the same trip. For complete details on this see Niagara Falls Day Trip at TourbyTransit - Toronto.