No one really likes tourists. They walk slow. They stand in the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures of things you walk past every day. Plus, they rarely know what or where the SkyDome is. (They call it The Rogers Centre… the nerve!) But there are a few places that could reasonably be called tourist traps that manage to still be awesome…
The Toronto Islands are only a short ferry ride away. Between Centre Island, Ward’s Island, and Hanlan’s Point there’s something for everyone. If you have tiny people with you, Centre Island has rides and a hedge maze. If you’re interested in a romantic bike ride for two you can rent a tandem bike and scope out the whole island. All while laughing at how ridiculously, terribly in love you are. If you want to hang out and BBQ with friends, there are charcoal BBQs on Ward’s Island all your grilling needs. There’s even a nude beach at Hanlan’s Point if you’re looking for that perfect line-free tan.
Sure, Mirvish shows can be a bit of a tourist trap, but they also put on some of the best shows in Toronto. Plus, it’s totally worth walking behind a slow walker for 5 minutes or so to get to see The Lion King on stage. The performances at the Ed Mirvish Theatre on Yonge and The Princess of Wales Theatre on King are well worth buying tickets in advance and making a night of. Plus, walking down King while singing your heart out with friends at 11 PM is totally fun. You’ll only look a little crazy.
With a prime lakefront patio, featuring large Muskoka chairs and a gorgeous view of the lake, it’s no surprise the Amsterdam BrewHouse attracts tourists and locals alike. But it’s the craft beer and food that will have you returning weekend after weekend. You may have to wait a while for a prime seat on the patio. But, it’s totally worth it for the stunning view and brewed-on-site craft beers. You can even buy bottles before you head home. I suggest the Boneshaker or the Amsterdam Blonde.
Of course, the Art Gallery of Ontario attracts tourists in droves. But if you do the AGO right you’ll probably be able to see the art completely free of gawking tourists. Every Wednesday from 6 PM to 8:30 PM the AGO is open to the public for free. A Toronto secret that the average visitor wouldn’t know about. If you want to see the art in relative peace give it a shot on a Wednesday. When you’re done being cultured head over to Baldwin Village for some of the best-hidden patios in the city.
While the Distillery District attracts tourists all year round it’s actually a pretty beautiful place to hang out or spend the day on a patio. Mill Street Brewpub has a big beautiful patio, fantastic food, and a really great selection of local and seasonal beers. (This time of year the Lemon Tea Beer is a particular favourite, brewed with real tea and real lemon. This is not a Coors Light Ice-Tea.) If you’re looking for a sweet treat to cool off head to Greg’s Ice Cream and order the Toasted Marshmallow. You can thank me later.
Ripley’s may sound like a bona fide tourist trap. Especially considering its location next to both the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower. But, it’s actually a pretty wonderful place to visit. While you will definitely see busses packed with tourists out front, once inside the aquarium is filled with beautiful sea creatures and incredible activities for people of any age. If you visit after 7 PM (which is prime time for a local seeking to avoid day camps and tourists with oversized cameras), tickets are $5 less than during the daytime or weekends. If you make it to the aquarium I highly recommend a visit to planet jellies. The area is magical and serves as a beautiful reminder of exactly how much wonder is hiding in the deep blue sea.
The truth is, most of the tourists in this city just want to check out the things that make Toronto awesome… and it’s hard to blame them for that.
What are some of your favourite tourist traps in Toronto? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.