Things to do in Toronto

19 Hidden Gems in Toronto to Explore

These hidden gems of Toronto shine brightly amid the city’s main attractions.

Toronto is famous for its iconic landmarks and world-class attractions. Sure, you could do what everyone else does and visit the CN Tower or the Royal Ontario Museum. You could also go watch the Toronto Maple Leafs shred the ice in a fierce hockey game.

But if you stray just slightly from the beaten path, you’ll uncover some of the best-hidden gems in the city. The most memorable things to do in Toronto await, promising a new type of adventure through unique shops, delicious restaurants, and small museums.

Downtown Toronto

1. Senator Restaurant

Are you ready for a trip back in time? The Senator restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Toronto that still operates in its original location. While it has passed through owners and undergone name changes over the years, it’s still the same great space it was decades ago.

This hidden gem started as a house back in the 19th century when Toronto was called York. Locals flock here for the menu of house-made comfort foods. Even the juice is freshly squeezed on-site. Pop in for brunch classics, such as eggs benedict, or stop by for dinner and indulge in delicious cocktails with your meal.

Kensington Market

2. Blue Banana Market

Looking for a gift or a cute souvenir to take home after your trip to Toronto? Since it opened in 2007, Blue Banana Market has established a name for isf in Kensington Market. It's stocked with all kinds of souvenirs to commemorate your vacation and so much more.

This market has it all, including products from some of Ontario’s favorite small businesses. From quirky mugs and water bottles to novelty products and clothes, it’s a one-stop shop that makes shopping for a gift just as much fun as receiving one.

3. Fika

To take social media-worthy images of a quaint coffee shop, head on over to Fika café. The coffee shop is situated in a narrow house among a long lineup of similar buildings, so it can be easy to miss if you aren't actively looking for it. You’ll have to watch for the little sidewalk sign advertising its presence.

The whole café is Sweden-inspired, from the name to the design. The word "fika" means coffee break. Step away from the bustle of Toronto and sit in tranquility while you enjoy delectable pastries and handcrafted drinks in this quaint café.

Photographer: StockSnap

4. Seven Lives

Stop by Seven Lives for the best tacos in Toronto. This lively restaurant gifts your taste buds with bright Baja flavors that’ll leave you dancing in your seat from the first bite. It’s a local favorite, and crowds often line up out the door to get a taste of some of the food on offer.

The menu is small, written on a big chalkboard, but the prices are just right. The star of the show is the Gobernador, a smoked marlin and shrimp dish with melted cheese and your choice of salsas.

5. Kensington Market

Kensington Market beckons with its hipster vibes and eclectic tastes. This neighborhood has historically attracted immigrants looking to settle in the city, and this is evident in the multicultural cuisine and shopping options.

Walk along streets lined with Victorian-style row houses, which have been transformed into a vibrant shopping district. You can find just about anything here, from groceries and restaurants to boutique shops and cafés.

Artistry erupts from every corner, with beautiful murals and art on walls and brightly painted buildings. It’s a prime destination for sunny days when you want a taste of Toronto’s spirit.

West Queen West

6. Black Market Vintage Clothing

Vintage is back in style, and you’ll find it at Black Market. The storefront features bold black-and-white swirls around the door, making it look like a portal back in time. Inside, you'll enter a whole new world where name brands from decades ago are waiting to enjoy.

Whether you like establishing your own unique style or simply want to save perfectly wearable clothing from a landfill, this store is a dream come true. Every visit is a treasure hunt, and you never know what you’ll find.

7. TYPE Books

Indie bookstores are a dying breed worldwide, but you’ll find the lively TYPE Books waiting for bookworms in Toronto. It’s a reader’s haven, with shelves upon shelves lined with just about every kind of book.

You’ll find popular books from major publishers lining the shelves alongside indie and small-press works of art. Dive into a new favorite book as adventures unfold on the pages and bring you into a world of whimsy.

The venue regularly holds book launches, readings, and signings that you won’t want to miss. Who knows, your new favorite book may be written by a local indie author.

Photographer: Jessica Ruscello

8. Bang Bang Ice Cream

Milk and cookies are already a match made in heaven, but what about ice cream? Take some of the best ice cream you can get in Toronto and smash it between baked goods to create your own rendition of an ice cream sandwich.

At Bang Bang Ice Cream, there are no limits— you can be as creative as you want. The menu changes daily, so check before you go. Lines can be long, especially on summer evenings. Try visiting on a weekday afternoon for a shorter wait.


9. Toronto Music Garden

Explore a tranquil 3-acre space on the Harbourfront, where the carefully landscaped garden brings a musical journey to life.

The design of Toronto Music Garden draws influence from Johann Sebastian Bach’s masterpiece, The First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello. As you follow the main path, you’ll discover six separate gardens, each representing one of the movements within the piece.

During the summer months, it hosts regular live music events. Nothing beats listening to live music while the trees dance along with the fresh sea breeze. Don’t be afraid to sway to the beat as music of all genres serenades you.

Photographer: Justin Ziadeh

East Chinatown/Leslieville

10. Dineen Coffee Company

Head over to Dineen Coffee Company and experience the warm, aromatic scent of roasting coffee beans. Sip on handcrafted drinks in sophisticated style in this modern coffee shop. With its floor-to-ceiling windows you’ll be able to delight in the shop’s inviting ambiance.

Coffee-based drinks use signature blends to create a flavor that’s uniquely their own. Do you prefer tea? Not a problem. It offers a robust selection of herbal and non-herbal teas to satisfy a wide range of tastes, whether you want a hot latte or a refreshing iced tea.

Pair your ideal drink with locally sourced items, including fresh baguette sandwiches, baked goods, and pastries, made fresh and delivered daily.


11. Corktown Common

Corktown Common is one of the city's most prized hidden gems. At one time, it consisted of nothing but brownfields in formerly industrial lands. Today, it’s a phenomenal park, alive with greenery and a ton of things to do.

The playground areas delight children, and during warmer months, the splash pad offers an inviting place to beat the heat. Looking for somewhere to host some friends? The public barbecue, big picnic tables, and the proximity to restrooms make this a prime spot.

But it's not just a fun place for people to go. It’s also an attractive habitat for native wildlife. Birds, amphibians, and insects fly, swim, and buzz in abundance, and you’ll find them if you keep your eyes peeled.


12. The Guild Park and Gardens

Walk through the gilded gates into Scarborough’s Guild Park and Gardens to find a world of floral beauty and marvelous sculptures waiting.

This historic park is well known for its massive Greek-style theater stage, but the story behind the relics is even grander. During the late 1950s, Toronto underwent a sort of revival, with older buildings torn down and replaced, even if they were still usable.

Rosa and Herbert Spencer Clark, the founders, wanted to preserve these precious pieces of history and began taking parts from demolition sites to rebuild the park. You’ll find stunning views of remnants left behind from over 60 buildings that once stood in the Greater Toronto Area.

North York

13. Aga Khan Museum

Aga Khan Museum is an art gallery that features Islamic artifacts, artwork, and other exhibits. The Pritzker Prize-winning Fumihiko Maki designed the walls and feature Brazilian granite slabs at interesting angles to take full advantage of the natural light as it falls across the rooftop courtyard.

Only about a quarter of the permanent pieces are displayed at any given time, and sensitive items frequently rotate to avoid too much light exposure. The temporary exhibits change regularly, exploring topics that include particular sects of Islam or specific artists.

For a culinary dream come true, visit the on-site café. It overlooks a pond and serves Middle-Eastern cuisine, bringing flavors of Turkey, India, North Africa, and other regions in the area to Canada.

Photographer: Hardeep Singh

The Annex

14. The Bata Shoe Museum

We love larger-than-life fashion, with bold colors and dramatic designs that evoke imagination and possibilities. The Bata Shoe Museum embraces everything we love and more, all within its iconic building.

The structure itself is a hidden gem. Designed by renowned architect Raymond Moriyama, it defies all expectations people have for square buildings. Dramatic angles create intrigue from the moment you approach the building.

Step inside and discover 4,500 years of shoe and footwear history, such as the intricate sealskin boots worn in the southern Caribou Inuit region and the dramatic 16th-century Italian chopine. Don’t know what these are? You will by the time you’ve made your way through the exhibits.

Spadina-Fort York

15. Spadina Museum

Experience what life was like for Toronto's affluent families in the 1900s at Spadina Museum. The name derives from the Anishinaabemowin word “ishpadina,” which means highland. Its sprawling green gardens and rooms brimming with luxurious furniture once hosted spectacular parties that were likely the talk of the town.

The Victorian-Edwardian architecture and gardens have stood there since 1866, initially belonging to the Austin family. However, it was donated in 1978 and eventually transformed into a museum in 1984.

The museum’s exhibits showcase both the affluence of the wealthy and the harshness experienced by the servants who kept the mansion running.


16. Gibson House Museum

If you love discovering cities’ rich histories, The Gibson House Museum is one museum you don’t want to miss. Not far from North York Centre Station, you’ll discover this free destination that tells the tale of an immigrant turned rebel who left a lasting legacy behind.

Scottish immigrant David Gibson carved a life for himself in Toronto, starting out as a land surveyor and eventually becoming a part of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada. He joined the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, where he protected loyalist prisoners from abuse. But that came at a huge cost.

His farm was burned to the ground, and he was forced to flee. In 1848, he returned to his farm and rebuilt it from the ground up. The Gibson House Museum is a testament to his life, telling his story and explaining his role in shaping Toronto into what it is today.

Bloorcourt Village

17. The Monkey’s Paw

Step into The Monkey’s Paw at 1067 Bloor Street West, where new worlds wait to be discovered within vintage books.

Among the old medical posters and the strange stuffed crow perched on a typewriter that watches your every move. Stephen Fowler, the store’s owner, chooses which books to stock based on four categories: beautiful, arcane, macabre, and absurd.

Have you ever seen a vending machine that gives you random books? You’ll find the first of its kind at The Monkey’s Paw. Named the Biblio-Mat, this coin-operated vending machine spits out a random older book, promising a surprise every time you dare to tempt fate.

Gems Not Confined to a Neighborhood

18. Tommy Thompson Park

When you need a break from Downtown Toronto, step into Tommy Thompson Park for a taste of urban wilderness. It sits on a man made peninsula extending 5 kilometers into Lake Ontario.

This urban park brims with wildlife, starting with its variety of plants, including cottonwood forests that are only steps away from coastal marshes and beaches. Talk a walk in the wildflower meadows, where the soft scent of the blooms fills the air.

If you’re a particularly avid nature-watcher, you’ll love this adventure, where you’ll find cormorants nesting in trees and beavers building their dams.

19. Rouge National Urban Park

Your urban nature adventure continues at Rouge National Urban Park, one of the largest of its kind in North America. Check out some of the best hiking places in Toronto as you walk along the seemingly endless trails through forests and marshlands and along creeks.

Wildlife can be found everywhere in this natural paradise, including turkeys, otters, and occasionally, a black bear or two. Prepare for an exhilarating safari without leaving the city, but tread cautiously.

Photographer: Jeffrey Eisen

Step Off the Beaten Path to Discover Toronto’s Secret Charms

Exploring Toronto’s hidden gems gives you a whole new perspective on this grand city. When you’re done exploring, why not check out some karaoke in Toronto? Or better yet, come see us for an unforgettable experience.

We’ll take you with us on a journey of artistry. Nothing is what it seems on our stage, and everything is possible. Together, we’ll discover there’s no such thing as limits. Book your tickets for one of our shows in Toronto. Fantastical adventures await.

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