Do you really need a package tour to visit Toronto? Generally speaking, no -- it's easy to arrange accommodations and show tickets yourself. However, if you're determined to see a particular show (or the Canadian Opera Company, whose performances often sell out), a package is a good idea. Package tours are simply a way to buy the airfare, accommodations, and other elements of your trip (such as car rentals, airport transfers, and sometimes even activities) at the same time and often at discounted prices.
One good source of package deals is Tourism Toronto itself, which lists deals on its website (www.seetorontonow.com). Several of Toronto's hotels (including the Park Hyatt, the Fairmont Royal York, and the Chelsea Hotel) offer special packages. Several big online travel agencies -- Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Lastminute.com -- also do a brisk business in packages.
Maxxim Vacations (tel. 800/567-6666; www.maxximvacations.com) is a Canadian company that has a long track record with Toronto package tours. One advantage with their packages is that you can guarantee you get to see the show (or shows) you have your heart set on while in town.
Travel packages are also listed in the travel section of your local weekend newspaper and sometimes in midweek editions. Or check ads in national travel magazines such as Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Magazine, Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, and Condé Nast Traveler.
Escorted tours are structured group tours, with a group leader. The price usually includes everything from airfare to hotels, meals, tours, admission costs, and local transportation.
There are some great special-interest tours you can take part in while you're in town , and the city is easy to navigate and explore without a group. However, if you do want an escorted tour, there are several options, including Great Adventure Tours (tel. 800/638-3945; www.greatadventuretours.com), which explores Toronto and Niagara, and SWT Tours (tel. 212/988-1359; www.poshnosh.com), which specializes in theater tours.