One of the fastest growing cities in Canada, Vaughan is just north of Toronto, and although it is a suburb of the large city, it is a city in its own right. Vaughan has a long history that dates back to 1792, but it wasn’t until its massive expansion after 1991 that put the city on the map.
Not only is Vaughan a cultural melting-pot, it is also filled with things to do. It is home to the largest amusement park in the country, one of Canada’s largest shopping centres and an open-air heritage museum. In short, it is a city well worth visiting.
Here are the best things to do in Vaughan:
1. Ride rollercoasters
Canada’s Wonderland is the most visited attraction in the city. The 133 hectare amusement park is split into six different areas, one of which is an eight hectare waterpark! If you are visiting with the kids, there is an area designated just for them, with rides to appeal to various ages.
Thrill seekers will not be bored here. In fact, Canada’s Wonderland is home to 15 adrenaline pumping rollercoasters. Of these, the scariest is Leviathan, which is the fastest and tallest rollercoaster in the country, having a maximum drop of 93 metres!
All-in-all, there are over 200 attractions in the amusement park, including games, shows and of course rides. It is open every day from May to September, and weekends in April and October.
2. Go shopping
Located right next to Canada’s Wonderland is one of Canada’s largest malls; Vaughan Mills. Over 13 million people visit the massive shopping mall each year.
Vaughan Mills has over 200 retail shops, 16 of which are anchors. There are also more than 35 places to eat in the 120,000 square metre mall.
If you find this mall a bit too overwhelming, there are also a few smaller malls in Vaughan, like Promenade Mall, Seven/400 Power Centre and the Colossus Centre.
3. Step into a land of Lego
Although it is named Legoland Discovery Centre Toronto, this world-known chain is actually in Vaughan. In fact, it is right inside Vaughan Mills.
There are a total of 14 attractions in Legoland Discovery Centre Toronto, including a 3D cinema, a Lego store and a play zone. The kids can even tour around a Lego factory, learn how to be a ninja or be an apprentice to merlin.
If you want to rest from all of the excitement, there is a café onsite. There is also a mini Toronto (Miniland), which was made from over one million Lego blocks! Miniland depicts all of the city’s main landmarks, complete with lights and moving parts.
4. Visit an art gallery
If you are a fan of the famous Group of Seven, then you must visit the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. This small art gallery features an extensive collection of paintings by Tom Thomson, as well as other works by other artists from this renowned group.
The art gallery is small, but it sits amongst 40 hectares of forest. In addition to the art gallery itself, there is also a sculpture garden, the historic Tom Thomson Shack and a cemetery where six of the Group of Seven are buried.
After strolling through the gallery and admiring the artwork, explore the grounds and go for a nice walk along one of its trails. The trails wind through some picturesque forest of pine, maple and oak.
5. Interact with reptiles
At Reptilia you can interact with reptiles from all over the globe. The 1,400 square metre indoor reptile zoo is the largest in the country and is home to over 250 reptiles, arachnids and amphibians.
One of the main attractions at the reptile zoo is Induna; the largest crocodile in Canada. Induna is 3.4 metres long and over 1,000 pounds. Other attractions at Reptilia include a 4.3 metre long king cobra, a 6.1 metres long python and a 300 pound alligator.
Be sure to stick around for feeding time, which is one of the most exciting things about visiting the reptile zoo. There are four feeding times per day, where the reptiles get birds, eggs, insects, rodents and sometimes snakes.
6. Explore a conversation area
Sitting right smack in the middle of Vaughan is the Kortright Centre for Conservation. The 325 hectare suburban conservation area sits in a pine and maple forest between Rutherford Road and Major Mackenzie Drive.
The main feature of the Kortright Centre for Conservation are the horses that can be ridden in the north part of the area. There are also over 30 environmental programs offered to the general public.
Over 100,000 people visit the centre each year that go horseback riding, bird watching or hiking through the woodlands. There are also family events, weekend children’s programs and sustainability tours. The Kortright Centre for Conservation will even host a private event, like a wedding, birthday party of corporate function.
7. Go back in time
Learn what it was like to live in Ontario during the pioneer times. Go back in time and visit Black Creek Pioneer Village; an open-air heritage museum.
The village recreates what life was like in the 19th-century, complete with heritage buildings, furniture and costumes. In fact, staff at Black Creek Pioneer Village are dressed in clothing from that time and demonstrate everyday activities.
There is a blacksmith, a schoolhouse, a mill, a general store and a church, as well as other buildings. Take a tour of the village and see the historical-enactments that are put on by the staff.
8. Learn about Canadian football
In Canada it is known as soccer, and you can learn all about it at the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame. The hall of fame was established in 1997 to celebrate the achievements of some of the country’s top players.
There are both male and female players included in the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, with new names being added every year. There are also teams that are inducted, with new ones also being added annually.
You don’t have to be a player to be inducted into the hall of fame. There are also other important members that had a part in the history of the sport in the country, like managers, coaches and journalists.
9. Enjoy bird watching
Although bird watching is not the only thing to do at the Boyd Conservation Area, it is one of its main draws. If bird watching is your thing, go on a nature hike through the area to spot some unique bird life.
The trails within the area are not only for bird watchers. Anyone can enjoy them. And they are truly spectacular and are a great way to immerse yourself in Vaughan’s nature.
The Boyd Conservation Area also has areas for having a lovely picnic. It also houses a playground, a football field and basketball courts.
10. Visit a nearby town
There are a few that surround the city, but King is a must, especially if you are a history buff. King sits just to the north of Vaughan, with the King City settlement being the one that should not be missed.
King City is a picturesque community that is home to a number of designated heritage sites, including King City Cemetery, King Emmanuel Baptist Church and King Station, which was built in 1852.
Other historic communities that are not too far away from Vaughan and make for great day trips include Markham Village, Unionville and Old Thornhill.
11. See Canada’s largest reflector telescope
Take a drive to nearby Richmond Hill to visit the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO). This large astronomical observatory is home to Canada’s largest reflector telescope, which has an aperture of 188 centimetres.
The observatory sits on a 76 hectare estate and as well as housing the massive telescope, also has several other smaller ones. Still, one of the main draws of the observatory is the stars themselves, which can be seen at night through the massive telescope.
The David Dunlap Observatory also hosts talk nights, with topics that include science fiction, space science and astronomy. You can also go on a tour of the observatory, learning about its history and its achievements in astronomy world.
12. Cool off at a water park
Canada’s Wonderland’s Splash Works is the biggest, though there is also a smaller, less busy water park in Brampton; Wet’n’Wild Toronto. This is located in neighbouring Brampton and is worth taking a drive to.
Wet’n’Wild Toronto is a water park and an entertainment complex. It features 15 water slides, a wave pool, a cascading water fall and a lazy river. There is also an area designated just for the kids, as well as an adventure area for the older ones.
If you don’t feel like getting your feet wet, you can also go mini-golfing, laze by a pool under a cabana or go zip lining. There are also places to eat onsite, so you don’t have to worry about packing a lunch.
13. Go for a swim
No matter what time of year you are visiting Vaughan, you will be able to go for a swim. There are numerous indoor swimming pools all over the city, some of which have a whirlpool or even a waterslide.
If you are with young kids, head to a swimming pool that has an area designated specifically for them, like the Garnet A. Williams Pool or the North Thornhill Pool. If doing laps is your thing, go to Vellore Village Pool, Al Palladini Pool or Woodbridge Pool.
Some of the pools in Vaughan have a diving board, while others have a fountain. One thing that they all have are changing rooms, with many offering family change rooms.
14. Play a round of golf
Any avid golfer will tell you that Vaughan has more than enough golf courses to keep any golfer busy. All are great courses, some of which are private and others that are public.
One of the city’s most prestigious golf clubs is Eagles Nest Golf Club, which has been voted as the best public golf course in the GTA! If you know someone that is a member of the Thornhill Golf & Country Club you should most definitely play a round on its Stanley Thompson designed course.
In addition to these, there are also plenty of others, like the private Maple Downs Golf Course and the public Copper Creek Golf Club. Then there is The National Golf Club of Canada, which is in a league all on its own.
15. Walk around campus
On the very south border of Vaughan is Canada’s largest university campus; York University. This is the schools primary campus, which is set on around 185 hectares of land.
The campus was once farmlands, with the original building being designated as a heritage site. Walk around the campus and admire its architecture and greenery.
A few notable places to have a look at are the Scott Library, the TEL building and Petrie Science Building. After wandering around the campus grounds you can go shopping at the campus’ two-level shopping mall or grab a snack at one of the fast-food establishments.