Ah spring… warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours, and the promise of summer in the not-so-distant future. There’s a noticeable shift throughout the city as we stow-away our winter gear for another year and rejoice in finishing the work day while the sun is still up. Spring is a fantastic time in the city, so to help you dust off your winter legs and get you pumped for the new season, check out these free things to do in Toronto this spring.
Check out the Cherry Blossoms in High Park
Nothing captures the beauty of spring like a flowering cherry blossom tree. For me personally, this is what I look forward to most about spring and the best place to see them in Toronto is in High Park. Believe it or not, the cherry blossom trees in High Park were actually a gift from the Japanese Ambassador to Canada. In 1959, Toronto was presented 2,000 sakura trees from the citizens of Tokyo as a gesture of appreciation for supporting Japanese-Canada refuges during WWII. Today, you can find the cherry blossom trees lining the High Park Trail, creating an almost canopy-like effect of delicate white cherry blossom pedals. Be warned though, every year thousands of people descend on the park, crowding the paths, snapping selfies and filling up Instagram feeds everywhere. To avoid the crowds, visit the park on a weekday in the early hours of the day. If you’re coming on the weekend, leave your car at home and bring your patience! The cherry blossoms only last for about 2 weeks, so keep your eye on this site, which has been predicting the blooming of the trees for years.
Head Outside and Cycle Toronto’s Bicycle Trails
The arrival of warmer temperatures means it’s time to soak in some Vitamin D we’ve sorely been missing during the winter months. My favourite thing to do once the weather warms up is to hop on my bicycle and explore the city from two wheels. Toronto has a number of dedicated trails for cyclists, runners, and hikers from the Humber River Trail which starts north of the 401 and runs all the way down to Lake Ontario to the Martin Goodman Trail which spans the width of the city and beyond. Check out the above video for the Top 5 bicycle trails in the city!
Step Inside Some of the City’s Most Significant Buildings During Doors Open Toronto
Every year, for a weekend in May, the city of Toronto literally opens its doors to the public. Since 2000, Doors Open Toronto has celebrated the architecturally, historically, culturally, and socially significant buildings across the city by allowing the public free access. Many of the sites offer free, guided tours, exhibits and displays. This is one of my favourite events in the city because I get a chance to check out buildings normally off-limits to the public. Don’t forget your camera if you love photographing architecture like I do! This year, more than 100 buildings across the city will be participating under the theme of “Re-used, Re-visited and Revised”, showcasing the repurposing of buildings throughout the city.
Take a Free Walking Tour with Tour Guys
My favourite tour company in the city, Tour Guys, has expanded their free walking tour program just in time for Spring! In addition to their ‘Old Town History Tour’ and ‘Downtown Toronto Tour’ they were running last fall, 2016 includes 2 more free walking tours centered around food and graffiti in the city. On the ‘Food Tour’, you’ll step inside the St. Lawrence Market and learn about our regional foods, meet some of the vendors who have been selling their products in the market for decades, sample some of the food, and learn about the history of the area. The tour does not include food, however some vendors will provide some small samples for you to try. On the ‘Graffiti Tour’ you’ll head to Queen Street West and our famous Graffiti Alley, where you’ll find the largest concentration of graffiti and street art in the city. You’ll learn about the history of modern graffiti, the different styles and techniques, the city’s policies towards it, and no doubt discuss the ‘art’ vs. ‘vandalism’ debate that surrounds it all. Note: Although the walking tours are free, the tour guides are working for tips. So if you enjoyed the experience, don’t forget to show them how much!
Bust a Gut at The Second City’s Free Improv Shows
The best place in Toronto to check out a comedy show is hands down, The Second City. For decades, they have been putting on incredible productions and improv shows. Some of the biggest names in comedy all had their start at The Second City: Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Martin Short, and the late John Candy (just to name a few). What a lot of people don’t know is that every night after the mainstage production wraps up, a free improv show takes centre stage. You don’t have to have purchased a ticket to that night’s show. Anything goes at these improv shows as the comedians get to test out new material and hone their skills, and who knows, you might just be watching one of the next big comedy stars.