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Tough Torontonians Don’t Hibernate, They Play

CityPASS — If you think Torontonians hibernate just because of a little cold and snow (okay, a lot of cold and snow), you’d be mistaken.

CN Tower

CN Tower

In fact, some of these folks spent New Year’s Day plunging into Humber Bay for the annual Polar Bear Dip. Participants will tell you there’s nothing like shaking off the cobwebs of the prior night’s New Year’s Eve madness than an invigorating plunge.

For the rest of us, Toronto offers oodles of activities to pass the long winters or just a few days. Visitors will love exploring this crisp, clean, cosmopolitan city no matter what the season.

Zip to the top of CN Tower, which is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World (along with the Panama Canal, Channel Tunnel and Empire State Building, to name a few). Here’s where having a Toronto CityPASS ticket booklet comes in handy. CityPASS holders walk straight past the line to the glass-fronted elevators, and shoot skyward 1,136 feet (346 meters) to the Look Out Level in just 58 seconds. If that isn’t heart-stopping enough, visitors can experience the sensation of standing on a clear, glass floor with a view 1,122 feet (342 meters) straight down.

Once guests reclaim their nerves, they can dine at the upscale, revolving 360 Restaurant, or enjoy bistro fare at Horizons Restaurant, or snag a causal bite at Le Café. There are plenty of shops to peruse and, for an additional fee, there is even a Sky Pod elevator that soars up another 33 stories. A Toronto CityPASS admission ticket to the CN Tower also provides a choice of either The Height of Excellence film or the new film, The Red Rocket: Toronto by Trolley.

Photo credit: Il Fornello Danforth. Winterlicious begins on Jan. 30.

Photo credit: Il Fornello Danforth. Winterlicious begins on Jan. 30.

While visiting Toronto, why not take advantage of all the nearby slopes for some skiing and snowboarding? Enjoy gentle and fun ski runs at Earl Bales and Centennial Park. But if you’re a black diamond skier or boarder, you will have to drive outside the province to find the speed you need.

If staying on level ground is more your cup of tea, explore North America’s “medieval castle,” Casa Loma. Canadian business magnate Sir Henry Pellatt built his immense monument to excess in the early 1900s, and he filled the castle with treasures and art from around the world. The castle also has secret passages, tall towers and luxurious stables. During warmer weather, there are five acres of gardens, sculptures and fountains to enjoy as well. Because Casa Loma is another Toronto CityPASS attraction, CityPASS holders can skip the main ticket line.

Another Toronto CityPASS stop, the Ontario Science Centre, is perfect for those days where being indoors is the only sensible thing to do. It provides a day’s worth of wandering for inquisitive kids and adults. Brain: The Inside Story, is the newest exhibit featuring a forest of tangled wires and flashing lights that evoke trillions of firing synapses inside the brain. Not only are there challenging games and puzzles, the exhibit explores how our brains process language, organize the visual world, and store memories. Children 8 years old and younger will be riveted by the KidSpark discovery playground, and visitors can play invisible harp strings, or create photo images in bubbles. Once again, entry is a breeze with Toronto CityPASS.

Photo credit: Polar Bear Dip on New Year's Day.

Photo credit: Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day.

After all that activity, fuel up during Winterlicious, Toronto’s winter food-lover’s celebration, January 30-February 12. The city’s top chefs and eateries will feature prix fixe meals at all price levels, and special culinary events and opportunities to experience tastes that are out of this world.

If you have a chance, make sure to join fellow Torontonians in gliding around the city’s $4-million outdoor hockey and skating rink. The first of its kind, the Greenwood Park complex has an elaborate new skating trail, and directly south is the covered rink. Even the freewheeling former Mayor Rob Ford made an appearance at its opening and said, “This is amazing.”

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