SITUATED ON the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto is one of the southernmost cities in Canada. It’s clean, safe, friendly and offers something for everyone. From food to fashion, entertainment to culture and shopping, all the way to the arts and nature, Toronto is a colourful spectrum of non-stop activity.
Toronto is internationally known for its warmth, vibrancy and, above all, its local flavour. In order to truly experience a local’s Toronto, neighbourhood-hopping is essential.
Shop until you drop
If shopping is your passion, check out Bloor-Yorkville, Corso Italia or Queen Street West. One of Toronto’s more elegant shopping and dining areas, Bloor-Yorkville’s designer boutiques, antique shops and galleries are absolutely first-class. The area features a gallery of small courtyards and alleyways, including a contemporary park located in the very heart of the neighbourhood. The Eaton Centre, located between Dundas and Queen on Yonge Street, is the ultimate shopping extravaganza. The centre has five levels, filled with over 320 stores and restaurants that could take you more than a day to conquer.
On the waterfont
To explore Toronto’s waterfront, visit The Beaches or Harbourfront. Boutiques and speciality shops dot the lakeside at Queens Quay Terminal, there are also art, theatre and cultural facilities, as well as a terrific lakeside, walking trail at the Harbourfront Centre. Cruises of the harbour and ferry services run from here. Over at the city’s 46 kilometre waterfront, a massive redevelopment is taking place and the initial results are stunning, with galleries, art, film and theatre complexes in place, and also several walking trails. An extensive plan to re-green this area will ensure that Toronto’s waterfront is utilised to its full potential by residents and visitors alike.
Entertainment on tap
If you’re looking for sensory overload, try the Entertainment District – a lively concentration of theatres, restaurants, nightspots, retail shops, and visitor attractions – located in the vibrant city core. Each of the streets in the Entertainment District has its own flavour. Queen St. West is a funky retail street; King St. West is lined with theatres and is home to all kinds of productions, from lavish Broadway musicals to travelling road shows, and homegrown shows to classical concerts in a modern concert hall.
Richmond and Adelaide Streets are home to massive nightclubs and smaller, upmarket restaurants and Front St. West features two of Toronto’s biggest attractions – the Rogers Centre SkyDome and the CN Tower. At 553.3 metres, the CN Tower has been officially called the world’s tallest building. Since opening in 1976, the tower brings in almost two million visitors a year to admire the amazing view from the glass windows. The first stadium in the world with a fully retractable roof, the Rogers Centre is home to the Toronto Blue Jays, officially known as the Toronto Argonauts Football Club, and features an exciting roster of big-name concerts, sporting events, and trade shows. The 500-million-dollar-plus stadium can seat more than 50,000 for baseball games and boasts the world’s largest Jumbotron scoreboard.
Another ‘must-see’ in the area is the St. Lawrence Market, the site of the city’s original marketplace where local farmers, artists and artisans still ply their wares. This historic area also has numerous old warehouses that have been converted into residences, stores, restaurants and pubs.
Children will love Paramount, Canada’s Wonderland, the country’s favourite theme park, featuring over 200 attractions, more than 60 thrilling rides and one of North America’s greatest variety of roller coasters, plus Splash Works, a 20 acre water park. Or treat them to a day at Toronto Zoo – a peaceful haven that more than 5,000 animals call home. Rated among the top 10 in the world, the zoo has daily shows involving swimming polar bears and pygmy hippos among others.
Culture fans will enjoy the chance to explore the Canadian Broadcasting Centre – home of the English language television and radio services of the CBC. Wander through the halls of this 1.72 million-square foot broadcasting centre and see how the many programmes are produced.
Architect Friedrich Cumberland designed the St James Anglican Cathedral. It boasts the tallest steeple in Canada, coupled with an elaborate, beautiful interior, complete with a solid marble choir stall and magical stained glass windows. Toronto also has a lot of museum options. The Hockey Hall of Fame has a Stanley Cup on display, as well as offering various interactive exhibits. Not a sports fan? Check out the city’s art museums, such as the Royal Ontario Museum or the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
Take a tour
Public transport in Toronto is excellent, and you can travel around the sights of Toronto on a double-decker bus or tram using special 24-hour passes. A great alternative to guide books is the Tap Into T.O. – a free guided walking tour of any neighbourhood, garden, park, waterfront, natural area or other public space in Toronto. T.O. greeters meet you at a pre-arranged location and spend around two to four hours on tour, providing an overview of Toronto’s neighbourhoods and attractions. Popular destinations include Yorkville, Toronto Islands, Bloor West Village, Greektown and Little Italy, among others. Other ways to tap into Toronto include Discovery Walks, a programme of self-guided walks linking the city’s parks, gardens, beaches and neighbourhoods. For more information visit www.toronto.ca/tapto.
Step outside the city for some wonderful day trips. The most famous of these has to be a trip to the great Niagara Falls. As well as enjoying the sight of the Falls, the tours usually include a trip on a boat that actually travels behind the falling water – the famous Maid of the Mist. Other tours include the opportunity of tasting the famous Niagara Ice Wines, the Welland Canal and other sights.
PDM verdict: With Toronto’s bounty of theatres, attractions, museums, art galleries, theme parks, markets and natural attractions, there’s plenty of inspiration for a great break – whether you like to pre-plan or discover as you go. We’ve got great flight offers at the moment, so why not call us and plan your Toronto trip today?