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Things to Do in Ontario

The province of Ontario lies in southeastern Canada, between the open plains of Manitoba to the east and the soaring peaks of Quebec to the west. Canada’s most populated province, Ontario serves as home to the vibrant cities of Ottawa and Toronto. Visitors can explore sights of interest easily on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, such as the Canadian Museum of History, Notre Dame Basilica, Parliament Hill, and the Royal Ontario Museum. And in true Canadian style, the open wilderness is never far away. Take a private or small-group tour to discover pristine forests, shimmering lakes, and deep valleys—in summer or winter. Many travelers come to admire the cascading waters of Niagara Falls (by sea or air); but Ontario also plays host to a number of natural attractions worth your attention. Delve into Algonquin Park (home to native bears, beavers, eagles, and moose) on a three-day canoe tour. For something even more adventurous, take to the Ottawa River on a white-water rafting adventure. Fly over Thousand Islands on a helicopter tour for a bird’s-eye view of Boldt Castle and the St. Lawrence River; or casually stroll among the vineyards at Niagara-on-the-Lake, where pinot noir and merlot grapes thrive. In the winter months, enjoy high-octane thrills on the snow and ice in Ontario’s Georgian Bay.
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CN Tower
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48 Tours and Activities
Having recently turned 30, the funky CN Tower remains every bit as cool and iconic as it was when it opened in 1976. Its primary function is as a radio and TV communications tower, but riding the great glass elevators up the highest freestanding structure (1,800 feet/550 meters) in the world is one of those things in life you just have to do. On a clear day, the views from the Observation Deck are absolutely astounding; if it's hazy, you won't be able to see a thing. For extra thrills, tread lightly over the knee-trembling Glass Floor deck, or continue climbing an extra 330 ft (100 m) to the uppermost SkyPod viewing area, the highest public observation gallery in the world. Alternatively, if you're feeling chipper, you might want to enter the annual CN Tower Stair Climb - a heart-thumping dash to the top of the tower's 1,776 steps that happens every October.
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Niagara Falls, Ontario
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Spectacular! Wow! Fabulous! Whatever superlatives you choose, you won’t be able to keep the word from your lips at Niagara Falls. For here, great muscular bands of water tumble over a precipice like liquid glass, roaring into the void below. In terms of sheer volume, more than a million bathtubs of water plummet over the edge every second. Niagara Falls is actually two sets of falls: the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. The best way to see Horseshoe

Falls is either via the Maid of the Mist boat, which takes you right up to Falls, through the turbulent waters of the American Falls. Another way is to take the Journey Behind the Falls, in which you’ll walk through tunnels onto an observation deck to get a wet but up-close view of the Horseshoe Falls or go to the Cave of the Winds for an up-close view of the American Falls.

On land, you can see Niagara Falls from the Skyline Tower on the Canadian side.

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St. Lawrence Market
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Toronto's sensational St. Lawrence Market has been a neighborhood meeting place for more than 200 years. The restored, high-trussed 1845 South Market building houses more than 50 specialty food stalls including cheese vendors, fishmongers, butchers, bakers and pasta makers with lots of action and yelling of prices in silly voices.

Inside the old council chambers upstairs, the St. Lawrence Market Gallery is now the city's exhibition hall, with rotating displays of paintings, photographs, documents, and historical relics. On the opposite side of Front Street, the North Market building houses a farmers' market on Saturday and an antiques market on Sunday. Overlooking the market is the glorious St. Lawrence Hall, which can be seen for blocks. Considered one of Toronto's finest examples of Victorian classicism, the building is topped by a mansard roof and a working, copper-clad clock tower.

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Skylon Tower
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For numerous Niagara Falls-inspired attractions all in one place, the Skylon Tower is an excellent choice. Boasting front row views of the natural wonder along with ambient dining, a observation platform, 4D movies, shopping and family-fun, you could spend all day being entertained in one place.

Start your Skylon Tower experience by riding in their glass-enclosed elevators to the Indoor/Outdoor Observation Deck, where you can take in views of Niagara Falls, the Great Gorge, Niagara’s wine country, and Buffalo and Toronto skylines from 775 feet (236 meters) high.

For a unique dining experience in an upscale setting, Skylon Tower’s Revolving Dining Room Restaurant sits at 775 feet (236 meters) high and turns 360 degrees every hour so your view is always changing. The menu is continental, and you can order anything from lobster tails to Filet Mignon to Mediterranean chicken.

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Journey Behind the Falls
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Horseshoe Falls is an awesome site from the shore and from a boat, but the best way to truly experience its absolute power is to take the Journey Behind the Falls. On this journey, you’ll don a plastic poncho and traverse tunnels bored into the rock behind the great sheet water for a thunderous up-close view.

Journey Behind the Falls consists of an observation platform and series of tunnels near the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian shore. The tunnels and platform can be reached by elevators from the street level entrance. You walk through two tunnels, which extend approximately 150 feet/46 meters behind the waterfall. When you reach the end of the tunnel, you can see water cascading in front of the open cave entrances. The best part is stepping out on the observation deck for the full experience. You will get very wet, but it’s worth it for the site of the roaring water.

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Distillery Historic District
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Toronto's Distillery Historic District comprises more than 40 heritage buildings and holds the largest collection of Victorian era industrial architecture in North America. Red brick is everywhere, including the streets themselves. As you wander along the street in the Distillery Historic District, you’ll notice many of the buildings are occupied with unique boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, jewelery stores, cafés and coffeehouses. One of the more popular attractions is Mill Street Brewery, which creates such tasty beers as pilsner and stout – a perfect spot to stop and rest your feet. The upper floors of a number of buildings house artist studios and a variety of other creative businesses. Also here is the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, which hosts plays by the Soulpepper Theatre Company and George Brown College.
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Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
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With six million objects in its impressive collection, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is Canada's biggest natural history museum. With its new eye-catching, über-modern Daniel Libeskind design, the main building is now a magnificent explosion of architectural crystals, housing six galleries, including the new “Renaissance ROM” building.

ROM's collections bounce between natural science, ancient civilization, and art exhibits. The Chinese temple sculptures, Gallery of Korean Art, and costumery and textile collections are some of the best in the world. Kids file out of yellow school buses chugging by the sidewalk and rush to the dinosaur rooms, Egyptian mummies, and Jamaican bat cave replica. The cedar crest poles carved by First Nations tribes in British Columbia are not to be missed; the largest pole (278 feet/85 meters) was shipped from the West Coast by train, then lowered through the museum roof.

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Rogers Centre
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At the base of the CN Tower is sports and entertainment venue, The Rogers Centre (formerly known as the Skydome). Since the name change in 2006, the Centre welcomes over 3.5 million visitors a year. It will celebrate 25 years in 2014.

The Rogers Centre is the home of the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club, World Series Champions in 1992 and 1993, and the Toronto Argonauts Football Team, who last won the Grey Cup in 2004. It is known as having the world’s first fully retractable roof. The roof opens and closes in 20 minutes and is a fun feature while being at a game or event. The Rogers Centre is the ideal venue for a big stadium concert; some of the biggest names in the business have entertained the masses from The Rolling Stones to Bon Jovi. To learn more about the Rogers Centre, you can experience a one hour fully guided behind-the-scenes tour. Highlights include a visit to different levels, a press box and a luxury suite among other stops.

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Floral Clock
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Next to Niagara Falls, one of the most photographed attractions in the surrounding area is the Floral Clock. Built in 1950, it is one of the largest in the world at a massive 40 feet in diameter. Each year, the clock is planted with over 15,000 carpet plants and annuals. The hands are made from stainless steel tubing and weigh a combined 1,250 pounds, while a 24-foot stone tower with speakers broadcasts the Westminster chime every 15 minutes.

The floral design is changed twice per year, using violas in the spring and four cultivars of Alternanthera along with green and gray Santolina Sage during summer and fall. Next to the Floral Clock visitors will find the Centennial Lilac Garden, which is in full bloom around late May and includes more than 250 varieties of plants and over 1,200 individual shrubs.

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More Things to Do in Ontario

Toronto City Hall

Toronto City Hall

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The New City Hall is one of Toronto’s most characteristic landmarks. Overlooking the busy Queen Street West in downtown Toronto, the New City Hall is nicknamed “the eye of the government” because of its shape on a plan view. The building’s easily identifiable dual curved and almost identical towers surround a council chamber that is mounted on a raised platform, a creation of Finnish architects Viljo Revell, Heikki Castrén, Bengt Lundsten, and Seppo Valjus, as well as landscape architect Richard Strong, who designed the building after an international architectural competition that yielded submissions from 42 countries in 1958. Part of the competition also included the Nathan Phillips Square below, which is now home to overheard walkways, a reflecting pool, and large concrete arches – it remains one of Toronto’s main gathering places, and New Year’s Eve celebrations are held there every year.

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Casa Loma

Casa Loma

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Literally the “House on a Hill,” Casa Loma - a mock medieval castle with Elizabethan-style chimneys, Rhineland turrets, secret passageways, and an underground tunnel - towers above midtown Toronto on a cliff. A walk through the sumptuous interior of this eccentric 98-room mansion is a trip back in time.

Inside, you can wander through the majestic Great Hall, marveling at its 59 foot (18 meter) high hammer-beam ceiling, while in the Oak Room the stately paneling took three years for artisans to create. Elegant bronze doors open up into the Conservatory, which is lit by an Italian chandelier with electrical bunches of grapes. Rugs feature the same patterns as those at Windsor castle. The original kitchen had ovens big enough to cook an ox, and secret panels and tunnels abound. The stables were used by the Canadian government for secret WWII research into anti-U-boat technology.

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Scotiabank Arena (Air Canada Centre)

Scotiabank Arena (Air Canada Centre)

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Well known as the ACC, The Air Canada Centre is home of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Toronto Rock of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). Some of the art deco facade on the outskirts of the arena pays homage to the building’s history previously occupied by Canada Post’s Toronto Postal Delivery Building.

Since its inception in 1999, the outlying area of the ACC has developed into Maple Leaf Square, with the Le Germain hotel and condominiums as well as a number of restaurants, supermarkets and office buildings in the vicinity. The ACC is a premier concert and event venue. The Tragically Hip played ACC’s first concert and other bands like Bon Jovi, U2, The Police and Rush have played up to 4 or 5 concerts in one tour at the ACC.

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Toronto High Park

Toronto High Park

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High Park, with its numerous cultural institutions, sports facilities, playgrounds and even a zoo, is the largest park in the Canadian metropolis Toronto and serves as a recreational area for locals and visitors alike. About a third of the park is left in its natural state and is home to both large groups of trees, shrubs, grasses and Canadian flowering plants as well as the many species of birds that are native to the area. High Park is especially beautiful late April and early May, when the Sakura cherry trees around Hillside Garden are in full bloom and spread their wonderful fragrance. The first of these trees that now make up a huge big pink canopy were given to High Park as a present from the citizens of Tokyo, while later on more and more Sakuras got donated by various sources.

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Humber Bay Park

Humber Bay Park

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Humber Bay Park consists of two man-made peninsulas, that jut out at the mouth of Mimico Creek just before it joins Lake Ontario. Humber Bay Park East is a great place to go animal watching, as a large number of cormorants, geese, herons, swans and ducks congregate here. Also frequently seen are Great Egrets and Red-Tailed Hawks, and you might even spot a turtle basking in the sun on a nice day. Most people combine this with a walk on the many trails that either lead along the shore of the lake or through the greenery of the park. Along the shore, you will find two sandy beaches and if you are a photographer, Humber Bay Park is also a great spot to see the spectacular Toronto Skyline with the CN Tower rising up in the midst of the skyscrapers. The two peninsulas are connected by a small pedestrian bridge and on the other side at Humber Bay Park East, visitors can find a parking lot and the big marina.

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Queen Victoria Park

Queen Victoria Park

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Niagara Falls main parkland, the Queen Victoria Park is in the center of the Niagara Parks and features a mix of green and water views as well as the chance to learn about nature. While exploring Queen Victoria Park you’ll be able to take in front row views of Niagara Falls, as the park is located along the Niagara Gorge and River. For this reason, it’s one of the best places for taking excellent photographs of the natural attraction, especially as it provides a peaceful setting. Visitors can also access top Niagara Falls experiences from the park like the Maid of the Mist, Clifton Hill and Journey Behind the Falls.

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Fort York National Historic Site

Fort York National Historic Site

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Fort York is one of Canada’s most important and earliest historic sites and was in use between the 1790s and 1880s. The military fortifications consisting of stone and wood barracks, powder magazines and officers’ quarters were put in place by the British Army and Canadian militia troops as the primary harbor defense of the city of York, Toronto’s old name and back then the capital of Upper Canada. It guarded the entrance to Toronto Harbour and Fort York saw action three times, the most notable of these battles being the Battle of York in 1813, when the invading U.S. Army destroyed the fort and the retreating British soldiers blew up the powder magazines, killing hundreds. Of course, the British government was not pleased by the defeat and subsequent ransacking of York and this event spurred the much better known British invasion of Washington D.C. a year later, which resulted in the burning of Congress and the White House.

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Table Rock Welcome Centre

Table Rock Welcome Centre

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Although the original Table Rock -- a jutting out of rock from the Falls used as a viewing platform in the 19th century -- was destroyed in 1935 after a series of dangerous rock falls, today it is a retail and entertainment complex. Considered a must-visit when at Niagara Falls, Table Rock’s viewing area is home to terraced platforms perfect for picture taking, especially as rainbows are a common sighting. It’s located right at the Falls in the heart of Niagara Parks, so you’re guaranteed to enjoy beautiful scenery near all the attractions.

Begin your Table Rock experience at the Welcome Centre, where you can purchase tickets, packages and passes depending on what you want to do. Here you’ll also be able to get some background information on the area. One attraction at Table Rock is Niagara’s Fury, a 4D experience that will make you feel like you’re really witnessing the creation of the falls through advanced technology.

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Whirlpool Aero Car

Whirlpool Aero Car

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Dangling above the Niagara River, just north of Horseshoe Falls, is the Whirlpool Aero Car. The gondola travels 1,800 feet/550 meters between two points above the Niagara Gorge, providing unforgettable views of the raging waters below. It’s a thrilling 10 minutes!

To reach the Whirlpool Aero Car, you climb a winding stairwell. Those afraid of heights might be better off on the ground. Then, you’ll board the antique cable car and be transported on six sturdy cables high above the racing Niagara River. Far below, the torrent of water abruptly changes direction and creates one of the world’s most mesmerizing natural phenomenons - the Niagara Whirlpool, which is formed at the end of the rapids where the gorge turns abruptly counterclockwise and the river escapes through the narrowest channel in the gorge.

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Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

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Hockey Hall of Fame

Hockey Hall of Fame

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Hockey is akin to a religion in Canada and its shrine is The Hockey Hall of Fame, located at the foot of Front and Yonge near the Financial District in downtown Toronto.

The Hockey Hall of Fame offers something for fans and non-fans alike: the finest collection of hockey artifacts at all levels of play from around the world; interactive games that challenge shooting and goalkeeping skills; themed exhibits dedicated to the game’s greatest players, teams and achievements; multimedia stations; theaters; larger-than-life statues; a replica NHL dressing room; an unrivaled selection of hockey-related merchandise and memorabilia; and NHL trophies. The piece de resistance, of course, is hands-on access to The STANLEY CUP. A new addition to the Hall of Fame is to view The Clarkson Cup, awarded annually to the team that wins the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) championship. Donated in 2013, it is named after former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson.

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Harbourfront Centre

Harbourfront Centre

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One of the most enjoyable activities for both locals and visitors is spending time on the Toronto Harbourfront. It’s a great place to stroll, have a picnic, shop, duck in and out of art galleries, or grab a ferry to the Toronto Islands. Queen’s Quay is usually the first stop for visitors to the Toronto Harbourfront. Ferries to Toronto Islands and harbor boat rides depart from here. At York Quay are a series of galleries including the Photo Passage and the Craft Studio, which runs courses in ceramics, jewelry, glass-blowing, and textiles. Concerts are held at the Toronto Music Garden, the Power Plant is a contemporary art gallery, and the Premiere Dance Theatre host many dance performances. Throughout the summer, especially during the weekends, the Toronto Harbourfront puts on a kaleidoscopic variety of performing arts events at the York Quay Centre; many are aimed at kids, some are free. Performances sometimes take place on the covered outdoor Concert Stage beside the lake.
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Entertainment District

Entertainment District

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True to its name, the Entertainment District hosts Toronto’s extensive performing arts, club and sports scene. The Roy Thomson Hall, home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, might look like a big glass container, but once inside is an architectural and acoustic marvel. At the Royal Alexandra Theatre, famous productions such as Mamma Mia! and the LionKing have been performed and for more shows, musicals and plays, head to the Princess of Wales theatre. At that venue, you will find amazing views from all angles and it is said, that there isn’t a single bad seat in the whole theatre. Sport fans should visit the Air Canada Center, an indoor sporting arena and home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors, as well as the Rogers Centre, the gigantic baseball stadium where the Blue Jays play.

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Bata Shoe Museum

Bata Shoe Museum

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This quirky museum is dedicated to the style and function of footwear in four impressive galleries. With over 10,000 pairs of shoes, displays range from different cultures from China to Egypt and even a collection of 20th century celebrity soles

The museum has three types of exhibitions:

The main exhibitions, which include one semi-permanent and three changing exhibitions in specially-designed galleries, which can go on to become Travelling Exhibitions

'Snapshot' exhibits, on display for one or two weeks and feature five to ten display cases

Online exhibitions

Semi-Permanent exhibitions give you an overview of footwear history such as the All About Shoes flagship display, a voyage through 4500 years of footwear.

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