There is something so satisfying about swapping shorts and t-shirts for jeans and a ‘toque’ (Canadian word for hat), to walk amongst the autumn leaves falling in the many parkettes tucked amongst Toronto’s skyscrapers.
Known as one of the most multicultural places in the world, Toronto has all the bustle of a large city with the relaxed atmosphere of a smaller town. This perfect combination allows for a breeding place of art, innovation, distinct global cuisines and North American culture. Although it’s a must to visit Niagara Falls and the CN tower, Toronto is definitely best enjoyed off the beaten path.
Photo credit – Seth Anderson(swanksalot) Flickr
Situated in the art and design district, Queen Street West is host to independent shops, antiques and restaurants. Whilst browsing, it will take just a few moments to realise that the only way to walk in this city is with a freshly brewed coffee in your hand. Try Le Gourmand, a great stop for rich coffees and homemade baked treats. Situated just north of Queen West is Kensington Market – a bohemian mix of local artistry, poetry bars and market finds. Be warned; you can easily spend the day getting lost in both of these culturally unique areas of town. If you do manage to pull yourself away in time for dinner, one of the best (if not addictive) eateries is located in-between both of these districts, known as Bahn Mi Boys. Asian inspired sandwiches, tacos and steamed buns start at only $4 an dish. I am yet to bring someone here who willingly wanted to get a plane back to England afterwards.
Music, Art and Theatre
Photo credit – Beeteeoh Flickr
Although it may not be your first thought to see a movie whilst on holiday, TIFF Bell Lightbox is definitely worth checking out. The Toronto International Film Festival attracts the best in Hollywood names each year as they promote their brand new alternative movies and documentaries. Catch something here that you won’t see on the big screen. Although Toronto is considered ‘North Broadway’ due to large theatres such as Massey Hall and the Ed Mirvish theatre, there are also tons of local and less costly theatre alternatives such as the Soulpepper theatre. Located in the beautiful Victorian neighbourhood of the Distillery District, an evening drink in one of the many bars on these cobbled lanes afterwards makes for a perfect evening in the east of the city.
The Waterfront and the Toronto Islands
Photo Credit – EladeManu Flickr
Visiting Toronto also means taking in the vastness of Lake Ontario. Just a short walk south from the famous Dundas Square, the harbour front is always bustling with activities to enjoy, whether you are a family, a couple or an independent traveller. Drink a craft beer at Amsterdam Brewery or the Watermark pub as you watch the boats float by. From here you can also take a five-minute ferry ride across to the Toronto islands. This mass of forest, parks and beach area is definitely a must-do for any visitor. The skyline view of Toronto from here is breath-taking, especially if you stay until sunset.
Hockey and American football season
Photo Credit – Danielle Scott Flickr
Nothing is bigger for Canadians than hockey, and supporting the Toronto maple leafs is a religion. If you do get the chance to be here for hockey season it is worth the ticket (no matter where you sit, the atmosphere is great). If tickets are too pricey you can also check out the second team, the Toronto Marleys. If you’ve ever been a fan of watching the Superbowl, now is a great time to check out the Canadian Football League (CFL) playing in season at the Rogers Centre now through until November.
Take a look at holidays to Toronto today.