Cobblestones and impressive architecture, fine museums and eclectic galleries, jazzy bistros and fine dining, stunning natural wonders within close proximity, and a world of unique experiences, everything comes together in what is one of Canada’s foremost cities – Toronto. There’s so much to explore here, that days may fall short, but experiences won’t. One such fantastic attraction is Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which first opened its doors in 2013 and is located at the base of the CN Tower. It houses more than 16,000 marine creatures and several entertainment options and sees an array of people making their way to marvel at the stunning display of colorful fish, vibrant aquatic flora, and a multitude of equally amazing experiences, such as acquainting yourself with a zebra shark from a perspex bubble! Here’s a guide to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Toronto, that you can use to plan one of the most rewarding outings in all of Canada.
Things to do / Highlights
Tour the entire aquarium
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is easily amongst the most visitor-friendly attractions. Excellent tours of the facility, encompassing a trip through the Touch Tanks – where visitors can touch sea creatures such as Whitespotted Bamboo Sharks, Atlantic Stingrays, etc – and riding through the 97m-long (320ft) moving walkway (the longest in all of North America!) that takes visitors through the **Dangerous Lagoon featuring the menacing Sandbar and Reef Sharks, barracudas, sawfish, and the like.
Participate in one of the live shows
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada hosts two amazing live shows – Ray Bay Dive and Rainbow Reef Dive – where visitors can make a dive underwater and catch the marine creatures in action, up close. While Ray Bay Dive is a great option to swim amongst stingrays and feed them, a dive into the Rainbow Reef Dive will unearth a riot of colorful coral reefs and the many species that call it their home. Show timings vary daily, so it’s best you check the aquarium’s official website before heading.
Gain insight into the workings of the aquarium
The Life Support Systems gallery of the aquarium will give you an excellent insight into the workings of the aquarium, displaying large tubes and state-of-the-art machinery that makes the aquarium the brilliant attraction that it is. Fun fact: Did you know that the aquarium holds about 5,200,000 liters (1,373,694 gallons) of water on-site?
Enroll in the interactive programs at the aquarium
Right from Friday Night Jazz to morning Yoga classes, there’s quite a bit you can indulge in, apart from admiring and learning about aquatic life. While the Friday Night Jazz sessions are hosted on the second Friday of every month, hour-long morning yoga classes are conducted every Tuesday. Else, there are photography classes, paint nights, and even day camps for kids, that the aquarium provides. You’ll find all the information on the aquarium’s official website.
What to eat
Set up in a typical college canteen-like ambiance, you’ll find Ripley’s Cafe in the Discovery Centre on the lower level. It’s a great option for a quick bite, offering delicious sandwiches, burgers, and finger food options as well. You can pick up some light munchies for the go as well.
While there’s only Ripley’s Cafe within the aquarium’s premises, there are quite a few options that you can step out to explore.
360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower
An elevator ride up the CN Tower is 360 The Restaurant. A pricey affair, but the ambiance and views from here are totally worth it. The restaurant offers a multi-cuisine selection of dishes and is a totally posh affair.
Horizons Restaurant at CN Tower
Also an elevator ride up the tower, Horizons Restaurant offers a great choice of Canadian and American fare. Their tiered seafood platter is quite a popular choice, so do try. Apart from that, the panoramic views of the horizon (also the inspiration for the restaurant’s name) are also quite the highlight!
SOCO Kitchen + Bar
About 300m (980ft) from the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is SOCO Kitchen + Bar. While their duck bolognese and flatbread pizza are touted to be pretty darn delicious, their mac ‘n’ cheese is a top winner!
Things to buy
Cargo Hold™ Gift Shop
The aquarium’s Cargo Hold™ Gift Shop offers an extensive collection of marine-themed items, including toys, tees, and other collectibles. Drop by and pick up some stuff for keepsake or even as a souvenir! However, do note that, like most souvenir stores, items here might be a tad overpriced.
Since it’s entirely a walking facility, it’s best you head there with minimal baggage (quite literally). There is a coat and bag check at the aquarium’s entrance. Also, to enjoy the best of the aquarium’s many interactive activities and exhibits, it’ll be worth to carry a bunch of sanitizing wipes or wet tissues.
Avoid peak hours
The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada sees a ton of visitors throughout the year. Its peak hours are generally from 11 am to 4 pm on holidays/weekends and 11 am - 2 pm on weekdays, so it’s best you time your visit such that it falls outside of these hours.
Admissions and exit
Do remember that once your admission ticket is scanned at the entry, you’re not allowed to exit the premises. If you do, you’ll have to purchase a new ticket.
Buy a CityPASS and save up on costs
The Toronto CityPASS is a pre-paid admissions pass to the city’s top sightseeing spots, including the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. The pass has a nine-day validity period, which covers a one-time visit to the aquarium and several other attractions of Toronto, and also enjoy quite a bit of a discount on the general admissions cost. The CityPASS costs around 48 - 70 USD, plus taxes.
How to get there
Due to the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada’s central location, finding conveyance to and from there is a cakewalk. Whether it is public or private transport, or walking to the location, everything’s easy!
Drive down the MacDonald Cartier Freeway (Highway 401) and take the Spadina Avenue exit. Go on driving North on Spadina Avenue and take a right (east) to the Bremner Boulevard.
Toronto Transit Subway/GO train/UP Express
You can take a subway ride to Union Station, which is then a short SkyWalk stroll to the aquarium. Else, you can also get off at St Andrews Station and then walk west on King Street, leading you on to John Street. Walk down John Street south, cross John Street Bridge, and you’re at Bremner Boulevard. The aquarium is right around the corner from there.
06, 121,145, 505 bus lines are the closest and most popular ones that visitors prefer hitching to the aquarium.
Note that there’s no on-site parking at the aquarium, so visitors prefer steering clear of private vehicles. However, if you do choose to drive down, there’s paid parking available at the nearby Metro Convention Centre and Rogers Centre.
Tickets to the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada range from 6 to 30 USD, depending on the tour and activity you’d like to take part in. These tickets can be purchased on the aquarium’s official website for a one-time visit. You’ll also find multiple-entry, annual passes at the same location. Other than that, you can even purchase Toronto CityPASS (details in the ‘Travelers tips’ section) and save up on costs.
Skip the Line: Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada information
Address: 288 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9, Canada
Opening hours: 9am - 11pm (daily)
Cost: 6 - 30 USD
Official website: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Department of tourism: See Toronto
Sharks After Dark - Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto
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