Toronto: A list for the day-trippers

I was born in Toronto, and spent the first 18 years of my life there. I couldn’t wait to get out. I felt like it was holding me back. But it wasn’t the city that was suffocating me.  Traveling around the world for five years gave me a deep appreciation for what a wonderful multifaceted and multicultural city Toronto really is.

Also known as YYZ, or as Drake affectionately nicknamed us, The Six, there is so much to do and see here, so with this first post about my home city, I’ll just give you an overview. This is a list for the day trippers, the vacationers, the tourists that are on their way for a visit and want the lowdown. Here you go:

First, a few things you should know-

  • Our main airport, Pearson International, is named after Lester B. Pearson. He was a Canadian scholar, soldier, Prime Minister and he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.
  • Canada is known for maple syrup. Quebec is responsible for 75% of the worlds supply.  This should be your gift of choice to bring home to your people. They will love you.
  • Toronto is the capitol of Ontario. Ottawa is the capitol of Canada (Ottawa is an easy 4 hour drive from Toronto if you wanna check in out).
  • Laura Secord was a Canadian heroine of the war of 1812. There is a chocolate company named after her, Laura Secord Chocolates. The toffee crunch chocolate bar is heaven.
  • Poutine is a Canadian staple. It originated in Quebec and is a delicacy made with french fries, cheese curds and topped with hot gravy. You will not be allowed to exit the country unless you’ve tried it.

Where to go first-

  • The CN Tower- this is the 3rd tallest tower in the world (the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere). I suggest taking the elevator up and walking on the glass floor, or, if you’re a thrill-seeker do the EdgeWalk where you harness up and walk around the outside handsfree.
  • The main art museums are the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) and the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). They are both very cool and worth a visit.
  • Yonge & Dundas Square (This is the center hub of the city, there is a stage that hosts events and more importantly it’s right across the street from The Toronto Eaton (A mall with a glass galleria and over 250 shops) . It’s worth noting that behind the Eaton Center is Old City Hall (at Queen & Bay) it was built in 1899 and is a gorgeous heritage structure complete with clock tower.
  • Kensington Market- this is a a historic part of the city. It’s full of eclectic shops, cafes, and outdoor market and Bellevue square. You can stroll, have lunch, buy the perfectly worn-in second-hand jeans or come by at night to see a band or catch a show.
  • Chinatown is right beside Kensington, so wander over and check out the wonderful ethnic enclave.
  • Queens Quay/ Harbourfront- This is a lively waterfront promenade that hosts many cultural and art events in the summer. Traipse along the boardwalk, watch the planes  land on Toronto Island (our smaller, city airport), grab a bevy at the Boxcar Social cafe or pop into the Power Plant Museum. (In the winter, this is the most romantic place to take your lover ice skating, under the stars overlooking the Lake Ontario)

Okay, after you’ve hit the mandatory sites, here are a few of my personal favs:

  • The Distillery District- This was once the biggest distillery in the British Empire. Now the historic Victorian architecture is backdrop for a bustling cobble stone village home to restaurants, shops and galleries.
  • College St.- This is our ‘Little Italy’ but it is more a collection of trendy restaurants, delicious gelato, martini bars and a few shops. The main corner is Clinton & College where Cafe Diplomatico sits (known by the locals as The Dip). Have an espresso on the expansive patio and people watch, like a good Italian 😉
  • Queen Street West- This used to be between Spadina & Yonge, but once the commercial brands moved in, the cool kids had to move further west. The new Queen West is west of Spadina ending at Bellwoods park. Find small unique stores, beautiful rooftop patios, a ping pong bar, and the legendary Cameron House-built as a hotel in the 1920s this bohemian bar hosts live bands 7-days a week.

Alright, that should get you started 🙂

I love talking about Toronto, where to go and what to do. If you own a business or are running an event in Toronto and think I should check it out, send me a note!

-Riva

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