It wasn’t until I reached the top of the famed CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, that I realized how truly enormous the city really is. I didn’t know that Toronto was the fifth largest city in North America, but that became very clear once I stood 1,136 feet (346 meters) above it.
The CN Tower is, in many ways, the crowned jewel of Toronto. It’s one of those things that every first timer to the city thinks they should experience. The tower was originally built as a telecommunications center and opened in 1976 as the tallest tower in the world. Today it is strictly used for tourism purposes, and it pulls in hundreds of travelers every day who want to see Toronto from the sky.
There are several different ways to experience the CN Tower. We first rode up to the Look Out level, which offers 360-degree walk-around access to view Toronto from every angle. I love that the tower is located near the water, so we were able to pick out people on boats and follow cars like they were toys on the streets below. There is also a restaurant at this level, but we skipped a meal and just opted for the viewing components. I popped up to the Sky Pod, which is 1,465 feet (447 meters) above the ground. This feature has an additional fee, so there are fewer visitors who make it this far up. It’s much smaller than the Look Out level with rounded windows, but I felt that, once you’re up high, you’re up high, so another 300 feet didn’t personally do much for me.
One level below the Look Out level is the famed glass floor, which is exactly what it sounds like. When we were there, a school group had this whole area mobbed, so we didn’t really get to play with that part of the site. Who doesn’t love a picture of themselves laying on a glass floor a quarter of a mile above the ground? A new feature to the site allows people to strap into safety suits and walk around the edge of the tower, which I would love to do some day.
I think the highlight of the CN Tower was the elevator, which visitors experience on their way up to the Look Out level. The glass-floor paneled elevator travels 15 miles per hour and takes only 58 seconds to reach the top. It’s a fun, short ride and has received accolades as the best elevator ride in the world. (Isn’t it funny what honors are bestowed upon obscure things?) For the best viewing opportunities, be the last person to enter the elevator.
And, of course, like an tourist attraction, there is a gift shop, souvenir photos and the like, though if all you really want to do is check out the city from the top of the world, you can skip all of these things.
Overall, I found the CN Tower to be one of those attractions that is worth doing for the sake of doing but isn’t stellar for any particular reason. I actually preferred the more open view offered from the top of the Rockefeller Center in New York, and I’d be more likely to return to the Distillery District or St. Lawrence Market when I visit Toronto next, but, as first-time visitors to the city, I am glad we made an effort to visit the CN Tower.
The Toronto Tourism Board generously comped my CN Tower experience and my husband was a paying customer, but all opinions are my own.