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Staff Picks: 5 Types of Walking Tours

Walking tours are a great way to see the city this spring (photo by Sanjay Parekh)

Now that the weather appears to be warming, it’s a great time to get out and explore the city on foot. Whatever your pleasure, there’s likely a gregarious Torontonian offering a walking tour to your taste. Below, we present our favourites providers of five types of tours.

Neighbourhood Tours
Localized walking tours are inarguably the best way to see Toronto—a city that’s known for its many culturally, historically and architecturally diverse neighbourhoods. If you’d like to learn about the past, follow such noted historians and storytellers as Bruce Bell or Bill Genova as they take you through sites like the Distillery District, Kensington Market and more. Experts from the Royal Ontario Museum also offer popular strolls through somewhat less touristy locales as The Annex and Rosedale, while Tour Guys present even more tailored jaunts, including a graffiti tour. Tap into T.O is a great opportunity for tourists to be lead through the areas of their choice by knowledgeable volunteer Torontonians, who show you their favourite spots and let you discover the real Toronto.

Foodie Tours
Experience the city through your taste buds! Culinary Adventure Co. takes you on a journey through the foods found in villages like Greektown, Little Italy and Little India; you’ll enjoy the different cultural flavours—and top restaurants—that our city has to offer. Super-foodie Trina Hendry takes you behind the scenes of food boutiques and restaurants on her private, customizable ChowBella itineraries. And for those with a sweet tooth, there’s Tasty Tours‘s Trinity Bellwoods chocolate tour, which takes you to the King and Queen West neighbourhoods to explore some of the city’s best purveyors of chocolate.

Art Tours
Visiting Toronto’s commercial galleries is a great way to get an insider’s view of our vibrant visual-art scene, while also learning about the districts in which the galleries are concentrated. The monthly Yorkville Art Gallery Walk takes you to different exhibitions held at fine-art institutions like Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Mayberry Fine Art and more. For a slightly edgier trip, Art InSite offers walking tours of the contemporary galleries in the hip West Queen West neighbourhood; experienced cultural concierge Betty Ann Jordan also offers architecture and design tours that explore historic and modern structures.

Venue Tours
Torontonians are notoriously passionate about their sports teams. Die-hard fans (or the merely intrigued) can tour the Air Canada Centre, which plays host to hockey heroes, basketball players and even music legends; a tour highlight is a visit to the locker rooms of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. Baseball lovers can partake in the Rogers Centre Tour Experience, a behind-the-scenes peek into the world’s first stadium to feature a retractable roof. Once you’ve seen the athletic theatre, why not visit a more traditional stage? The beautifully restored Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is the world’s last fully functioning double-decker theatre. The Canadian Opera Company also offers a tour of its home, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, where you can see what’s behind the curtain—a tour through wardrobe and wig rooms, stars’ dressing rooms, the orchestra pit and more!

Ghost Tours
Canadian history can seem a bit dry at times; Muddy York Walking Tours revives Toronto’s past with fun and thrilling ghost tours! Historian Richard Fiennes-Clinton leads a number of spooky themed strolls that provide insight into the history of the city through myths and legends that haunt the streets. And did you know that the famous St. Lawrence Market used to be a brutal prison? You’ll discover that and more on a Haunted Walk through Old Town Toronto.

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