Originally built as a personal mansion, Casa Loma today is a public attraction with its medieval castle design and plenty to explore indoors and outside.
Casa Loma in Toronto
While it might look like it could be much older, Casa Loma was built in the early 20th century. Designed in the Gothic Revival style, it was commissioned by the wealthy Sir Henry Pellatt. At the time it was built, it was the largest private residence in all of Canada. Pellatt only lived in the home for around a decade, however, before the city seized it due to unpaid taxes.
The castle turned into a luxury hotel for a few years, before it found new life as a tourist attraction beginning in the 1930s. Today, hundreds of thousands of people visit Casa Loma annually. The building’s dramatic setting also makes it a popular site for various private events as well as for movies and TV filming.
Where is Casa Loma?
The museum’s address is 1 Austin Terrace. It’s close to Spadina Park and the Spadina Museum. It’s also about 2 kms northwest of the Royal Ontario Museum.
Hours and Admission Rates
Casa Loma is open to the public seven days a week from around 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. The gardens do close slightly earlier, at 4:00 pm from Mondays to Wednesdays, and at 3:00 pm from Thursdays to Sundays.
Below are the admission prices as of early 2024.
- Adult (ages 18 to 64): $40
- Senior (ages 65 and over): $35
- Youth (ages 14 to 17): $35
- Child (ages 4 to 13): $25
Children ages 3 years and under are free. The castle is a self-guided experience, although there is a free audio guide you can grab. There is limited access to the audio guide, however, so it’s available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Parking at Casa Loma is at a flat rate of $20 per car. There is also a bit of on-street parking near the attraction but that’s not always easy to come by.
Exploring the Castle
Casa Loma is made up of the main three-storey castle, as well as an attached area with stables and a collection of vintage cars. The whole estate also includes around 5 acres of gardens surrounding the castle which can be explored. They hold well-manicured displays, fountains and different sculptures.
One of the first things you can do after entering the building is watch a short film about the making of Casa Loma. It’s a little over 20 minutes long and free to watch. It’s shown in the Billiards Room on the main floor every 30 minutes. This main floor includes many impressive rooms like the Great Hall, a large library and a conservatory. Bedrooms, the Round Room and the Windsor Room are on the second floor.
Highlights of the upper floors are the large towers. They are not accessible for everyone due to their narrow stairs and the fact they are a bit of a climb up. If you can make it to the top, however, you’re greeted by a fantastic view of the city. The fact that the castle sits on a high elevation (nearly 150 metres above sea level) only adds to the sights. The third floor also includes the Queen’s Own Rifles Museum, where guests can learn about this regiment in which Henry Pellatt served as an officer.
The castle’s basement includes the old wine cellars, as well as a modern-day gift shop and the Liberty Caffé. From down there you can walk through an underground tunnel that leads to a separate building which includes the stables and a potting shed. There is also a small automotive museum which has a series of early 20th century cars.
Places to Eat
For those interested in dining inside a castle, there are a few options at Casa Loma. Liberty Caffé is one. There is also a proper, high-end restaurant inside the building. As its name implies, BlueBlood Steakhouse focuses on high-quality beef. There are also a number of seafood dishes available. The restaurant is on the pricier side, as expected given its reputation, the location and high reviews.
A third option for on-site dining is The Gardens which is an outdoor patio where you can eat surrounded by the estate’s gardens. This is only open in the summer and so not available for those who visit in the colder months.
Events at Casa Loma
The dramatic setting of Casa Loma makes it a popular place for private events. Many movies and TV shows have been shot there including X-Men and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. There are also various other activities that visitors can take part in at the site. Below are some of them.
Escape rooms have become quite popular in recent years, and a medieval-style castle is a perfect setting for them. There are multiple scenarios that you can play set in various time periods in the past. Escape from the Tower is a World War II mission to find coordinates of German U-boats and transmit them to the Allies in time. Station M takes you into the underground tunnel and an old secret base. King of the Bootleggers is during the prohibition era and takes place in a hidden bar.
These games are all played during the evenings, usually after regular closing time. They operate year-round and last for around 90 minutes. There are also virtual escape rooms that you can play from home, including one with a full 360-degree display. These versions have you interact with and direct someone who is in the physical room, going through all the puzzles and obstacles from a more removed perspective.
For more information about these games visit the Casa Loma Escape Series website.
Legends of Horror
An October tradition, each year Casa Loma plays host to Legends of Horror, a part-haunted house, part theatrical production. The experience is around an hour long and includes various parts of the estate. Participants begin at the base of a 2-km trail and wind their way through the gardens, inside the castle and through the spookier sections of the building. There are live actors, 3D projections, changing sets and more.
The event takes place every night in October after closing hours. Tickets cost around $35. To learn more check out the Legends of Horror website.
There are other regular events held at Casa Loma. Each summer there is the Symphony in the Gardens series, where on Tuesday nights the Casa Loma Symphony Orchestra performs outdoor concerts. The Toronto Jazz Festival also holds a few concerts at Casa Loma most years. As well, the venue is available to rent for weddings, corporate events and other private social gatherings.
For more information about the castle visit the Casa Loma website.
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