I have been visiting family in Toronto, over the last ten years, and have always harboured a love for this vibrant, bustling city. However, when I started to look a bit deeper into what there is to do, see and eat, I started to realise that this is no ordinary city.
Fun, adrenaline, shopping, eating and culture, are the words that can easily be used to describe Toronto, Canada. Boasted as one of the most diverse urban environments in the world, with a population of almost 3 million people of mixed cultures, there is truly an international feel to Toronto. Situated on a the shores of Lake Ontario, you will find the choices of activities endless, and some will take your breath away. This thriving metropolis offers 46 kilometres of waterfront shoreline and a vast network of rivers and tributaries.
You can be at one with nature, take to the city and literally shop till you drop, or go in the pursuit of something a bit more challenging to get that blood pumping around your body. Perhaps you fancy an edge walk around the CN Tower? If you dare to lean out backwards at 356 metres you can enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Ontario and the city below, rather you than me!
The CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium are two of the main land attractions here, but if you want to take to the water, you can enjoy the tranquility of Toronto Islands. A haven from the metropolis of the centre with no motorised transport and an unsurpassed view of the Toronto skyline. You can spend the day enjoying a relaxing picnic, cycling, boating, or just take a cruise and learn some of the city’s history.
[warning]Did you know, Amsterdam and Toronto are twinned, and in each city there is a bridge commemorating the other city. I walked across the Amsterdam Bridge in Toronto so I can assure you it’s not a myth, although I have yet to go in search of the Toronto Bridge in Amsterdam.[/warning]
Toronto has a semi-continental climate, with a warm, humid summer and a cold winter. The humidity is provided by the waters of Lake Ontario. Summer temperatures range between 25-30 degrees Celsius — hot sunny days. There is often snow on the ground between mid-December and March.
Grab an Activity
You will be spoilt for choice with the range of activities available in Toronto. Take an open top bus tour to get your bearings of this city, some of the tours on offer include a free boat trip. Most of the bus tours leave from the right of Union Station and offer a good value way to see the city. You can also purchase three-day, hop-on, hop-off tickets which, if you staying downtown, is well worth considering.
Ascend the CN Tower, even if you aren’t brave enough to do the edge walk. You can enjoy stunning views over the city and enjoy lunch at the Restaurant 360 – it’s name derives from the fact that the restaurant actually moves around as you enjoy your meal, providing 360 views of Toronto. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, taking a step back in time with all of the hockey greats. The Air Canada Centre, which is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs (ice hockey) and the Toronto Raptors (basketball), also hosts main stream music concerts. The sports bar offers a unique way to enjoy a live game with all of the atmosphere. Ripleys Aquarium situated underneath the CN Tower, aims to inspire and entertain you whilst, providing an understanding of the world’s eco systems and how you can play a part in the conservation of water and species for generations to come.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), located in Queen Street, is one of North America’s largest, most diverse and exciting urban centres. Casa Loma will transport you to a period of European Elegance. St. Lawrence Market is not only foodie heaven, but you will also find, handcrafted jewellery, quality natural clothing, accessories, crafts, and souvenirs — an ideal place to find that perfect one-of-a-kind item. The Eaton Centre, is a celebrated Canadian landmark. Home to over 200 best-in-class retailers, restaurants, and urban eateries in the heart of downtown Toronto.
Chinatown is a bohemian mix of vintage shops, funky restaurants, cafes, and bars, in addition to Latin American markets and food stalls. The Distillery District, which produced almost half of Ontario’s total spirit production in 1871, is now home to high-end boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Tours are available and, you may even get lucky enough to see a movie or TV show being filmed here. And don’t forget Toronto Zoo, with over 5,000 animals, and Ontario Science Centre with hundreds of interactive exhibits.
A short ferry ride away from the bustling city of Toronto you will find Toronto Islands. With over 600 acres of picturesque parkland, including a turn of the century themed amusement park, an interactive farm, several restaurants, picnic sites, and a unique events venue, you will find respite from the city heat. Toronto Islands also has a small airport, named after first world war pilot, Billy Bishop. Currently the only way to reach this airport is via ferry, however, a pedestrian tunnel construction was started in 2012. There are talks of a road tunnel which will enable travellers to reach the Island airport in 90 seconds but there is much local opposition to this. All aircraft using this airport are operated by Air Canada and are propellor planes due to noise pollution.
For those of you seeking adrenaline filled experiences, then look no further. Canada’s Wonderland will guarantee thrills and chills with 69 rides and a 20-kilometre water park. If you care to venture a little further afield then you will find Niagara Falls with all its thrill seeking experiences such as bungee jumping, white water rafting, treetop trekking, zip lining, and Maid of the Mist, a closer encounter with the thundering falls.
Grab a Bite
As with the attractions in Toronto, you will be spoilt for the choice of places to eat downtown, on the water front, at the Islands, in the shopping centres, and around the city. Here are some of the country’s most famed national dishes that you should make an effort to try during your stay. You will certainly have enough opportunity to build up an appetite.
For an authentic cuisine experience try; Poutine – fries, gravy, and cheese curd — a true Canadian delicacy. Also add to your list Montreal-style smoked meat – designed to literally melt in your mouth. And don’t forget beaver tails, deep fried pastry topped with various sweet toppings (Nutella, caramel, crushed Oreos); Timbits – small donuts served with assorted flavours (apple fritter, blueberry), and maple syrup. All just a few of the delicacies that await your tastebuds in Toronto.
Grab a Drink
There are several cocktail lounges, bars, and nightclubs in Toronto ensuring that you are guaranteed a good night out. Whether you choose to head up the CN Tower for a romantic dinner at Restaurant 360, visit one of the many eateries downtown, or head to a fabulous restaurant, you will not be disappointed. Dance the night away in one of the many nightclubs around the city.
One of the more famous cocktails is the Bloody Caesar, a Bloody Mary but made with clamato, rather than tomato juice. The locals reckon it’s tastier and more refreshing. The famous cocktail inventor, Walter Chell, first served this drink, then called it a Caesar, based on a British customer who, on tasting it, exclaimed, “that’s a bloody good Caesar” hence where the name was born.