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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

48 Hours of Fun on a Budget in Toronto

In this blog series I show you how easy it is to budget travel anywhere and I also give you a quick overview of a new city each time in a brief 48-hour itinerary.

Next year we’ve decided to vacation in Toronto. We’ve only ever been to B.C. in Canada, so this will be a new experience, plus an interesting destination that I doubt many people think about. We were going to make this a friends vacation, but they can’t make it, so we are going to go anyway and maybe do a second leg in NYC, because why not? So, if you’ve been thinking about heading North, here’s my plan for spending two days in the city of Toronto. (Obviously, I’ll be spending around a week there, but maybe you can drive up for the weekend, or need a starting point.)

Toronto travel tips
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Day 1
{CityPASS now has the TorontoPASS which could save you up to 43% on 5 of the city’s most popular attractions.} Let’s assume you got in last night or early this morning, so you can hit the ground running. Start the day off with a healthy and unique breakfast at Cora’s. The meals can be large, so if you aren’t a huge breakfast person, you can easily split an entrée. Most range between $10-12. Look to spend around $20 for 2 if you split something and have coffee/juice.

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Make sure you’ve packed your camera today, because you’re going to head to CN Tower now and get a bird’s eye view of Toronto. It has two observation levels, one with a glass floor, at over 1,100 feet above the street. If you buy your tickets online, these will cost you $44 per adult, but it’s included in your CityPASS.

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Walk the few blocks to Union Station and take the train to the Royal Ontario Museum. This is where you’ll check out dinosaurs, artifacts from Egypt and Canada’s history. It’s Canada’s largest museum of world cultures and natural history. In between your browsing of exhibits, head to the museum’s café for a bite for lunch. You can get all the usual easy foods like pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs, or you can get something more unique like chicken schwarma or veggie masala. Two people can eat for around $25. Admission for the museum is $17 per person, but this is also included in the CityPASS.

If you’ve purchased a CityPASS, I suggest heading back towards the CN Tower and visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. It’s open late and is Canada’s largest indoor aquarium. There are dive shows each day, local marine life and so much more. This is great if you have kids, or just a lover of stuff in the water. If you didn’t purchase a CityPASS and this doesn’t sound appealing, head to the Distillery Historic District. It’s a no-car zone and the architecture is fantastic. You won’t find big box stores here, as they aren’t allowed, so you’ll be surrounded by pure Toronto. The District is free, but the aquarium is around $32 per person if you pay separately.

Save some bucks on dinner and hit up Nari Sushi to get some fish to go and enjoy it in your hotel room while you relax and prepare for tomorrow. You can pick up three 8-pc rolls for around $15.

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Day 2
Make sure your camera’s charged and you have a fresh memory card in it, or you have a backup battery for your phone, today you’re going to explore the fabulous Casa Loma. I’ll just tell you it’s a castle, because what? You can get there right when they open and head to the café for breakfast. They serve everything from muffins to waffles, so you can grab something light or fill up before walking the grounds and exploring hidden passages(!!!). Admission to Casa Loma is $25 per person and a meal in the café for two can run around $20. Casa Loma is included in your CityPASS.

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Head back to the city and go straight to St. Lawrence Market. Browse stalls of foods, plants, jewelry and more. There’s even an art gallery! Cobble together a lunch from finds at the market or grab something from a stall who offers made food for you. The market is free to wander. Plan to spend around $20 for lunch for two.

Walk over to the Harbourfront Centre where you can check out free shows and culture along Lake Ontario. You’ll find a wide range of foods here as well from a variety of local food vendors. Look to spend around $20 for two.

Head back to your hotel and pack to leave tomorrow. If you do everything on the list, you’ll spend around $292 CAD ($226US) – with the aquarium, it’s more like $276 US. If you purchase theCityPASS, you’re looking at $237 US.

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There are plenty of cool things to do in Toronto that aren’t on this itinerary. I also want to check out The Lockhart, a Harry Potter-themed bar, have tea at the Kitten and Bear and visit the magical Library at Osgood Hall. Oh, and check out The Danforth (or Greektown), because I’m a nerd and love the line in Barenaked Ladies’ Old Apartment
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