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Aquarium's turquoise waters and KŌST's golden pancakes... to chase away the grey!

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? Two good reasons to get out of the house: an turquoise waters + exotic coconut pancakes on a rooftop.

(Note: This courtesy self-guided tour is a complement to the author's Toronto guide.)

Grey November can give us the blues. Probably a good time to enjoy the turquoise waters at... Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto. Seeing it again through the eyes of a girlfriend visiting from Montréal this summer, I was reminded of what an exotic treat it is!

But first things first, coffee

The coconut pancakes on the breakfast menu at KOST seemed like the perfect bite to combine with this visit. So I had to check the Californian-like restaurant on the 44th floor of the beautiful Bisha Hotel (80 Blue Jays Way). Conveniently located near the large parking lot at Wellington and Blue Jays Way, it is less than 10-min walk from the aquarium.

Wow! What a view we got from every windows of this bright rooftop restaurant (quite the contrast after the hotel’s beautiful black lobby). And we could explore its wrap-around outdoor patio to see Toronto from every angle.

Inside, the decor is as cozy as it is elegant, with many seating options to choose from. On my plate, the generous fluffy coconut pancakes did not disappointed, topped with bottomless coffee. KOST is open from 8 am to late at night. The kitchen serves breakfast to 10:30 am, lunch from 11:30 am to 3 pm, and dinner 4 pm to 10:30 pm. Brunch is offered on weekends from 8 am to 3 pm.

Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto

You will need to reserve your timed-ticket on Ripley’s website for the day of your visit. The aquarium is open 365 days, from 10 am to 8 pm unless there are private functions, in which case it closes at 6 pm.

One visits the aquarium following a specific circuit so there’s not much explaining to do. Just go with the flow.

From the large cylinder teeming with silver fish you’ll reach the Canadian Waters Gallery (where you will find a large octopus under blue light). The kelp forest which follows is impressive!

We then go down to the multicoloured corals (Rainbow Reefs), and the pièce de résistance, the long underwater tunnel of the Dangerous Lagoon set with a moving walkway. Simply spectacular! Note that you can step aside the walkway if you want more time to take it all in.

Sharks, giant turtle, big rays, sawfish and a myriad of small swimmers live in harmony in this aquarium of 2.5 million litres of water. One wonders how! Apparently, the sharks being fed three times a week are well trained to recognize when it's meal time so they let the others be.

Past the Discovery Centre, the graceful inhabitants of the Ray Bay are fascinating, and so are the jellyfish under changing light in Planet Jellies.

We end the visit passing by the colourful Life Support Systems managing the water and temperature of the whole aquarium. Then, of course, there is the large gift shop jam-packed with surprisingly affordable merchandise.

While you’re here

Harbourfront being only a 10-minute walk from Ripley’s Aquarium, if you’re game to walk some more, here’s a loop from the aquarium that you could do in less than an hour. (In the cold season, you’ll need to bundle up for that part…)

Upon exiting the aquarium, take Bremner Boulevard east to Grand Trunk Crescent and turn right. At the bend in the street, you'll see an intriguing yellow house suspended 16 meters above our heads in the courtyard of the large condos (the work of Londoners Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier). Then walk down Lower Simcoe to the lake and the site of Harbourfront Centre.

Good to know: The waterfront art gallery, Power Plant (231 Queens Quay W.), has started showing exhibitions on site again. Admission is free and it's open to non-members Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closes at 6 p.m. on Sunday). By the water, further west, the Amsterdam BrewHouse restaurant/brewpub is huge, nicely decorated and offers an extensive menu (245 Queens Quay W, open every day from 11am to 11pm).

After enjoying the view of the Toronto Islands facing Toronto, we head west to the Toronto Music Garden, a 15-minute walk, passing the undulating Simcoe WaveDeck along the way. The Toronto Music Garden is the vision of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who wanted a park inspired by Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in G major.

Then head north of Lake Shore Boulevard by taking Lower Spadina at the eastern edge of the gardens.

North of Lake Shore Boulevard

Walking up Spadina Avenue, look for the staircase to your right, past the first building. Walk up the stairs and turn to see the sculpture by Chilean sculptor Francisco Gazitua, facing you on the west side of Spadina. Then, walk a little further east on Mariner Terrace to see Gazitua's major work, his Barca Volante, reflected in a pool of water, with the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower in the background. (Note that the sculptor is also the creator of the great pedestrian bridge Puente de Luz, passing over the train tracks, west of Spadina.)

Continuing east on Bremner Boulevard, you'll reach the aquarium, your starting point.

This article complements walks #7 Queens Quay HARBOURFRONT Stroll and #8 Portland Street UTTERLY URBAN Stroll in Nathalie Prézeau's guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on and or We also deliver or contact the author directly at to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.

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