|(Toronto Harbour Front. Photo Credit: My dad)
Toronto is the largest city in Canada, and is the hub of many things. You might have heard a lot about it in the past year or so because of the wild former mayor, Rob Ford. But there is so much more to the city than him and his antics. Although in the past I used to not like Toronto very much, the city has definitely grown on me over the past few years. I hope to live there one day as I feel it has so much to offer. And others seem to agree. Lonely Planet recently listed Toronto as one of the must see cities of 2015. Here are some of my reasons, in no particular order, to make a trip there.
|(View of downtown Toronto from the top of the CN Tower)
1. Toronto Has Something for Everyone
Toronto truly has something for everyone. From hipsters to business people, you can see it all here. Spend the day walking through Kensington Market to find some good deals, or through the Distillery District to snap some great photos and check out some art galleries. Spend the evening partying in a club, laughing at a comedy show, watching a musical performance, dining at a restaurant. You name it, Toronto has it.
2. Ripley’s Aquarium
One of the coolest attractions in Toronto in my opinion. The Ripley’s Aquarium just opened within the past year, and it will not disappoint. The entrance fee is pretty steep, but it is worth it to see the variety of fish that live in our world’s waters. This is fun for both adults and children.
3. CN Tower
|(The CN Tower shining in red in the night)
The CN Tower is the guiding star of Toronto. If you get lost, try to find the CN Tower and it will show you if you are in the south, north, west, or east end of the city…assuming you know where north, south, east, and west are. Also, it is the landmark of Toronto. The tour to the top is worth the trip, especially on a clear day as you can see as far as Niagara Falls and Hamilton.
4. Kensington Market
Kensington Market is a sight to see as it has a variety of places to shop at and eat in. I would say this is where you can find the hipsters of Toronto hanging out, but you should visit this market even if you are not a hipster. You will be sure to find some great deals for something to bring home with you. And you can visit it on any day of the week.
5. Center Island
If you want to capture a great shot of the always expanding Toronto skyline, Center Island is the place to go. Located on Lake Ontario, this island is especially beautiful to visit in the summer months as there beaches, (although I would not swim in Lake Ontario), Centreville Amusement Park (more designed for families with small children), and restaurants. The island is beautifully landscaped so here is another opportunity to snap some great photos.
6. Cheap Food
Not only can you find food at any time of the day, you can also find cheap food if you are on a budget. Java House on Queen St. is one of these cheap restaurants, and you can find something for everyone at a low cost. But it takes cash only so be sure to bring some with you. And when in doubt, head to Chinatown for delicious and cheap dining.
7. Music Festivals and Concerts
|(One of my all time favourite bands, Incubus, performing live at the Molson Amphitheater)
Throughout the year, there are many concerts that take place in one of the many concert venues in the city. In the summer months, there are also many large music festivals that arrive to the city such as the electronic music festival VELD, punk and rock music festival Riot Fest, and Edge Fest, just to name a few. To see who will be performing while you are visiting Toronto, check out Ticketmaster.
8. The Lake
|(Toronto skyline from a dinner cruise I did with some friends in 2011)
If you want to experience the beauty of the nature the city has to offer, take a walk down Lakeshore Boulevard and enjoy walking along the shores of Lake Ontario. In the summer months, you can do a dinner cruise around the lake, which will give you beautiful views of the city. There are different cruises to choose from so be sure to search on Google to see what is best for you. Also be sure to checkout Groupon to see if there are any deals being offered.
You can shop until you drop in Toronto. There are many shopping centers around the city. If you are in the downtown core, be sure to visit the Eaton’s Center. If you have access to a car, checkout the Dixie Outlet Mall. For even better deals, checkout the stores in Chinatown. But better yet, support local businesses and checkout the shops along Queen Street. Whatever you desire to buy, you will be able to find it somewhere within the streets of Toronto.
10. Museums and Galleries
|(Inside the Royal Ontario Museum)
For those of you who are more into history, you can visit a variety of museums and galleries. Take a walk through time at the Royal Ontario Museum, and spend an afternoon hanging out with dinosaurs. For the art lover, be sure to checkout the Art Gallery of Ontario. For the shoe lover, be sure to visit the Bata Shoe Museum. As I said, this city has something for everyone.
Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, so it is no wonder that Toronto, being the largest city in Canada, is a very multicultural city. What I love about Toronto is how accepting it is of all cultures. So, be sure to embrace this while visiting and check out one of the many cultural towns such as Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, and so on.
12. Craft Beers
|(The Distillery District on a cold New Year’s Day)
Craft Beers are becoming more and more popular in Canada, so be sure to taste one of these fine craft beers, or better yet, visit a craft beer brewery while in town. Some of these include Amsterdam Brewing Co., Steam Whistle Brewing, Mill Street, and so many more. If you are in Toronto only for a small period of time, checkout TALLBOYS Craft Beer House on Bloor Street to sample a variety of beers. My recommendations for Canadian beers? Mill St. Organic and Creemore. But please remember to drink responsibly.
13. Canada’s Wonderland
Outside of the city, adventure awaits! Canada’s Wonderland is Canada’s largest amusement park. The rides at this park will not disappoint. Be sure to checkout the Behemoth, Vortex, Flight Deck, and one of the oldest Canadian roller coasters, the Mighty Canadian Mine Buster. You will need a full day here, so be sure to plan it in.
14. PanAm Games
In 2015, Toronto will be host to the PanAm Games from July 10th-26th. If you plan on visiting during this time, you should try to attend one of the events. You should also book your accommodations in advance as the city will be busy.
15. Hockey and Tim’s
If you are visiting from outside of Canada, you should know about two things that Canadians obsess over the most: Hockey and Tim Horton’s coffee…and they are both related. So while you are here, be sure to attend a hockey game in the city. Although I am not a hockey fan, I do know that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens have a long lasting rivalry, so if you are going to cough up the money to attend an NHL hockey game (they are not cheap) while in Canada, then you should do it when these two go head to head. Alternatively, you can also checkout the Hockey Hall of Fame if you happen to be visiting during the off hockey season. But the cheapest option: buy a Tim Horton’s coffee and see what the fuss is all about. My two favourites are the French Vanilla Cappuccino and the Ice Cappuccino.
If you visit the city for your first time in 2015, and would like more information, please feel free to send me a message and I will do my best to help you plan your trip.
Happy Travels Everyone!