Originally published by The Savvy Explorer on February 15, 2010
Read the original article here.
Home to the CN Tower, the longest street in North America (Yonge Street), and one of the longest streetcar lines in North America (The Queen Streetcar), Toronto has a lot to offer visitors no matter their interest. Besides being the financial and business capital of Canada, the fifth largest city in North America is also one of the most cosmopolitan and culturally diverse cities in the world.
If you’re downtown close to the water, you can visit the Harbourfront, the city’s bustling St. Lawrence Market or the Hockey Hall of Fame. There’s always something to see at Dundas Square – Toronto’s answer to Times Square, home to outdoor markets and free concerts among other attractions. If shopping is what brings you here – you can take a walk through the high-end retailers on Bloor Street or take a walk through Yorkville. The Eaton Centre is a never-fail alternative right across the street from Dundas Square. Toronto is also home to several museums including AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) & the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum)
A City of Neighborhoods
Located in the high traffic area between Toronto Life Square (home to AMC movie theaters and a few restaurants) and the Eaton Centre, Dundas Square, unabashedly inspired by Times Square, is touristy but always fun to check out. During the summer NXNE music festival and at random it becomes a stage for concerts; there have been charity events, TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) events, open air markets and sometimes when there is nothing big going on you can just sit and people watch.
There is no neighborhood as delightfully eclectic as Kensington Market. If you walk west on Dundas Street away from Chinatown and make a right up on Kensington you will first come across clothing stores that look more like polished yard sales. Racks of clothing line the fronts of these houses along with tables housing a variety of trinkets such as accessories, crafts and jewellery. You will find cramped, dim-lit spaces crammed with racks of clothing, shelves of bags, hats, boots, belts and much more. The stores have a slight musky smell to them, sometimes layered with the scent of incense burning. You will hear hip-hop music, Indian music, West Indian music – each store has a different theme.
If you walk a little further north on this tiny little street you will hit the Tibet Café & Bar. In addition to Tibetan food, they serve a variety of beverages including cocktails, sangria, beer, tea and some of the best smoothies to be had in Toronto. Further up still you hit the fruit and vegetable markets, the butchers, the cheese shops (check out Global Cheese Shoppe) and the bakeries. Kensington Market is also a great source of fresh food for those who live nearby or are craving an afternoon snack. If you turn right on Baldwin Street you will hit Uprising Books, famous for being Toronto’s only anarchist bookstore. Also worth checking out are HotBox Café (corner of Kensington & Baldwin) – marijuana friendly and specializing in vegan food, Jumbo Empanadas – famous for Chilean street food. Also check out Supermarket (which is a bar not an actual Supermarket) located on Augusta Avenue (parallel to Kensington Avenue).
You experience it not only through sight, but also through smell, hearing and on occasion taste. Located right next to Kensington Market, the neighborhood sprawls up Spadina Avenue between Sullivan Street and Nassau Street, extending east on Dundas for a black or two. Vendors cram onto the sidewalks selling fresh fruits, vegetables, plants, and sometimes even clothing and accessories. The fruit is ripe, the fish is fresh and shopping in Chinatown is definitely a unique experience.
Chinatown Centre (Spadina & Grange Avenue) is a small mall that features tiny stores and an mouthwatering waffle stand. Culinary highlights include Furama Cakes & Desserts Garden (if you crave Chinese dessert, also at Grange & Spadina), Gold Stone Noodles (a little north of Furama Cakes & Desserts), Banh Mi Sandwiches (Vietnamese sandwiches, Spadina a little north of Dundas), Dumpling House (D’arcy & Spadina) and last but not least Lee Garden (Spadina between D’arcy & Baldwin).
If you walk along Yorkville Avenue west of Bay Street, you will feel as though you are in a different city. Trees and awnings line the sidewalks as the trendiest of Toronto’s trendy stroll past, shopping bags in hand. You can check out Anthropologie, Diesel, get your hair done at one of the salons or have a drink at Remy’s on their famous rooftop patio. One unique destination is Teatro Verde, which is a fantastic destination for the most stylish of the stylish of home décor. Scented appropriately to the season, you can buy candles, books, soaps, designer pet products and a variety of other high end products for the home; they even have an in-house florist. Although pricey, every piece is unique.
Take a left on Avenue Road. If you walk north, you will pass the Hazelton Lanes Shopping Centre, famous for luxury shopping and designer boutiques. If you walk south and make a left on Cumberland then walk east, you will soon pass The Four Seasons, famous for being the hotel of choice for celebrities coming for TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Crowds line up outside during the two-week event. Cumberland is a little more crowded than Yorkville Avenue, the storefronts seem almost squeezed together. Some things of note are Hemingways, a New Zealand themed bar and the Yorkville Park Gardens that reflect the property lines of the houses that once stood there. One of the most notable of these is the rock garden, which makes an excellent perch for summer people watching.
St. Lawrence Market
The smell is a mix of salty raw meat, dough rising and fresh cheese at this perfect Saturday morning destination. St. Lawrence Market, located at Front and Jarvis (website), is one of the largest markets in Toronto. The market exists in two parts – the north market and the south market. The South market is located in the old Toronto City Hall, converted to part of the market in 1901, while the North Market has existed since 1803.
The South Market, open Tuesday – Saturday, is the permanent market, where you can sample the cheese of the day, scoop up fresh mussels and clams for dinner or pick up everything from meat, condiments and home made pasta to nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables. Downstairs, shops and stands sell everything from clothing and accessories to flowers and ready to eat foods such as breakfast, gyros and fresh spreads. The North Market hosts a farmers market every Saturday morning, with farmers and artisanal producers arriving starting at 5am – the market usually winds down by 1pm. Sometimes on other days there is an Antique Markets, which is also a great way to spend an hour or two in the city.
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto Campus is a stunning place to walk around. If you start at Queen’s Park, you will pass by the Ontario Legislative Buildings and King’s College, acquired in 1827 and secularized in 1850. The park behind is a great place to jog or just sip a coffee on a fall day while seated on one of their red faded wooden benches. At the centre stands an equestrian statue of King Edward VII, originally from Edward Park in Delhi, India.
When you cross into the main campus, you will pass the Hart house, the ivy-draped student union building. Through its arches is a soccer field and other University buildings with large signs exclaiming things like “CIUT Radio”, “The Five Buck Lunch,” and other announcements regarding student life. Make a left on Hoskin Avenue and walk west towards St. George Street past the Rotman School of Management. Every building here has its own character and style. Brick juxtaposed with stone, which in turn is juxtaposed glass.
When you reach Bloor, make a right, and after a few blocks you will reach the Philosophers Gates. Walk down the pathway through beds of leaves and watch music majors practice violin through basement windows in the nearby buildings. The pathway traces Taddle Creek, otherwise known as the “lost river”, and you can see this in its dips and valleys. As a result of damming McCauls Pond and other factors, the creek was re-routed underground. It flowed all the way from Wynchwood Park to the Distillery District in Toronto Harbor.
The Annex is largely a University Of Toronto dominated neighborhood, but thereare several highlights east on Bloor from Bathurst that warrant stopping by for. Some highlights are Green Beanery, a famous coffee shop and Honest Eds, a monstrosity with neon flashing signs on the corner of Bathurst and Bloor and one of the most famous discount stores in Toronto offering bargains on almost anything. Honest Ed’s will not be the shopping experience you dream of, but it’s such a bizarre experience that it is worth going in just to look. It has a musky stale smell to it that mimics that of most dollar stores, but the bargains and off-beat character make up for it. Look for signs with bizarre slogans such as “Unfair to low prices they never get a ‘raise'”, “a lemon you’d “bitter-squeeze” in line for bargains,” and “Dangerous, beware of falling prices.”
If you make a quick right on Brunswick Avenue, tucked away in a back alley is the Green Room, offering inexpensive pub food and a peek into the student life. If you’re not feeling the greasy food, you can cut back up to Bloor to reach By The Way Café. It features a refreshing brunch, including Eggs Benedict, omelets, and a host of cocktails for the thirsty. The Eggs Charlottine, poached eggs, smoked salmon and spinach on an English muffin with potatoes and fresh fruit, are highly recommended.
Turn right on Spadina and walk down towards Harbord where you can make a right to see another side of the annex – the used bookstores. On Bathurst is Willow Books, a delightful little store that sells all kinds of books, used and new, as well as (somewhat arbitrarily) guitars. Rows and rows of dog-eared and creased books stand upon chipped wooden cases. Handmade signs line the store advertising 3 for $10, $3 for 20, on bright orange and pink paper, while genre labels are also scribbled on large pieces of cardboard that hang from the ceiling.
Another destination for the book-lover is A Different Booklist, a little further down Bathurst, specializing in Native American, Asian, Black, and Gay/Lesbian literature. Other area bookstores are The Beguiling, a cute little comic book shop with narrow aisles and large shelves crammed with merchandise, Parentbooks, if you want children’s reading, Cavershan Books, specializing in books on mental health, and the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. If you are in the mood for fashion apparel or accessories, Trove and Shoon are right across the street from the bookstores.
The heritage of the Distillery District lies in the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, which was started in 1832 as a milling company. The company then moved into making beer and finally whiskey and, in less than forty years, was the largest distillery in the world. What followed was a tumultuous history involving suicides, new product areas (particularly during prohibition) and a disastrous fire. In 1990 the distilling operations were finally shut down and in 2001, the area was bought and renovated. Today, it is a destination featuring coffee shops, restaurants, art boutiques and dance studios. Most of the buildings are either original or use as much of the original material as possible. It has also been used as a backdrop in several films including the original X-men and Chicago.
When you reach Mill Street, walk east to Trinity to enter the district through the gates. Immediately you’ll feel like you are in a town from another century. The roads are constructed completely from brick (most of them from old buildings) and pink and red bricks line the walls of the buildings. Immediately to your left you will find the Brick Street Bakery offering a variety of tasty baked goods and sandwiches. The tarts, particularly the chocolate and cheesecake ones, melt in your mouth. If you keep walking south you will reach Tank House Lane on your left. There are several highlights on this street including the Boiler House restaurant, known for a great patio in the summertime, the Pure Spirits Oyster Bar and Grill and the Mill Street Brewpub. A little further down on your right hand side you will find the Soma Chocolatemaker, which has a huge pane of glass behind which chocolate is produced. Try the Mayan Hot Chocolate, perfect on a cold day.
Towards the bottom of Trinity Street, you will see a huge piece of odd-looking artwork supposed to be two dancers, but resembling something from the industrial age instead. Here is Balzac’s Coffee, another district institution, galleries and shops including Engine Gallery and Pikto, an incredible resource for photographers.
This is a neighborhood of living history. Once toted as “The largest Anglo-Saxon slum in North America” (Hugh Garner, Author, Cabbagetown), today it is the largest collection of preserved 19th Century homes on the continent. If you are visiting during September, watch out for the Cabbagetown Festival, which includes an Arts & Crafts fair at Riverdale Park and an opportunity to tour some of the oldest homes in the area.
The borders of Cabbagetown have never quite been defined, though many agree it stretches from approximately the St. James Cemetery to the Necropolis and Don River on the east, and to Spruce or Gerrard in the south. The most logical place to begin your adventure is at Allan Gardens (between Jarvis and Sherbourne) at the Palm House. The Palm House, a gift from politician George Allan, is composed of six inter-connected green houses featuring botanical specimens from all over the world. The air is thick and sweet, and it is slightly humid, making for an instance where you can imagine you are in a tropical paradise instead of one of the coldest climates in the world.
Walk from here to Parliament Street and turn south to Spruce Street. This feels like a completely different country just steps away from the hustle and bustle of Parliament behind you. It is quiet; all you will hear are leaves crunching under foot, the chirping of birds and the voices of school children coming home. Here you will see flags hanging from many residences. The neighborhood derives its name from the vegetable that the Irish immigrants in this area used to grow on their front lawns. Today this previously un-celebrated vegetable is on the neighborhood flag.
Continue walking east to Sumach. You will pass Trinity Mews, the old medical college, the former site of the Toronto General Hospital, and if you turn south on Sumach, you will pass the old Ontario Medical College for Women (now condominiums). If you turn back North you will hit Riverdale Park. This is an excellent place to stop and take a break. Families come here with children and pets to play when the weather is nice. Directly adjacent is Riverdale Farm, the first zoo in Toronto. The zoo location was shifted to the Toronto Metropolitan Zoo in the mid 1970s (conditions were not ideal for a zoo in this space anymore), and therefore the place was turned into a farm. Now you will see horses, pigs and fowl while the more exotic animas have been removed.
Walk through an arch at the back of Riverdale Farm and you will find yourself at the Necropolis, one of the neighborhood’s two cities of the dead. Many of the tombs in this cemetery are originally from the Potter’s Field that sat at the corner of Yonge and Bloor. The cemetery is hauntingly quiet and the chapel is a beautiful gothic revival style.
Head back west on Winchester and you will pass 94 Winchester, home of Doug Hemming, magician, teacher and politician who was member of the Natural Law Party of Canada, known for their belief in levitation. At the corner of Metcalfe, you will find the former Enoch Presbyterian Church, now a dance theater. You can cut back to Sackville or continue back on Parliament north to Wellesley. Wellesley East looks nothing like the Wellesley Street closer to the centre of town. It is silent, unassuming and modest, but still boasting some gorgeous homes. When you get back onto Parliament, you only have to walk a few short blocks to get to St. James, just north of Bloor and the Northwest corner of the neighborhood.
Once you have seen St. James you can walk back down Parliament for some refreshments and shopping. Recommendations are The Pear Tree, House on Parliament and Jet Fuel, if you just need a little caffeine to keep you going. Green’s Antiques, Sharon’s Boutique and Planet Aid are great places to do a little shopping.
Getting There: Toronto’s Pearson Airport, located to the west of the city, is the main international arrival airport. Toronto City Centre Airport, which is much closer to the city, is only serviced by one airline from several cities including New York and Chicago.
Traveling to and from the airport can be quite expensive since there is no direct rail link. Taxis cost about $40 – $45 CAD to city center. If you don’t have a lot of luggage or are looking to save some cash, you can take the airport Rocket Bus (#192) to Kipling Station on the Bloor subway line ($2.75 CAD). You can also take the #34 Go Bus to York Mills or Yorkdale Go Stations (website, $4.45 CAD). The Airport Express Bus stops at many major downtown hotels. For a full list of stops check out their website. Cost of Trip is approx $19.95 one-way, $32.95 round trip (10% less if you buy tickets in advance online). The trip takes approximately one hour to get downtown depending on traffic.
Getting Around: The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) is one of the most affordable ways to navigate Toronto. A one-way token costs $3.00 (no matter how far you go), but on weekends 2 adults and 2 children can share a single day pass for only $10.00. The subway is usually quite a fast way to travel, while streetcars can be slow if you are in a hurry as they can get stuck in traffic and behind other streetcars.
If you are looking to get out of Toronto – Go Transit offers some excellent travel options. For a full list of routes check out GoTransit.com. Major terminals are located at Union Station, York Mills Subway Station and Yorkdale Subway Station & Mall.
Weather: Summer is by far the best time to visit Toronto. It starts getting warm in June. There are also many great summer festivals and events going on from June into the fall. Winter can be quite cold with abundant snowfall.
Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD), US dollar often accepted (all prices in this article are in CAD)
Visas: American citizens don’t need visas, passports or passport cards are now required to cross the border.
Eat & Drink
Bier Market (58 The Esplanade, 416-862-7575, 600 King Street West, 416- 862-1175, website) combines good food with a choice of over 100 beers, and on occasion tops it off with live entertainment. There are two locations in Toronto, one on King West and one on the Esplanade. Both are popular spots by day and night, and feature large patios crammed with diners and drinkers. Food favorites include the Markt Seafood Tower, Steak Frites and a variety of meat, fish, and flatbreads. Items range from $12 to $30 CAD.
Everest (232 Queen St. W., 416-977-6969) has a truly unique theme; it is a global restaurant – offering visitors a choice from 4-5 different cuisines (Tibetan, Indian, Italian, North American). Located on the heart of Queen Street West right across from MuchMusic and CityTV, the interiors are sleek and trendy, resulting in an atmosphere that is perfect for a romantic meal, dinner with friends or people watching on the Patio during the summer. Entrees range from $8-$15 CAD. Some favorites include the Everest Platter, the Chicken Curry and the Pad Thai.
Gandhi’s (554 Queen St W, 416-504-8155) is one of the most popular lunch spots in Toronto’s Queen West neighborhood. It is a tiny grungy looking operation that serves the best rotis in Toronto. Ordering ahead will save time as it can get quite crowded. The Butter Chicken Roti and the Lamb Roti are definite favorites, but nobody seems to have anything bad to say about any of the Rotis. The medium spicy is quite spicy, so if you have a sensitivity to spice stick to the mild. This place is not open on the weekends, but definitely worth a weekday trip out to the Queen & Bathurst area. All Rotis are approximately $10 CAD and are usually big enough for two medium meals. Don’t miss this one.
Golden Turtle (125 Ossington Ave, 416-531-1601) is so famous for its Vietnamese noodle soup, that chef Susur Lee (the creator of Lee’s Restaurant) frequents it to satisfy his Southeast Asian food cravings. The restaurant has no frills, featuring small marble tables with the some of the tallest high back chairs you will ever encounter. The spring rolls are greasy and juicy, and the vermicelli paired with juicy pork is satisfyingly filling. It is best known for its phi, and a great feature of this here is that the noodles are thin, whereas most restaurants have very thick noodles. If you’re thirsty pair your meal with a creamy milkshake in a variety of flavors such as leeches. Meals can be enjoyed for approximately $10-20 CAD.
Lee (603 King Street West, 416-504-7867, website) offers its guests a “tapas” style experience. Chef Susur Lee started his career as a 15-year-old apprentice in Hong Kong and his unique flavor combines Asian and French techniques with results unlike anything you have ever tasted. The Singapore Slaw is an all-time favorite and highly recommended. Located on King West, steps away from trendy nightspots such as The Brant House and Spice Route, Lee’s is a perfect stop before a night on the town. Dishes range from $12-25 CAD.
Moroco Chocolat (99 Yorkville Avenue, 416-961-2202) is part chocolate boutique-part restaurant. The boutique section offers chocolate in every shape and form, while the restaurant offers standard fare like sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as some beverages, in addition to the finest chocolate offerings to be had in the city. Try sipping chocolate, chocolate fondue, s’mores or a variety of truffles. Between 2:30 and 5:00pm, they offer “afternoon tea” in which your tea is served with scrumptious tiny sandwiches and a variety of pastries, scones and jams. (Reservations for Afternoon tea should be made 24 hours in advance).
Negroni (492 College Street, 416-413-0005, website) is a quiet, unassuming little restaurant tucked on a corner of College Street. Their specialty is grilled Panini sandwiches. Dark wood tables paired with chairs and almost pew-like benches are decorated with long slender glass bottles containing a few small flowers. Posters of zombie and monster movies hang framed above diners. Recommendations include the proscuitto, cheese and red onion mayo sandwich that almost melts on your tongue, and the sausage, caramelized onions and cheese, which has a slightly sweeter flavor to it. Paninis range from $10-12 CAD.
Pear Tree (507 Parliament St., 416-962-8190, website) may as well be called Eggs Benedict. On weekends only, it offers 8 or 9 different versions of Eggs Benedict with different ingredients added on, including one that substitutes Hollandaise sauce with a Creole sauce for a Cajun twist. The lunch menu offers a variety of grilled meats, sandwiches, salads and pasta. Approximately $10 an item for lunch and brunch, and $10-20 CAD for dinner.
Pizza Libretto (221 Ossington Avenue, no reservations) serves some of the best pizza Toronto has to offer. It is a crowded, lively restaurant perfect for families, couples and reuniting with old friends. It is in fact the only restaurant in Toronto certified to make real Neapolitan pizza using standards set by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, the Italian government and the European Union. Each pizza ($13-$18 CAD) is baked to perfection in wood-fired ovens with a variety of delicious toppings. Located at the heart of the up and coming Ossington Strip, this experience is worth the trip a little further from the Downtown core. The only downside? No reservations.
Sukhothai (274 Parliament St, 416-913-8846) was opened a few years ago, by a couple that met on an elephant. It feels like you are in someone’s living room, the atmosphere lively and informal. Framed photos of Thailand hang on the walls, and on a weekend evening you may have trouble finding a place to sit. Service is slow, but the wait is worth it. Try the Pad Thai and the Khao Soi, a creamy flavorful curry with flat noodles and your choice of meat. The latter is a specialty of Northern Thailand and otherwise difficult to find in Toronto. Dishes are under $10 each.
Trattoria Giancarlo (41 Clinton Street, 416-533-9619, website) is a slightly higher end choice for a nice dinner. Elegant white tablecloths are offset by exposed brick walls and wooden doorways. Diners will linger in the smell of cooked garlic and personally accompany their waiter to select your wine. Recommendations here are the Gnocchi with cream sauce and leek pesto, and the pag (oven roasted tomatoes, shrimp, pinot grigio, roasted garlic and linguine). Pasta is $19-24; meat dishes are $30-40.
Wine Bar (9 Church Street, 416-504-9463, website) was formerly Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar until it was sold to sous-chef Scott Vivian, Rachel Caldwell (his wife) and Ted and Mary Koutsogiannopoulos. It has marvelous ambience, with lots of exposed brick, dim lighting, and candlelight. The daily changing menu offers tapas-style small plates such as organic Ontario fries served with homemade ketchup, sweet and sour sauce and other condiments, a crispy-skinned black cod that melts in your mouth and grilled naan served with carrots. Small plates range from $9-16.
Where to Stay
The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West, 416-531-4635, website) is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto. Built in 1889, it had fallen into disrepair before being purchased by the Zeidler family in 2002. They restored the original Victorian façade and cleaned up the infrastructure. Every room was individually designed by artists so that each guest can enjoy a completely unique experience. Hang out at the Melody Bar, with its popular weekend Karaoke nights, or step out into any one of trendy Queen West’s bars. Rooms start at $195 CAD a night.
For those that would like the comfort and security of a more modern hotel, packaged within the captivating ambience of a Victorian style bed & breakfast, Madison Manor Hotel (20 Madison Avenue, 416-922-5579, website) is a great choice. Rooms start at $89 CAD and come with en suite bathrooms, computer hook-ups, hair dryers and other basic amenities. A buffet breakfast is included and the nearby JCC community centre allows hotel guests access to its swimming pool and gym facilities at very reasonable rates. Located by Spadina subway station, this hotel is minutes away from Chinatown, Kensington Market and most Downtown Toronto attractions.
The Wellesley Manor Hotel (29 Wellesley St East, 416- 927-9820, website) is another choice for modern convenience wed with 19th Century Victorian charm. Located on Wellesley Street, close to Yonge, this hotel is minutes from the busy Yonge and Bloor intersection. Although breakfast is not included, guests are steps away from cafes, the subway and much more, and close to the trendy Bloor West shopping neighborhood, Yorkville, and many major theaters. Rooms start at $99 CAD.
The Drake (1150 Queen Street West, 416-531-5042, website) is another Queen West institution. Opened in 1890, the Drake had gone through several owners before the owner in 2001 decided to create an environment where culture, hospitality and community came together. Closed from that point until 2004, the Drake re-opened its doors as a boutique hotel. The contradiction of old and new is apparent to those who step beyond its doors. Featuring a sushi bar, a dining hall, a music venue, a café, a general store and an all-season rooftop patio – the Drake is another must-have Toronto experience. Rooms start at $189 CAD.
The CN Tower is the #1 destination for tourists arriving in Toronto. It is located between the Rogers Centre and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. (Front St at John Street – Union Station Subway Stop, website)
Hours: Daily 9am-10pm (until 10:30pm Saturday & Sunday).
Admission: Total Tower – $32.99 (regardless of age), Observation Sky Pod Experience – Adults $26.99, Seniors $24.99, Children $20.99; Observation (includes glass floor) – Adults $21.99, Seniors $19.99, Children $14.99
This is the main shopping mall in Downtown Toronto with most major retail chains and links to Sears and the Bay. Located on Yonge Street between Dundas & Queen, website.
Hours: 10am-9pm Monday – Friday, 9:30am-7pm Saturday, 11am – 6pm Sunday
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
A museum of cultural and natural history. (100 Queens Park near Charles Street (Museum subway stop on Bloor-Danforth Line), website)
Hours: Mon – Thurs 10am – 5:30pm, Fri 10am – 9:30 pm, Sat-Sun – 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Adults $22, Seniors and Students $19, Kids $15, half price Fridays from 4pm – 9:30pm
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
The AGO (317 Dundas Street, website) is one of the largest art museums in North America, featuring both Canadian and International art. The spaces have been transformed with a new building designed by Frank Gehry, reopening in November 2008.
Hours: Tues, Thursday – Sunday 10am – 5:30pm, Wednesday 10am – 8:30pm, closed Mondays
Admission: Adults $18, Seniors $15, 6 – 17 $10, 5 and under free; Family pass – 2 adults and up to 5 kids, $45; Free Wednesday evenings 6pm – 8:30pm
Hockey Hall of Fame
The Hockey Hall of Fame is located near the bottom of Yonge Street at Brookfield Place (website). The museum holds the largest collection of hockey-related items in the world and features hockey videos including the most famous goals in history. A must stop for any North American Hockey fan.
Hours: vary with time of year, please see official website for details
Admission: Adults $15, Seniors $12, Ages 4 – 13 $10
City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square & Old City Hall
At Queen and Bay you will see both the old and new city hall as well as Nathan Phillips Square – a gathering space and host of many city events. On a day where nothing is going on, it provides a good resting spot before you continue walking down towards Queen West.
Bata Shoe Museum
The Bata Shoe Museum (327 Bloor Street West, website) is an interesting stop for any footwear enthusiast. It traces the history of shoes from the bound-feet of China to 20th century styles. Located on the corner of Bloor and St. George, it is definitely not the norm when it comes to museums.
Hours: Monday – Wednesday, Friday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Thursday 10am – 8pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm
Admission Adults $12, Seniors $10, Students $6, 5 – 17 year olds $4, under 5 free; Families – One adult + up to four children $18, Two adults + up to four children $30; Pay what you wish Thursdays 5pm – 8pm
CNE (Canadian National Exhibition)
This fair (website), featuring rides, games and food, lasts just under three weeks from late August to early September, and is a popular destination for visitors.
Built from 1911 – 1914 for financier Sir Henry Pellatt, Toronto’s own historic castle Casa Loma (1 Austin Terrace, website) is full of secret passageways and elaborately decorated rooms as well as a 5 acre garden.
Hours: 9:30am – 5pm daily, Garden open May through October, last admission 4pm
Admission: Adults $18, Seniors (60+) $12.50, Youth (14-17) $12.50, Kids (4-13) $10.50
Things to Note:
*The elevator cannot take strollers
*The Conservatory is closed until May 1 2010
If you take the 509 or 510 Streetcar from Union Station you will stop in front of the Harbourfront Centre (website). It is soothing to walk by the water on a warm summers day or you can check out some of events that run yearlong.
The city of Toronto has something exciting to offer travelers year round. Check below to see what may be happening when you are visiting.
Winterlicious (website) is the time of year when Toronto restaurants offers prix-fixe menus to lure customers.
Held twice a year, in March and October, Toronto Fashion Week (website) is a platform for Canadian Fashion and its presence in the worldwide Fashion Industry.
NXNE (website) is a five day festival that offers local, national and international musicians the opportunity to showcase their work for record companies, fans and agents. Concerts are usually held all over the city.
Woofstock can boast to be the largest festival for dogs in North America. For one weekend in June, the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood becomes a canine lovers dream featuring fashion shows, spas and vendors of everything imaginable that can be manufactured for dogs.
For ten days every summer, Pride Week (website) celebrates gender and sexual identity. It includes a parade, a three day street festival, Dyke March and the most famous – the Pride Parade.
Much like Winterlicious, Summerlicious (website) highlights prix-fixe menus promoting Toronto restaurants.
Caribana (website) is one of North America’s most famous Caribbean festivals. The three-week long festival features calypso, soca, hip-hop and brilliant masquerade costumes, among others.
The Jazz Festival (website) was created to raise appreciation for jazz as well as to showcase its performers. The event takes place all over the city for one week and features artists from across Canada and around the world.
The Taste of the Danforth, a Greek food festival, is a Toronto phenomenon, running one weekend each year on the Danforth (Greektown, website) and featuring all types of Greek Food from souvlaki to meze, Greek music and family fun.
The Toronto Festival of Beer is a celebration of all types of beer, perfect to cool down in August. It runs one weekend every year and is a great way to learn about, and more importantly, try new beer.
Another St. Lawrence Market Street Festival, Buskerfest (website) is organized in support of Epilepsy Toronto. It features street performers of all kinds and is a great way to have fun for a good cause.
TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival, website) is one of the biggest film festivals in the world, showcasing both Canadian and International films for ten days every year.
Nuit Blanche (website) is an event unlike any other – the entire city becomes a showcase for Contemporary Art. People wander the streets from one work to another until 6 in the morning. Rest well and bundle up – there is always the chance of cold weather or rain.
Toronto Fashion Week
Spring fashions on display
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