Five lesser-known places to see at Doors Open

Explore these new spots normally closed to the public at the annual celebration of Toronto buildings this weekend

Doors Open Toronto is a chance to see the city behind-the-scenes. For one weekend a year (May 23 and 24 this time around), some of the city’s most interesting buildings and venues are open to the public with tours, exhibits and special events.

With so much to see – more than 155 venues this year – it can be hard to choose what to visit. There are popular yearly staples like the mayor’s office at City Hall or boat tours along the waterfront. But if you’re into trying something different, here are five locations new to this year’s event that you definitely can’t waltz into everyday.

Stop and smell the flowers at the High Park greenhouses

Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm

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This set of nine greenhouses tucked in the middle of High Park are behind many of the multi-coloured flowers beautifying Toronto’s parks. They also contribute flowers to High Park naturalization projects and yearly shows at the Allan Gardens and Centennial Conservatory. It’s practically guaranteed to be beautiful and relaxing. Must-see: Children’s Teaching Kitchen.

A different train of thought at the TTC-Greenwood subway yard

Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm

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Subway cars from the Bloor-Danforth line are rebuilt and repaired at this 50-year-old rail yard before they head back out into service. Scarborough RT vehicles also get freshened up in the workshops here. Must-see: subway car wash. On Saturday, you can ride a train through it and top it all off with a tasty BBQ.

Back of the house at BMO Field

Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm

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Canada’s first soccer-only stadium has been hosting Toronto FC and Canada’s national soccer team since 2007, but it’s recently been renovated (to 30,000 seats from about 22,000) to prepare for the Pan/Parapan Am Games. The Argos will also start playing here starting in 2016, it was announced this week. Must-see: back-of-house areas. Doors Open will be a rare chance to see what it’s like to work at the stadium on a self-guided tour Sunday.

Member for a day at The National Club

Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm

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This members-only club was established in 1874 and boasts roots in the Canada First Party, but now it’s non-political and focused on being a social and business club. There are around 1,000 members today (mostly from businesses along King and Bay), but if you aren’t one of them, you can live like one for a day on a guided tour with stops at the rooftop pavilion. banquet halls and library. Must-see: 40,000-bottle wine cellar.

Relive your childhood horse dreams at Woodbine Racetrack

Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm

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More than 2,000 horses live in the private stable area at Woodbine, and you can take a bus tour for a glimpse into their daily routines. The tour will introduce visitors to blacksmiths, caretakers and racing staff, and you can walk through the starting gate to experience some start-of-race adrenaline. There will also be tours of the grandstand. Must-see: stick around after 1 pm to catch the live race action. 

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