Taking a holiday is a great way to treat yourself, and is often necessary in order to relax and let go of the daily stresses of life and work. Whether you're travelling solo, heading somewhere with best friends or taking off with the family, giving yourself a break eases your tension, provides you with tons of fun and creates lasting memories.
Toronto is a great place where you can plan your next trip. It's Canada's largest city and one of its most popular destinations in any season.The city is full of exciting, rich history, friendly and welcoming locals and plenty of attractions to fill your days with new information, cultural intrigue, delicious meals and freedom from stress.
If you're travelling under a budget, though, all of the costs adding up can replace some of the tension that's disappeared. Holidays are not always cheap, but there are plenty of ways to make travelling more cost efficient. One such strategy is to check out the free attractions around town. Toronto is filled with amazing opportunities for visitors that won't cost you a cent. Here are the top five free attractions in Toronto:
1. Take advantage of museum discount days
Museums are a great way to learn more about a city and experience its culture firsthand. However, admission prices can often be quite steep. Luckily Toronto has a variety of museums and galleries that offer special discount days where you can get in and see the exhibits for free.
On Wednesdays the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto offers free admission from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to its main, permanent collections. This gallery is one of the largest display spaces in North America, covering 583,000 square feet. You'll find more than 80,000 works of art here covering time periods from 100 A.D. until the present. With a mix of historic and contemporary art, there's sure to be something to please everyone aesthetically in the Canadian collection, European Art, photographs and more. Also check AGO's Free After Three activities, where anyone ages 14 to 25 can participate in graffiti/aerosol art-making, skateboard building, stop-motion animation and break-dancing workshops.
Another really cool museum that will certainly speak to footwear lovers is the Bata Shoe Museum. On Thursdays this space is open until 8 p.m. and the admission fee is pay-what-you-can starting at 5 p.m. You'll find more than 10,000 shows in exhibit here in the four-story building designed by architect Raymond Moriyama. See footwear like knightly sabatons, moccasins, high heels and more in the various displays. Learn about the shoes themselves as well as their cultural significance and where they fit into history.
Check out Toronto On A Shoestring website for the whole list of Toronto's museums & art with free or discounted admission.
And finally, plan your trip around Doors Open Toronto, which is an annual, free, city wide celebration when nearly 150 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural, and social significance to the city of Toronto open their doors to the public.
2. Check out the great outdoors
Toronto is a beautiful city and it's a pleasure to experience the natural sights and scenery.
The Allan Gardens Conservatory is free to enter and open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This historic spot is more than 100 years old and boasts more than 16,000 square feet of greenhouse where you can see tropical plants from all around the globe like palm trees and cacti among others.
There are also seasonal plants on display throughout the year. In the fall, marvel at the chrysanthemums and in the winter check out lovely poinsettias. The gardens are especially lovely in the spring when the blooms begin to open, and you can check out the spring bulb show from mid-January through March.
Toronto is always filled with stunning parks like High, Trinity Bellwoods and Humber Bay parks, among others. Take a brisk walk or head out on a bike ride to get in a little exercise. You can also pack a picnic lunch and dine al fresco with a natural backdrop to complete the scene. Bring along a Frisbee or football for a friendly game afterward.
Toronto is a diverse city and it's great fun to explore the various neighbourhoods. Wander the streets of the Distillery District, Little Italy and Chinatown as you take in the unique sites specific to each part of town. The Distillery District is a former whiskey distillery in the 1800s, and today is an eclectic, pedestrian-only little village filled with antique shops, galleries and plenty more that's perfect for window shopping and casual perusing.
3. Step back in time
History buffs will appreciate the variety of sites from bygone eras around Toronto.
Scarborough Historical Museum features pay-what-you-can admission throughout the year, and here you'll see a diction of the lives of early settlers from the 1800s. You're sure to be amused with as visit here as tours are led by interpreters in period costumes. You'll find the museum in Thomson Memorial Park.
Another spot to learn about Toronto's history and culture is the Market Gallery at St. Lawrence Market, which is always free. This is the remains of the City Hall that was on this site from 1845 through 1899 and on the second floor of the south market and the gallery, which used to be where city council chambers was. Witness the development of Toronto through a display of paintings, photographs, maps and fine art.
4. Listen to some great music
It's always a pleasure to hear live examples of the local music. While in Toronto, take some time to attend some performances, and luckily, there are plenty of free options (press on your keyboard Ctrl + F and type 'free' to find quickly free local performances listed on that page).
If you enjoy opera, check out the Canadian Opera Company's free performances (click Free Concert & Events tab on the left hand column) that take place most Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon and some Wednesdays at noon or 5:30 p.m. Head to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, sit back and and appreciate the amazing talents of the the company's singers.
5. Hit the beach
When the weather is warm, there's nothing better than throwing on a swimsuit and heading to the beach. Toronto offers plenty of options so check out more than one. The best part is that enjoying the sand and surf doesn't cost you a thing.
Woodbine Beach is great if you watch to play a rousing game of volleyball or Frisbee, take a swim or build a sandcastle. It's one Queen Street so once you need a break from the sun you can check out the local shops and restaurants.