Ever since I visited Portland Oregon last November and witnessed how beautiful a place can be in the fall, I’ve been doing a ton of research on the best places to visit in the fall in North America. Moving to New York this year opened the door to new travel possibilities on the east coast. I was eager to seek out the best foliage I could see that didn’t require a long journey. One of the places I ended up visiting was Toronto, and here are some of the best things to do when visiting Toronto in the fall.
1. Visit Toronto Islands
You may be thinking…why would I visit an island when it’s cold and rainy outside? One of the biggest perks of visiting Toronto Islands during this time period is that there will be much tourists there.
Imagine having a serene walk on the lakefront trail, getting the best views of the CN tower without a long line of tourists waiting to take pictures, and watching the leaves fall as the trees prepare for winter.
Toronto Islands almost turns into a different place in the fall. It becomes this oasis that allows you to get closer to nature without venturing far from the city.
A few things to keep in mind when visiting Toronto Islands in the fall:
- Check the ferry schedule to make sure it isn’t running on a reduced schedule. The only way to get to Toronto Islands is via ferry, so you’ll want to check the schedule and time your visit accordingly. The schedule is set by season, and the winter ferry schedule starts earlier than you’d think. This year, the winter ferry schedule started on Oct. 13th.
- Some attractions may be closed. When I visited in mid-October, the Centreville Amusement Park and some restaurants on the island were closed. In fact, the public restrooms were also not available for use. That doesn’t mean the island isn’t worth visiting, you’ll just have to trade less tourists with less things to do. I had a fun time despite these attractions being closed for the season.
2. Plan a Day Trip to Scarborough Bluffs
If you’re in Toronto in the fall, it’s definitely worth carving out a day just to leaf peep. BlogTO has a list of the top 10 places to see fall foliryage in Toronto. I ended up reading through their guide and picking Scarborough Bluffs since it was only a short drive from downtown. I also loved that I didn’t have to go on an arduous hike to get beautiful views of Lake Ontario and fall colors.
My best tip for visiting Scarborough Bluffs in the fall (particularly if your goal is leaf-peeping), is to watch the foliage map carefully. Try to book your flight for when the leaves are predicted to be at peak colors. Typically, the higher the elevation and colder the weather, the sooner the leaves will turn colors. However, depending on things like rain and wind, the timing of the leaf change could vary from year to year.
Do your best to go at the right time, but also don’t despair if things don’t work out. I’ve learned this year that planning a leaf-peeping trip is one of the most involved types of trip planning I’ve had to do! So do your best and let the rest play its course.
3. Visit the St. Lawrence Market for a Peameal Bacon Sandwich
My friend who lives in Toronto recommended the St. Lawrence Market to me, so I easily had to make time for it during my four days there.
I planned St. Lawrence market as a stop after Toronto Islands, and by the time I had arrived at the market, I was already STARVING. There were french pastry shops, raw seafood stands, and hot food options. The market reminded me a lot of my trip to Europe, where I visited an open-air market in Barcelona. I loved the atmosphere the moment I stepped inside.
Since I only had a bit of time at the market, I wanted to make sure I tried the best thing to eat at St. Lawrence Market. That’s when I discovered the Peameal Bacon Sandwich from Carousel Bakery. To be honest, the name of the sandwich did not sound appetizing to me at all. But because I was hungry, and I love trying local flavors when I visit a new place, I had to give it a go.
Overall, the sandwich was interesting and pretty tasty. I couldn’t finish the entire thing, but I definitely savored every single bite. If you’re ever in Toronto, you must give it a try! Oh, and bring cash.
4. Shop at Lululemon
Fall sometimes means a higher chance of rain. If rain occurs on your trip, take your day indoors and scoop up some goods from Lululemon.
Since the fitness clothing brand is based in Canada, the prices tend to be cheaper in Canada than in the U.S. stores, so of course I had to buy something to make my trip worth it.
I went to the Yorkdale Mall with my friends, and I’ve also heard good things about Eaton Centre. If you do pay a visit to the Yorkdale Mall, be sure to also check out the KitKat Chocolatory. Not only do they have cool kitkat flavors like the Vanilla Chai and Coffee and Donuts, you can also make your own KitKat from scratch!
5. Try Poutine (a.k.a. French-Canadian Fries)
Do you love french fries? If the answer is yes, you’ll have to try the French-Canadian version of fried potato dish: poutine.
I had to do a bit of Googling myself to learn that poutine is a combination of french fries and fresh cheese curds, covered in gravy. Similar to the peameal bacon sandwich, it did not sound the most appetizing to me. But the ones I had at Storm Crow Manor were so delish. I’m still dreaming about them!
6. Do a Food Tour in Chinatown
One thing I didn’t have time for but CANNOT wait to go back and do is a food tour in Toronto’s Chinatown. Local Toronto City Blog has a great list of places to eat in Chinatown to get you started.
7. Admire the CN Tower from the Baldwin Steps
While Toronto Islands has some of the best unobstructed views of downtown Toronto in the fall and the CN tower, my personal fave is the Baldwin Steps. It’s the perfect place to catch up with a friend, or sit with a cup of coffee and watch the sun go down.
It’s also only a four minute walk from Casa Loma which I’m about to recommend next!
8. Do a Haunted Tour at Casa Loma
Toronto in the fall means there will be lots of leaf-peeping opportunities. It also means the well-known attraction Casa Loma will be hosting its annual haunted tour Legends of Horror.
Legends of Horror takes place at Casa Loma every October. It’s a self-led tour that will take you through spaces within the castle never before open to the public. You can expect actors dressed in scary costumes and creepy stairways. Unless haunted houses and horror movies are your thing, definitely bring company!
9. Stroll through Downtown Toronto
While you’re already in Toronto, spend a day touring downtown Toronto. I believe one of the best ways to get to know a place and its culture is by strolling the streets. Even better if you don’t have a destination in mind.
Downtown Toronto is incredibly walkable, and you’ll easily be distracted by the cute shops and restaurants lining the streets, particularly at night!
10. Take a Picture in Front of Kim’s Convenience
I started watching the Netflix show Kim’s Convenience a week before I visited Toronto. So when I found out Kim’s Convenience is modeled after a real grocery store in Toronto, I knew I had to go.
It was super cool to be on the “set” of the show, and it made me feel like I temporarily teleported to Universal Studios in California.
Visiting Toronto in the Fall
While summer may always seem like the best time to travel somewhere, consider taking a fall trip to Toronto some time. Fall brings changing leaf colors, more pleasant weather in most places (especially true in New York!), and cheaper flights and hotels compared to summer.
You can do most things you can do in the summer and save money for more trips in the future. Have you I convinced you to visit Toronto in the fall yet?
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