The wide selection of marvelous museums in Toronto offers visitors the chance to be inspired by new ideas, appreciate unique perspectives and do something a little different on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Come rain or shine, paying a visit to a museum is a surefire way to keep busy and have a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of the big city (even if only for a few hours).
Push that lunch or dinner reservation back and swing by one of the many first-class museums that Toronto has to offer. Whether you’re a seasoned museum veteran or a curious first-timer, our list of must-visit Toronto museums is sure to help you find the best spot to kill a few hours in and do something a little cultural in Ontario’s capital.
1. Royal Ontario Museum, Yorkville
Canada’s largest museum is home to a stunning collection of 13 million artworks and artifacts. Japanese samurai swords, Chinese sculptures, Arabic scripts, Ancient Greece antiquities and even the works of Canada’s First Nations peoples make up just a small part of this museum’s vast collection. You name it, Royal Ontario Museum has probably got it.
When visiting, head over to the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs and hang out with prehistoric creatures for the day. Visitors can stand under the jaws of a mighty T.rex, check out the 12-metre wingspan of a Quetzalcoatlus and marvel at the largest real fossil dinosaur skeleton mounted in Canada. Who needs Jurassic Park when you’ve got the ROM?
📍100 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6
2. Bata Shoe Museum, University
Slip on your finest footwear and take a stroll to the wonderful Bata Shoe Musuem. Visitors can explore this five-story shoe-obsessed haven that was originally kitted out with the private collection of footwear industry executive Sonja Bata. You can even take a look at their collection of shoes that once cushioned the famous feet of a bunch of high-profile celebrities including Toronto’s very own Drizzy Drake.
📍327 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1W7
3. Art Gallery of Ontario, Kensington-Chinatown
Art Gallery of Ontario is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon in for all you creative art buffs out there. With Douglas-fir glulam arches, spectacular projecting canopy and a signature winding staircase, the building is an architectural masterpiece in itself. In addition to the building’s astonishing architecture, the Art Gallery of Ontario boasts an outstanding 100,000-piece-strong art collection. Cutting-edge abstract pieces and magnificent works from the Renaissance and the Baroque eras make up just some of the brilliant pieces of art that the museum has on show.
📍317 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G4
4. Museum of Contemporary Art, Yonge-Bay Corridor
Immerse yourself in the wacky world of modern art at the Museum of Contemporary Art (or MoCa for short). The museum takes up the first five floors of the historic Tower Automotive Building and features the work of over 1000 artists from around the world. From enthralling installations of large-scale sculptural works to politically-charged murals, MoCa puts on temporary exhibitions that showcase exciting modern art for a limited time only. Experience the abstract, interesting and down right weird at this art sanctuary for all things contemporary.
📍158 Sterling Rd #100, Toronto, ON M6R 2B7
5. Casa Loma, Midtown
While not solely dedicated to displaying artifacts or artwork, we couldn’t not mention Toronto’s very own Gothic-style castle more commonly known as Casa Loma. From hosting private corporate events to providing the perfect backdrop for couples to tie the knot, this stunning building bears resemblance to an over-the-top European château. For those on the hunt to learn something new, Casa Loma hosts permanent exhibits including an antique car collection as well as a fascinating photo exposition. Not only are these exhibitions engrossing and educational, but they also make for a great excuse to check out this architectural gem located in midtown Toronto.
📍1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON M5R 1X8
6. Gardiner Museum, Yorkville
With an extensive collection of earthenware and porcelain objects, Gardiner Museum dedicates itself to all things ceramic. Take in the best of pottery from around the world and have a walk around the on-site terracotta house that’s fitted with furniture, household appliances and everyday objects made completely out of clay. Looking for something a little hands on? Sign up for the museum’s regular clay classes to design and sculpt your own piece of pottery that would give Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore a run for their money.
📍111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C7
7. Aga Khan Museum, North York
Opened in 2014, Aga Khan Museum is the first museum solely dedicated to Islamic arts, culture and civilizations. This rectilinear building is a fabulous testament to contemporary architecture, but don’t be fooled by the modern exterior of this spectacular museum. Inside, artifacts and historic objects that date back over 1000 years ago are enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year. Manuscripts, instruments, ceramics and more are all showcased in large corridors and exhibition halls that have been designed to resourcefully diffuse sunlight throughout the building in ingenious ways. In fact, the way the light shines onto the museum’s extraordinary collections is truly something to gawk at in itself.
📍77 Wynford Dr, North York, ON M3C 1K1
8. Hockey Hall of Fame, Yonge-Bay Corridor
Come on, we couldn’t make this list without at least mentioning Canada’s favorite pastime. There are few spots more perfect for hockey lovers to visit in Toronto than the Hockey Hall of Fame. In addition to showcasing newspaper cuttings, traditional sporting equipment and timeless jerseys, this museum offers a truly interactive experience for fans of the sport to enjoy. Go one-on-one with famed hockey players at the shoot out simulation and see The Stanley Cup in the flesh at this museum that pays tribute to the hockey greats of the past and present.
📍30 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5E 1X8