Think Toronto
By Julie Nguyen
February 15, 2005
 
Have you ever sat at home one night just wondering what you could do around town? Thinking to yourself that you mustíve done everything imaginable and now Toronto has become so boring? Well think again, the city of Toronto has so much to offer and all it asks in return is your participation. There are many things that you could do around town for gratis (Yes, thatís right FREE!), or for a very nominal amount of cash. So instead of deciding to camp out in front of the television, I encourage you to get outside and do some exploring around Toronto you never know what you may be missing out on.

Hereís a list of some of the things Iíve discovered that you should definitely check out:
 
Where: The Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West
When: Free Wednesday 6 to 8:30 pm
Why: If you love any kind of art from oil paintings to contemporary, this place has it all.
Exception: Specialty exhibitions are not free.
Link: www.ago.net
 
Where: Bata Shoe Museum
327 Bloor St. West
When: Thursday 5 to 8pm
Why: Learn about the origins of shoes, and all sorts of different styles and types from all time periods. Also, there is a really cool section of celebrity shoes on display.
Exception: None to date.
Link: http://www.batashoemuseum.ca

Where: The Chum City Building
When: 1pm and 3pm
Why: I believe most of us can say weíve walked on Queen St. passed this building wondering what it looks like inside, and how pretty cool it would be to work there. Well I can safely say Iíve been inside a few times working there, and you arenít missing much. But if youíre curious at all of how it all works from behind the scenes, you should definitely book an appointment for their free tour.
Exceptions: You have to call in advance to schedule a tour, with a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 40 (not saying that you personally have to gather that many people, just that they only will have the tour if they have the minimum number of people). Also, everyone must be at least 10 years old.
Link: http://toronto.citytv.com/about/faq
Check out the question ďHow do I get a tour?Ē The number is (416) 591-7400 ext 4900.

Where: Doors Open Toronto (Various locations around Toronto)
When: May 28th and 29th, 2005 (Occurs annually)
Why: Two days of exploration where many of Torontoís prominent buildings are open for viewing, many are normally closed to the public. And itís all free! Volunteers will explain the architecture and history to you while giving you a tour around the place. In a couple of buildings, you get to go all the way to the top floor and check out the city, so be sure to bring a camera with you.
Exceptions: You have to plan out your day and exactly which buildings you want to see, thereís so much to see and so little time. For some buildings you might have to wait in line for a period of time, but itíll be well worth it.
Link: www.doorsopen.org

Where: The Ontario Science Centre
770 Don Mills Road
When: Admission ranges from $7-$20, depending on whether you plan to watch an IMAX movie, or just to see the exhibits or both.
Why: When was the last time you went to the Science Centre? Not only is the Science Centre so much fun with its interactive exhibits, but you are also learning the scientific background to what youíre doing. In addition, they have this really awesome machine where it takes your picture and gives you an approximation of what you would look like in your golden years. Exception: Parking is $8
Link: www.ontariosciencecentre.ca

Where: The Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen's Park (a.k.a. Museum Subway Station)
When: Free Fridays from 4:30 to 9:30pm and also one hour before closing everyday.
Why: Itís a museum! (Need I say more?) They got everything from dinosaurs, to classic weapons, to mummies and all kinds of other great stuff. Plus, they almost completed a 200 million dollar renovation. A new special exhibit is about to make its debut at the ROM from March 12 to September 5th, 2005 called Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origin of Flight.
Exception: Specialty exhibitions are not free.
Link: www.rom.on.ca

Where: St. Lawrence Market (Market Gallery)
95 Front Street East
When: Free from Wednesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to
4 p.m. and Sunday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Why: This is home to Torontoís first city hall. On the first floor there is a market where you can purchase things like produce, meat and baked goods. On the second floor there is an exhibit regarding the first city hall, which include display cases of artifacts, some photos and even the original Mayorís chair from the late 19th century.
Exception: None to date.
Link: http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/gallery/index.html

Where: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (a.k.a tsoundcheck)
The Roy Thomson Hall 60 Simcoe Street
When: Various times and performances
Why: A variety of live music performances by the TSO. Trust me this is completely worth it (I go pretty often, so you might see me there).
Exception: For ages 15-29 and you can buy only up to two tickets including yourself. Tickets are 10 bucks, compared to your average 100 dollar tickets. You have to sign up to be a member (donít worry, itís free), and you get an orange tsoundcheck card that you have to pick up there.
Link: www.tsoundcheck.com
 
There are many other things to do around the city for free like ice skating at Nathan Phillip Square, or if youíre too lazy to travel downtown you could also skate at your local neighborhood skating arena. In the case of Jane and Finch residents, you could check out the Grandravine Community Centre or John Booth Arena. Or you could possible go out for a night of local theatre, not necessarily the high budget productions like the performances at The Princess of Wales or The Royal Alexandra. Toronto has many small to medium size theatre companies where a show can range from $8 or a bit more, price varies depending on each theatre because they got to pay their bills too.

Well, Iíve just described to you a few of the many things you could do around town for next to nothing. There is much more out there, you just got to keep an eye out and educate yourself on what this great city has to offer. A couple of great sources I use would be the news, www.toronto.com and word of mouth.

Always make sure you double check to see if these activities are still going on and what the exceptions are. Some places may make changes without a notice. If you canít make it on the free days I still encourage you to visit these fine places some other time, just so you can say that youíve been there and done that. And also, it would be great if you guys took the TTC to all these places, not just because you save on parking and gas but also itís much better for our environment in the long run. Remember we only have one planet so try and take care of it and do your part to help!
 

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