Touring the Cosmopolitan Beauty of Toronto, Canada

Toronto City Guide

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You arrive and it’s as if you’ve jumped into the frame the liveliest postcard! Just a block’s worth of the city gives a taste to entice but won’t satisfy — as one of the world’s most diverse cities, Toronto is a multi-dimensional avenue of expression, beauty, and culture.

Landmarks and Attractions in Toronto

Drive to Niagara Falls; the drive is worth your being left breathless by watching water gush off a cliff at 750,000 gallons/second. Experience it from the Table Rock site, take the Journey behind the Falls, or hover above in a helicopter.

The CN tower is hard to miss at 1,122ft; know that the best way to enjoy the view is to lie face-down on its glass floor and enjoy the spectacular view (and the butterflies in your stomach, though this glass that can support a pack of hippos; you’re good). For a view with drinks and music, try the Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt. Explore Union Station and escape to the architectural wonder upstairs during rush hour. Cross town via a scarlet 501 Queen streetcar, an inexpensive and scenic way to travel. Be sure to pause for a train ride through the 339-acre High Park. Visit Toronto’s museums—architectural wonders and the toast of the town—like the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Nightlife and Family Fun in Toronto

Take the family for a few fun laps around the skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square. Visit the 710- acre Toronto Zoo, one of the world’s biggest. Or score tickets for an exciting ice hockey game (almost always sold out), visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, and participate in a “shinny” game! Tour car-free Toronto isle by bike (find Sights on Bikes for a ferry ride and a tour of exciting spots like Gibraltar Point’s haunted lighthouse). In the summer, stroll along The Beach boardwalk and enjoy ice cream after making friends at the canoe club, lawn bowling, or tennis courts.

In Toronto you can enjoy operas by the acclaimed Canadian Opera Company, theater performances at the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre and Young Centre for the Performing Arts, or amazing festivals like the WinterCity Festival and the Cavalade of Lights. Be sure to sample Toronto’s signature beer at the historical Steam Whistle Brewery or the unique-flavored Granite Brewery, and savor a steamy cup of authentic creamy cocoa at Soma in the Distillery District. If coffee is more your taste, do as the locals do and head to the artistic Kensington market, people-watching as you sip.

For a night-life whirlwind of concerts and big lights, make your way down to the Yonge-Dundas Square. Or get glammed up and head over to the Entertainment District—one of the world’s biggest party scenes, drawing more than 30,000 clubbers on Saturday nights—and choose from place like the giddy Republik, the classy Schmooze, and decadent C Lounge. Laugh nonstop at the famous improvisational-comedy Second City or Bad Dog Theater Company (or score a few laughs yourself by signing up to a weekly drop-in improv class!). Cheer on up-and-coming local bands at hot spots like Dakota Tavern, The Cameron House, or the Reservoir Lounge.

Off the Beaten Path in Toronto

Take a trip to Polson Pier, golf-course by day and Canada’s largest drive-in movie screen by night. Or say farewell the downtown for an excursion to the nearby neighborhoods; antique-shop in Leslieville or check out the art galleries of Parkdale. Visit Toronto’s castle Casa Loma and curl up with a book in the romantic bench-studded garden, or be blinded by grandeur at the Spadina Historic House & Gardens and Le Meridien King Edward hotel. Consider, also, that Toronto hosts some of the best tattoo and piercings artists worldwide.

Shopping and Restaurants in Toronto

Toronto’s 27-km PATH is the biggest underground shopping labyrinth (I mean, complex) worldwide. But shopping in Toronto wouldn’t be complete without a window-shopping excursion to the expensive but exquisite Yorkville—or a fun stop at Honest Ed’s, a landmark aglow with a 23,000-bulb sign and the world’s self-proclaimed first true bargain store. Be sure to also visit the bargain-bustling Toronto Eaton Centre or North America’s first mall, Yorkdale.

If you’re looking to spectacular dining, Toronto boasts some of the best chefs and restaurants worldwide. For the best cuts of local animals (like caribou), head to the Canoe Restaurant Bar, Bymark, and Czehoski. For a cosmopolitan taste, head to Greektown for souvlaki or dolmades, or have dinner in Little Italy. In the summer, be sure to sample dim sum from Chinatown and eat spiced corn-on-the-cob in Little India, engulfed in a delicious aromas and colors as restaurants bring their kitchens to the sidewalk.

Photos provided by: Abi K, Robert Taylor