Part of the Greater Toronto Area, Markham is a melting pot of cultures, a high-tech hub and a place where old and new meet. It’s a city of rolling hills, suburban neighborhoods, towering skyscrapers and 19th-century homes.
Markham is a vibrant city with several cultural attractions, recreational facilities, parks and heritage attractions. However, for some reason it is often overlooked by tourists, despite the fact that there is a lot to see and do here.
If you’ve ever been in the Greater Toronto Area, you must go to Markham. Whether it’s a day or a few days, there’s something here for everyone.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Markham:
1. Explore the Historic District
Markham is unique because it is an eclectic mix of old and new. The picturesque old quarters of the city are well worth a visit.
Arguably the best area to explore, Unionville dates back more than 200 years. This is a charming community made up of beautiful homes, great restaurants and great boutiques.
Markham Village is another great neighborhood worth walking around, especially along Main Street. The street is lined with historic houses that have been converted into local shops and restaurants.
2. Go to museums
The Markham Museum is an open-air museum that tells the story of the city’s history and development. It consists of nearly 30 buildings, most of which are historic buildings, depicting life in the past.
The museum displays numerous artifacts from excavations carried out in Markham between 1968 and 2009. Temporary exhibitions are also held throughout the year.
The museum also has lovely gardens, perfect for a picnic on a warm spring or summer day. If you are visiting with children, please let them take one of the day classes.
3. Go for a bike ride
On the Joyride 150, you can ride all year round, no matter the weather! This indoor bike park features ramps, narrow sides and lines, and even an 800-meter mountain bike trail.
There are sections for all levels, from beginners to advanced mountain bikers. There are even half pipes, street-style rails and steps, and BMX-style areas.
After an adventure at the indoor bike park, relax with a toast or pizza in the lounge. Joyride 150 is open 7 days a week and until 10pm on weekends!
4. Spend an afternoon in the park
Toogood Park is a 330-hectare park known for its ponds. Located in Unionville, the park is a great place for an afternoon walk.
There is a trail that goes around the pond, which is a popular hiking spot. The park also has rocky hills and lovely bridges, as well as some beautiful vegetation.
There are several other parks in Markham. In fact, there are more than 50 of them, including German Mills Settlers Park, Berczy Park and Crosby Memorial Park.
5. Enjoy indoor leisure activities
The City of Markham is home to numerous recreation and community centers, all of which offer some sort of indoor activity. Most of these are located in the most populous areas of the city.
If you want to swim, head to Angus Glen Community Center, Milliken Community Center or Markham Pan Am Center. To play a game of squash, go to the Centennial Community Center.
RJ Clatworthy Community Centre, Markham Village Community Centre and Mount Joy Community Centre all have indoor ice rinks, while Thornhill Community Centre has a running track and gym.
6. Visit the historic train station
One of the oldest stations in the city is the Markham GO Station, built in 1871. It is designed in the classic Canadian Railroad style with elements of vernacular carpenter Gothic architecture.
As old as the Unionville GO Station, it is used today as a community center. It is designed in the same style as the Markham Go Station.
Newer but equally important is Locust Hill Station. The station was built in 1936 and is now part of the Markham Museum.
7. Shop until you give up
Markham has a lot of great places to spend your money, and lots of things to buy. No shopaholic would be bored here.
One of the most interesting places for shopping is the Village Market, a Chinese market with more than 170 family-run stores. This is the go to for anything made in China.
Pacific Place is another Chinese mall with a design similar to Hong Kong’s Pacific Place. If you’re looking for an international chain, head to CF Markville.
8. Play a round of golf
There are 9 different golf courses in Markham; 4 of them are private and 5 are public. That means any avid golfer can stay busy for days on end.
York Downs Golf and Country Club is the city’s most prestigious club and it is the only club with a dress code for members. Bayview Country Club by Robbie Robinson and Doug Carrick is a good choice.
One of the best public courses in Markham is the Angus Glen Golf Club, which has hosted many PGA Tour events. Remington Parkview Golf Club and Markham Green Golf Club are also great.
9. Go to the theatre
Markham has several great theaters where you can spend an evening enjoying a show. Stand-up comedy, drama, dance theatre and musicals can all be seen.
The major theaters in Markham are the Little Markham Theater, Unionville Theater Company, and the FLATO Markham Theater. Check out the schedules of these theaters to see what shows are on when you’re in town.
If symphony is more your thing, head over to Kindred Spirits Orchestra. If you’re with kids, be sure to see a show at the Markham Youth Theatre.
10. Have fun at the fair
If you’re in Markham (or anywhere in the GTA) around Thanksgiving, then you have to go to the Markham Market. Not only is this one of the oldest county fairs in the country, but it is also the largest community volunteer organization in Canada.
The Markham Market is held the week before Thanksgiving. It features midway rides, games, live bands and shows, including a horse show, demolition derby and monster trucks.
In addition to all the exciting activities of the show, it has gymnastics demonstrations, shearing demonstrations and cooking demonstrations. There’s also a farm, food stalls and vendors selling everything from vaporizers to homemade pies.
11. The Art of Gaze
If you’re an art lover, be sure to visit the Frederick Horsman Varley Art Gallery. The gallery is named after one of the famous “Seven” as it showcases more than 100 works by the artist.
Frederick Horsman Varley Art Gallery opened in 1977. It not only showcases the work of Frederick Horseman, but also other local, national and international artists.
If you’d rather support your local arts community, visit the Mackay Arts Center. The gallery is housed in a historic house that is rented today to local artists to showcase their work.
12. Go hiking
Milne Dam Conservation Park is part of Rouge Park, Canada’s only national urban park. The park features 2.3 kilometers of trails, perfect for any hiker.
The trail is a naturally crowded trail with picnic areas and restrooms along the way. This is a great opportunity to get some fresh air and hopefully spot some wildlife.
A large number of migratory birds call the 123-hectare park home. There is also some stunning vegetation, including wetlands, forests and open spaces.
13. Enjoy the food
Markham is a cultural melting pot, so with it comes a wide variety of cuisines. Basically, pretty much anything you want to eat can be found in Markham.
The High Streets of Unionville and Old Markham both have plenty of dining options, some of the best in the city. Dine in Mexican, Indian, Japanese or Italian, or enjoy pints and pub food in a typical British pub.
Chinese food is a must in Markham as it has some of the most authentic restaurants around. If you like the known food chain, you’ll find great options here.
14. Have fun at the event
Markham hosts many of these events throughout the year. No matter which month you visit, you can have fun at the event.
Besides the Markham Fair, the Asian Flavors Festival is one of the largest annual events in the city. This is Canada’s largest Asian festival, attracting over 150,000 people each year.
Other not-to-be-missed city events include the Tony Rome Memorial Hockey Tournament, Unionville Music Festival, Thornhill Village Music Festival and Markham Open Doors. If you like meat, be sure to check out the Markham Ribfest, and music lovers shouldn’t miss the Markham Jazz Festival.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Markham, Canada
Lowest price guaranteed.