By Alan E. Young, Co-Founder, Puzzle Partner Ltd.
In the whirlwind pace of any HITEC conference, where back-to-back sessions, workshops, and networking events monopolize the daylight hours and often extend into the evening, carving out free time can feel like a Herculean task. Each day is a marathon of learning, dialogue, and professional engagement that leaves little room for exploration outside the conference parameters.
Amidst the symphony of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and the constant hum of professional chatter, the city’s cultural jewels, culinary delights, and notable sights beckon enticingly, often just beyond reach. The struggle to balance the demands of attending an event like HITEC with the desire to experience the host city’s unique offerings is a challenge familiar to most of us. Indeed, in this high-energy environment, leisure time is often as complex and multifaceted as the conference schedule.
Despite the constraints, exploring this year’s event in Toronto is essential and rewarding. The rich tapestry of Toronto’s culture, history, and local flavor often provides invaluable context, broadening our perspectives and enriching our overall experience. Such exploration, whether it involves a leisurely stroll through local streets, savoring local cuisine, or immersing oneself in unique attractions, can also serve as a refreshing counterpoint to the structured environment of a conference. Breaking free from the confines of convention centers allows us to experience and appreciate our host city’s distinctive character. This not only heightens our awareness of our diverse world but also offers a respite, rejuvenating our minds and sparking creativity. After all, the destinations we visit should be more than just names on an itinerary; they are places to be experienced, understood, and enjoyed. Balancing professional commitments with personal exploration isn’t merely desirable – it’s a vital component of the travel experience.
So, with all of this in mind, here are the top 9 experiences and attractions for those traveling to HITEC 2023 in Toronto. Have fun and enjoy!
CN Tower: An iconic symbol of Toronto, the CN Tower stands 553.3 meters high and provides a stunning view of the city and Lake Ontario. The tower features a revolving restaurant, the 360 Restaurant, and an adrenaline-inducing outdoor walk experience, the EdgeWalk, for thrill-seekers and not for those faint of heart. The ‘Look Out Level’ also has a glass floor for a unique (and terrifying) perspective on the city below.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada: This world-class facility houses 16,000 aquatic animals from both fresh and saltwater environments. The aquarium features various interactive displays, including a touch tank filled with horseshoe crabs, cleaner shrimp, and small rays. It also boasts a spectacular walk-through tunnel with a moving sidewalk, through which you can see sharks, rays, and a plethora of fish swimming around you.
Toronto Railway Museum: Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Toronto Railway Museum offers a glimpse into the rich railway history of the city. The museum features vintage trains and other railway equipment. There’s also a miniature railway you can ride around the park and an indoor interpretive center in the restored Don Station.
Harbourfront Centre: This unique cultural hub situated on Toronto’s waterfront features art installations, restaurants, shops, and recreational activities. It is also a stage for a wide array of concerts, theatre performances, dance shows, and literature readings. In the winter, the outdoor pond transforms into a public ice-skating rink.
Scotiabank Arena: Home to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League and the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association, the Scotiabank Arena is a premier sports and entertainment venue. The venue also hosts various other events, including big-name concerts and shows.
Rogers Centre: This multi-purpose stadium is best known as the home of Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays. The Rogers Centre is known for its fully retractable roof – the first of its kind in North America. Besides baseball games, the venue hosts other major events, including concerts and sporting events.
Royal Alexandra Theatre: Opened in 1907, the Royal Alexandra is North America’s oldest continuously operating theatre. This beautiful, historic venue hosts many productions, from dramatic plays to musicals, often featuring world-class performers.
The Path: This is a 30-kilometer network of pedestrian tunnels beneath downtown Toronto. The Path is filled with shops, services, and food options. It connects to several major attractions, including the CN Tower and Scotiabank Arena, making it a convenient way to navigate the city while avoiding the elements.
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO): Housing more than 95,000 works of art, the AGO is one of the largest art museums in North America. Its collection includes works from renowned artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet. The AGO also features an impressive collection of Canadian art, including a vast collection of works by the Group of Seven, as well as Indigenous and Inuit art. The museum itself, redesigned by architect Frank Gehry, is a work of art in its own right.
The cosmopolitan city of Toronto is proud to host HITEC once again. For those of us who are “locals,” we are excited to assist all those attending the event to discover all the many memorable things to do (if you have the time).
We will see you in few short weeks.