Know Loitering: The best (FREE) spots to kill time in Toronto

No need to make a purchase here

So you’re downtown and you’ve got some pretty exciting plans ahead, but the party doesn’t start for a few hours; or, class is cancelled, and you’ve got an entire afternoon to wait before your bus takes you back to the suburbs. Where does one while away the hours—on the cheap? Apart from the obvious (take a walk through a park; stroll through the Eaton Center; window-shop along Queen West / Yorkville / Kensington / The Beaches, etc.), here a few more suggestions for those fortunate enough to have a lot of free time (but not a lot of cash) in downtown Toronto.

Presse Internationale

Peruse the multiple racks of domestic and foreign magazines—from pricey, hard-to-find fashion editorials, to your standard gossip rags, large format art books, literary quarterlies, and just about every newspaper title from around the world. The friendly, knowledgeable owners (at both locations) aren’t known for hanging over your shoulder, but still: don’t spend an entire afternoon thumbing through the pages…unless you’re buying.

Toronto Reference Library


(Photo by LWYang via Flickr)

For the budget-conscious, literary loiterers, drop by your local library (U of T campus, for example, has a few that are opened to non-students). Or, if it’s anonymity you crave, make your way north to the biggest, baddest spot in which to get your read on. A cavernous shell of words and paper, this spot is centrally located and always welcoming to those with some time to spare—provided that you remember it’s an actual library. So, you know, shh.

Thursday evenings at The Bata Shoe Museum

If you happen to find you’ve got some time to kill on a Thursday evening (it’s possible), check out the iconic Bata Shoe Museum. With floor after floor of fancy footwear from nearly every era of history, fashionistas aren’t the only folks with something to discover at this weekly, pay-what-you-can event.

St. Lawrence Market


(Photo by John M via Flickr)

If you’re waiting for a ride from Union Station, you can safely stow your bags and mosey on down the street to St. Lawrence Market—the penultimate destination for cheap eats and cool treats. Though you might have to spend some coin in order to indulge in the goods (worth it!), the building itself offers free admission and a veritable smorgasbord of sights and delicious smells.

Wednesday evenings at The Art Gallery of Ontario


(Photo by Lan Phantastic via Flickr)

For those efficient folks walking home from work (or happy hour), take a detour at University Avenue, or hop off at St. Patrick station, and catch a glimpse of some of the best artwork available for viewing—all for FREE between 6pm – 8:30pm

High Park Zoo


(Photo by Benson Kua via Flickr)

As if the scenery in High Park isn’t sumptuous enough, they’ve also got a treasure trove of exotic and / or cuddly animals on display. Just off one of the many beaten paths, pedestrians can get up close and personal with rare varieties of emus, reindeer, bison and peacocks.