After taking in some of Toronto’s best-known landmarks on your first day, you’ve walked the waterfront and your feet could probably use a break. This tour focuses on a smaller area, albeit with tons to take in, especially at the city’s top museum. The Royal Ontario Museum could easily command a day on its own, but it’s easy to add Yorkville, U of T, and the Ontario Legislature to the itinerary when they’re basically a stone’s throw away from the ROM.
Start: Bay Station
Filled with chic boutiques and elegant galleries, this neighborhood, which is part residential, mostly commercial, has long departed from its groovy 1960s vibe when it was home to the city’s hippies; a century before that, it was a cemetery. Progress?
Toronto’s most famous museum was given a Daniel Libeskind–designed extension in 2007, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. The dynamic new additions expanded the viewing area, largely through six crystal-shaped galleries that jut out over Bloor Street West. Where you spend your time here will depend on whether you have kids in tow: The collection of dinosaur bones is truly awesome; the Schad Gallery, a breathtaking collection of species rare and beautiful, and the Bat Cave, are musts. Adults may be more interested in the stellar Chinese galleries, which include a Ming tomb.
Just across the street from the ROM, the Gardiner is an understated gem. The singular collection of ceramics and carefully curated exhibits are a rare find. For those who want to get their hands dirty, the Gardiner also offers hands-on workshops, including some geared for kids.
4. Victoria College
Next door to the Gardiner is Victoria College, a college federated with the University of Toronto. Like the other seven colleges that founded U of T, Victoria maintains its own digs. It has a pretty college quad bordered by imposing Romanesque architecture (plus some blocky '60s stuff), and was home to the celebrated scholar Northrop Frye. Excellent coffee can be found inside Old Vic (the red sandstone building) at Caffiends, a student-run cafe.
Stroll by Trinity College and appreciate the Jacobethan architectural grandeur, or head over to Hart House, which is open to the public and often hosts interesting lectures and concerts.
This sweeping, pretty midtown park is also home to the less beautiful provincial legislative building. (A New Yorker humor writer once dubbed it "Early Penitentiary.") It's possible to take a tour on most days, or just enjoy the setting and, if you're in luck, one of the many peaceful protests that take place on the lawn.
It’s an iconic piece in Toronto’s history, as well as a popular gathering place throughout the year. In warm weather, the reflecting pool and fountains create a piazza, and when the mercury drops, it’s fun to visit the skating rink, complete with festive lights and music. Framing the whole scene, quite perfectly, is the Modernist masterpiece of the building itself; walk up toward and around it, and you’ll see the Henry Moore sculpture The Archer. Most visitors, though, are more entranced with snapping a selfie in front of the giant, multicolored Toronto sign.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.