The first thing that greets you while sitting in traffic approaching Toronto is the CN Tower. Formerly the tallest tower in the world (until Dubai got motivated) it is the most identifying part of the Toronto skyline. And if you want to feel on top of the world, without climbing Mt. Everest, you can just take a quick elevator ride right on up.
The elevator ride is super speedy. But the line to take it is not. We arrived in Toronto late afternoon and wandered down to the tower around 6:30PM looking for something adventurous before dinner. We didn’t end up eating until after 9PM. It took us almost 20 minutes to find the ticket booth, review the packages and make our way to the end of the line. It was almost 7PM by the time our official wait in line began and then it was another hour before we were escorted into the elevator. To be fair, the sunset viewing hour is extremely popular and our timing for that was unintentional. But it was a weeknight so if the lines were that long then, I imagine they are worse on weekends.
If you want to forgo the long wait you can shell out the big bucks (one price regardless of age) for the Total Experience package which effectively lets you view a movie and then cut in line to take in both the Look Out and the Sky Pod even higher above. We were hungry but we were also on a dwindling budget so we stuck with the bare bones lower Look Out option. Because after all, does being up another few hundred feet higher in the Sky Pod really make the view all that much better?
The elevator is glass and provides the view an astronaut must have of the world getting smaller and smaller while being shot into space. Very cool. When we arrived at the lower Look Out level, which is the big bubble you see from the ground, the sun had just set and a soft glow descended upon the city and the lake which it borders. Big windows provide a stunning full circle view, similar to the John Hancock Center in Chicago. The fancy revolving 360 Restaurant is located on this level as well which we did not sample, but it is ironically designed like an underground wine cellar although you are way up in the sky. For those afraid of heights, you really have no business being up this far anyway. But the highly touted Glass Floor is probably something you would want to avoid. It is a small section in the floor made of what seems like indestructible glass plates looking down directly to the Rogers Centre and plaza below. For those not afraid of heights, it can still make you a little dizzy but the bird’s eye view is worth it.
Venturing down a set of stairs from the Look Out level will bring you to the Outside Observation Deck which is extremely windy, quite chilly on a summer evening, and caged in so you feel like you are on the wrong side of the zoo bars. Experiencing the weather at this elevation is exhilarating – but probably not so much in the winter, eh? As we stepped outside, the evening light show began which was incredibly cool. Alternating bands of red, then white, lights travel up the elevator shafts and outer edges of the deck’s screen each night after sunset to honor Canada. Although we felt for a moment that it was in honor of us – the long wait we endured, and the overpriced fee we doled out for the pleasure to be perched high above the world.
- COST (in Canadian dollars) = $22-$33 Adult, $15-$33 Children ages 4-12, Free under age 4 (Senior discounts provided). Participates in the Toronto City Pass.
- DURATION = Depending upon the ticket package purchased and your interest in the view, anywhere from a half hour to several hours. You could also stay for a cocktail or dinner too.
- HOURS = Open daily. Summer hours 9AM-11PM. Check website below for other seasonal hours. Closed Christmas.
- ENVIRONMENT = All ages. Handicap accessible. Strollers allowed and strongly recommended for the wait in line.
- ACCESSIBILITY = By car (parking lots nearby), foot or subway via Union Station.
- WEBSITE = http://cntower.ca/
- FUN FACTS = The tower was built with private funding by Canadian National Railways in just over 3 years. The $30 million expense was covered within 15 years thanks to tourist tickets and the communications companies paying to use the antenna signal.
All photos credited to Molly G. @The Bumbles Blog