Have you ever traveled #Toronto? The city has more to offer than you think.
Proof of Canada’s multicultural claim to fame.
One Christmas, my family all pitched in for a travel gift certificate to send my parents to Quebec City—one of Canada’s only snapshots of Europe. Instead, they chose a location closer to home—Toronto.
PHOTO: Toronto mighty CN TOWER (Chesley Feltham)
Of course, the typical response is: “Why didn’t you go to Quebec City?” Two reasons: convenience and affordability–the truth why so many Canadians choose to travel in Canada instead of embarking on a trip far, far away. One-week holidays or small budgets limit options, but it’s better to travel somewhere than not at all.
Home could be any city—Calgary, Vancouver, or Ottawa. For this wanderer, it’s Toronto. A friend of mine took me on a tour of Toronto—my home—thus making me a traveler for life.
Toronto has a unique culture on to itself unlike any of the other nearby cities in the Greater Toronto Area, such as Brampton and Mississauga. Toronto’s art centre, Queen Street West, is where you can truly feel the city’s culture. Queen Street West has been the centre for fashion, music, performance, Canadian broadcasting, and the visual arts for more than twenty-five years. Every September, a weekend-long festival known as the The Queen West Art Crawl brings the artists, arts organizations, and businesses of Toronto’s Queen Street West together to celebrate Canada’s arts.
If it’s not culture you crave, then it could be the nice long walks on Toronto Island. You can see the beautiful Toronto Skyline at sunset if you’re wandering in the Beaches district. Toronto’s Harbourfront and Kensington Market are also absolutely stunning places to wander about.
The beauty of Toronto’s Downtown area is that everything is relatively close together. The CN Tower is very close to the SkyDome–now the Rogers Centre–and the Air Canada Centre. If you’re taking the GoTrain from Toronto’s main train hub, Union Station on Front Street, you can catch a glimpse of historic Toronto by looking at some of the nearby factories and, of course, Toronto’s Exhibition grounds. This view can also be caught driving through Toronto on the Gardiner Expressway. Yorkville, Rosedale, the Annex, Forest Hill, Lawrence Park, Lytton Park, Moore Park, and Casa Loma are part of Old Toronto. Some of these locations are great if you’re looking for history.
Eating in Toronto definitely has variety. Like any big city—Seoul or Taipei—there are plenty of restaurants from almost any culture. If you’re looking for specific pockets of culture in Toronto, you might be interested in Little Italy, Chinatown, Greektown, or Little India. Toronto.com has a nice listing of restaurants that might prove to be helpful.
The painting of Toronto I’ve given you seems rosy, but the city is not without its faults. New York and London have great subway systems, allowing you to get almost anywhere in the city. Toronto, however, isn’t so lucky. Before you travel to Toronto, make sure that you have a good idea on where you’re going and how you plan to get there. Plan to travel via subway, bus, or streetcar—maybe even a combination of the three.
PHOTO: Toronto transport not always convenient (Chesley Feltham)
Parking in Toronto is ridiculously expensive. You can expect to pay between $10 to $15 CAD in many of the downtown parking lots. Expect prices to increase in the near future. Congestion in Toronto’s downtown can also be a pain if you’re driving or taking the bus. If you can get there by subway, then do so. Whether you’re taking the trip via car, bus, or train, just get there–it’s worth the visit.
TWW TORONTO MUST-SEES
FOR HISTORY: Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
FOR THE KIDS: The Toronto Zoo
FOR SHOPPING: The Toronto Eaton Centre
FOR CELEBRITIES: The Toronto International Film Festival
FOR SCIENCE: The Ontario Science Centre
FOR FUN: Ontario Place or the Toronto Exhibition (starts in August)
FOR “TASTE”: “The Taste Of The Danforth” festival in Greektown on the Danforth
FOR A CASTLE: Casa Loma
FOR SPORTS: The Hockey Hall Of Fame
FOR SCENERY & CANADIAN CULTURE: The Beaches, the Toronto Islands, Kensington Market, and Fort York
Phill Feltham is the publisher of The Weekly Wanderer.