I enjoy visiting Canada. Whether it’s the clean air, the friendly people, or maybe it’s because they’re our neighbors, I genuinely love Canada. While I’ve visited Canada numerous times, I first took Madison for a visit when she was only a year old. It’s since been my intent to visit again once she’s older to see and enjoy the sights.
With Canada being so close to the United States of America, it was only a matter of time before we decided that a trip was in order. It also helped that I have quite a bit family who does reside in Canada, so now that she’s older to really enjoy sightseeing, we decided to once again brave Canada, but this time during the winter months for the holidays.
While I do have family and friends who live in Toronto, one of the busiest cities in the Ontario province, we’re currently just outside of Toronto in the city of London, roughly about an hour and a half, or two hours, depending on traffic. With that being said, I decided to head to Toronto for a day. But with such limited time, what can you really do? Don’t despair, there’s still lots to do in Toronto with just 24 hours to spare, and I’m here to share how you can do it.
Most locations open between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., and while there are a select few that close rather late at night, most close around 5 p.m., so you’re going to have to time your visit, especially if you’re doing twenty-four hours on a weekend where they may close a bit earlier. Here is how we did it.
Where to stay?
Delta Hotels Toronto by Marriott
We knew that we wanted to stay within close proximity of the CN Tower. I wanted to see the Toronto skyline at night, and since it’s open until well late into the night, I stayed at the four-star Delta Hotels Toronto by Marriott located at 75 Lower Simcoe Street, and a stone’s throw from the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Scotiabank Arena and the Rogers Centre. With spacious suites, complimentary Wi-Fi, and fantastic city views, you’re going to love it. I also highly recommend having access to the club lounge, as the view from the lounge is spectacular. It also saves you having to splurge on breakfast as complimentary breakfast is included.
Where to go?
If you do decide to stay at the Delta Hotels Toronto, I highly suggest making the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Canada’s largest indoor aquarium, your very first stop and recommend getting there at opening hours of 9am when the crowds are almost non-existent. It’s also an excellent time to get a photo in front of the CN Tower or Canada sign.
The aquarium features 16,000 aquatic animals, 100+ interactive displays, nine galleries, and three touch exhibits featuring sharks, rays and horseshoe crabs. You’re going to enjoy the moving walkway in Dangerous Lagoon where you can get extremely close-up views of sawfish, stingrays and even sharks.
Planet Jellies with their color-changing display will leave you fixated, and for kids, there is an interactive area where the kids can play and have fun.
You can generally spend about two hours here to really experience it all leaving you with lots of time to explore Toronto a bit more.
Visit a real-world castle, the only landmark castle in North America, and learn the story of Sir Henry Pellatt, the man behind the vision of this castle. Take a step into the world of the Edwardian era. With three floors, you’ll be able to explore and view decorated suites, secret passageways, an 800-foot tunnel that leads you to a stable and a vintage car exhibition from the 1900s. You can also take in the view of the city from the tower.
During the holidays, take part in the holiday magic with family activities including cookie decorating and a thrilling performance of ‘A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle.’ Delight in the holiday decor, including a 40ft tree in the great hall and other signature trees in designated rooms. Before you go, be sure to visit Santa in his workshop and get your photo taken.
This visit should take roughly take two and a half to three hours, but can be more or less, depending on how much you want to explore.
Looking to get out of the cold and see a bit more history, be sure to visit the Royal Ontario Museum (aka the ROM). While this is great for the entire family, the 2nd floor dedicated to kids features lots of activities to keep them occupied. Be sure to visit the world of Dinosaurs and brush up on your dino knowledge.
Get your photo taken with the mighty T.Rex, become a paleontologist and dig for fossils or have some fun naming the many dinosaurs that are available for your viewing pleasure.
If Dinosaurs aren’t your thing, and you’re feeling brave, explore the bat cave and learn about bats and how they use their echolocation, see bats in flight and how they forage for food at night. Or maybe you’re into geology. Visit one of the best selection of gemstones and even view a million dollar coin. Yes, it exists.
A visit to the museum can be as much as three hours or more unless you keep your stay exclusive to the second floor.
As an amateur photographer, a photo of the Toronto skyline was a must! Once touted as the tallest building in the world, and one of the seven wonders of the world, it’s always been a dream to visit the top of the CN Tower and overlook Toronto.
While daylight views are splendid, nighttime is just spectacular. It takes less than a minute to get to the top in the glass-fronted elevator that zips up to the 1,135ft LookOut area. From there you’re able to take in the stunning views of Toronto.
If you’re not afraid of heights, then I highly suggest visiting the famous Glass Floor and going outdoors to the Outdoor SkyTerrace, although summer might be preferable as it was freezing at the height of 1,122ft above ground at night during winter. Grab a snack or a full meal at the 360 Restaurant while sipping on Canadian wine.
And if you’re feeling exceptionally brave, the Edge Walk might just be the thing for you, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Walk around the edge of the CN Tower while attached to a safety harness. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that brave.
I highly suggest visiting at night and spending as long as your heart desires, although an hour and a half to two hours is more than enough time to see and do it all.
Your visit isn’t complete until you’ve visited Nathan Phillips Square and taken a photograph with the famous Toronto sign.
During the warmer months, Spring, Summer, and Fall, Nathan Phillips Square is a water fountain and pond, while during the winter it’s transformed into an outdoor Ice Rink. Don’t worry about bringing skates as you can rent them there.
Is there a good time to visit so you can have an uninterrupted photo of the sign if that’s your desire? I asked and found out that the best time to visit would most definitely be early in the morning, quite possibly before 9am, as it’s almost always crowded no matter what time you visit.
Best way to see it all?
Whenever we travel we try to see as much as we can while spending as little as possible. CityPASS is the way to do so. Not only are the deals amazing, but they almost always include some of the city’s top attractions at an unbelievable price with significant savings.
Not only do you get to skip the lines, but its also very easy to use. I merely loaded our CityPASS tickets to my wallet and scanned our way into whatever attractions we wanted to visit. CityPASS is a great way to explore and experience select cities.
With the Toronto CityPASS you can save 35% or more on admission to Toronto’s top 5 attractions and skip most main-entrance ticket lines with CityPASS tickets, and best of all it’s valid nine days including the first day of use. The Toronto CityPASS tickets cost $88 CAD for adults (value of $135) and $59 CAD for children ages 4-12, plus tax., and includes prepaid admission to:
- CN Tower
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
- Casa Loma
- Royal Ontario Museum
- Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre
Currently, you can use CityPASS in the following fourteen cities:
- New York City;
- Tampa Bay;
- Southern California;
- San Francisco;
- Dallas; and
Toronto is a spectacular city with lots to see and do for families and individuals alike, no matter the season in which you decide to visit. So plan a trip, make your itinerary, and add Toronto to your list of must-see places to see in Canada.