Free Places to Visit, Free Family Activities & Cheap Ways to Explore Toronto
North America’s fourth largest city situated on the shore of Lake Ontario is a delight to explore and with a little planning some of the best attractions in Toronto can be enjoyed free of charge or on a low budget.
Few pointers for cheap, yet cheerful ways to enjoy Toronto are mentioned in this article. AND if you are searching for free fun family activities to do in Toronto – a list of great family activities that can be done free of charge are listed too.
1. Visiting Toronto on a Low Budget
2. Free Places to Visit and Free Family Activities in Toronto
1. Visiting Toronto on a Low Budget – Cheaper Ways to Explore
ON Attractions Pass
Download Attractions Ontario coupon booklet (if you need paper copy, it will be mailed to you free of charge). It contains coupons for many Toronto attractions including CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame and Ontario Science Centre. Few of the coupons are available as E-coupons here.
Buy Tickets Online
Many attractions offer reduced pricing online ($2 – $3). Places like CN Tower, Centreville Amusement Park, Ripleys Aquarium have reduced admission tickets for those who buy online. Before visiting an attraction in Toronto, check whether they have online special offers.
Reduced Admission in the evenings
1. On Fridays, from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM, Royal Ontario Museum offers reduced admission. Adult general admission is $10.00 in lieu of $17.00 and Child (4 – 14) is $7.00 instead of $14.00. Tickets are available online.
2. Ripleys Aquarium offer a reduction of $5.00 for those visiting after 7:00 PM. Ripleys Aquarium is open till 11:00 PM on most days.
3. Gardiner Museum offers half price admission on Fridays from 04:00 PM – 09:00 PM.
Free Admissions & Pay What You Can Admissions
1. Enjoy free admission and guided tour and explore Ontario Legislative Building and Toronto City Hall is free to visit.
2. Textile Museum of Canada offers PWYC admission between 5 and 8 pm on Wednesday evenings.
3. Art Gallery of Ontario: Entry to the Permanent Collection at is free from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM on Wednesday evenings.
4. Bata Shoe Museum: Thursday evenings from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM are Pay What You Can with a suggested donation of $5.
5. Aga Khan Museum offers free admission from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM on Wednesdays.
6. Scarborough Museum is PWYC to visit.
7. Market Gallery at St. Lawrence Market (and St Lawrence Market) and Distillery District is always free to explore.
8. Black Creek Pioneer Village is free to visit on Tuesdays after 02:00 PM and Kids are free on weekdays in July, August and March break.
MAP Pass & The Cultural Access Pass
If you have a City of Toronto Library Card, get The Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) from your library and explore the best of Toronto’s arts and cultural treasures from Toronto Zoo to Art Gallery of Ontario for FREE with your family (2 adults & up to 3 children).
Free with MAP Pass: Aga Khan Museum, AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario, Bata Shoe Museum, Black Creek Pioneer Village, City of Toronto Historic Sites: (Colborne Lodge in High Park, Fort York National Historic Site, Gibson House Museum, Mackenzie House, Montgomery’s Inn, Scarborough Museum, Spadina Museum: Historic House & Gardens, Todmorden Mills Heritage Site), Gardiner Ceramics Museum, Ontario Science Centre, ROM – Royal Ontario Museum, Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto Zoo
New Canadian Citizens with The Cultural Access Pass can visit many Toronto attractions for free.
1. At select attractions, CAA Members can save ~ 10% when tickets are pre-purchased online.
2. If you are an Airmiles collector, you can redeem reward miles at Toronto Zoo.
Toronto City Pass
1. Save 42% with CityPASS and visit Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, CN Tower, Casa Loma, and Royal Ontario Museum. Adult (ages 13+) : 72 + tax; Child ages (4–12): 46 + tax. It is economical, even if you are just visiting 3 attractions or more in Toronto.
2. Coupon booklets like Entertainment Books can save money at fast food and fancy restaurants.
Save 50% Gardiner Museum, Bata Shoe Museum, and the Textile Museum of Canada, with the flexibility of visiting all three over a 60 day period. Details
2. Free Places to Visit & Free Family Activities in Toronto
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Doors Open & Culture Days
From late spring to early fall, cities and towns across GTA (and Ontario), hold Doors Open weekend: Enjoy visiting GTA attractions free of charge. Plan a day trip across GTA and see some of the best GTA attractions free over the weekends. Website.
During Culture days weekend (~September last weekend / October 1st weekend), select attractions are offer free admission across Ontario and Canada.
Ontario Legislative Building Programs
Enjoy a free guided tour the Legislative Building and the grounds, play scavenger hunt and play dress up during free summer programs and learn about the functioning of the legislative assembly through play and learn. Website
Petting Zoos & Farms
Riverdale Farm @ 201 Winchester Street, Far Enough Farm @ Centre Island and High Park Zoo are free to visit and open year round. It is a great place to visit with young children.
Toronto is home to great gardens. Savour the sweet smell and glorious colours round the year at Centennial Park Conservatory , Allan Gardens and Cloud Gardens Conservatory. Experience the beauty of nature and enjoy outdoors while exploring Toronto’s outdoor gardens: Toronto Music Garden, Toronto Botanical Gardens, Edward Gardens, Rosetta McClain Gardens, Humber Arboretum, and Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat.
A day out in the Sun
Being on the shore of one the Great Lakes, Toronto is blessed with great beaches that are blue flag certified – where water quality is maintained to the highest standards and beach is kept clean. Have a beach day at at Toronto’s Blue Flag Certified Beaches.
Parks, Nature Trails and Ravines
Toronto has deep ravines that form a large urban forest that runs throughout a large part of the city. Designated parks dominate the ravines made by rivers running from Oak ridges to Lake Ontario. Explore the parks through trails that traverses woodland, meadows, and wetlands. Yet another set of parks dot the shoreline of Lake Ontario with captivating views of the Lake and a great place to watch birds. Here is a list of trails to explore.
Along the ravine caused by Humber River:King’s Mill Park Trail, Humber Arboretum, High Park
Along the ravine caused by Don River: Crothers Woods, Cottonwood Flats, Sunnybrook Park.
Along the ravine caused by Highland Creek: Morningside Park, Colonel Danforth Park and Lower Highland Creek Park
Along the ravine caused by Rouge River : Rouge Park
Along Lake Ontario: Tommy Thompson Park, Ashbridges Bay Park, Bluffer’s Park, East Point Park, Guild Park and Gardens, Port Union Waterfront Park, Toronto Islands, Humber Bay Parks, and Colonel Sam Smith Park.
Free Festivals and Events
There is always something FREE & FUN to do for the whole family on the weekends: see the below articles for more details.
Spray Parks, Splash pads, Outdoor Pools and Leisure Swim
Enjoy watching your kids having fun at splash pads or join for a family leisure swim at many Toronto pools.
Indoor Leisure Swim is free at City of Toronto pools.
Kidstown Water Park situated at L’Amoreaux complex is free.
Splash pads and Spray Parks are open from May 16th to September 20th, 2015 – Daily 9:00 AM – 8:30 PM
Free Music and Movies
During summer Business associations and City of Toronto holds free concerts, movies and live family performances across the city. See the article Free Music and Movies in Toronto for details.
Test your skills or learn new ones and try out skateboard parks and bike parks across Toronto.
Tobogganing and Ice Skating
Go for a thrilling ride down the hill, the enjoy the joyful screams of your little ones. See here for a map of tobogganing hills.
Public Skating is FREE and Shinny Hockey is free at all City of Toronto outdoor rinks.
City of Toronto Free Drop-in Programs
City of Toronto offers plenty of free drop in programs from arts and music to sports. Some programs may have a small fee. See here to find the program nearest to you.
Free activities in the local library
Toronto Public library offers plenty of free activities to choose from for all ages. Plan ahead to attend some of the free activities in the following weekends : Details and link for registration.
Check your local library for fun activities!
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