Toronto for groups

Date Posted: 08/12/2016

Group Leisure takes a look at what Toronto in Canada has to offer group visitors, including a Niagara Falls boat trip and the best museums.

Essential sights

CN Tower: More than 550 metres high, the CN Tower dominates the Toronto landscape and has stunning views over the city and Lake Ontario from its viewing decks. Test your group’s nerve on the 2.5 inch-thick glass floor – 342 metres to ground level – or, for a really scary (and expensive) thrill, suggest the Edgewalk; dangling on a five foot-wide platform, outside and 356 metres above ground.

Royal Ontario Museum (pictured above): One of the world’s leading natural history museums (group rates available), this has a brilliant collection of dinosaurs – from the enormous barosaurus to the museum’s famous parasaurolophus, discovered in the Badlands of Alberta in 1920.

Niagara Falls: No trip to Toronto is complete without a visit to the Niagara Falls, only 90 minutes’ drive away from the city. The Hornblower boat trip, with passengers clad in red ponchos, takes people close up to the front of the towering Horshshoe Falls, while Journey Behind the Falls (yellow ponchos this time) goes below and behind the scenes.   

Hornblower cruise approaches the Horseshoe Falls

Pictured: A Hornblower cruise vessel approaches the Horseshoe Falls.

Live like a local

Take a ten-minute ferry ride to Toronto Island Park’s Centre Island, followed by a leisurely bike ride along the paths of the island’s south side, and you’d never know there was a city of 2.8 million people a matter of a few minutes away. Boat tours also cruise among the islands.

Art shops, street musicians, cafés, coffee shops, food and discount stores, vintage clothing shops, tattoo parlours – you’ll get the lot and more at Kensington Market. A former Jewish market, it’s a lively, multi-cultural neighbourhood with a strong sense of community (they fought against a Starbucks shop). 

Best for groups

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada: Located at the foot of the CN Tower, this attraction is home to a 660,000-gallon shark tank in the Dangerous Lagoon. Wander along its nearly-100-metre-long glass tunnel and you’re almost face-to-face with 3.6-metre-long sand tiger sharks and vicious-looking longcomb sawfish. Groups are recommended to buy tickets two weeks in advance. 

A shark in the Dangerous Lagoon at Ripleys Aquarium of Canada

Pictured: A shark in the Dangerous Lagoon at Ripleys Aquarium of Canada.

The Bata Shoe Museum: This is not necessarily an obvious choice to visit but it is a surprising delight with its great examples of extreme footwear such as Japanese snow shoes, Bolivian dancing boots and Cinderella glass slippers, as well as The History of Men in Heels exhibition.

PATH: PATH is Toronto’s underground world, with 1,200 shops and restaurants in a series of tunnels and walkways stretching for 19 miles below the city’s skyscrapers. Said to be the largest underground shopping complex in the world, it includes two major department stores, eight hotels, six subway stations and a railway terminal.

Food and drink

Take to the skies with a meal at the CN Tower’s revolving 360 restaurant, 350 metres up, or the Canoe restaurant on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower. Neither is particularly cheap, but in both cases, the views, especially at night-time, are spectacular.

Get back down to earth with the food fare at Market 707, a collection of ship containers that serve local cheese and meat, international street food, and specialities such as edible insects.

Ship-container food stalls at Market 707

Pictured: Ship-container food stalls at Market 707.

Check out the pictures of the celebrities, such as David Beckham and Johnny Depp, on the walls of the elegant Ristorante Sotto Sotto, which ‘brings the romance of Italy to the heart of Toronto’ with its authentic Italian cuisine and a wide variety of wines.

Where to stay

InterContinental Toronto Yorkville: Handy for both the Royal Ontario Museum and the Bata Shoe Museum, this hotel offers free Wi-Fi, 42-inch flat-screen TVs, a restaurant and patio dining.

The Drake Hotel: A Toronto landmark, this design-oriented hotel has a unique approach to all things art and entertainment, and features rooms with handcrafted art pieces by local artists.

Hotel Le Germain: A chic, upscale hotel in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District, it offers sleek, refined rooms, David Chrystian’s acclaimed Victor Restaurant & Bar and a rooftop terrace with a cocktail bar.

Factfile

Currency: Canadian dollars.

Flight time from London to Toronto: 7 hours 40 mins to 8 hours 5 mins, depending on carrier.

Best time to go: Late April and May, September and October. Peak time is the summer, when hotel prices rise with the temperatures. 

www.seetorontonow.com

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