The tallest freestanding tower in the Western Hemisphere, this landmark stretches 1,815 feet and 5 inches high and marks Toronto with its distinctive silhouette. The CN Tower is tall for a reason: prior to the opening of this telecommunications tower in 1976, so many tall buildings had been built over the previous decades that lower radio and TV transmission towers had trouble broadcasting. The C$63 million building weighs 130,000 tons and contains enough concrete to build a curb along Highway 401 from Toronto to Kingston, some 262 km (162 miles) to the east. It's worth a visit if the weather is clear, despite the steep fee. Six glass-front elevators zoom up the outside of the tower at 20 feet per second, and the ride takes less than a minute—a rate of ascent similar to that of a jet taking off. Each elevator has one floor-to-ceiling glass wall—three opaque walls make the trip easier on anyone prone to vertigo—and all have glass floor panels for the dizzying thrill of watching
the earth disappear before your eyes.
There are four observation decks. The Glass Floor Level, which is exactly what it sounds like, is about 1,122 feet above the ground. This may be the most photographed indoor location in the city—lie on the transparent floor and have your picture taken from above like countless visitors before you. Don't worry—the glass floor can support 85,000 pounds. Above is the Look Out Level, at 1,136 feet; one floor more, at 1,150 feet, is the excellent 360 Revolving Restaurant. If you're here to dine, your elevator fee is waived. At an elevation of 1,465 feet, the Sky Pod is the world's highest public observation gallery. All the levels provide spectacular panoramic views of Toronto, Lake Ontario, and the Toronto Islands. On really clear days you may see Lake Simcoe to the north and the mist rising from Niagara Falls to the south. Adrenaline junkies can try the EdgeWalk attraction, which allows harnessed tower-goers to roam "hands free" around a 5-foot ledge outside the tower's main pod. Reservations are required.
On the ground level, the Marketplace at the Tower has 12,500 square feet of shopping space with quality Canadian travel items and souvenirs, along with a shop selling Inuit art. There's also the Fresh Market Cafe, with seating for 300; the Maple Leaf Cinema, which screens the 20-minute documentary The Height of Excellence, about the building of the Tower; and the Themed Arcade, with the latest in virtual-game experiences and the Himalamazon motion picture ride based loosely on the Himalayan and Amazon regions. Peak visiting hours are 11 to 4; you may wish to work around them, particularly on weekends. Ticket packages get more expensive with more attractions included.