With its exciting city vibes and endless things to do, places to see, and foods to try, Toronto is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world. I grew up in a city near Niagara Falls, Canada, which is about an hour and a half drive to Toronto. It was close enough that I went often, but far enough away to still get excited about spending a day in the big city.
Toronto is one of those cities that can make you feel like you’re somewhere completely unfamiliar, while making you feel right at home at the same time. So without further-a-do, here are some of my favourite things to do in the 6ix:
Stroll through Kensington Market
This is at the top of the list for very good reason, and that is because Kensington is one of the most vibrant and lively areas in the city. Located just outside of Chinatown (another noteworthy place to visit), Kensington Market has a long history of being one of Toronto’s most famous multicultural neighbourhoods. Whether you want to indulge in some Jamaican cuisine, grab an authentic Berlin Döner Kebab or simply roam around and take in the scenery (complete with beautiful murals and even a car that doubles as a garden), Kensington is the place to go. There is no shortage of one-of-a-kind boutiques, multinational cuisine and trendy thrift stores. It’s easy to access by foot, streetcar, bus or subway and is well worth going to.
Stop by El Furniture Warehouse
And no, this is not the place to go to when you need to furnish your home. Commonly known as just “Warehouse”, this restaurant and bar is one of my favourite places to grab a bite to eat in Toronto. Not only is it filled with all kinds of people, from hipsters to skaters and everyone in between, but the food is ONLY $4.95 (CAD)!! Usually paying $4.95 for an entrée at a restaurant in Toronto means that you might expect to be served something that barely quenches your hunger, but not at Warehouse. The portions are not only rather large, but also delicious! With great vibes and good cheap food, it’s the ideal place for budget-conscious backpackers, students or anyone who wants a lot of good eats without breaking the bank. There are two locations in Toronto, one at 232 Queen Street West, and the other at 410 Bloor Street West. Make sure to get there early during peak hours to avoid standing in line.
Visit the Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are akin to New York’s Central Park, except the only way to get there is by ferry. On the boat ride over, make sure to capture a picture of one of the best views of the Toronto skyline you can get! You can take a ferry tour and learn about the Islands, or even get off and spend some time on one of the Islands where you can rent bikes, visit a theme park, or even use it as an escape from the hustle ‘n’ bustle of the city for a while. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even catch a flight from the airport on the island and see where it takes you.
Walk down Queen Street West
Yet another trendy area located right in the heart of downtown, Queen Street West has always been one of my favourite streets to walk along. Queen West has heaps of shops; from brand-name retailers to little boutiques you’ve never heard of but won’t regret stepping into. Grab some unique pieces from some of the street vendors, head into the record shops, or stop into one of the many restaurants for some great food. Queen West has it all, and never disappoints.
Hang out in Yonge and Dundas Square
Think of this as Canada’s Times Square, complete with the big screens, crowds of people from all over the world and steps to sit on and soak it all in. There is almost always a street performance to watch or an event to attend in the heart of the downtown core. This is one of my favourite spots to grab some food from one of the many street vendors nearby and just sit on the steps to watch as the city moves around me. Located at Southeast corner of Yonge Street and Dundas Street, Yonge and Dundas Square is a great place to attend a free concert, catch a movie or even access the Toronto Eaton Centre to squeeze in some shopping.
Go to a concert
The lively music scene is one of my favourite things about Toronto. Because it’s Canada’s largest city, it often attracts many international artists, but also is home to some incredible locally based musicians. Whether you want to see Drake, the king of the 6ix himself, or a local band that you’ve never heard of, you’re in for a treat. Lose yourself in the sounds of the city in one of the many concert halls, bars or even in the Rogers Centre stadium or Air Canada Centre arena. Toronto has such a vibrant and diverse music scene, you’ll have a hard time finding something you DON’T like.
Grab a locally made beer before catching a game
It’s no secret that Toronto is one of THE places to go if you want to catch a professional sports game in Ontario. Cheer on the Blue Jays, at a good ol’ ball game, watch some Football (both “soccer” and American football), watch some basketball or channel your inner Canadian and catch a hockey game. There are heaps of opportunities to watch one of Toronto’s teams represent this great city, but before you head over to the game, stop by Steam Whistle Brewing for a pre-game pilsner. Taking a guided tour of the brewery is a must. You can watch as they make their unique beer and conclude the tour with a fresh beer made right on site. Located at Roundhouse Park, Steam Whistle Brewery is close to many of the sports venues and is also a short walk from the world-famous CN Tower, and is a great place to taste some local beer and see how it’s made.
Shop at the Black Market
This is one of my favourite thrift stores in Toronto for two reasons: there are so many unique pieces to choose from, and everything is only $10 (CAD). They sell everything from band tees to mom jeans, records and great accessories. It’s a great place to get plenty of unique finds without spending a fortune. The Black Market is located along Queen Street West and is definitely a worthwhile place to pop into.
Visit The Beaches
The Beaches is a little neighbourhood east of the city centre, surrounding Queen Street East and nuzzled between Coxwell Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue. Not only does this neighbourhood offer the opportunity to catch some rays at the beach but also Queen Street East is lined with lovely boutiques and locally-owned restaurants. There are great parks tucked away within this community that offer ideal places to relax, have a picnic or enjoy a good book under the shade of the trees. The atmosphere is so relaxed and easy-going it’s easy to forget that you’re only 20 minutes away from the core of Canada’s largest city.
Last, but certainly not least, is walking through the city with no particular destination in mind. You’ll discover places you never thought existed that may eventually become some of your favourite places in Toronto. Take a selfie with the “TORONTO” letters at Nathan-Phillips Square, stroll through the financial district, treat your taste buds to one of Toronto’s multitude of restaurants with cuisines from all over the world, or take a nap under the shade of the old trees in Queen’s Park. With plenty of friendly people and a fantastic atmosphere, you’ll soon find yourself falling in love with Toronto, just like I do every time I visit!
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