The main reason why I hated this landmark is that all shops close at 6 pm and I got there at 7 pm. Doesn’t Toronto have a booming nightlife?
Five attractions in Toronto and why I didn’t visit most of them
By Nhi ‘Jenny’ Vo, Layout Manager
Three years after moving to Canada, I finally got out of BC! It was a weird feeling travelling during the pandemic, or at least the last stretch of it. After a torturous 5-hour flight with a mandated mask, I landed in the promising province of Ontario. I’ve heard so many good things about Toronto: bustling crowds, vibrant culture, plus, everything is much bigger than Vancouver. Nevertheless, reality didn’t meet my expectations. The streets were filled with giant piles of snow. The subway was more packed than a tuna can and the weather was undoubtedly uninhabitable. Though I wanted to visit all the best attractions since it was my first time in the city, there was a lot holding me back.
The following is my rant about five Toronto attractions and the alternatives for them around our beloved Vancouver.
The idea of looking down on the city from a 553-metre high tower sounds amazing. I can imagine the lights, the enormous skyscrapers, and the tiny people. If only it were a clear day. It was a rainy and foggy day when I got here. I decided that it would be stupid to spend $40 (before the 13 percent tax!!) just to look at the dark clouds. Furthermore, I spent the same amount of money the day before to observe the breathtakingly beautiful Niagara Falls from the Skylon Tower. Luckily, a Torontonian friend of mine claimed that this landmark was “overrated.”
Vancouver’s alternative: Vancouver Lookout
For only $18.25, you can get a spectacular 360-degree view of the cityscape, which is the same concept as the CN Tower. The only differences are the shape of the buildings and the money saved.
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
ROM is one of the only places on this list that I actually visited. The exterior of this museum is unbelievable. It’s unique and modern, unlike other museums. The interior is also inspired by the outside spiky triangles. Their walkways are diagonal and confusing. However, that’s what makes ROM interesting. I always found myself in a new area every time I walked through a door. The first and third floors are dedicated to human history and cultures around the world. The second floor is all about the evolutionary history of life, replete with life-size dinosaur fossils. I went there on a Wednesday when students enter for free. So far, this is my favourite attraction in Toronto not because I didn’t have to pay $23 to enter it, but because it was honestly incredible.
Vancouver’s alternative: Museum of Anthropology at UBC (MOA)
Although MOA is not as grand as ROM, it has a variety of artifacts from across the globe. From Oceania to America, there are plenty of objects to see. Pro: The ticket is only $15. Con: No dinosaur bones.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Even though it’s a perfect place to visit during a rainy day, I’m not paying $43 to see some fish up-close, especially when I’ve already experienced the same thing in Vancouver.
Vancouver’s alternative: Vancouver Aquarium
The price range is similar for both aquariums. Vancouver has the bigger aquarium in terms of gallons. You can observe some cute otters and seals swimming around and so much more.
Distillery Historic District
This is the second spot that I actually went to. I’ve wanted to visit it ever since I saw stunning pictures of this area during the holiday season because Toronto Christmas Market is located in this very District. There are several restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The old red brick walls make it stand out from other state-of-the-art buildings downtown. The main reason why I hated this landmark is that all shops close at 6 pm and I got there at 7 pm. Doesn’t Toronto have a booming nightlife? Everything was dead quiet and it reminded me of creepy 90s movie settings.
Vancouver’s alternative: Gastown
Distillery District and Gastown have similar Victorian-era buildings. There are also good restaurants and shops around the neighbourhood. Gastown might be more haunted, but at least some places there are open until 11 pm.
The Art Gallery of Ontario
I’m not interested in looking at paintings by dead people hanging on a wall, therefore, art galleries are not my thing. If you’re 25 or under and have a big love for arts, this might be on your Toronto bucket list as you can visit for free. For art lovers who aren’t still in their prime 20s, the ticket is $25.
Vancouver’s alternative: Vancouver Art Gallery
I haven’t been to both galleries so I’m not sure which one is better. The price range is the same so I’m guessing the only difference is the exhibits.
As you can tell, I’m not awed by Toronto and its attractions that much. It’s either because I love Vancouver too much or I am disgusted by Toronto’s extreme weather, but I prefer our local attractions much more. They can have more buildings and culture, but we absolutely have more nature. Despite all of my negative experiences, I would love to visit Toronto again in the summer to enjoy the city to the fullest.