Summer in Toronto is an exciting and fun time, but I always look forward to the arrival of fall the most. It’s my favourite season. I love wearing thicker sweaters, going apple picking, photographing the vibrant coloured foliage, and eating all things pumpkin-related. The folks at Expedia.ca asked me to share some of my favourite things to do in Toronto this time of year. While Tristan and I are gearing up and saving as much as we can for our USA roadtrip next summer, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to take this a step further and showcase my favourite FREE things to do in Toronto. As you’ll see below, you don’t have to spend a lot to have a great time in this city before the winter months force us indoors.
Nuit Blanche is an all night contemporary art festival that takes place across the city of Toronto every year on the first Saturday in October. Beginning at sunset and going until the sun comes up, this free event showcases art projects by local, national and international artists. Projects range from photography to performance art, mixed media to full-scale, interactive installations. It’s been amazing to watch the growth of Nuit Blanche since it started back in 2006 and this year more than 1 million people are expected to take in 110 art projects by 400 artists. There’s no other night like this in Toronto as the streets come alive with art and art-enthusiasts.
Cycle the Toronto Trails
My favourite way to explore Toronto and get away from the busy streets is to cycle the many trails in and around the city. While the summer months can make cycling more difficult (sticky humidity and poor air quality), the fall months usher in cooler temperatures and cleaner air. There are many bicycle trails in Toronto to enjoy and in this video I break down the top 5 of them. If you don’t own a bicycle or enjoy cycling, these trails can be hiked too.
See Some of Toronto’s Museums & Historic Sites for Free
If you’re a Toronto resident and hold a valid adult Toronto Library Card, you might be surprised to find out that you can visit some of the city’s museums and historic sites for free. Yes, that little piece of plastic is good for more than just checking out books and DVDs (do people still use DVDs?) from your local library. The Museum + Arts Pass, sponsored by Sun Life Financial, allows you and your family (2 adults and up to 5 children) into places like the Aga Khan Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Black Creek Pioneer Village, the Royal Ontario Museum, and some of Toronto’s historic sites including Fort York, Montgomery’s Inn, and Todmorden Mills to name a few. You can ‘check out’ a pass for a particular venue from the library and that pass can be used one-time during a 3-month period. Passes vary by library branch and quantities are limited (usually one or two passes per venue per library branch, which are replenished every Saturday morning). If you’re not a Toronto resident, the AGO offers free entrance to their main collection on Wednesdays from 6-8:30pm.
Take a Walking Tour of Toronto With Tour Guys
If you’re interested in learning about Toronto and getting some exercise at the same time, then join one of Tour Guys’ free walking tours. During the month of October, they’re running 2, 90-minute tours available on Saturdays and Sundays. The Downtown Tour: “Power, Politics, & The PATH” takes you through the financial core, utilizing the PATH system (Toronto’s underground city), and ending at City Hall. The Toronto Dark History Tour: “Death, Disease, & Destruction” takes you through 150 years of history in the city, touching on notable murders, rebellions, and even the cholera epidemic of 1832. Both of these tours run at different times and are designed so you can do both of them in one day if you choose. Although these are free walking tours, remember to tip your guides if you’ve had a great experience. I’ve had the pleasure of being on a number of tours led by Tour Guys and I always have an incredible time. They are one of the best in the business and even as a Toronto resident, I’m always learning something new about my city.
Check out the Changing Colours in High Park
The display of changing colours that Mother Nature puts on during the fall is the main reason why this is my favourite season. I’d also say it’s one of the most photogenic seasons, judging by the shades of red, orange, and yellow that take over my Instagram feed at this time every year. My favourite spot to enjoy it all is High Park. As Toronto’s largest park, I love that I don’t have to leave the city to see the incredible fall colours. If you’re into photography, definitely make a point to come to High Park and spend a couple of hours walking the trails. Even if you’re not into photography, this is a great spot to get away from the busy streets. Pack a picnic and make a date out of it!
The Halloween Street Festival
If there’s one neighbourhood in Toronto that knows how to throw an amazing party, it’s The Village. Located around the intersection of Church and Wellesley Streets, The Village is the heart of the LGBTQ communities. In June, the largest Pride Festival in North America takes place here but the fun isn’t over for the year just yet. Every year on October 31, Church Street is shut down for an outdoor Halloween street party. Thousands of people cram the street in creative and unique costumes. The party runs well into the night, spilling into local bars and restaurants that host costume contests and Halloween parties.
What are some of your favourite free things to do in Toronto? Leave them in the comments below!
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