|Image: Sam Javanrouh – Flickr Commons|
Perhaps no other building on Toronto’s skyline is as recognizable as the Canadian National, or CN, Tower. The tallest freestanding structure in the western hemisphere, and at one point the tallest structure in the world, this communications and observation tower is both a symbol of Canada and one of the country’s most visited tourist attractions.
More than two million people make their way to the CN Tower each year to take in the sweeping panoramic views of Toronto and the surrounding area as well as take in unique shows and enjoy a wide array of shopping and dining options. In fact, with so many things to do at the CN Tower, it’s possible you could devote the better part of an entire day the exploring this attraction.
The most popular thing to do at the CN Tower is to take in the view. The LookOut is the primary observation area, an enclosed viewing platform at 347 meters. Computerized kiosks throughout the deck offer information about landmarks you can see. There are also several souvenir photo spots at the level.
If you want to see the view from outside, without the thrill of the EdgeWalk, one story down from the LookOut. At 342 meters, you can take in the view from the Outdoor Sky Terrace. At this level you can also explore the glass floor observation area. Just as it sounds, this level has a section where the floor is made of specially constructed glass (don’t worry — it can hold up to 14 hippos without breaking!) Even those who aren’t generally afraid of heights often find themselves disoriented when viewing the ground from here.
Finally, if you want to go higher, add the SkyPod option to your CN Tower admission ticket. At 444 meters, this vantage point allows for unobstructed views for over 240 kilometers in any direction; on a clear day, you can see all the way to Niagara Falls and Rochester, New York. It’s at this level you’ll also find the EdgeWalk experience.
For most people, taking in the CN Tower’s views from the enclosed observation deck is more than adequate. For others, the view is best not from behind the glass, but from the edge of the tower – literally.
Between May and October, people over the age of 13 who are in good physical health can do just that with the EdgeWalk Experience. Imagine being tethered to the side of the tower, 356 meters above the street on the 116th floor and walking around the edge of the observation deck, feeling the wind in your face with nothing but a few inches of steel between you and the precipice. You’ll have a good idea of what the EdgeWalk is all about.
The experience begins with a 60-minute instructional and safety briefing in which you suit up in distinctive red and yellow jumpsuits and practice how you will navigate the narrow walkway once you are outside. After the briefing, you’re tethered to the tower and have about a half-hour to take in the scenery from a vantage point few others ever get. If you’re exceptionally brave, you can move right to the edge of the catwalk and lean out for a feeling not unlike flying over downtown.
The EdgeWalk experience includes photos and video footage of your walk, as well as a ticket allowing admission to all of the other experiences in the tower. You can’t walk on the edge when the weather is especially windy or stormy, and reservations are necessary.
In addition to the observation areas, the CN Tower offers a few others special experiences. The first, “Legends of Flight,” is a 3-D film covering the history of flight, from the Wright Brothers through modern-day test pilots. The other is a fanciful, motion movie experience called “Himalamazon” which imagines a future in which the environments of the Himalayas and the Amazon are combined to create new species that will help sustain the Earth. These experiences are included in your Tower Experience ticket, which also includes access to all of the observation levels except SkyPod.
When you are planning your trip to Toronto, include time for exploring the CN Tower and all that it has to offer. Make reservations at one of the two restaurants for a meal overlooking the city and experience the city arguably its best vantage point.
About the Author: Melanie Kirkpatrick is a travel writer based in Toronto.