So you have decided to visit Toronto. Toronto is a welcoming, accepting and culturally diverse city. There is a lot to do, especially for families. If you’re staying for a few days or a weekend, this guide is for you. Find out the best things to do, places to stay and the ultimate 3 Day Toronto Itinerary for your upcoming Canadian adventure.
MAKING THE MOST OF A SHORT STAY TORONTO
Where to Stay in Toronto
Stay in an Airbnb outside of downtown Toronto if you can. Often times an Airbnb will save you money and offer you more space than the hotels.
For families, stay in the East York area, east of downtown Toronto. The closer to Broadview or Queen St. East the better. This area is filled with family-friendly brunch spots, coffee shops and food options. Also if you’re visiting in the summer, the beach is not far away.
Getting Around in Toronto
Toronto’s subway, streetcar and bus system is known as the TTC. It is reliable and safe at all hours of the day. This will be the cheapest way to get around the city.
You can buy a Presto card and load money on at any station. A Presto card allows you to tap on to pay for any bus, subway or streetcar for a two hour period. If you’re visiting on a weekend, get a day pass from the station instead. A day pass allows two adults and two children unlimited travel for a day on the weekends.
Lyft and Uber are also available throughout the city. If you’re arriving by plane, take the UP express train from terminal 3. This is the fastest and cheapest way to get to downtown Toronto. There are also car rental options available at the airport, however, parking is very expensive in Toronto.
When to Visit Toronto
The best time to visit Toronto is during the summer or late spring. Even though there is a lot to do in Toronto during the winter, it is difficult to walk around and enjoy the city.
However, if you do choose to visit Toronto during winter make sure to check out the skating at The Harbourfront center and the Christmas market in the Distillery District.
3 Day Toronto Itinerary
Start your day with breakfast at Fran’s Diner on the North West corner of College Subway station. Fran’s is a famous Toronto diner that only closes for 6 hours a year.
After breakfast, walk west along College Street to University Avenue. Here you’ll see Queen’s Park, which is the Ontario Legislative Building.
Walk North on University Avenue through Queen’s Park to the Royal Ontario Museum, the ROM houses one of Canada’s largest collections of fossils and often has amazing special exhibits for the whole family to enjoy. There is so much to see, you’ll likely spend the rest of your morning here.
Head to Yorkville for lunch and wander the streets of this upscale neighbourhood. There are many great places to eat here from Italian to Indian cuisines.
After head for the CN tower by Union Station and Roundhouse Park. Take in Toronto from one of the highest buildings in the world. On a good day, you can see the United States to the South. Across from the CN tower are the Canadian train museum and Steamwhistle brewery. Also nearby is Ripley’s Aquarium. You’ll easily have enough to do for the rest of the afternoon.
In the evening head north to the Entertainment District along King Street West, you’ll find lots of food options here and entertainment for the whole family.
Check out available tours and day trips for Toronto and surrounds here.
Start today off at the St. Lawrence Market, one of the most famous markets in the world. Almost everything here is wonderful and worth a taste.
After breakfast head to Chinatown and Kensington Market at Spadina Avenue and College Street. Toronto has one of the largest Chinatowns in the world and Kensington market is a unique and creative counterculture neighbourhood. There are many boutiques and bakeries here to pursue.
Afterwards, walk south to Queen Street West and head west. Queen Street is one of Toronto’s most famous streets and is home to some of the best boutique shopping in the world. The Art Gallery of Ontario is also along here at Grange Street in case you want to check out the Ontario collection of Aboriginal artworks and Group of Seven Paintings.
There are many great places for lunch along Queen street west, otherwise head back to Kensington Market for international treats.
In the afternoon visit Yonge-Dundas Square, Canada’s Time Square. If you’re interested in shopping the Toronto Eaton’s center has something for everyone. In the evening go to the Distillery District and enjoy a meal at El Cantina or Mill Street Brewery. The Distillery District is full of artwork and historic buildings.
Have brunch near your Airbnb in East York. I highly recommend Lady Marmalade or Maha’s in that neighbourhood.
Afterwards, take the Queen Streetcar downtown to the old city hall. You can also see the new city hall right around the corner. Walk south on Bay Street until you get to the waterfront. Follow the harbour front trail to Fork York and experience a part of Toronto’s history.
When you’re ready to have lunch, try one of the great restaurants along the harbourfront, the Amsterdam brewery or Boxcar Social both have beautiful patios.
After lunch, take the ferry from the Toronto ferry terminal to the center island. The Ferry Terminal is at Lakeshore Boulevard and Bay Street, you can take the Lakeshore streetcar to get there. Ferry tickets can be bought at the gate and ferries leave frequently for the islands.
The Toronto islands have lots to offer including beaches and an amusement park. Check the map when you get there and either walk or bike around the islands. If the weather is nice, then swim in Lake Ontario. Spend your afternoon here before heading back around sunset. There are a number of great restaurants on the island for dinner. Make sure to snap photos of the Toronto skyline as the sunsets.
Toronto is a great city to experience as a family. If you’re here for a longer time, make sure to check out Niagara Falls and the Ontario Provincial Parks. To learn more about what to do in Toronto, check out the Nomad Bears blog.
Have you been to Toronto? Tell us number 1 must see or do Toronto attraction!