If you are looking for something to do this summer, insidetoronto.com offers you a list of city happenings that are free - or close to it.
There is enough going on to keep the kids - and yourself - occupied for the rest of the summer.
Allan Gardens Conservatory, 19 Horticultural Ave., M5A 2P2; 416-392-7288, Press No. 1; http://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/tours/allangardens.htm
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost is free.
Allan Gardens Conservatory is more than 100 years old and has more than 16,000 square feet of greenhouse area featuring tropical plants from all over the world from palm trees to cacti. There are also seasonal plantings throughout the year.
Enjoy 60 minute tours of these historic greenhouses from September through May. The fall splendor of chrysanthemums and seasonal plantings of poinsettia in December make this a memorable tour for all groups. From mid-January to the end of March, the fragrant spring bulb show is displayed.
Groups can pre-book a special guided tour of Allan Gardens for $8 per person and a minimum of $25. The meeting place is the domed palm house of Allan Gardens. To book call 416-397-1366.
Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W.; 416-979-6648; www.ago.net
Hours, various times
Cost, Free After Three!, Ontario high school students with valid ID receive free general admission Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 5:30 p.m.; teachers with a valid ID from the Ontario College of Teachers receive free general admission; and free admission to the collection galleries Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Founded in 1900 by a group of private citizens as the Art Museum of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, with a physical facility of 583,000 square feet. The AGO expanded it facility in 2008 with an innovative architectural design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor St. W. M5S 1W7, 416-979-7799; www.batashoemuseum.ca
Hours, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Thursday when it's open until 8 p.m. Various admission prices. Thursdays from 5 and 8 p.m. admission is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $5.
More than 10,000 shoes are on exhibit in architect Raymond Moriyama's award-winning four-storey structure.
The museum celebrates the style and function of footwear in four galleries featuring footwear that ranges from Chinese-bound foot shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut-crushing clogs and glamourous platforms. More than 4,500 years of history and a collection of 20th-century celebrity shoes are reflected in the semi-permanent exhibition,
You don't have to drive north to enjoy water. Toronto has a number of beaches to enjoy, some of them receiving Blue Flag status. Blue Flag is an internationally recognized eco-label awarded to beaches that achieve high standards in 29 criteria including water quality, environmental education, environmental management and safety and services. Visit www.toronto.ca/beach/ for a listing of beaches as well as water quality reports.
David Pecut Square, 55 John St. at King Street; www.toronto.ca/indulge/davidpecautsquare.htm
Induldge Your Senses runs Thursdays from May 26 to Oct. 20 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with performances from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Downsview Park; 1-35 Carl Hall Rd.; 416-952-2222; www.downsviewpark.ca
Downsview Park is active year round with events, sports, businesses, filming, urban agriculture, camps and school and stewardship programs. Downsview Park is building a park while being a park. Downsview Park offers free Friday night movie nights under the stars.
Evergreen Brickworks, 550 Bayview Ave.; 416-596-0404; http://ebw.evergreen.ca
Hours: Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and holidays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost is free. There is lots to do at the Brickworks, including the Weston Family Quarry Garden, 40-acre area has been transformed into a thriving green space; and the kilns, a 52,000-square-foot area that includes three long tunnel kilns and six single-track drying tunnels.
The Guild Inn, 191 Guildwood Pkwy., M1E 1P5; www.toronto.ca/culture/the_guild.htm
The Guild encompasses several historic buildings inside a public park. Guildwood Park forms a naturalized frame around the formal Guild Inn Gardens, within which one may find the historic Guild Inn (now closed to the public) and several other historic structures. Surrounding these buildings are more than 70 architectural fragments and sculptures within the formal gardens.
High Park, 1873 Bloor St. W., www.highparktoronto.com
High Park is Toronto's largest public park featuring hiking trails, sports facilities, diverse vegetation, a beautiful lakefront, convenient parking, easy public transit access, a dog park, zoo, playgrounds for children, a couple of eateries, greenhouses, picnic areas and more. Events happen throughout the year.
Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.; www.toronto.ca/city_hall_tour/nps.htm
Music and arts are alive and well in the city. Every Wednesday in the summer at Nathan Phillips Square, enjoy shopping for locally grown fresh produce, flowers and baked goods at the city's famous, weekly farmers market while listening to great Canadian music at free noon-hour concerts that run from noon to 2 p.m.
The farmers market runs goes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Oct. 19 (except Sept. 28).
Visit www.toronto.ca/special_events/wednesdays/2011/index.htm for details. Tasty Thursdays takes place at Nathan Phillips Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Enjoy freshly grilled meals from a variety of Toronto restaurants along with live concerts from noon to 2 p.m., featuring music from around the world including roots, blues, reggae and Latin sounds.
Queen's Park, Legislative Building tour, 416-325-7500; http://ww.ontla.on.ca/web/go2.jsp?locale=en&Page=/visitor-resources/general_tours&menuItem=visitor_information_tours
Hours: Fall, winter and spring, Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed weekends and holidays; summer hours (Victoria Day to Labour Day), Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4;30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Riverdale Farm, 201 Winchester St.; 416-392-6794; www.friendsofriverdalefarm.com/tips.htm
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost is free. Tour the Riverdale Farm's scenic 7.5 acres location along pathways through wooded areas, around ponds and into butterfly-herb-flower-vegetable gardens. Visit the farm animals and chat with the farmer during daily chores.
Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, M5S 2C6; 416-586-8000; www.rom.on.ca
The Royal Ontario Museum is among the world's leading museums of natural history and world cultures. Cost is various prices. Admission is free for post-secondary students Tuesdays; free on Wednesdays after 3:30 p.m.; and half price (general admission) Fridays at 4:30 p.m.
Scarborough Bluffs; foot of Brimley Road; www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails-a-z/scarborough-bluffs-trail/
The Scarborough Bluffs stretch for about 14 kilometres along the Lake Ontario shore from the eastern beaches of Toronto in the west to West Hill in the east. At their highest at Cliffside, the bluffs rise 65 metres above the water. The bluffs have been formed primarily by erosion of the packed clay soil. In some places, such as the western end of Bluffers Park, the erosion has shaped the clay into interesting shapes.
Toronto Island; via Ferrydocks at 9 Queen's Quay W.; 416-397-2628; www.toronto.ca/parks/island/
Ferry info: Ferries to the Toronto Islands leave from the Ferrydocks at 9 Queen's Quay W., which is located south of Queen's Quay between Yonge Street and Bay Street.
Cost for the ferry is $6.50 for adults; various other prices for paid attractions
A waterfront picnic park made up of several islands with features such as the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, Franklin Children's Garden and Centreville. Recreation facilities include volleyball nets, beaches, boat and bike rentals, restaurants, cafes and snack bars, Far Enough Farm, Centreville Amusement Area, wading pools, tennis courts, softball diamonds, disc golf course and public boat moorings.
Communities across the city boast green spaces for people to enjoy. Whether you are looking for a perfect picnic spot (www.toronto.ca/parks/facilities/index.htm) or discovering a splash pad (www.toronto.ca/parks/prd/facilities/splash-pads/index.htm), there are lots of things to do for free in the city.
Toronto Sculpture Garden, 115 King St. E.; 416-515-9658; www.torontosculpturegarden.com
Hours: daily, 9 8 a.m. to dusk
Cost is free. This small, urban park in the downtown core serves as a testing ground for visual artists to experiment with public space and to address issues of architectural scale, materials and context. It has given some artists their first opportunity to work out-of-doors, to experiment with the challenges of siting work within an urban environment and it has provided them with critical experience for future public art projects. Located near Church Street and opposite St. James' Cathedral.
Yonge-Dundas Square, southeast corner of Yonge and Dundas streets; www.ydsquare.ca/
You'll discover a range of activities on the square from community celebrations and theatrical events to concerts and promotions. The square hosts lunchtime Live!, free Wednesday noon-hour concerts (12:30 to 1:30 p.m.) with some of Canada's best jazz, country, bossa nova, rock n' roll.
York U Observatory; http://astronomy.blog.yorku.ca/public-viewing/ and http://astronomy.blog.yorku.ca/
Note: Due to ongoing construction in the observatory vicinity, the observatory can only be accessed from the sky-walk bridge on the third floor of Petrie Science and Engineering (PSE) building.
Hours: Wednesdays October to March from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Wednesdays from April to September from 9:30 to 11 p.m.
Cost is free. Donations accepted. Due to space restrictions, the observatory is unable to accommodate large groups. Email email@example.com to schedule a private tour. On public viewing nights, visitors are able to observe selected celestial objects in addition to engaging in various on-hand presentations. The observatory is open regardless of weather conditions, even though viewing through the telescope is limited to clear skies. If it's cloudy, drop in for a slide show and a tour featuring both of of their telescopes.
Movies Under the Stars
Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W. M5J 2G8; 416-973-4600; http://media.harbourfrontcentre.com/mediaDisplay.php?id=931
Harbourfront Centre presents Longo's Free Flicks Tuesdays until Aug, 9 at the WestJet Stage at dusk (about 9 p.m.). Films highlight the experience of living in a different city. This year's Longo's Free Flicks film programming also explores The Big IDEA of "Hot Spot." This theme is programmed into each Harbourfront Centre event from Victoria Day to Thanksgiving to bring together the artistic traditions from Toronto and around the globe. Movies are free and will be screened rain or shine.
Dancing in the Dark
Yonge-Dundas Square offers free movie screenings Tuesdays at sunset.
TIFF in the Park
Every Wednesday at sunset beginning in July, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the Toronto Entertainment District BIA present free outdoor screenings of classic screen musicals at David Pecaut Square, at King and John streets, (formerly Metro Square).
Movies in the Park
Films begin at dusk and are shown at Riverdale Park East, 550 Broadview Ave. Movies are set to air July 24, Aug. 14 and Aug. 21. Visit http://moviesinthepark.wordpress.com/about/ for details.
The Downtown Yonge BIA hosts downtown walking tours daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 8 to Labour Day. Look for the Discovery Team Downtown Tours (and tour guides who speak 10 different languages) at the brightly coloured kiosk at the southwest corner of Yonge and Dundas streets.
Royal Ontario Museum walks take place from May to October, exploring architecture, art and history all over the city. Most tours take place on Wednesday evenings or Sunday afternoons. Walks do not begin at the ROM. Visit ROM.on.ca for details.
From May to October, thousands of people attend the free neighbourhood walking tours that cover all areas of the city. The walks tell the stories behind the people, landscapes and historic buildings that bring Toronto's neighbourhoods to life. Tours are free. There are no reservations required. Visit www.heritagetoronto.org/discover-toronto/walk for a list of walks.
The Toronto Green Community started Lost Rivers Walks to help people discover the world of the watershed beneath our feet. Bits of the city's history, both natural and built, are included. Those interested can take a virtual lost creeks walk, or use the information to take a self-guided tour. Visit www.lostrivers.ca/index.htm
[Murmur] is a documentary oral history project that records stories and memories told about specific geographic locations. Organizers collect and make accessible people's personal histories and anecdotes about the places in their neighborhoods that are important to them. In each of these locations, a [murmur] sign with a telephone number is placed so anyone can call with a mobile phone to listen to that story while standing in that exact spot. Some stories suggest the listener walk around, following a certain path through a place, while others allow a person to wander with both their feet and their gaze.
Visit http://murmurtoronto.ca/about.php for details.
Water in the City Walk
Learn about Riverdale's urban history, lost streams, storm sewer infrastructure and its impacts on the Don River by using Riversides' self-guided tour booklet.
This two-hour walk serves as a short course on individual source water protection and what homeowners can do right at home to help protect and restore the Don River. All walks start at Chester subway station and end at the Chester Spring Marsh about two hours later. The walk covers occasionally difficult/wet terrain so please wear suitable footwear and dress appropriately.
Visit www.riversides.org/index.php?cat=3&page1=11 for details.
Walk along any Toronto street to see unique buildings and houses.
Toronto Special events
Visit www.toronto.ca/special_events/index.htm for special events the City of Toronto hosts.