Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
Credit: Adobe

The capital of the province of Ontario, Toronto is a major city with soaring skyscrapers and the iconic CN Tower. Along with various indoor activities, there are several outdoor spaces to explore, such as the Queen’s Park or the Music Garden. The city is also full of hidden gems, so the best way to explore the city would be to walk the streets and see what you find.

Best Time to Visit

Late April through May, September through October; though peak tourist season is during the summer months – June through August

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Places to Go and See

Korea Town

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

Walk down the street and get immersed in Korean culture, whether you decide to pop into a K-stationery store, a Korean waffle shop, or get bubble tea. There is a plethora of different shops and eateries, and it’s a great way to not only see a different micro-culture, but to try some new delicious food.

  • Hours: Depends on the shops
  • Best Time: Warmer weather if walking down the street, but most attractions are located inside 
  • Price: Depends on the shops

Ripley’s Aquarium

Toronto, Canada
Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

Explore nine unique galleries of various ocean life as you walk through Ripley’s Aquarium. For instance, take a conveyor belt through Dangerous Lagoon and come face-to-face with sharks, or travel over to the Shoreline Gallery and brush your fingers across the backs of stingrays.

  • Hours: 9-11
  • Best Time: Anytime, as all the displays are indoors.
  • Price: $44.00

CN Tower

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

Soaring 533 meters into the air, the CN Tower is one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. Take an elevator up 346 meters to the main observation deck, or go even higher to the SkyPod and feel as the structures sways in the wind. If you’re feeling especially daring try the Edgewalk and stand on metal grating near the top while connected to a harness.

  • Hours: 9-10
  • Best Time: Clear day in order to see from the observation deck
  • Price: $43

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Music Garden

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
The Toronto Music Garden, at the Harbourfront in Toronto, Ontario.

One of Toronto’s most enchanted locations, the Toronto Music Garden is designed based on a musical piece. Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello displays several dance steps, which are the inspiration for each part of the garden as you walk along the stone pathway, getting lost not only in nature but music as well.

  • Hours: 24 hours a day
  • Best Time: Spring or Summer months when all the foliage blooms
  • Price: Free

Fort York

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
Adobe Stock

Named as a National Historic Site, Fort York is where British soldiers, First Nations warriors and Upper Canadian militia men stood against the U.S. during the War of 1812. Immerse yourself in several different types of exhibits highlighting this bloody part of Toronto’s history, and learn about unsung heroes nearly forgotten in history.

  • Hours: Wed-Sun 11-5
  • Best Time: During the warmer months if walking around outside, but if you are exploring indoors then all year round
  • Price: Free

Art Gallery of Ontario

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

One of the largest art museums in North America, the AGO attracts one million visitors annually. The art ranges from contemporary to Indigenous pieces and European masterpieces, along with seasonal exhibits set up around the museum. If you are an art enthusiast, then this should definitely be on your bucket list.

  • Hours: Closed Monday, Tues & Thurs 10:30-5, Wed & Fri 10:30-9, Sat & Sun 10:30-5:30
  • Best Time: Anytime as all of the art is indoors
  • Price: $30, Wednesday nights 6-9pm Free

Bloor Street

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
Photo by Tianlei Wu on Unsplash

Similar to Korea town, Bloor Street is full of fun shops and eateries to explore over several days, or even just take a walk down the street and take in the Toronto atmosphere.

  • Hours: Depends on the store
  • Best Time: Nicer weather to walk around, but you can go indoors with various shops and eateries 
  • Price: Depends on the store

Hidden Gems

Doug Miller Books

Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

Book lovers, please make sure to stop at Doug Miller Books as you explore Bloor Street as you will not be disappointed. Enter the store and immediately find yourself surrounded by bookshelves stocked full with books, along with stacks of books in any empty corner. Featuring both used and newer books, you will definitely leave with more than you came in with.

  • Hours: 10-6
  • Best Time: Anytime, as all the merchandise is indoors
  • Price: Depends on the amount of books you buy

Captive Escape Room

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Choose from five different adventures and escape within the hour in these interactive and puzzling escape rooms. From well-known rooms like Dracula’s Library to the ominous 13 Doors, bring some friends and have some fun trying to figure out the mystery hidden within each room.

  • Hours: 11:30-11; times may fluctuate
  • Best Time: Any time
  • Price: $33

No Way Back Tattoo

Exploring Toronto: Discovering Hidden Gems and Popular Spots
Photo by Alexandria Wyckoff

If you’re looking to get a permanent memento of your travels in Toronto, then head over to No Way Back and get a tattoo or piercing. Choose from four resident artists and one piercer to get your chosen piece, and enjoy the quaint atmosphere of buzzing tattoo machines.

  • Hours: Tues-Sat 12-8
  • Best Time: Anytime, but always check to see if taking walk-ins, or schedule an appointment
  • Price: Depends on the tattoo/piercing you get

Top Restaurants

Utopia Cafe and Grill

If you wake up late and want something delicious for brunch, then head over to Utopia Cafe and Grill. Serving not only breakfast but paninis and salads as well, this fresh restaurant is a fun place to stop if you’re feeling hungry.

  • Hours: Closed Tues, open all other days 11-9
  • Featured Food: Utopia Breakfast / Chicken and Pesto Panini

The Dessert Fox

Home of the “croffle” – croissant meets waffle, this cafe is a great place to stop if you’re looking for a quick snack or hot drink.

  • Hours: Tues-Sun 12-9:30
  • Featured Food: Tiramisu Croffle / Banana Croffle
  • Featured Drink: Matcha Strawberry Latte / Sparkling Blueberry

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Snakes and Lattes

Playing board games while eating food in a restaurant? Absolutely! At Snake and Lattes you can pick from a whole wall of various board games and bring them back to your table and play for however long you want, all while snacking and sipping on delicious cocktails – a perfect type of game night.

  • Hours: Mon-Wed 4-11, Thurs & Fri 1-11, Sat & Sun 11-11
  • Featured Food: Snakes Truffle Mac & Cheese / Classic Margherita Flatbread
  • Featured Drink: Canvas / Wavelength


Satisfy your inner child with a wide selection of vintage arcade games in this combination arcade/bar. Order food and drinks with game themes as well, and submerge yourself in games for a few hours.

  • Hours: Closed Tues, Mon & Wed 7-12, Thurs & Fri 5-1am, Sat 12-2am, Sun 12-12
  • Featured Food: Drunk Dog / Hellfire Chicken
  • Featured Drink: Princess Peach / Moscow Mario

Fran’s Restaurant

Eat breakfast at nine pm or just have a milkshake at Fran’s Restaurant, which is open twenty-four hours a day. This Toronto diner has been around since 1940 and attracts both tourists and regulars alike.

  • Hours: Open 24 hours
  • Featured Food: Fran’s Famous Club / Fran’s Meatloaf
  • Featured Drink: Fran’s Premium Blend Coffee / Traditional Milk Shakes

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Trattoria Taverniti

This traditional Italian restaurant is located on College street amongst many other small shops and restaurants, but its quaint atmosphere makes this a lovely experience, and a great place to have a date night, or just eat some really good Italian food.

  • Hours: Thurs-Sun 5-9
  • Featured Food: Penne Alla Calabrese / Penne Rosina
  • Featured Drink: Limoncello Sunrise / Drunken Cherry Lemonade

Top Hotels

Hilton Garden Inn Toronto/Markham

  • ~$150
  • Featured Amenities: Indoor Pool, Free WiFi, Fitness Center, Pet-friendly rooms, EV Charging, On-site restaurant
  • Hotel Information: Check in 3pm, Check out 12pm, Free Parking

Hilton Toronto

  • ~$200/night
  • Featured Amenities: Indoor Pool, Fitness Center, Pet-friendly rooms, Outdoor Pool, On-site restaurant, EV Charging
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Extra charge parking

Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre

  • ~$300/night
  • Featured Amenities: Hot Tub, Fitness Center, Indoor Pool, Free WiFi, Room Service, Convenience Store
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 12pm, On-site extra charge parking

The SoHo Hotel & Residences

  • ~$400/night
  • Featured Amenities: Fitness Center, Indoor Pool, Hot Tub, Spa, Restaurant, Free WiFi
  • Hotel Information: Check in 3pm, Check out 12pm, On-site extra charge parking

Alexandria is a News Editor, writer, and reader of all things literature. She graduated from the State University of... More about Alexandria Wyckoff

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