The best things to do after dinner in Toronto showcase the city’s many night-time attractions and activities. Visitors in search of things to do in Toronto after dark could look to the theatres and concert halls of its Entertainment District, join the crowds cheering at a Raptors or Leafs game, or reach for the stars from the dizzying heights of the CN Tower.

    Toronto’s night also brings out many talented performers, who can be seen playing their hearts out in a dimly lit bar or working the crowd from the stage of a comedy club. And there’s no need to explore Toronto’s nightlife attractions alone, with a varied choice of tours from a lively pub crawl to a ghostly walk to haunted places.


    CN Tower observation decks

    A sky-high view of Toronto’s vibrant night-time panorama

    CN Tower is Toronto’s most famous landmark, and those who visit the observation decks of this 553-metre-tall skyscraper after dark are rewarded with panoramic views. The sparkling lights of the city and harbour from up high is a sight to behold. CN Tower offers 3 different observation levels, with the Glass Floor and Outdoor SkyTerrace level at 342 metres, the LookOut level 1 floor above it which features its own glass floor and floor-to-ceiling windows, and the SkyPod – one of the highest observation decks in the world, at 447 metres. Entry tickets for each may be purchased in advance.

    Getting up to these decks is a thrill in itself in the tower’s high-speed glass elevators that zip you up in less than a minute. Visitors can also enjoy exhibits explaining the tower’s engineering marvels and do a bit of browsing in the gift shop.

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    Location: 290 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9, Canada

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 416-868-6937


    photo by shankar s. (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Royal Alexandra Theatre

    Top spot to catch a play in the Entertainment District

    The Royal Alexandra Theatre is one of the best places to watch a show in Toronto. Not only has it hosted legendary plays and performers but it’s also an elegantly restored national historic landmark. The century-old venue is the oldest continuously operating theatre in North America, with a stage that’s seen some 3,400 productions including such West End and Broadway hits like Hamilton, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Misérables, and The Phantom of the Opera.

    The “Royal Alex” as it’s known locally, is in downtown Toronto in the heart of the Entertainment District. Those looking for more plays or concerts can easily find something to watch nearby, as it’s found just minutes away from other entertainment venues including the Princess of Wales Theatre and Roy Thomson Hall.

    Location: 260 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1H9, Canada

    Phone: +1 416-872-1212


    photo by Taxiarchos228 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Ossington strip

    Nightlife area with an indie vibe

    Ossington Avenue has emerged as a trendy spot for dining, shopping and nightlife, especially among the younger crowds in Toronto. The half-kilometre strip found west of Little Italy, between Dundas Street West and Queen Street West, is a vibrant place to explore after dark, brimming with a mix of bars, breweries, live music venues, and cocktail lounges.

    Night-time revellers under 30 are drawn to Ossington strip for its friendly and more budget-priced bars with a creative edge. Among the favourites is Dakota Tavern, a long-running bar known for its live acts. There’s also the somewhat infamous dive bar called Sweaty Betty’s, and Painted Lady with its burlesque shows and DJ music.

    Location: Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada


    photo by Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    The Second City Toronto comedy club

    A night of laughs with improv and comedy acts

    The Second City Toronto is a fun place to unwind in the evening, with its nightly comedy shows from improv to open mic, to musical improvs and stand-up comedy. Since the Second City Toronto opened in 1973 as an offshoot of the famed Second City Chicago, it’s launched the careers of many well-known comedians and actors including Martin Short, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, and Eugene Levy. Shows usually run about 90 minutes and some involve audience participation, so don’t be shy!

    If you’re looking for more laughs in Toronto, then check out Yuk Yuk’s, another long-running Toronto comedy club.

    Phone: +1 416-343-0011

    photo by Mike W. (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Revue Cinema

    Retro cinema showing Hollywood classics

    Revue Cinema is a century-old movie theatre and a great spot to get immersed into an old-school cinema experience. They run old Hollywood classics and have film festivals and themed series like Silent Revue, where silent-era films are accompanied by live piano music.

    As Toronto’s oldest movie theatre, Revue is now a heritage site run as a community non-profit after public outcries managed to save it from closing down in the early 2000s. Coming to Revue Cinema is not only a chance to see a great film but also to meet and mingle with Toronto’s hard-core movie fans at their city’s most beloved cinema.

    Location: 400 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2M9, Canada

    Phone: +1 416-531-9950


    Scotiabank Arena

    Catch an NBA or NHL game, or a concert

    Sports lovers who spend any time in Toronto will probably find themselves at Scotiabank Arena for at least 1 evening, it being the home of both the Raptors and the Maple Leafs. The former is the city’s National Basketball Association team while the latter plays in the National Hockey League. If the arena’s at full capacity, the crowds of nearly 20,000 just add to the intensity and excitement of the pro sports games.

    In addition to basketball and hockey games, Scotiabank Arena is a concert and event venue that’s hosted circuses, ice skating shows, trade shows, and some of the planet’s biggest musical acts, including U2, Pitbull, Bon Jovi, and Madonna.

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    Location: 40 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5J 2X2, Canada

    Phone: +1 416-815-5500


    photo by Paperfire (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Ghost tours

    Delve into Toronto’s haunted realm

    Those in search of some extra thrills and chills in Toronto will surely want to spend an evening learning about its haunted places and spooky stories. The Haunted Walk of Toronto takes visitors on a 75-minute tour of sites with ghost sightings or paranormal activity, with a guide telling spine-tingling ghost stories and tales of mystery and murder along the way. The walking tour starts from the courtyard in front of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    For a deeper immersion into Toronto’s spooky side, try out the ghost tours of other locations including the Distillery District, the Black Creek Pioneer Village, and the University of Toronto’s downtown campus.

    Location: Toronto Office: 30 Gristmill Lane, Toronto, ON, M5A 3C4, Canada

    Phone: +1 416 238-1473

    photo by SimonP (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    The Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar

    Toronto’s legendary spot for live jazz

    The Rex Hotel Jazz & Blues Bar has been a firm part of Toronto’s live music scene since it opened in the 1980s. Found at The Rex Hotel in downtown Toronto, the jazz bar features some 80 shows per month with a mix of local and international groups playing to the crowds. The bar’s retro-chic design gives a low-key, friendly feel to the place, which is all about relaxing and listening to the music while sipping a draught beer.

    Visiting musicians might want to come on a Tuesday when the bar hosts its weekly Classic Rex Jazz Jam – in-house musicians will play a set then invite others to the stage to join them.

    Location: 194 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z1, Canada

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 11 pm


    photo by Gary Lawrence Murphy (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Toronto pub crawl

    Discover Toronto’s boozy side on a big bar hop

    Toronto has a large and sprawling nightlife scene, so those new to the city could join a guided pub crawl to get an inside peek of its after-dark delights. The Toronto Bar Crawl takes pub crawlers around several local bars in the downtown area, starting from around 6 pm. Another boozy tour worth checking out is the Toronto Beer Tour by Toronto Urban Adventures, which takes you on a walking tour of notable pubs and local breweries.

    Those who’d prefer a self-guided Toronto bar crawl could just pick a neighbourhood with a good nightlife scene like Ossington, Parkdale, Little Italy, or the Fashion District, then take a wander down the streets to see where the night takes them.

    photo by Collision Conf (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Snakes & Lattes

    Booze and board games

    Snakes & Lattes is a bar and restaurant that brings together 2 leisure activities into 1 friendly spot: drinking booze and playing board games. Visitors to Snakes & Lattes can order pub grub and beer, and also browse its library of thousands of games like Uno, Jenga, and Neuroshima Hex. If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, the staff here act as game gurus of sorts, offering suggestions and some instruction on how to play.

    There are 3 Snakes & Lattes locations in Toronto, including 1 on College Street in Little Italy, another at 600 Bloor Street in the Annex, and the third at 45 Eglinton Avenue in Midtown.

    Location: 489 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1A5, Canada

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 4 pm to 11 pm, Friday from 4 pm to 1 am, Saturday from 1 pm to 1 am, Sunday from 1 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 647-342-9229


    photo by Jeff Hitchcock (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Lana Willocks | Contributing Writer

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