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Layover in Toronto -- want to leave the airport and see a bit of the city! 3 generations, all girls. What not to miss?

Layover in Toronto -- want to leave the airport and see a bit of the city! 3 generations, all girls. What not to miss?

Aug 26th, 2008, 01:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,167
Layover in Toronto -- want to leave the airport and see a bit of the city! 3 generations, all girls. What not to miss?

Our party of five (grandmother, her two adult daughters and her two 10-year-old granddaughters) have a layover at the Toronto airport from 1:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday in late November, prior to boarding for an overnight flight to London.

None of us has been to Toronto before and we'd love to spend a bit of time seeing something in the city - what do you recommend? Factors: Grandmother will be a nervous wreck if we don't get back to the airport at least 2 to 3 hours before our departing flight, so (assuming all flights arrive and depart on time and luggage makes it where it should go, etc.) we have about 4 hours to get from the airport, see what you recommend, and get back to the airport.

Other factor: I'm interested in the Bata Shoe Museum but since we'll be headed for major museum time in Europe don't want to wear out the girls on museums. Is the Bata museum more like a fun experience for 10-year-old girls, or more like seeing just another museum?

We probably would have time for one sight and one nice meal during our Toronto layover.

So -- any suggestions would be much appreciated!
bakerstreet is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 04:22 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 636
If you have the time, the Bata Shoe Museum is a great idea. I have taken a wide assortment of people there (including 10 year-olds) and they have always enjoyed it. It is both entertaining and educational. And there's a great little gift shop.

Are you flying from somewhere else in Canada to Toronto or from a country outside Canada? If it's the latter, you will have to clear Customs & Immigration in Canada, pick up your luggage and have it re-checked. I haven't done this before but I'm assuming that you can re-check your bags and then leave the airport and come back. (Something you should check, though.)

Although it probably won't take this long, count on spending an hour from your scheduled arrival time to get off the plane, clear Customs and drop your bags off. If you're flying from another Canadian destination, count on it taking you at least 30 minutes to get out the airport doors. Of course, all bets ar off if the flight is delayed (and by late November, there could start to be weather issues). I'm also assuming you'll get boarding passes for the London flight when you board for your first flight.

You should be able to fit the five of you into an airport taxi (which is a town car). The price will be about the same as taking an airport express bus. I think that taking public transit would eat up too much of your layover time. You might be able to persuade the taxi driver to drive you past Casa Loma on your way to the museum.

The Bata Shoe Museum is on Bloor, and stretching east and west is an interesting range of shops, with some mostly low cost food options. To the east you'll find chain, fast food restaurants. To the west, you'll find some funky and relatively inexpensive cafes since you'll be in the district adjacent to the university.

You'll also be close to the Royal Ontario Museum, but I don't think you'll have time to do both.

I used to take taxis to the Toronto airport for an 8 or 8:30 flight frequently. Rush hour can be brutal, so you'll want to try to get a bit of a head start on it. It will probably take about 30-40 minutes to get back to the airport if rush hour hasn't really jammed things up. I'd leave by 5 pm at the latest, and a little before 5 might be better because the exodus starts at 5.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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This is always a rough one. I'd guess you'd have about 2- 2.5 hrs on the ground downtown, and that's if everything goes smoothly with no weather or traffic foul-ups.

For some reason, Toronto is determined to stay stuck in the 50's when it comes to urban planning and public transporation. One manifestation of this is the fact we have no rail link between the airport and downtown.

I'd be very flexible with your plans. If the weather is clear, I'd leave downtown to go back to airport at about 4:30-5pm. If the weather is snowy or rainy, I would seriously re-think the idea of leaving the airport in the first place. Wet or icy conditions can bring traffic to a crawl, and you don't want to get stuck behind the inevitable accidents on the highway with rising stress levels about getting to your flight on time.

If the weather is lousy, or threatening to become lousy, I would think about getting a couple of rooms for the afternoon at an airport hotel. Watch some tv, have a nap, have a bubblebath, have an early dinner without needing to rush. Maybe the kids could go have a swim in the pool.

If it were me, I'd probably go the hotel route regardless because it would be more relaxing- personally speaking, for me coming downtown would not be worth the effort, especially in late Nov (but maybe I'm just lazy, lol)

It's doable in good weather, but just aware that time will be somewhat tight.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Aug 27th, 2008, 09:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,883
I used to live in Toronto and still go back for visits a few times a year - and I would worry about your available time. It seems like a lot, but I've stood in line at Customs for nearly two hours. I think that unless things go uncharacteristically smoothly, your trip into the city will be a huge rush. It's doable, theoretically, but in practical terms I'm not sure how much you'll be able to relax and enjoy it. I'm with Grandmother in terms of wanting to be back well ahead of your scheduled departure time! What might ease things up a bit, possibly, is if your flight to London is delayed and if you know that ahead of time, and if there is no possibility that this will change.
Meesthare is offline  
Aug 28th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Thanks for the great information and advice. I think we'll play it by ear -- if weather clear, everything goes smoothly and on time, we clear customs quickly, check in luggage for flight to London quickly and then have a lot of time, we may go on in to see the Bata shoe museum. Thanks for the helpful info. on times to/from the airport, places to eat, etc. If weather looks dicey at all and/or we have any delays, we won't do it. I don't want to risk missing our London flight.

The airport hotel room is an interesting option I hadn't considered -- are there any hotels directly attached to the airport in Toronto? I've stayed in attached hotels in Paris CDG (Sheraton) and in Orlando (Hyatt) when we had extremely early flights out, and it turned out to be something the children actually enjoyed.
bakerstreet is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2008, 07:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
i'm with the previous posters who brought up issues about weather/rush-hour/timing. i used to live 20 km from the airport and one november day a few years ago, it took me three hours to get to the airport because it was the first snowfall that year.

the sheraton is attached to terminal 3 ... not sure which terminal you're arriving into and departing from? there is a train/tram that connects the different terminals. there are other hotels though very close by - most of them have shuttles.

if everything goes smoothly, you might want to consider a quick trip to the CN tower.

i wouldn't leave downtown any later than 4:30 pm ... even if the weather is good. traffic will be a nightmare as you're in the thick of rush-hour. so, not sure if a 2 hour (or less) trip would be worth it...
lilaki is offline  
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