Like most people our age, we are on a budget. Gone are the days of going out for dinner multiple times per week or buying a brand new outfit "just because". With our new condo completion on the horizon, we are in serious savings mode. However, being on a budget does not have to mean we can't have fun. Luckily for us, there is a long list of FREE things to do in Toronto. Here are some of my favourite.
Get outdoors. Despite being known as the "concrete jungle", there are several parks scattered in and around the city of Toronto. One of my favourites is High Park. With over one million visitors annually, High Park is the jewel of Toronto’s park system. Over one-third remains in a natural state, which means it is home to many species of wildlife. The park also offers many popular attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy - a dog park, small zoo, many hiking trails and playgrounds for children. The park is very popular in early spring, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, but also beautiful in the winter when covered in snow. Another park high on my list of favourites is Tommy Thompson, located on the waterfront on opposite end of the City from High Park.
Take a dip in the lake. It’s no secret Ontario has many beautiful shorelines and some of the most pristine beaches. Locally, you can find Woodbine Beach and Sugar Beach, both popular during the summer months. Go for a walk along the boardwalk, take a refreshing dip, play a game of beach volleyball, build a sandcastle or just dig your toes into the sand and relax to the sound of soothing waves of Lake Ontario.
Let your feet do the work. Toronto is a big city, and while most areas are accessible by transit, some things are best seen on foot. The patchwork of dynamic neighbourhoods, impressive architecture, green spaces, shops and eateries encourage visitors to lace up and hit the streets. The City of Toronto has an extensive database for all self-guided City walks. Want something guided? The Tour Guys offer several free downtown walking tours throughout the summer months.
Take a stroll through history. The historic Distillery District is one of my favourite places, and a hidden gem. This pedestrian-only village is set amidst fabulous heritage architecture that comprises the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture. You won't find a franchise or chain operation here, so all the stores and galleries are one of a kind. Hundreds of films have also been shot here, including Tommy Boy, Chicago and X-Men. Mill Street Brewery is a must visit, and their Original Organic Lager is a must try. In December, the District is transformed into a winter wonderland with the Christmas Market.
Take in the culture. Toronto is home to numerous districts, markets, festivals and museums that will allow you to explore the City's diverse culture. Take a stroll through one of the many districts, from China Town to Little Italy or the Danforth, known for its Greek culture. St Lawrence Market is Toronto's largest market, with other 120 vendors that sell everything from fresh veggies to breads, cheese, fish, meat and even arts and crafts. Some of the local museums also offer free access, including the Art Gallery of Ontario which is free from 6-8:30pm every Wednesday evening.