Fun stuff to do in Toronto on the cheap

One of the perks of living in Toronto is having access to lots of cool things to do and see.

It isn’t hard to find things to do, but it can be a bit of a challenge to find stuff to do that’s either free, or darned close to being free.

We have a little list on the fridge, which reminds us of things we can do for fun that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Here’s a few of my favourites that I thought I’d share with you:

The Sun Life Museum and Art Pass (MAP) : This is only for folks who have an adult Toronto Public Library card. Saturday mornings, various branches of the Toronto Library hand out free passes to some pretty cool destinations in the city. This past weekend, I picked up a pass for the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. I have all summer to use it. We’ll look forward to planning our trip.  I also plan on picking up a free pass for a few other Toronto attractions, like the Zoo, the ROM, and Black Creek Pioneer Village. With ticket prices for these attractions at about $24 for the ROM, and $23 for the Zoo these passes are a pretty sweet deal.

AGO and ROM free on Wednesdays: Toronto’s two big cultural organizations offer free admission for anyone on Wednesdays for a limited time period.  You can visit the ROM for one hour free of charge from 4:30 to 5:30 on Wednesdays. Don’t expect to see the whole place in an hour, but you can check out their regular exhibitions online and pick a gallery that piques your interest. The AGO offers a better deal with a 2.5 hour window free on Wednesdays, from 6-8:30 p.m. If you’re super keen, you could visit both in one evening!

Bata Shoe Museum: This is one of my favourite Toronto museums. Every Thursday from 5 – 8 p.m. they offer up a pay-what-you-can admission. I don’t just like it because I’m a chick and this is a museum of shoes. Go and discover what footwear says about our culture, ancient cultures and beliefs. It’s fascinating!

Fringe Festivals: If you live in almost any major urban centre, chances are, there’s a Fringe Festival near you. What’s a Fringe Festival? Normally a week or so in length, each festival will focus on an art form (drama, music, etc) and present a series of events at various venues around the city. The price of admission is often inexpensive, or may even be pay-what-you-can for some events. Toronto’s Fringe Festival is on now, and $10 will get you a ticket for some pretty cool theatre productions.

Toronto Historic Sites free on weekends: I don’t recall seeing this in previous years. It’s a great opportunity for Torontonians and visitors to Toronto to check out some pretty cool heritage sites. You’ll be able to take your family and visit Fort York for free on any weekend this summer. Want to check out William Lyon Mackenzie’s place? Mackenzie House has some cool programming for families.

Dream in High Park:  The Canadian Stage Company produces an outdoor play every summer in High Park. You can go watch a professional theatre company’s production of Romeo and Juliet, in a magnificent park, and pay-what-you-can for admission. If you want to check that out, go early. Also, take along a blanket to sit on and your favourite bug repellent!

Take the Ferry to the Islands: Why not pack up a picnic lunch and take the Centre Island Ferry to the Islands and spend a day? The ferry ride will cost you $6.50 for adults, and $4.00 for kids/students. You may want to take a couple extra bucks for an ice cream while you’re there, or a cold drink. Walking around the Island can be kinda fun. You can just park yourself and lay on the beach if you like. There is a small amusement park on the Island and bikes to rent if you wish. You’ll feel like you’ve left the city entirely.

Harbourfront Centre is a huge cultural facility on the waterfront. They have lots of things you can pay to attend, but they also offer a whole suite of free events. Check out their website to see if there’s anything that interests you!

Like to go on historic walks with tour guides? The ROM offers an abundance of free walks focusing on various elements of Toronto’s architectural, social and industrial history. Ever want a guided tour through Mount Pleasant Cemetery, or how ’bout the history of moonshine in the city? These are free and offered through out the spring to fall.

Feel like a cold brew? The Steam Whistle Brewing Company offers up tours of their ultra cool brewery, which is in an old railway roundhouse at the base of the CN Tower and Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome). The tour is cool, and if you’re of legal drinking age, they’ll even pour you a sample of their Pilsner. Sure, they’d like you to make a purchase while you’re there, but you’ll have some fun even if you don’t.

Hope you can find some free or at least frugal fun near you this summer!


One response to this post.

  1. […] we’ve managed to collect three free family passes to some world class cultural organizations, all for free, courtesy of the Sun Life Museum and Art […]


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