Arguably one of the most diverse cities in the world, Toronto offers attractions, neighborhoods, foods, and events catering to just about every interest there is. From the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, to the relaxed stone alleyways of the distillery district, to the lively nightlife of Kensington Market, Toronto diversity is the reason it deserves to be at the top of your list for places to visit.
There really is an endless supply of things to do in Toronto. To help you narrow down your options, here are eight things to see and do in Toronto
If you’ve ever seen an image of Toronto’s skyline, you’ve likely seen the CN Tower. This tall needle-like structure spans far above any other building. As the tallest building in Toronto and the ninth tallest free-standing structure in the world, the CN tower stands 553.3 meters high.
You can take an elevator to the top — or take the stairs for a serious challenge — enjoy a fine-dining experience at the revolving 360 Restaurant, and then check out the LookOut level for some breathtaking views of the city below. If you really want a unique experience, you can even book an EdgeWalk – the world’s highest hands-free external walk on a building.
With the aim to combine the relaxing atmosphere of European walking and patio districts with the hip aesthetic of an area like New York City’s SoHo or Chelsea, visionary developers created Toronto’s Distillery District nearly 20 years ago. Now, Toronto’s Distillery District consists of 40 boutique and one-of-a-kind shops. These 40 shops offer everything from fashion, to gifts, to antiques, to artisanal treats. There are also plenty of diverse restaurant options with plenty of patios.
The best time to visit the Distillery District is during the holidays. During this time, lights span from building to building, outdoor vendors line the brick-laden alleyways, and musical performances can be heard all throughout the district.
As with any big city, a visit to Chinatown is a must. Toronto’s Chinatown, beginning at the intersection of Spadina Avenue and College Street, offers plenty of knick-knack shops, authentic cuisine, street buskers, and Chinese medicine stands. Also, there are questionable buildings with no indication of what’s inside, which adds an exciting element of surprise for those who dare go inside.
With a sense of adventure, you can have a completely unique Toronto Chinatown experience every single time you visit. With that said, if there’s one consistency you should hold yourself to every time you visit, it’s to set aside some time at the beginning of your day for dim sum.
The perfect day in Toronto starts in Chinatown and ends in Kensington Market, which is a five-minute walk from Chinatown. For lack of a better description, Kensington Market is the pinnacle Toronto hipster experience. It’s for artists, street-side merchants, small-time businesses, musicians, and performers. During the day, grab the lunch at one of the countless hole-in-the-wall lunch spots before walking around with a specialty-brewed coffee. At night, chill out at one of the many patio bars. If you’re looking to dance, hop over to Supermarket. This is a restaurant and bar with themed DJ nights and a huge dance floor.
If you’re lucky enough to check out Kensington Market during the summer, you’ll find the streets blocked off allowing for more room for pedestrians like yourself to walk around. This is due to the influx of visitors.
Yonge and Dundas Square
Another iconic Toronto scene is Yonge and Dundas Square. Directly outside of the Eaton Centre, Yonge and Dundas Square is essentially a smaller version of New York’s Time Square.
Above, you’ll find large screens advertising all sorts of different companies. On the side closest to the Eaton Centre, you’ll find street performers lining the sidewalk. Across the street, you’ll find the large open square itself, which often features themed events with plenty of food options and entertainment. There’s also one humongous video screen in the square itself which often broadcasts free sports events. For instance, in 2019, thousands of Torontonians gathered in the square to watch the Toronto Raptors win the NBA playoffs.
Right beside Yonge and Dundas Square is Toronto’s most popular tourist attraction, the Eaton Centre. Serving tens of millions of people each and every year, the Eaton Centre offers over 230 retailers, restaurants, and services.
Aside from shopping, the Eaton Centre is an Instagrammer’s paradise. Be sure to look up as you walk around to fully take in the beauty of the mall’s architecture. Also, it’s worth snapping a photo of the recently-renovated glass bridge connecting the Eaton Centre to the Hudson’s Bay Company store across the street.
Nathan Phillips Square
When you’re done shopping to your heart’s content, walk towards the Hudon’s Bay Company, hang a right, walk about five minutes, and snap a pic with the light-up Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square. Depending on when you’re visiting, you can also expect to see some sort of concert, art display, weekly farmers’ market, or another public event/demonstration.
During October, there’s always some elaborate art exhibit for Toronto’s all-night Nuit Blanche event. During the winter, you can lace up your skates and skate around the pool in front of the Toronto sign.
There’s a little bit of everything on Toronto’s Queen Street. With plenty of name brands, vintage stores, restaurants, bars, and even a club or two, you can easily spend half a day lulling up and down Queen Street.
For a cool vintage clothing experience, climb up the stairs and visit Black Market. If you’re looking to relax with some drinks and a bit of fun after a day of shopping, chill out and play some pool at Rivoli.
Canada is loaded with both adult and kid-friendly attractions from coast to coast and whether you live in this beautiful country or are just here for a visit, there are a few key ones not to miss. From the highest point in Toronto to the red sands in Prince Edward Island to the frozen city of Quebec, here are 10 Canadian attraction that every kid should experience in their lifetime.
10. The Carnaval, Quebec City, Quebec
If there is a winter experience that every kid should have in Canada it would be the Carnaval that takes place every year in Quebec City. Every year thousands of visitors flock to this cold weather event which plays host to a slew of activities including snow sculptures, human foosball, snow slides, night parades, outdoor dance parties, sleigh rides, skating and more.
Kids love to meet the mascot of the Carnaval, Bonhomme-the giant real-life snowman who loves to meet with the kids. Make sure to visit him in his epic Ice Palace that is created especially for him and serves as a focal point for several of the activities. Visit a traditional sugar shack, watch as brave men and women frolic in the snow in only their bathing suits at the snow bath and take in one of the family-friendly shows. Whatever you do, make sure you bundle up!
9. Green Gables, Cavendish, P.E.I
Every year hundreds of thousands of people come to the tiny island of Prince Edward Island to visit the site that inspired L.M. Montgomery’s famous Anne of Green Gables novel. This is the perfect place to take the kids and one of the most famed attractions across the country. Located in the popular town of Cavendish visitors to the site will have the opportunity to tour the house and take part in interpretation programs, as well as a stroll through the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow trails as found in the book.
Head down to Avonlea Village, a recreated rural community based on the village where Anne lived. Here you can enjoy a children’s music show, browse electric shops and join an authentic PEI kitchen dance party with the kids. Don’t miss the chance to let the kids dress up as Anne at Gateway Village where they can get a replica photo taken, memories that will certainly last a lifetime.
8. Santa’s Village, Bracebridge, Ontario
This 60-acre family entertainment park is nestled in a beautiful setting on the Muskoka River in Bracebridge, Ontario, just a couple short hours from Toronto. It was established in 1955 and this particular location was chosen, as it is exactly halfway between the equator and the north pole, a place where Santa chooses to spend his warm months. This park is only open in the summer and plan on getting there early in the morning to enjoy breakfast with Santa, every day between 9:30-10:30.
Younger ones will love the rides such as swan paddleboats, air bouncers, a miniature Santa roller coaster and more. The splash pad feature giant water buckets that tip and towering candy cane fountains. Come decorate your Christmas cookies at the bake shop, head to Santa’s cabin to grab a photo or visit the farm where there are plenty of deer, sheep, and goat. It is truly Christmas in July here at this unique Canadian attraction.
7. Algonquin Park, Ontario
If you are looking to get outdoors in the summer and hit the campgrounds there is no better place than Algonquin Park in Ontario. Let’s face it, as much work as it is for parents to take their kids camping, kids absolutely love being able to explore the outdoors. A canoe ride in this park should be on anyone’s bucket list, slicing over the still water with an expanse of water, rock and pine trees in the distance.
Although this park offers a ton of backcountry experiences, they have also made it extremely family friendly with kid-friendly camping areas, rentals on-site and recommended short canoe trips. There is no shortage of beaches to explore, hiking trails, wildlife and enough room for any kid to run around until they can run no more. Hey, maybe they might even sleep in past 7 am.
6. Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, Ontario
With a name like that, it’s hard to write this list without recommending that this Canadian attraction is visited. The CNE, also known as The Ex is an annual event that takes place for 18 days leading up to an including Canadian Labour Day. Activities here range from an incredible air show, rides, and games, a farm, special kids world, talent shows, special demonstrations and foods that kids will go crazy for.
Every year there is one day during the event that has super discounted prices for kids with the purchase of adult admission. It is here where you will find sing-along with Dora, meet and greets with your kid’s favorite characters, art studios, toy workshops and enough activities to keep you busy for days. Bring a stroller for the wee ones though as it does require a lot of walking.
5. West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, Alberta
It is the largest shopping mall in North America and absolutely littered with things to see and do, from amusement parks to theatres to an indoor water park. Galaxyland, the indoor amusement park features 24 rides and attractions including roller coasters and thrilling launch rides. World Waterpark is the second largest indoor waterpark and features the world’s largest indoor wave pool and towering twisting waterslides.
The Ice Palace invites skaters of all levels to skate on this scaled down version of an NHL ice rink in the center of the mall. Other exciting things to do here with the kids is indoor mini-golf, an arcade, bowling alley, indoor skate park and explore the theme areas throughout. We promise you could spend 5 days here and still not run out of things to do.
4. CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario
It is Toronto’s most famous landmark and going to the top as a kid is absolutely one of the most memorable moments. For a long time this city attraction was the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and although it lost that title in 2010 it still remains a popular tourist attraction. Kids will love riding in the glass-fronted and glass-floored elevator up to the SkyPod for fantastic views over the city, especially if the kids are a little older to appreciate just how high up they actually are.
The lookout level offers the chance for kids to step out onto the glass floor and really feel like they are floating. If you have kids under the age you will want to make your way to the KidZone, a recent addition to the CN tower which features over 1,500 square feet of space for kids to play. Kids also happen to love the short 14-minute film that features streetcars and propels the audience through the city. Fun for both kids and adults, visit this iconic landmark next time you are in Toronto.
3. Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Alberta
This annual rodeo, exhibition and festival is held every July in Calgary, Alberta and calls itself the greatest outdoor show on earth. Kids love the chance to get up close and personal with the animals at the Stampede including cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, dogs and more. Captivating shows such as superdogs, acrodunk, Thomas and friends, Dora the Explorer and more happen throughout the festival.
Fun interactive activities and rides are located throughout the park, along with enough deep-fried chocolate treats to keep them going all day long. With a midway, market, one epic parade, the rodeo and plenty of parties; the time is now to put on those cowboy boots and hit this epic Canadian attraction with the kids.
2. Canada’s Wonderland, Toronto, Ontario
It is one of the best theme parks in Canada and the largest, opened in 19981 and improving each year that passes. Located in the north of Toronto, it is the perfect day trip for families with kids of all ages. Open daily from May to September and then weekends only until November your best bet to avoid lines is to go during the week before school is out for the summer. Featuring 16 roller coasters, a waterpark, many thrill rides and a special kids-only zone; this park has something for everyone.
Planet Snoopy and Kidzville is perfect the wee ones in your life and features character meet and greets, miniature roller coasters, live entertainment, bumper cars, train rides, swings and more. If you have older kids you won’t want to miss the Halloween Haunt where the park transforms into one giant spooktacular experience complete with rides, mazes and scare zones with live actors throughout the park.
1. Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario
It is well known that the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is far prettier than the American, but truth be told how many kids really care about that. Sure they love to see the gushing waterfalls but what makes this attraction really awesome in Canada is the amount of kid-friendly attractions near the falls.
The best-known attraction has to be the Maid of the Mist boat cruise which takes passengers into the rapids immediately below the falls, an exciting experience for all ages. Lundy’s Lane is where the kids will want to head in this town as it offers activities such as bowling, arcades, mini-putt, haunted houses, laser tag and an indoor waterpark. Watch the fireworks over the falls during the summer, grab a bite to eat and wander alongside the impressive thundering falls.
Canada is blessed from coast to coast with incredibly beautiful and unique university campuses. While some feature historic buildings and castles, others are blessed with lush landscapes and an abundance of flora. Canadian universities have done their part to keep up these beautiful landscapes and as more modern buildings are created, they are done so in environmentally friendly ways. From the bustling metropolis of Montreal to the quiet paths of Thunder Bay; here are our top 10 choices for the most beautiful university campuses in Canada.
10. McGill University -Montreal, QB
McGill doesn’t just have one beautiful campus but two, both of them gorgeous in their own ways. The downtown campus features the lush greenery from the slopes of Mount Royal, combined with over 70 state of the art buildings. Macdonald Campus on the other hand is located on the very tip of the island of Montreal and features 100 year old buildings, numerous bike and walking paths, an awesome arboretum with skiing trails and just steps away from the mighty St. Lawrence River. Expect buildings here that have commanding stone walls, copper roofs, impressive stained glass windows, concrete plazas that have been turned into gardens. A shuttle runs between the two campuses and no matter where you study, or visit, it will be downright beautiful.
9. University of Toronto -Toronto, ON
The University of Toronto offers three different campuses but it is no contest when it comes to which one is the most beautiful of them all. St. George’s campus is located right downtown and manages to blend incredible historical architecture with green space. Visitors should make their way to Victoria College and check out the Old Vic building, the oldest of the college and perhaps the most beautiful. Head over to University College, the founding college of the University of Toronto and check out Laidlaw quadrangle, which looks more like a medieval courtyard than a university campus. The Mississauga campus on the other hand is located on 225 hundreds acres of protected green space on the Credit River and provides a beautiful background for students and visitors alike.
8. Queen’s University -Kingston, ON
Think limestone buildings, stunning architecture and waterfront; as that is exactly what Queen’s campus offers students and visitors. Fall is one of the best times to visit this campus as the leaves turn into brilliant shades of red and orange, making for a striking scene against the historic buildings. Students here spend a lot of time at Douglas Library and it’s not hard to see why, as not only is the building stunning but it features a pretty awesome fourth floor which houses a “Harry Potter” room. Although this campus isn’t as large as others on this list, the students and faculty make up for that as school spirit is high. Part of what make this campus so beautiful is the sense of community that is felt; expect to see a lot of blue, red and gold worn around campus as students show off their school spirit.
7. Western University -London, ON
Western offers the best of both worlds, historical architecture mixed with modern buildings and amenities. The campus is situated along the banks of the Thames River in London and offers trails both throughout the campus and along the Thames River. London isn’t the most exciting city on this list which means that students have created their own fun and expect to see them whipping down University Hill on skis and snowboards in the winter. The gothic style buildings have been restored to remain charming while the insides have been renovated, giving students the best of both worlds. This university also signed a pledge a few years ago to transform the campus into a model of environmental responsibility. Plans are in the works to add more buildings to this campus and expect great things in the years to come.
6. Bishop’s University -Sherbrooke, QB
This small liberal arts university in the tiny town of Sherbrooke offers a lot in term of beauty. Founded in 1843 the goal of this university is to educate the whole person, not just focusing on one subject. The campus is spread over 500 acres, at the junction of the St. Francis and Massawippi rivers and features some of Quebec’s most historic buildings. Many weddings are held at this university campus as St. Mark’s cathedral provides and absolutely stunning setting to say “I do”. This historical chapel features intricate woodwork inside and beautiful stained glass windows. McGreer Hall is the oldest building on campus and stands out as a stunning red castle like building, which looks even more amazing when white snow surrounds it. School spirit and community only adds to the beauty of this school and students who attend Bishops make lasting friends and family.
5. Mount Royal University -Calgary, AB
Mount Royal has a beautiful campus, there is no denying that, especially during the warm seasons when the ponds are shimmering and the gardens are blooming. One of the most notable features of this campus is the outdoor amphitheatre where the students and the community can gather for events, such as plays and concerts. Mount Royal is working hard to do their part in being environmentally friendly and in 2006 opened its first certified LEED building, and has since dedicated to making every new building on campus LEED certified. Make sure to head to the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, a beautiful modern looking building in which you can take in a fabulous performance or take some time to reflect in one of the many green spaces throughout the campus.
4. McMaster University -Hamilton, ON
Located in the residential neighborhood of Westdale in Hamilton, Ontario; McMaster is beautiful both inside and out. There are amazing trails to be found throughout the campus and in the surrounding areas, as well as conservation areas and a plethora of waterfalls to explore. The main campus itself is both bicycle and pedestrian friendly with wide paved paths throughout, making it easy to get from one place to another. Make sure to have lunch at the Refectory, one of the original buildings on McMaster, as the top floor features a restaurant that looks over a beautiful treed ravine. One of the highlights on this campus is Cootes Paradise, a wildlife sanctuary owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens which features an abundance of flora and fauna. With a mix of original architecture, new buildings and lush landscape, this university is downright stunning.
3. Lakehead University -Thunder Bay, ON
Lakehead University has two campuses, one based in Orillia and the other in Thunder Bay and it is here in Thunder Bay where you will find one of the most picturesque campuses in the country. Spread out over 116 hectares, under the steep cliffs of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, this campus features 39 buildings and an abundance of green space. What you won’t find here is the rows upon rows of historical buildings like many of the campuses on this list. Instead you will find stunning nature, all around you. Buildings were designed with floor to ceiling windows so both faculty and students could feel like they were outside. With gardens overflowing with beautiful flowers and Lake Tamblyn running through the campus it is easy to see why in the warm months, classes are often taught outdoors.
2. University of British Columbia -Vancouver, BC
It is arguably one of the most beautiful university campuses across the country with incredible surroundings and breathtaking views. The Vancouver campus is located at the western tip of the Point Grey Peninsula, surrounded by forest, ocean and mountains. Getting to downtown Vancouver takes just twenty minutes and there are numerous beaches just a short distance away. To add to this awesome campus are the ultra cool buildings situated here. Visitors should definitely head to the UBC farm and check out the yurt, one of the only yurts on a university campus in the world. The library is light and airy, featuring literary quotes on the outside of the building while the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health is sleek and modern with glass windows and a unique shape. Whether you are viewing this campus by air, walking through it or attending as a student, it is simply breathtaking.
1. Royal Roads University -Victoria, BC
Up until 1995 this University was actually a Military College and features an impressive main building, the Hatley Castle. The castle was completed in 1908 and was once meant to house the Royal Family, but instead they remained in the UK as the world was at war. Lucky for students and visitors alike, this campus is now a public university spread over 260 hectares of parkland with incredible surroundings. Walking through this campus gives visitors gorgeous views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the impressive Olympic Mountain Range. Walking, hiking and biking trails wind throughout the campus and you will come across an incredible Japanese Garden, among other hidden treasures. The entire campus is a part of the Hatley Park National Historic Site and between the incredible buildings and extensive gardens; it is clear why this truly is the most beautiful campus in the country.
Canada is known for some of its incredible National Parks but often what gets overlooked in this great nation are the incredible urban parks that have popped up from coast to coast. What makes one urban park better than another? Great access to activities, varied landscapes, incredible scenery and plenty of things to see and do, are what sets these eight urban parks above the rest. From the famous Stanley Park in Vancouver to the largest urban park in Canada to lesser known parks in the east coast; here are the best urban parks in Canada.
8. Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg
This park is considered to be one of Winnipeg’s crown jewels and offers over 113 hectares of woodland and plains along the River’s south side. Attractions here include the park zoo whose star attraction is the Polar Bears and the comprehensive exhibit that they are housed in. Known to be one of the most comprehensive zoological exhibits of its kind in the world, visitors have the chance to watch the playful bears in a stimulating environments inspired by their natural habitat. The park boasts more than just the zoo though, including gardens, playgrounds, restaurants, nature trails, a steam train and more. The park conservatory boasts over 8,000 flowers, trees and plants while the Gallery Museum features local artists and a permanent Winnie the Pooh artifact collection.
7. Beacon Hill Park, Victoria
Located on Victoria’s southern shores, Beacon Hill Park is an oasis of both landscaped and natural beauty, offering spectacular views during every season. The outer rim of the park is where nature lovers flock to, to Oceanside bluffs where paragliders and kite enthusiasts often can be seen. The inner park is where visitors will find most of the activities though. Wander through the manicured gardens and over bridged streams while music drifts out of the Cameron Bandshell. Or take the kids the the miniature golfing or petting zoo. Wildlife is abundant throughout the park with over a hundred species of birds, river otters, painted turtles and more. This park also happens to have the important status of being the western terminus, the Mile “0” of the 8,000km Trans-Canada highway and so happens to be a very popular tourist photo opp.
6. Pippy Park, St. John’s Newfoundland
At the northern boundary of St. John’s lays one of Canada’s greatest urban parks, Pippy Park, abundant in scenery and breathtaking views. The 27-hole golf course features some of the spectacular views of both the oldest city in North America and miles of rugged coastline, chances are you might even see an iceberg or whale while walking this course. If visitors want to spend more than just a day exploring this awesome park, the campground offers 216 sites on private treed lots that are steps away from playgrounds and the Botanical Gardens. There is a plethora of scenic trails that allow visitors to explore a variety of landscapes including wetlands, rivers, parklands and more. The rare Leopard march orchid can also be spotted here in the Botanical Gardens and offers visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it up close and in person.
5. Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary
It is the largest urban park in all of Canada, and just so happens to be one of the best, located in the southern part of Calgary and over three times the size of Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park. Fish Creek flows the entire length of the park and joins the Bow River at the east side, offering visitors a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors here will be privy to 200 bird species, deer, owls, beavers and coyotes which all call this park home. One of the most popular features of the park is Sikome Lake, a man-made lake where thousands of people flock to each summer to swim. A variety of unpaved walking, hiking and bicycle trails are also prevalent throughout Fish Creek Park. Two restaurants are located here, one which offers fine-dining and the other a bakery and café and an Artisan Garden is located in the east end. There are a ton of things to see and do here and if you happen to be a resident of Calgary, consider yourself lucky that you get to enjoy this park anytime at your leisure.
4. Rockwood Park, St. John New Brunswick
This park offers an abundance of activities to enjoy in an unspoiled setting where unusual topography and geography are prevalent. The billion years of history here can be seen in unique rock formations, caves and waterfalls and this park often refers to itself as an all-season natural amusement park. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity for hiking, fishing. Boating, climbing, camping, golfing and mountain biking while those looking for something a little more low key can visit the Cherry Brook Zoo, located in the north section of the park. Other awesome amenities include beaches, gardens, stables, campgrounds and picnic sites, along with 890 hectares of forest and the beautiful Lily Lake.
3. High Park, Toronto
It is Toronto’s largest public park and in recent years the city has invested a lot of time, energy and money into making it one of the greatest urban parks in Canada. High Park is home to a greenhouse, zoo, restaurants, off-leash dog park and more. The signature Sakura cheery blossom trees in Hillside Gardens are the star attraction during April and May when they are in full bloom. Grenadier Pond is the place to head for fishing off the south rim while visitors who want to swim or skate can head to the designated pool and rink. From wandering through the nature trails to playing on one of many playgrounds to taking in a sport at one of the great facilities, there is certainly no shortage of things to do here.
2. Mt. Royal Park, Montreal
It is the best urban park in all of Montreal and so happens to be one of the best in all of Canada, laying in the midst of Montreal island and including 200 hectares and the highest spot in the city. The park is home to over 180 species of birds and 20 mammals and enough hiking and biking paths to keep any active visitor busy. In the winter time enjoy the 20km of cross country trails, horse drawn carriage rides and an awesome tubing and tobogganing run. Other features of this impressive park include Beaver Lake, a sculpture garden, Smith House – an interpretative center, and two belvederes. Designed by famous architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park, visitors can assure that there is no shortage of spectacular views of the city below and varied landscapes to explore.
1. Stanley Park, Vancouver
It is known for being one the best parks around the world, and recently held the title of “best park in the world” by Trip Advisor, therefore no trip to Vancouver should be complete without visiting Stanley Park. This lush green space covers over 400 hectares of parkland and west coast rainforest. Things to do at this park include visiting the indoor/outdoor aquarium, walking the 8.8km stretch of seawall and discovering the Brockton Point’s First Nations totem poles. The park is also absolutely loaded with gardens, beaches, landmarks, sculptures and lookout points, along with a golf course and a Lost Lagoon. Whether you spend an hour, a day or three days exploring this park, one thing is for sure – it is easy to understand why this is truly the best urban park in Canada.
Canada is fortunate enough to be loaded with awesome museums, whether you are interested in learning about the dinosaurs that once ruled the badlands of Alberta or the first people that set foot in British Columbia. Perhaps you are interested in weapons and counterfeit money, or what happened during the Holocaust-don’t fear, Canada has you covered. From coast to coast impressive museums continue to amaze visitors and while some may be suited for adults, there is plenty of fun for the kids too! Check out the 8 coolest museums in Canada, and why you should drop everything and visit them today.
8. Canadian Museum of History – Gatineau, Quebec
It is Canada’s national museum of human history, and its purpose includes collecting, studying, preserving and presenting material objects that illuminate the human history of Canada. One of the most impressive parts of the museum is the Grand Hall where a beautiful wall of windows gives way to a picturesque view of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. The museum attracts over a million visitors a year to gaze at the collection of huge totem poles, First Nation artifacts, streetscape galleries and life-size replicas recreations such as an airport lounge circa 1970. In addition, this awesome museum to home to the Canadian Children’s and Postal Museum, along with an IMAX theatre making this attraction super family friendly.
7. Canada Science and Technology Museum – Ottawa, Ontario
It is the largest of its kind and located in the capital city of Canada, Ottawa. This museum displays all sorts of cool exhibits, focusing on the past, present and future of science and technological developments in Canada. What makes this museum so cool is the fact that much of it is hands-on, climb-on and walk through exhibits. Currently the museum is closed and undergoing a major renovation, expected to open in 2017 and is thought to be bigger and better than ever. Visitors should expect five main galleries including a Children’s Gallery, Artifact Alley and Crazy Kitchen. From trains, planes, automobiles, rockets and space travel simulation; this museum will offer a plethora of excitement.
6. Royal Tyrell Museum – Drumheller, Alberta
This popular Canadian tourist attraction is both a museum and a centre of paleontological research. Hosting more than 130,000 fossils, this museum is located in the middle of the Late Cretaceous Horseshoe Canyon Formation. Visitors will love wandering through the ten signature galleries devoted to paleontology that include 40 dinosaur skeletons, including one huge T. Rex. There are plenty of hands on experiences to be had here including strength tests where you will discover how strong these fascinating creatures really were. Visitors can also watch actual technicians prepare fossils for research and display, fossils that happened to be found right in Alberta. As well, visitors can join the Dinosite program which allows you to search for real fossils, see real dinosaur remains still in the ground and learn about ancient Alberta during the 90-minute hike through the badlands.
5. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – Toronto, Ontario
It is considered by many to be one of the best museums in Canada and also happens to be one of the coolest. Located in Toronto, this museum is dedicated to art, world culture and natural history and attracts over a million visitors a year. Visitors will want to spend an entire day discovering the 40 some odd galleries that feature over 6 million items including a notable collection of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites. The CIBC Discovery Gallery is where you can get “hands-on” at the ROM and although geared towards children, adults will also enjoy the interactive activities including digging for dinosaur bones and touching different specimens and artifacts. Expect awesome interesting exhibits that are constantly changing, slumber parties for adults and plenty of tours and workshops to keep everyone interested.
4. Human Rights Museum – Winnipeg, Manitoba
This impressive museum is the newest on this list, opening in September of 2014, dedicated to exploring the subject of human rights with a special emphasis on Canada. Offering a journey from darkness to light, visitors start off on the ground level and gradually make their way up seven floors that reveal more and more daylight. With a total of six levels of exhibits and 11 galleries and one Tower of Hope that offers panoramic views of Winnipeg, expect to spend at least a day here. Galleries include “Examining the Holocaust”, “Rights Today” and “Canadian Journeys”, just to name a few. Interactive presentations, multimedia technology and world-class design make this an amazing encounter with human rights.
3. Royal British Columbia Museum – Victoria, British Columbia
It is known as one of the world’s top regional museums, one of Canada’s most visited and located on the picturesque Inner Harbor in Victoria. Three permanent galleries trace the natural and human history of British Columbia and include life-sized mammoths, live tidal pools and replica streets and shops. The First Peoples Gallery is especially impressive with its ceremonial masks, totem poles and full-sized log house recreation. Visitors here can even watch as native carvers work on new totem poles in a long house located just behind the museum. Featuring the largest IMAX in BC, numerous family events throughout the year, interactive exhibits and more; it’s an easy choice calling this one of the coolest museums in Canada.
2. Vancouver Police Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia
It is North America’s oldest police museum and houses over 20,00 artifacts, photos and documents. Located in a heritage building that was once the Coroner’s Court, the morgue, autopsy facility and crime laboratory; this museum brings in visitors of all ages. A self-guided tour will take visitors through the history or crime and law enforcement in Vancouver. Exhibits include an extensive gallery of confiscated weapons, gambling devices, prohibited drugs and counterfeit money, a true crime gallery with real evidence and photos, and an intact and authentic autopsy suite. Kids will love playing dress up with the real police uniforms where as adults can take in one of the “movies in the morgue” features.
1. Biosphere Environment Museum – Montreal, Quebec
It is the only environment museum in North America and both kids and adults go crazy for this unique attraction that is both indoors and out. This architectural masterpieces and symbol of Expo 67 invites visitors to learn more about meteorology, climate, water and air quality and other environmental issues in a fun way. An outdoor Artic photo exhibit celebrates the regions biodiversity and beauty while educating visitors on the environmental changes that are happening there. The immersive show “Design the Future” on the other hand invites visitors to reconnect with the natural environment around us to grasp the importance of climate change and how we will adapt to that. An abundance of games, hands-on activities and galleries await visitors to this unique museum in Montreal.
North American airports are notoriously busy, especially when you look at holiday times. It’s not just the influx of passengers that makes these airports so busy, although that helps, it’s also the weather that cancels and delays flights and the security lines that get extra slow. Luckily some of these airports do what they can to make flying over the holidays easier, such as bringing in Santa Claus to amuse the little ones or even bringing out adorable puppies for weary travelers to pet. Discover the busiest Christmas airports in North America, and which ones are the best and worst to fly through during the holidays.
6. LaGuardia New York Airport
It is one of the worst airports in the country, that we can all agree on, however you choose to measure it. Crowded and stranded travelers often pace the terminals as there is inadequate gate seating, a lack of power outlets and even a lack of restrooms for the 27 million travelers a year that cross through the gates of LaGuardia. At Christmas time this gets even worse and as the bad weather often hits, the runways become congested leaving passengers trapped in the airport. Luckily at Christmas time the staff try to make your day a little more pleasant by offering holiday greetings as you board the plane, unfortunately that’s about the only Christmas spirit you will find here. We recommend you try to avoid this airport at all costs during the Christmas season.
5. Calgary International Airport
Although it is one of the busiest airports in Canada around the holiday times, this airport is big on sharing the Christmas spirit with traveling guests. As the hub of WestJet airline, you can expect friendly service from these workers, donning blue Santa hats and festive Christmas sweaters. As you walk through the Calgary airport expect to find a brightly lit Christmas tree and carolers singing merry tunes. Mrs. Claus will even be offering story time in the terminal. Although security lines tend to get long here, flyers are often quite friendly and the line will pass quickly as you are swapping stories with a cowboy boot wearing guest behind you. It may be busy, but this is one of the friendliest airports to fly out of at Christmas.
4. Ronald Reagan Washington Airport
This airport promises to be busy, especially considering all the government employees that fly home to see their families around Christmas time and expect to be fighting lines and crowds of people. Luckily this airport makes it a little less stressful around the holidays with some awesome ways to pass the time. Make sure to check out the humongous Christmas tree that gets erected and this year keep your eyes out for more than just one. Kill time by browsing through more than 100 shops and restaurants located throughout the three terminals. The Gallery Walk located in historic Terminal A is a great place to view paintings, sculptures and other works of art from local artists. This airport also hosts singers, dancers and performing artists throughout the holiday season.
3. San Francisco International Airport
It’s no wonder this is one of the busiest airports during the holiday season as people flock to the warmer temperatures often found here. The bad news for fliers is that this airport does get overly crowded with long line ups as more than 2 million passengers come through over the two weeks surrounding Christmas. Luckily everyone at this airport is committed to making the holiday travel season as enjoyable as possible. Think festive holiday lighting, live music, social media events and mobile performers delighting passengers with music, magic tricks and storytelling. With kids spots located throughout, plenty of power outlets to charge those iPads and art displays throughout, passengers will forget it’s even the busy season, that is until they hear those carolers busting out their holiday tunes.
2. Toronto Pearson International Airport
An airport that is notorious for its long security lines, cancelled and delayed flights because of weather and its business at Christmas. Toronto Pearson promises to be busy during the holiday season but in recent years has done its best to ease stress on travelers. Airport ambassadors are now out roaming the terminals, helping guests figure out where to go, helping with bags and otherwise on hand to deal with any questions. Christmas carolers are set up throughout the airport bringing merry tunes to all who pass them and Mrs. Claus is often seen reading stories to little ones. There is even a spot set up where families can have their picture taken in a holiday setting. Yes, you will be waiting in line, yes you will be dealing with throngs of other passengers and yes you will most likely be delayed, but hey at least there are carolers.
1. Los Angeles International Airport
It is one of the busiest airports in North America and at Christmas time it only gets worse, although thankfully they don’t have to worry about weather delays on their end. Still snowstorms that blanket the Northeast will delay flights in LA. There are an estimated 3 million passengers that go through this airport over the two weeks near Christmas but luckily LAX is determined to make traveling a little stressful. Santa is often found roaming the terminals, taking photos with little ones and handing out candy canes. Last year members of the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPS) program fanned out across the airport and were making their furry selves available for petting, a simple stress reliever for weary travelers. Expect to see plenty of Santa hats and holiday cheer here!
It is one of the most awaited festivals all over the world, where people come from all nooks and crannies to indulge themselves in one epic partying spree. In fact, planning your New Years Eve can be downright stressful and overwhelming. From free outdoor music concerts to dazzling displays of fireworks to black tie galas, the choices are endless. And that’s not even the hard part. Deciding where to ring in the new year can be tough, do you stay in your hometown and attend a local party or make your way into a different city to see how they do it? If you want options, you got them. Here are our favorite places to ring in the New Year in Canada:
6. Toronto, Ontario
Whether you are looking for family fun, adults only, a retro party or an intimate pub, the lively city of Toronto has the right celebration for you. The Mod Club in Toronto is the place to head if you are looking for retro, it is wonderfully designed with the famous event “From Britain with Love”. The Britain inspired theme of this event has made a landmark in the city of Toronto, making numerous visitors coming to the city on the New Year’s Eve. However, that’s not the only party in the city. Head to Nathan Phillips Square on New Years to skate on the famous outdoor rink, enjoy a local DJ and local live music and take in the spectacular fireworks display at night.
5. Ottawa, Ontario
It is the capital of Canada and one can expect that they go big when it comes to ringing in the new year, and boy oh boy do they ever. Head to Ottawa City Hall where the celebration is known as the TD Hogmanay Scottish New Years Party. Visitors here will have the chance to skate to Celtic music, ice sculpt, scotch taste, listen to live music and more. And when midnight strike, prepare for an amazing display of fireworks off the roof of city hall. Or head to the family event, Rick Chiarelli’s New Year Eve where there are plenty of alcohol free events and includes countless entertainers, from magicians to dancers to face painters, and of course some pretty awesome fireworks. Or head to Metcalfe Square and Sparks Street where a free outdoor concert will help you bring in the new year, along with one giant flare and dazzling lights in the sky.
4. Vancouver, British Columbia
One unique way to ring in the new year is to celebrate on the water. The city of Vancouver offers a variety of choices when it comes to NYE cruises and most come complete with drinks, dancing and complimentary champagne when the clock strikes midnight. Pride of Vancouver Charters and its Luxurious Pride vessel is one of the best ways to celebrate. This cruise provides entertainment, dancing and a delicious buffet, all in the luxury cruise ship tradition. If you are single and looking to meet someone to help bring in the new year snap a spot on the queen of Diamonds cruise where a great party brings up to 400 other singles who are also looking to meet someone. Countdown parties, midnight fireworks and plenty of fun is to be had on this New Years Eve experience.
3. Montreal, Quebec
Montreal is really known for its one famous party at the L’Olympia de Montreal, where 2500 people gather to drink, dance and ring in the New Year in one crazy insane party. But that’s not the only big party in town. Clubs such as Roxbury, Rouge Nightclub and La Boom can see crowds between 800-2000. Some of these parties even include an open bar and all your drink tips. If you are after more dinner and dancing and less club hopping the choices are endless from the Hyatt Regency Gala New Years Eve party to the La Finale New Year’s Eve at Jargo. No matter where you go or what you want to do, Montreal is one of the hottest places to be.
2. Calgary, Alberta
The city of Calgary certainly knows how to include the whole family when it comes to New Years Eve celebrations, but don’t let that fool you, there is still plenty of adult only parties too. If you do have the kids in tow though, why not head to Calgary Olympic Park where you can bundle up and enjoy skating, music and family fun, ending with a spectacular display of fireworks at midnight. The zoo offers fireworks a little earlier in the evening for those who want to get their kids in bed earlier, along with zoolight displays, fire pits, wild entertainment and plenty of hot chocolate. For the adults who are looking for a good time head to one of many events including the Mystique Ball, the Black and White Ball at the Casino or the Beatmatrix Gala where you will feel as though you have transported right into Atlantic City. Surely this city is one of the best places to be to ring in the new year.
1. Niagara Falls, Ontario
It is Canada’s largest free New Years eve concert and fireworks, making it this the number one place to be to ring in the new year. In fact, this concert actually draws about 40,000 people to Queen Victoria Park and along with an epic line up of musical guests, there are two awesome fireworks displays (one at 8:45 for the wee ones and midnight). To help welcome in 2016 Demi Lovato will be the headliner along with other guests such as Sam Roberts Band and Serena Rider. With an abundance of awesome places to eat and stay, this is one Canadian tradition you should do once in your life. Did we mention the falls are also lit up in beautiful colors?
Not far from the Niagara Escarpment, the Greater Toronto Area near Lake Ontario is home to some of the most scenic places southwestern Ontario has to offer. Halton Hills is somewhat central to everything – comprising Georgetown, Caledon, Acton, Hornby and Limehouse—along with many other small villages in the area—Halton Hills is sometimes overlooked by hikers and outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its more famed neighbors. But that doesn’t mean Halton Hills doesn’t have some great trails, so get off the beaten path with these 6 hikes through the area.
6. Limehouse Conservation Area
The Limehouse Conservation Area has just under 5 kilometers of trail in total, which may deter some hikers from visiting the area. Nonetheless, the area makes for an interesting day excursion. The Kiln Trail, although short, features reconstructed limestone kilns and ruins along its length. Other trails feature outcrops of the Niagara Escarpment. The Bruce Trail runs through 1.5 kilometers of the park, connecting Limehouse to other conservation areas in Halton Hills. This section of the trail goes through the “Hole-in-the-Wall,” which you’ll need to navigate via two ladders, then goes along the former Toronto Suburban Radial Railway line, as well as crossing Black Creek. The area is known for deep rock fissures and crevices, so even though the trails aren’t very long, there’s plenty to explore on a hiking excursion in this Niagara Escarpment conservation area.
5. Hungry Hollows Trail
This well-maintained trail is located along the Silver Creek branch of the Credit River, nestled in a valley to the south of Georgetown. The trail extends west to Cedarvale Park and east toward Norval. The total length of the trail is approximately 5.40 kilometers. Since 2009, the trail has featured 385 meters of boardwalk as well, as part of an expansion plan intended to create a network of multi-use trails in the 95-hectare area. Hungry Hollow includes beaver ponds and meadows, and features a number of footbridges over Silver Creek. The trail features mixed surfaces, ranging from asphalt to gravel to woodchip, which makes some sections of the trail friendly to others outdoor enthusiasts such as cyclists. Other sections of the trail are better suited to travel on foot. Hungry Hollow is maintained in the winter as well, making it ideal for winter hiking and activities like cross-country skiing.
4. Terra Cotta Conservation Area
Terra Cotta is a small village just outside of Caledon, located near Winston Churchill Boulevard. Although the iconic Cheltenham Badlands and their red hills were once the most popular tourist attraction, the area was closed off due to conservation concerns in early 2015. The Terra Cotta Conservation Area is still open, however, and offers visitors 10.5 kilometers of hiking trails in all seasons. Some of the trails are open and groomed for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and hiking most of the trails is possible year-round. The Bruce Trail also connects through the area. Hike around the Spring Pond on the McGregor Spring Pond Trail or make your way by Wolf Lake on the Terra Cotta Lane, one of the longer trails, and enjoy the varied terrain. In winter, the Terra Cotta Lane offers four kilometers of groomed trail for winter sports enthusiasts.
3. Silver Creek
The Silver Creek Conservation Area, owned and operated by Credit Valley Conservation, is 1,080 acres of conservation land near the Terra Cotta Conservation Area. The park has over 14 kilometers of trails, including just over 6 kilometers of the Bruce Trail. The Great Esker Trail clocks in at almost 4 kilometers. The area itself includes the headwaters of Silver Creek, a tributary of the Credit River, and a large Escarpment valley. The area has no steep inclines, but some sections of the park are hilly, which means there are some great lookout points along the way. While the Bruce Trail forms the major section of this hike, the side trails offer the chance to get off the beaten path and see some more of Halton Hills and Niagara Escarpment country.
2. Chris Walker Trail
Formerly known as the Trafalgar Trail, this stretch near Georgetown was renamed in 2008 to honor the late Chris Walker, a long-time Bruce Trail volunteer who promoted trail linkages in Georgetown and throughout Halton Hills. Clocking in at 6.6 kilometers, the trail is by far the longest single trail in the Georgetown and Halton Hills area. The trail runs near the center of Georgetown’s historic downtown and Remembrance Park, with its gardens and fountain. The trail features a mix of surfaces, including gravel, municipal sidewalks and woodchip areas. In its 2013 budget, Halton Hills had earmarked money for trail renewal and development, with improvements to the Chris Walker Trail specifically noted. In early 2015, bids for revitalization of the trail, including construction of boardwalks, were opened, so it’s likely that this trail will become an even better experience in years to come.
1. Caledon Trailway Path
The Caledon Trailway follows the path of an abandoned railway, which was purchased in 1989 by the Town of Caledon. The trail itself extends for 35 kilometers, northeast toward Tottenham, where it terminates. The start of the trail, however, is located in Caledon Hills, near Terra Cotta, which places a good chunk of the trail in Halton Hills. The trail forms a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail, which means that if you want to keep going you can. The path takes you along rolling countryside near Caledon and Palgrave. Woodlots, beaver dams and farm fields make up much of the scenery. At one point, the trail crosses the Credit River and through a valley of the Humber River. It then crosses a number of creeks and waterways at other points as well.
Canada…often known as the land of ice and snow actually gets enough warm weather in the summer time across the country to house some pretty epic rooftop patios and bars. While you won’t find very many year round pools, you will find handcrafted cocktails, live music and lively atmospheres. Locals and visitors come together on these patios to drink, dine in style and escape the busy streets below. From Victoria to Toronto to Halifax, here are our top 12 choices for the best rooftop bars and patios across the country.
12. Bovine -Toronto, Ontario
It is Queen West’s most enduring rock bar, a smorgasbord of music, junkyard memorabilia and plenty of tourists but in recent years an incredible addition was added to the roof. Although this rooftop patio took a long time to happen, the result is a hidden tropical oasis complete with a tiki hut serving as a bar, picnic bench seating and a jungle of tropical plants. No need to look any further than here if you are craving tropical drinks as this bar serves us pina coladas, mai tais and hurricanes, along with a rum collection that tops out at 50 different kinds. Expect live music events throughout the summer, drink specials and a whole lot of Hawaiian like fun! If it is rock music you are craving though, you will have to head indoor for that.
11. Reflections -Vancouver, British Columbia
This outdoor restaurant and lounge is situated within the inner courtyard of the Rosewood Hotel’s fourth floor. This oasis offers a laid-back vibe featuring infinity water features, a central fire pit, private cabanas, beautiful lanterns and oversize teak seating. Guests here will find specialty cocktails and menu that revolves around shared plates of salads and items from the grill. Local fare is on the menu here and most of the menu focuses on ingredients found nearby, as well as the wine list host an abundance of BC wines. Although it appears to be swanky and snobbish, rest assured that this bar invites people of all walks of life to enjoy. On cold nights they provide warm blankets and heaters to warm guests up.
10. “Flight Deck” at The Pilot -Toronto, Ontario
It is a Yorkville rooftop patio at its finest and Flight Deck at The Pilot is one of the most beloved outdoor spots in the city of Toronto. Simple seating that encourages conversations, prompt and attentive service and retractable awnings for any types of weather makes this rooftop patio a winner in our eyes. The entire bar is decked out in stainless steel and metal, including the tables and chairs which make it an unusual atmosphere but combined with the lively groups of people that are found here, makes it work for this cool and hip patio. The menu here is mostly pub fare and includes such favorites as the fish tacos, pilot nachos and handmade burgers. With a huge beer and wine list, it is easy to see why so many people flock here for after work drinks and dinner.
9. Thompson Rooftop Lounge and Pool -Toronto, Ontario
This chic and exclusive rooftop lounge provides breathtaking views of the Toronto Skyline and Lake Ontario. Although you have to be a guest of the hotel or a lounge member to visit here, it is well worth it to experience this swanky rooftop. By day you will find guests swimming in the beautiful infinity pool and relaxing on sun loungers. Comfortable oversize couches, cabanas and a bar provide the perfect atmosphere when the sun goes down. Enjoy hand crafted cocktails, an extensive wine list and small plates to share. If you do plan on coming up here at night make sure you have your smart evening attire on as there is a fairly strict dress code.
8. Hilton Montreal Bonaventure, Rooftop Garden -Montreal, Quebec
Located 17 stories up this rooftop is loaded with lush gardens, paths and streams loaded with resident goldfish. It also happens to feature an impressive year-round outdoor pool complete with poolside bar during the summer months. The hotel itself is located just a stone’s throw away from major attractions and incredible shopping. The catch here is that rooftop visitors have to be guests of the hotel, a bonus for those who are planning on staying a few nights in the city. Guests up here are treated to lunch, dinner or late night snacks and as many cocktails as they can handle while soaking up the hot sun. With terraces, a pond with resident ducks, friendly service and year round swimming; this rooftop bar is a must visit.
7. Argyle Bar & Grill -Halifax, Nova Scotia
Head to the East side of Canada to eat and drink with the locals at this spectacular rooftop patio located in the heart of downtown Halifax. Plenty of large trees and flowers create an incredible atmosphere at this large rooftop patio, giving visitors the sense that they have stepped into another world. The biggest days to come out and play here are Thursday and Saturday nights when this heated patio gets packed with both locals and visitors. During the day huge patio umbrellas are opened to beat the heat and a large shaded bar area is provided. One of the best things about this patio has to be the rooftop bathrooms, where you can avoid walking down the stairs after one too many mojitos. This bar and grill also has an awesome sidewalk patio in case the roof becomes too crowded.
6. The Drake Hotel Sky Yard -Toronto, Ontario
This rooftop patio can be visited during the summer or winter months, a welcome change to most others in Canada who only offer summertime hours. In the summer expect to enjoy a variety of hand-crafted cocktails that make up the 24-page cocktail menu. More of a snack bar than a restaurant, the food here is incredible and unique with dishes such as lobster nachos and truffle fries. During the winter time the patio is decked out with canvas tents, heat lamps and decorated with vintage skis and toboggans. A fire pit sits in the center with thick logs around it, perfect for sitting on and sipping one of the amazing seasonal cocktails, such as the Brown Butter Maple Old Fashioned. If you prefer sitting inside up here, head on it to “The Tunnel”, a long enclave of couches decked out in blue and orange patterns, with a flat screen showing retro cartoons. One of the coolest and hippest places to be, summer or winter is the Sky Yard at the Drake Hotel.
5. Terrasse sur l’Auberge -Montreal, Quebec
If you are looking to dine in style with incredible views of the Old Port and the St. Lawrence River, head no further than this amazing rooftop. As an added bonus the month of July offers guests the chance to see the spectacular fireworks light up the sky during the International Fireworks Competition that takes place every year. Food wise, guests here will be delighted in local cuisine, hand-made dishes and an incredible array of choice. We suggest trying the smoked duck breast salad and Quebec cheese platter. As far as cocktails go, this rooftop bar has an impressive wine list along with an array of spirits and handcrafted drinks. Opening hours tend to be from 2pm-11pm and on Thursday nights a local DJ spins the hottest tracks of the summer. With a variety of seating choices, a hip crowd and unbelievable views of the city, this is one of the hottest rooftop patios in Canada.
4. Surf Club, The Strathcona -Victoria, British Columbia
This unique rooftop bar has a laid back Vancouver Island feel to it and features some pretty epic amenities, such as two full sized volleyball courts. The atmosphere is always pumping here with a DJ spinning live beats and a disco ball to match. With a view of the city on all sides, it seems this is one epic place to party. Delicious West Coast fare is served up alongside signature cocktails and local brews. Enjoy food such as fresh local steamed mussels, fish tacos, an array of burgers and more. With weekly specials including oyster bars, $5 off pizzas and more; any day of the week is a good time to visit. Weekly events are held all summer long with club nights and other special entertainment. With impeccable service, awesome views and the right atmosphere, the Surf Club offers one of the best summer vibes.
3. Roof Lounge, Park Hyatt -Toronto, Ontario
This legendary roof lounge is located eighteen floors up and although mostly enclosed, it does offer a heated outdoor area. Known for being only the second Toronto bar to receive a cocktail license, the history here goes back a long way, and during the 40’s was a hot hangout for Toronto literati. The most famous thing to sip on up here is one of the famous cocktails such as the Yorkville Squeeze or the Neighborhood Negroni, as well as smoke a Cigar, just like back in the day. The view is beyond comparison and sunset is a popular time to head up here to watch as the sky changes dramatic colors. Whether you come for brunch, a martini or a taste of incredible culinary fusion, chances are you won’t be disappointed.
2. Terrasse Nelligan -Montreal, Quebec
If you are looking to hang with the cool crowd on top of a rooftop make sure to head into Old Montreal and visit Terrasse Nelligan, the seasonal groovy rooftop terrace at Hotel Nelligan. Although this posh patio is only open until 11pm, it is well worth a visit to take in the views of the Old City and the St. Lawrence River. You won’t have to worry about the weather up here as retractable awnings allow guests to enjoy whether rain or sun. Thirst-quenching cocktails, a fresh menu and a hip young crowd all contribute to the lively atmosphere found here. Happy Hour is the most popular time of day to visit and make sure to try one (or two) of their delicious freshly made mojitos. Colorful plants, bright umbrellas and comfortable tables and chairs set the stage for the ultimate Montreal rooftop patio experience.
1. Harvest Kitchen -Toronto, Ontario
This tree-canopy rooftop patio caters to just about everyone visiting the city and although you may be tempted by the lovely inside décor, make sure to head upstairs as this patio should not be missed. Brunch and dinner are the busiest times here and the electric menu and commitment to ethical sourcing brings both vegetarians and meat lovers to this patio. Make sure to give their wine on tap a try, as it is not only more environmentally friendly but also friendly to your wallet being only 99 cents an ounce. Although this rooftop patio is only open 10am-10pm, it is well worth visiting during those hours. A casual walk in restaurant, guests here can wear anything from formal wear to yoga clothes and it is a welcome change from many of the restaurants in this city. Local beer, local wine, handcrafted cocktails and fresh food make this our favorite rooftop patio across Canada.
Libraries are those unique cultural institutions that combine art, history and innovation to create a space for people of all ages and backgrounds to indulge in the pursuit of knowledge and exploration of literature. For book lovers, there are few things that compare to wandering amid stacks of a historically or culturally significant building and finding a rare volume of their favorite author or an ancient text pertinent to human history. Luckily, the major libraries of the world that house such exquisite collections work hard to keep them preserved and accessible to the public, and out of the hundreds of worldwide options, we’ve narrowed down the 15 institutions all literature lovers must visit at least once in their lives.
15. Royal Grammar School Chained Library, Guildford, England
The headmaster’s study in Guilford’s Royal Grammar School is home to one extremely unique feature—an original chained library. The custom of chaining books originated with the idea of providing public access to valuable and important texts by affixing them to shelving in public places, an idea that eventually became the predecessor for the modern library system. This particular one in Guildford, England is one of the last remaining chained libraries in the world and houses a collection with works dating back to the 15th century, and most notably, two early editions of Newton’s Principia.
14. Austrian National Library, Vienna, Austria
As the country’s largest library, the Austrian National Library is found within Hofburg Palace in Vienna and houses upwards of 7.4 million items. The acquisition of holdings dates back to the Middle Ages, with the permanent home at the Hofburg Palace constructed in the early 18th century, and now containing the largest collection of contemporary literature and research materials in Austria, as well as several unique collections, archives and museums. The most notable of these is the collection of Maps, one of the most comprehensive in the world, which today includes 295,000 maps, 45,000 geographic-topographic views, 700 globes and over 80,000 atlases and books of a technical nature. Also impressive is the library’s holding of manuscripts and rare books, a collection comprised of over 500,000 printed materials organized into incunabula (pre-1500s), works from the 16th to 19th centuries and items of rare, valuable and bibliophilic importance.
13. Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, Toronto, Canada
This library houses the University of Toronto’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, the acquisition of which started in 1955 under the direction of Chief Librarian Robert H. Blackburn (largely sourced from the University’s main library). The department didn’t have a permanent home until 1973 when Thomas Fisher’s descendants donated their personal collections of Shakespeare and various 20th century writers, accentuating the growing collection’s need for a designated space. The building is now home to Canada’s largest publicly accessible selection of rare books and manuscripts, consisting of over 700,000 volumes including several medieval manuscripts and a set of Pyne’s Royal Residences which was presented to the University by Queen Victoria.
12. Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland
Located at the University of Dublin, the Trinity College Library holds Ireland’s largest collection of literature and is home to one of the country’s biggest attractions—the incomparable Long Room. Built between 1712 and 1732, the Long Room measures over 65 meters in length and contains the institution’s 200,000 item collection of rare and early edition manuscripts and novels, including the world-famous Book of Kells and one of the last surviving copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Also interesting to see are the marble busts of famous writers and philosophers that adorn the room, the highlight of which seems to be the one of Jonathan Swift created by Louis Francois Roubiliac.
11. Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Brazil’s Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura, known in English as the Royal Portuguese Reading Room, must be visited as much for its unbelievably stunning interior as for its extensive literary collection. Housing the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside of Portugal itself, the library was built from 1880 to 1887 in the Neo-Manueline style (Portuguese answer to Neo-Gothic architecture) designed by lead architect Rafael da Silva e Castro. Today, the library houses over 350,000 rare volumes spread over three levels, topped with a wrought iron chandelier and stained-glass skylight, making it a must see for anyone who appreciates both literature and 19th century architecture.
10. Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Connecticut, United States
Currently closed for renovation (it will reopen in September 2016) the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University houses one of the world’s largest rare book and manuscript collections. Completed in 1963, the building’s geometric architecture and innovative translucent marble “windows” allow a unique method of filtered lighting to illuminate the interior of the building while protecting its precious contents—thousands of rare manuscripts, papyri and early edition novels. The library is also home to various other literary collections acquired by the University, as well as several temporary and permanent exhibits; amid these treasured displays you can find an early printing of the Gutenberg Bible and Audubon’s Birds of America.
9. St. Catherine’s Monastery Library, South Sinai, Egypt
This Greek Orthodox Monastery, officially known as The Holy Monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai, and unofficially as Santa Katarina, is the oldest inhabited monastery in the world with origins predating the Middle Ages. Though it is worth the visit just to admire and stand in a structure that has witnessed 17 centuries of history, exploring the monastery’s cultural inheritance is a truly unique experience. Housing an extensive collection of Christian art, the site is also home to a library of over 16,000 ancient texts, including hand-written manuscripts on papyrus and scrolls, early printed books and an archive of ancient documents. While the majority of the works found here are written in Greek and are religious in nature, the library also houses a number of educational works such as lexicons, medical texts and travel accounts. Most notable holdings include several pages of the Codex Sinaiticus (4th century manuscript of the Holy Scriptures) and especially of interest for classical literature lovers, first editions of Homer, Plato and the Comedies of Aristophanes.
8. Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, United States
Planned, funded and brought into being by Henry and Emily Folger, the Folger Shakespeare Library currently holds the world’s largest collection of William Shakespeare’s work, and is a must see for anyone who is a fan of Renaissance literature. Up until the building’s opening in 1932, the Folgers worked tirelessly to provide the American people with the best possible selection of the poet’s works, and personally took on all of the responsibilities involved with bringing their dream to life, including acquisitions, location scouting and structural planning. Today, the couple’s gift continues to expand, and now (in addition to the Shakespeare) houses an impressive collection of other Renaissance books, manuscripts and art, as well as being home to a world class research facility and numerous public outreach programs.
7. Alexandria Library, Alexandria, Egypt
Opened in 2002, this new Bibliotheca Alexandrina on Egypt’s northern coast is committed to replicating the ancient versions legacy as a universal center for culture and learning. While this was originally regarded by many as an impossible task, the library has managed it, becoming a hub in Alexandria not only for literature, but for performances, art, and special events. A stunning example of modern architecture, the library complex consists of a main reading room (which has the capacity to shelve eight million volumes) and four smaller libraries—a children’s library, youth’s library, multimedia library and braille library. Also on the premises are a planetarium and several museums that exhibit everything from ancient artefacts to antiquarian texts, including a copy of the only known scroll that remains from the city’s ancient library.
6. National Library of St. Mark’s, Venice, Italy
This beautiful library in Venice’s Piazza San Marco was constructed in the mid 1500’s after Cardinal Bessarion 1468 literary donation demanded a designated library building. The two level structure, officially called the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana was designed by Jacopo Sansovino and features Doric-style arches on the ground floor and Ionic friezes and sculptures on the second, as well as decorative artworks by Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto, among other. The library is also among the oldest in the country and houses one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of classical literature and historic works. With holdings that comprise upwards of a million total items, among the library’s most treasured pieces are two manuscripts of the Iliad (5th and 6th century) and opera scores and sonatas by Francesco Cavalli and Domenico Scarlatti, respectively.
5. Russian State Library, Moscow, Russia
With a history dating back to 1862, The Russian State Library is the country’s national library and houses the 5th largest literary collection in the world, containing over 17.5 million books. The institution also holds a renowned collection of maps, as well an extensive amount of specialized items such as journals, sheet music, sound recordings and dissertations. While obviously home to the largest selection of Russian literature in the world, the library also houses foreign works represented in over 247 languages, which comprise approximately 30 percent of the building’s 43 million item collection. The building itself is also an interesting site, with construction more or less completed by 1945, it is a perfect example of Soviet Neo-Classical architecture and offers an insightful contrast to other libraries of this magnitude.
4. New York Public Library, New York City, United States
Not only is the New York Public Library a city landmark and popular tourist attraction, it is also an extremely important part of the worldwide literary family. With a collection of over 53 million items, the library is the 4th largest in the world, drawing around 18 million annual visitors. Originally founded in 1895, today’s main branch at Bryant Park was opened in 1911 with over one million volumes consolidated from the Astor and Lenox Libraries. The institution has since expanded to include 88 neighborhood branches and four resource centers, servicing approximately 17 million people and offering over 67,000 free programs yearly. Visitors to the main branch, located in Manhattan`s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, can admire the beauty of the building’s Beaux-Arts architecture and interiors and explore the collections in the General Research, Manuscripts and Archives, History and Genealogy and Rare Books Divisions (among others). This building is also home to some of the country’s most significant historic documents, including Columbus’s letter about the New World (1943) and George Washington’s original Farewell Address.
3. Vatican Library, Vatican City
Among the many culturally significant things to see in Vatican City, the Vatican Library is no exception. Officially established in 1448 (though acquisition began much earlier) in the Vatican Palace, the current collection tops 1.1 million items and includes ancient manuscripts, codices, classical Greek and Latin texts, and perhaps the most impressive selection of incunabula (text printed in Europe prior to 1501) in the world. Though holding a vast amount of religious texts, the library’s holdings are actually extremely diverse in scope, with notable pieces ranging from the oldest known Bible (Codex Vaticanus) to letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn.
2. Library of Congress, Washington DC, United States
Established in 1800, with the doors of the current building opening to the public in 1897, The Library of Congress in Washington DC is the 2nd largest library in the world, housing upwards of 158 million items. Now a national monument, the building is one of the world’s foremost research centers home to 36 million printed materials in over 460 languages as well as over 69 million manuscripts. It is also here that you will find the world’s largest selection of films, sound recordings, sheet music and maps, in addition to the most extensive holdings of rare books on the continent. Along with this amazing collection of literature, the building itself is also worth the tour, showcasing magnificent Beaux-Arts architecture with interiors and reading rooms featuring fine art, marble halls, carved hardwood, and of course, the incomparable central stained-glass dome.
1. The British Library, London, England
This jaw-dropping institution contains an astounding 625 km of shelving to house its 170 million+ item collection which includes over 300,000 original manuscripts (both ancient and contemporary) and 60 million patents. With figures such as these, it is no wonder that the British Library is the largest in the world, and attract over 16,000 daily visitors. The main building, located in St. Pancras in London, is England’s largest public building constructed in the 20th century and consists of over 112,000 square meters spread over 14 floors. Along with the unparalleled collection of books, maps, newspapers and musical scores, the library is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive selections of literary treasures, including the Magna Carta, The Times first edition and the audio recording of Mandela’s Rivonia trial speech.