Unusual Attractions & Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do in Toronto
Toronto has plenty of world-class, bucket-list attractions, like the CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, and St. Lawrence Market. But dig a little deeper under the skin of the city to reveal a quirky treasure trove of oddball attractions and activities. Explore a brilliant shoe museum and a Harry Potter-esque rare bookstore. Tour a European-style chateau and blow off steam by smashing things. Do you like to do travel a little differently? Check out some of our favorite off-the-beaten-path things to do in Toronto.
See a Show at the Flower-Filled Winter Garden Theatre
Seven stories above the Elgin Theatre you'll find the Winter Garden Theatre. They're two of the only surviving Edwardian stacked theatres in the entire world. But that's not the only thing that makes this performance hall unique. The ceiling is absolutely covered with flowering plants and leafy vines, which makes it feel like you're watching a show in a secret garden. Murals of gardens and nature decorate the walls and columns have been transformed into tree trunks. Over 5,000 beech branches hang from the ceiling, and much of the theatre's hand-painted vaudeville scenery dates back to 1913. Catch a show in this working venue or sign up for a guided tour, available on Mondays and Saturdays.
For Book Lovers: Rare Books & The Biblio-Mat Vending Machine
Head to The Monkey's Paw bookstore to find an only-in-Toronto attraction: a book vending machine that dispenses random vintage books for $3 each. You'll find many other unusual books inside the bookstore, which is separated into these categories: absurd, arcane, beautiful, and macabre. Book lovers will also want to check out the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, which holds over 700,000 books and manuscripts - including many from ancient times and the Middle Ages. See Shakespeare's First Folio and even ancient Egyptian papyrus in this whimsical book wonderland, which feels like it's straight out of Harry Potter.
Wild & Wonderful Museums: Shoes, Sugar & Textiles
Explore your unique interests at niche museums that will delight the fervent enthusiast, including:
- Bata Shoe Museum - Love shoes? See more than 13,000 pairs of them at this delightful museum, which covers almost 5,000 years of shoe history. Designed like an open shoebox, the museum is full of beautiful and outrageous styles - including bear fur shoes, chestnut-crushing boots, and Chinese silk slippers.
- Redpath Sugar Museum - Those with a sweet tooth will love to see a mountain of sugar at this industrial factory, with exhibits that offer insight about the history of sugar production. Call ahead to make your appointment.
- Textile Museum of Canada - See colorful textiles from around the world including ceremonial garments, embroidered fabrics, and woven carpets. It's a cross-cultural journey told in natural fibers - and the gift shop has great handcrafted works for sale.
Tour a Castle in the Middle of Toronto: Casa Loma
Once upon a time, a multimillionaire and electricity industry magnate decided to build a European-style chateau right in the middle of the city. His private, Gothic Revival-style castle would have almost 100 rooms, a 10,000-book library, and mahogany stables with his horses' names engraved in pure gold. He went bankrupt and had to sell the chateau at an enormous loss - but you can see the opulent home on a guided tour. Many of its original furnishings and features remain, including secret passageways, a shooting range, and three bowling alleys. Wander through the beautiful conservatory under a stained-glass ceiling and walk through the Great Hall under wooden chandeliers. The mansion also features frequent special events and a high-end steakhouse.
Blow Off Steam at the Rage Room
Feel like smashing something? Grab a sledgehammer or a baseball bat and go to town at the Rage Room. located in North York. Take out all your stress, anger, and rage on inanimate objects like dishes, tables, wine glasses - you can even bring your own belongings and smash them, too! The Rage Room experience starts at $20 for 30 minutes and includes full protective gear.
Weird Homes: The Half-House, The Cube House & The Tiny House
Lovers of odd-ball architecture will find plenty to love in Toronto, from impressive urban structures to funky, modern designs. These three residences deserve special note for their bold character and endless personality.
- The Half-House - Dating from the late 19th century, this half of a row home was once part of a line of duplexes. All the owners sold out to developers - except for one, so they cut it in half very, very carefully. (54 Saint Patrick Street)
- The Cube House - It looks like a giant pair of green dice, but it's actually a private home inspired by cube architecture from the Netherlands. (104 Eastern Avenue)
- The Tiny House - Built on a lot that was supposed to be a road, this tiny home is about the width of a vehicle. It's the smallest house in Toronto. (Day Avenue)
Make Toronto Yours with a Uniquely Luxurious Harbourfront Getaway
Toronto is a fantastic urban playground to explore whatever piques your interest and ignites your curiosity - from shoes to chateaus. Put yourself in the heart of the city and discover all the oddball treasures when you stay at our spectacular luxury hotel. InterContinental Toronto Centre is located moments from the waterfront and near all the off-the-beaten-path things to do in Toronto. Nearby our downtown hotel you'll also find top attractions like the CN Tower, Scotiabank Arena, and Rogers Centre. Discover personalized service and a uniquely luxurious travel experience during your stay, from sumptuous suites with amazing views to exquisite culinary adventures. Connect with the true spirit of the city and plan a one-of-a-kind Toronto vacation.