A family explores exhibits at the Ontario Science Centre

In the Spotlight: Ontario Science Centre

With over 500 interactive experiences, the Ontario Science Centre is one of Canada’s most famous cultural landmarks.

A family explores the exhibits at the Ontario Science Centre.
Find fun for the whole family at the Ontario Science Centre

Established in 1969, the Ontario Science Centre (770 Don Mills Rd.) has been engaging visitors with innovative science and technology experiences for 50 years. Upon opening its doors, the Ontario Science Centre was a pioneer in its hands-on approach to science. Unlike traditional museums at the time, where exhibits were strictly for viewing only, the Ontario Science Centre promoted interaction and live demonstrations. The Science Centre even has its own amateur radio station since its opening in 1969 and incorporated its very first—and Ontario’s one and only—IMAX Dome theatre in 1996.

The Ontario Science Centre is designed in a Brutalist style popular in the 1960s and is composed of three main buildings that are interlinked with a series of bridges and escalators. The complex also traces and descends into the contours of the Don River Ravine.

Learn about outer space at the Science Centre’s planetarium, and even examine actual meteorites from planet Mars. Read about the stories of elite athletes, survivalists, and others who have gone beyond the limits of the human body at the AstraZeneca Human Edge, or experience the raw power of the planet earth by “touching” a tornado and meeting colourful but lethal poison dart frogs in The Living Earth.

Places to eat at Ontario Science Centre

A day of scientific learning and exploration is best with proper fuel. There are some convenient places to eat at Ontario Science Centre, including its in-house eateries like Valley Restaurant, the Lobby Café, the Maker Bean Café and the ever-reliable Tim Hortons Coffee.

The Maker Bean Café

What’s unique about this café is that besides its delicious cappuccinos and macchiatos, it is also a creative space where guests can design and create things. Guests can craft their very own laser-cut coasters and 3D printed merchandise and even attend educational workshops as they enjoy their coffee and snacks.

Tim Hortons Coffee

A Canadian classic, Tim Hortons and its slew of coffee, hot chocolate and lunch specials are ideal for Science Centre visitors looking for a quick snack or to recharge in the middle of the day. 

The Valley Restaurant

Located on the sixth level of the Science Centre, Valley Restaurant serves hearty, made-to-order meals like pasta and burgers, as well as daily specials. 

The Lobby Café

Located on the second level of the Science Centre near the membership desk, the Lobby Café serves coffee for a quick, midday perk-up, as well as muffins, sandwiches, pizzas and salads.

A scientist speaks at an exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre museum
Learn from scientists as you explore the many exhibits

Things to see at Ontario Science Centre

Home to over 500 interactive experiences, there are plenty of things to see at the Ontario Science Centre. There are year-round special events and programmes, as well as regular live science demonstrations and travelling exhibits. It also houses numerous permanent exhibits:

A Question of Truth: This exhibit is dedicated to the scientific method and even allows guests to test controversial scientific theories.

AstraZeneca Human Edge: The wonders of the human body are showcased here, with activities that simulate elite athletes’ extreme physical experiences and renowned thrill-seekers and survivalists. It also features a climbing wall for guests wanting to try their hand at rock-climbing.

Cohon Family Nature Escape: A resplendent outdoor exhibit that is located in the Don River itself. Its residents include a clan of Baltimore Orioles, raccoons, moss graffiti and a slice from a centuries-old Eastern White Pine tree.

Forest Lane: Dedicated to Canada’s own forests, this exhibit counts among its residents a 464-year-old Douglas Fir, with unique ring markers to indicate world events throughout the tree’s life.

KidSpark: A space built entirely for children under the age of eight, which allows for free play and learning. It has its own music studio and a rolling ball machine.

Living Earth: A magnificent indoor rainforest filled with wonders of the natural world. Guests can spot poison dart frogs, observe a coral reef and even explore a cave.

Space Hall: This exhibit features a state-of-the-art planetarium, meteorites and a rocket that is also apparently a space chair!

Science Arcade: One of the Ontario Science Centre’s oldest exhibits has arcade-style games that also lets guests learn about physics and engineering in hands-on ways.

Weston Family Innovation Centre: An interactive exhibit that allows guests to experiment with prototypes and even test out aviation activities. 

IMAX Dome Films: A one-of-a-kind screening experience, this theatre lets guests sit back and enjoy an immersive experience filtered through 44 speakers and 13,000 watts of wrap-around sound.

A family explores the interactive exhibits at the Ontario Science Centre
Explore and play at the interactive exhibits

Fun facts about Ontario Science Centre

Learn about some fun facts about Ontario Science Centre:

  • The Science Centre hosts sleepovers! Besides participating in a fun, late-night learning experience, guests can also don PJs and join a DJ-PJ dance party.
  • It has its own Science School, where students from across the province can earn credits in STEM subjects.
  • The Science Centre is home to the Maple Leaf Forever Tree. While the original silver maple was felled in a windstorm in 2013, it has transformed into a beautiful hand-carved sculpture that took 10,000 hours of volunteer efforts and 35 painstakingly hand-carved maple leaves.

How to get to Ontario Science Centre

By car from Toronto: Get on Don Valley Parkway North from Adelaide Street West. Keep following Don Valley Parkway N towards Don Mills Road, then take exit 7B. Continue on Don Mills Road to the Ontario Science Centre.

By bicycle: Pedal down the Lower Don Trail. It will take you along the river all the way from downtown, towards the Ontario Science Centre, which is also located along the river.

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