Toronto is Canada’s largest city and a world leader in such areas as business, finance, technology, entertainment and culture. Its large population of immigrants from all over the globe has also made Toronto one of the most multicultural cities in the world, with more than 100 languages spoken on the streets daily. Toronto also has a ton of family-friendly and wheelchair accessible things to do, all within easy reach of its public transportation system. Here are my picks for the best accessible things to do in Toronto.
1. CN Tower. Defining the Toronto skyline at 553.33 meters (1,815 feet), the CN Tower is Canada’s most recognizable and celebrated icon. The CN Tower is an internationally renowned architectural triumph, an engineering Wonder of the Modern World, world-class entertainment and dining destination and a must see for anyone visiting Toronto. Each year, over 1.5 million people visit Canada’s National Tower to take in the breathtaking views and enjoy all the CN Tower has to offer. When the 44th and final piece of the CN Tower’s antenna was bolted into place April 2, 1975, the CN Tower joined the ranks of 17 other great structures that had previously held the title of World’s Tallest Free-Standing Structure, a record the Tower would hold for an incredible 34+ years. The nearest accessible parking is at the Rogers Centre. Reservations must be booked in advance. Contact Rogers Centre at (416) 341-3004, Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a Wheel-Trans designated stop at Gate 7 of the Rogers Centre. The Bremner Boulevard entrance provides barrier-free access to the CN Tower. To enter, use the automatic door on the left. The distance from the street to the main entrance is approximately 141m / 435ft. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come-first-serve basis for use onsite, and ramps provide wheelchair access to seating areas. There are accessible washroom facilities on each level.
2. Ripley’s Aquarium. Explore the Waters of the World at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto at the base of the CN Tower, the aquarium is Toronto’s must-see attraction for tourists and locals of all ages. Immerse yourself in a world of 20,000 aquatic animals and discover your own underwater adventure. The Aquarium features North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel with more than 5.7 million litres of water and over 100 interactive opportunities. Get up close and personal with several touch exhibits featuring horseshoe crabs, sharks, scarlet cleaner shrimp, and stingrays as well as daily dive shows every 2 hours. This awe-inspiring attraction consists of nine carefully curated galleries showcasing a cross section of saltwater and freshwater environments from around the world – starting with species from Toronto’s backyard, the Great Lakes basin. For guests with restricted mobility, wheelchairs and families with strollers, there are ramps located on the west and east side of the building. They offer two parking spots for holders of valid accessible parking passes on the east side of the building. They cannot be reserved and are available on a first come first serve basis. The Aquarium is wheelchair accessible. A limited number of manual wheelchairs are available at Guest Services free of charge. Staff would need a piece of photo ID to hold onto until the wheelchair is returned.
3. Toronto Railway Museum. The Toronto Railway Museum is dedicated to preserving the physical legacy, history and experience of rail transportation in Toronto and Ontario. The museum encompasses Roundhouse Park with Stall 17 as the temporary home of the railway simulator and small artifact display. Don Station houses our gift shop and ticket sales for our Miniature Train ride (there is a half-step to enter. Explore the grounds to find all the interpretive plaques! While the trains themselves are not accessible, it’s very easy to roll around the museum grounds and Park to see them up close. If you have children who played with or watched Chuggington, you’ll see many familiar trains on display!
4. Royal Ontario Museum. Founded in 1914, the Royal Ontario Museum showcases art, culture and nature from around the world and across the ages. Among the top 10 cultural institutions in North America, Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum is home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, featured in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces. As the country’s preeminent field research institute and an international leader in new discoveries, the ROM plays a vital role in advancing our understanding of the artistic, cultural and natural world. Combining its original heritage architecture with the contemporary Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the ROM serves as a national landmark, and a dynamic cultural destination in the heart of Toronto for all to enjoy. Attendants supporting persons with disabilities receive free admission to the ROM to the level of admission purchased by the person they are supporting. Persons with disabilities may request an attendant ticket or present an Access2Entertainment card at the admissions desk to avail of this policy. The Michael Lee Chin Bloor Street Entrance features automatic sliding doors and a 2% slope from Bloor Street into the ROM galleries. The Weston Queen’s Park Entrance features a ramp and push button automatic doors. The President’s Choice School Entrance for school groups is equipped with a ramp and push button automatic doors. The ROM has a limited number of manual wheelchairs available at coat check, free of charge. Visitors may submit a piece of photo ID to borrow a wheelchair. No reservation is required. The ROM does not provide wheelchair escort services, however visitors may bring in a support person for free.
5. Casa Loma. A prime example of modern Toronto’s commitment to its rich history, Casa Loma was first built in 1914 by financier Sir Henry Pellatt. The castle located in midtown Toronto, is now owned by the City of Toronto and is regarded as a treasured heritage landmark. Today, Casa Loma is one of Toronto’s top tourist attractions and hospitality venues. Each year over 350,000 visitors tour Casa Loma and the estate gardens. A perfect backdrop for special occasions, Casa Loma also plays host to over 250 private events annually. The unique architecture has also made it a highly desirable location for film, television and photo shoots. Persons with special needs pay regular admission; escort(s) is admitted for free. Casa Loma’s entrance is located at One Austin Terrace. The main door is wheelchair accessible when both front doors are open. The wheelchair ramp has a handrail. All exhibit rooms on the first, second and third floor are wheelchair accessible. The only exceptions are: The Queen’s Own Rifles Room and Pellatt Room located on the third floor, and The Servant’s Room located between the second and third floor. The basement, second and third floor of Casa Loma are accessible by elevator. The elevator is staff operated and only used for visitors who are unable to climb the stairs. The lower garden terrace of Casa Loma is accessible by the East Garden gate. As well, the lower garden terrace is accessible from the Great Hall and the Library located on the main floor. Accessible washrooms are located on the main floor.
6. Hockey Hall of Fame. Toronto’s premier hockey attraction is home of the Stanley Cup and the best of hockey, you can DO IT ALL…AT THE HALL. Guests can go one-on-one against life-size, animated versions of today’s greatest goalies and shooters, including Carey Price and Sidney Crosby; call the play-by-play of some of hockey’s greatest goals; view hockey flicks like Stanley’s Game Seven, hockey’s first 3D film, in one of the two theatres; get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup; explore the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world – a museum and entertainment destination like no other, the Hockey Hall of Fame is fun for the whole family and kids of all ages! Enter the Hockey Hall of Fame via the main entrance on the Shopping Concourse Level of Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place). It’s located in the southeast corner of the Concourse, nearby the Brookfield Place Food Court. Wheelchairs can reach every area in the Hockey Hall of Fame. For guests with wheelchairs and strollers there is an elevator located beside the steps to the Great Hall. The Hockey Hall of Fame also has one wheelchair for guests that might need it. The wheelchair is available on a first come, first serve basis. There is no charge for this service. Guest is required to leave a current valid Driver’s License or Passport. The ID will be returned to the guest when the wheelchair is returned. The wheelchair cannot leave the Hockey Hall of Fame premises.
7. St. Lawrence Market. Named the best food market in the world by National Geographic in 2012, St. Lawrence Market is a foodie heaven for both Toronto residents and visitors to the city. Filled with history, tasty food, great shops selling artisan goods and novelty items, St. Lawrence Market is the perfect spot to spend your day. Through several restorations and renovations over the years, the three buildings that stand to this day consist of St. Lawrence Market North, which hosts weekly farmer’s markets and antique markets—a tradition since 1803. St. Lawrence Market South is open daily hosting food stalls, restaurants and the St. Lawrence Market Gallery, and lastly, St. Lawrence Hall is an event and office building. Aside from the hundreds of food vendors, selling everything from to-go lunches, to produce, cheeses and meat, St. Lawrence Market is also home to shops selling everything from jewelry, to novelty gifts. St. Lawrence Market (South Market) is wheelchair accessible, having an elevator right inside the lobby.
8. Toronto Zoo. The Toronto Zoo is a living centre for education and science, committed to providing compelling guest experiences and inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats. Did you know that your admission into Canada’s premier Zoo helps support the over 5,000 animals? In addition to having award-winning outdoor and indoor exhibits, education programs, special events, daily Keeper Talks and the Discovery Zone, the Toronto Zoo is home to Canada’s only giant pandas! NEW at the Toronto Zoo, visitors can now see their state-of the-art Wildlife Health Centre. This new facility is the first of its kind in Canada and further enhances the Toronto Zoo as a centre of excellence in high-quality animal care through veterinary and reproductive sciences, nutritional physiology, and conservation and wildlife research. Exclusive to their Zoomobile tour, you can now see first-hand a glimpse into the work done behind-the-scenes. Your Zoomobile ride-all-day wristband gives you access to a viewing gallery featuring the following rooms: Diagnostic Imaging, Treatment, Surgery, Clinical Lab and Endocrinology Lab. The Zoo has many accessible features including accessible parking spaces, all pavilions are wheelchair accessible, free wheelchairs (with refundable deposit), automated entry systems on washroom and pavilion doors, ramps in lieu of stairs, washrooms for people with special needs, accessible rides such as Zoomobile and carousel rides (at a fee) and reserved wheelchair spaces in the Waterside Theatre. In addition, the Zoo has an admission package for people with disabilities whereby a guest with a disability receives a 50% admission discount and, if required, one accompanying support worker receives complimentary admission. A limited number of Electric scooters are available for a rental fee of $35.00 ($30.97 +$4.03 HST), on a first come first serve basis.
9. Ontario Science Centre. The Ontario Science Centre, one of Canada’s most famous cultural attractions, has been creating engaging and thought-provoking experiences in science and technology for 50 years. Visitors of all ages can explore more than 500 interactive experiences in our eight exhibit halls, take in live daily science demonstrations, and view films under Ontario’s only IMAX® Dome theatre. Discover the wonders of the galaxy in our Space Hall, home to a state-of-the-art planetarium. Visit the AstraZeneca Human Edge exhibit hall to learn about the boundaries and thresholds of the human body. Find out what lives in our backyard at the new Cohon Family Nature Escape. The Ontario Science Centre also features a real-life Rainforest, a Science Arcade and a KidSpark discovery area designed just for kids eight and under! The Ontario Science Centre has automated entry doors at the main and school/group entrance. Designated accessible extra-wide parking spaces are available at the Science Centre’s on-site parking lots. Accessible, Family and Special Needs/All-Gender washrooms are available throughout the centre. A limited number of wheelchairs and strollers are available to visitors free of charge at the Level 2 Ticket Desk. All Science Centre levels are accessible by elevator. A limited number of wheelchair seats are available in the Shoppers Drug Mart® OMNIMAX® Theatre and Imperial Oil Auditorium.
10. Rogers Centre. An architectural marvel, the Rogers Centre is home to Major League Baseball’s only Canadian franchise, the Toronto Blue Jays. Opening in 1989, it was the first stadium with a retractable roof allowing any sport to be played indoors or outdoors, rain or shine. For more than 15 years the stadium was known as SkyDome before being renamed. In February 2005, Rogers Communications bought the stadium for $25 million and renamed SkyDome, the Rogers Centre. The Rogers Centre has five levels of seats that extend from right centerfield to homeplate and to left centerfield. All of the lower level seats are moveable and can form a football gridiron, as the Jays share the stadium with the Toronto Argonauts (CFL). The pitchers mound is raised and lowered hydraulically, when the field is not in the baseball mode. Rogers Centre accessible seating areas are located at the top of standard seating sections. Chairs are provided for companions who do not require a wheelchair spot. Accessible seats for Toronto Blue Jays games and Rogers Centre events are available for purchase by phone and on-line through Ticketmaster, or in person at the Rogers Centre Gate 9 Box Office. Although guests with accessible needs may enter Rogers Centre through any open gate, our designated accessible entrance is Gate 7, located on the south side of the building, close to Bremner Boulevard. Guests requiring accessible support are encouraged to enter through Gate 7. Elevators are also available at Rogers Centre Gates 3, 9 and 13. Food and beverage attendants provide in-seat sales and service of a selection of drinks and snacks. While guest assistance is available at any concession locations upon request, dedicated accessible service lines are also available at our Big League Classics concession stands, located at Sections 120 and 128. Elevators are available to provide access between levels, and to various gate lobbies. Guests are welcome to charge their wheelchairs and other items required for accessibility at Rogers Centre Fan Services locations near Sections 120, 135, 212, 236, 508 and 532.