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I grew up just down the road from Toronto.
And by “down the road”, I mean about a 45-minute drive down the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way, a major highway in Southern Ontario). While I grew up in the small town of Dundas, Toronto always held the “big city” allure. When I was old enough to drive, I used to travel to the city primarily to see rock bands, live in concert. When I was in grade 12, I remember lining up at five in the morning on Yonge Street, outside of the HMV, for the chance to meet my favourite band. The Smashing Pumpkins were doing an autograph signing at 5:00pm that day. Yes, I shivered for twelve hours on a frigid March morning for that short moment where I could be face-to-face with my rock idols. Funnily enough, this was my first (and only) exposure to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Toronto as floats and marching bands tromped down Yonge Street as we froze. The Tim Hortons around the corner was my saving grace that day, as I was able to warm my hands and feet beneath the hot air dryers in the bathroom.
When I was in a rock band of my own throughout college, we played many, many shows in Toronto. The drive up and down the QEW became rather routine, and I explored the neighbourhoods of Toronto by performing in various indie rock venues.
Nowadays, I live even closer to Toronto in Port Credit, a small village that’s a part of Mississauga and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). I’m a fifteen minute drive from the city, and I live within walking distance of a Go Train station that takes me directly to Toronto. I’m in the city all the time for events, meet-ups, dining at vegan restaurants, shopping, or merely walking around to explore. My primary job is in Toronto, though outside of the downtown core. I definitely think of Toronto as my second home.
I thought it would be interesting to ask my fellow travel bloggers: what is your favourite place in Toronto? Whether it’s a popular hangout or a hidden gem, I want to know the best places to visit in Toronto. Some of these travel writers are from Toronto, and some have visited for a short while.
Here are some of the best places to visit in Toronto! You’ll definitely want to add these to your bucket list.
by Two Scots Abroad
Toronto, TDOT, Canada’s biggest city is full of diverse neighbourhoods! In the short time I spent there this October, I fell heavily for one ‘hood – Kensington Market! The hip streets of Kensington Market are littered with vintage shops, craft and art stores, live music, and every type of international cuisine you could think of – Mexican, Colombian, Jamaican, Kensington Market has got it all. It is a magic place to sip a hot cider or dig into a pie, and watch the cool hipster kids walk their even cooler, more hipster, dogs! The streets are awash with graffiti and there is even a broken down car turned Botanic Gardens for you admire! Another bonus is that feet trump wheels, bar bikes, there is little traffic and on Sundays, none at all apparently!
– Gemma of Two Scots Abroad
Church and Wellesley
by Chronic Wanderlust
The days I spent in Toronto were marked by dark and grey clouds and rain. I was about to spend the afternoon in my hostel room, but then decided to go for a quick walk. What I found blew my mind! As I walked through Church and Wellesley, it seemed like the sun rose. Rainbows everywhere – not on the sky, but on the houses and streets. Church and Wellesley is the LGBT district of Toronto and definitely worth a stroll!
– Viktoria of Chronic Wanderlust
The Allen Lambert Galleria
by Ana Travels
Toronto’s Financial District hides a little gem, the Allen Lambert Galleria. The Galleria is located inside the Brookfield Place building on 161-181 Bay Street. Make sure to look up at the ceiling because it looks like a white forest canopy. The columns fan out at the top and resemble tree branches. Inside the Galleria are shops and restaurants, as well as eleven historic buildings. One of those heritage buildings, the old Bank of Montreal, houses the Hockey Hall of Fame. Celebrated Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed the Allen Lambert Galleria , which is connected to the PATH (Toronto’s underground system of passages) and the subway.
– Ana of Ana Travels
by Calculated Traveller
My favourite place in Toronto is the Harbourfront area. In one location you can find art, crafts, scenic boat tours, food, shopping, theatre, live music and a great view. It really does have it all! The fun doesn’t stop once the winter season starts because that’s when the pond gets turned into ice and the skating begins!
– Mary of Calculated Traveller
by Twirl the Globe
With the chaos of the city, sometimes all you crave is an escape. When jetting off to a far away land isn’t always an option, finding an escape within the city for a little staycation is key. Toronto Island is that escape for me. For under $8 CDN, you can hop on a ferry and be taken to the island for a little bit of rest and relaxation (or adventure), all within arms reach of the city. Not only can you lounge on the beach, rent a bike or kayak, or attend one of the many festivals or events they host on the island, you can also get one of the best views (in my opinion) of the Toronto skyline–a view I’ll never get sick of.
– Lauren of Twirl the Globe
by The World As I See It
If there is one thing I love exploring in big cities, and especially my home town of Toronto, it’s green spaces! For me these green spaces within the city are essential to a great city. When I finally made my way to Allan Gardens a few years ago, I knew I’d stumbled upon a hidden gem. Allan Gardens is in the heart of downtown Toronto and its cast-iron and glass domed Palm House was built back in 1910. Its collection of exotic plants and seasonal flowers create an oasis in the hustle of city life. As soon as you enter the Palm House you are immediately transported to a whole new world surrounded by lush greenery and massive plants and trees reaching for the stars. Not only is Allan Gardens a breathe of fresh air in Toronto but it’s also FREE!
– Stephanie of The World As I See It
Royal Ontario Museum
by Going Awesome Places
One of my favourite spots in Toronto is the Royal Ontario Museum of Toronto. The museum is world-class and I love it because of it’s unique architecture, the stellar international exhibits they attract, and thorough collection of art, world culture, and natural history . The best of enjoying this museum has to be their Friday Night Live series which runs during various parts of the year. This event turns the museum into a big party with delicious eats, bass beats, and interactive experiences.
– Will of Going Awesome Places
by Big Travel Nut
I’ve been living in Toronto since 1988 and my favourite thing is the Distillery District. I like the old feel of its Victorian architecture and the quietness of the pedestrian cobble streets. Although most shops and restaurants are beyond my means, I enjoy having a cappuccino on the terrace of Balzac’s Café on a nice sunny day, buying chocolate treats at Soma, or browsing the art galleries. And for a few weeks before Christmas, it’s home to the Toronto Christmas Market (going on right now), which is just one more reason to visit!
– Marie-France of Big Travel Nut
Toronto Christmas Market
by One Modern Couple
Each year, for the past 6 years, the Distillery District is transformed into a Christmas market reminiscent of those in Europe and becomes one of our favourite places to visit in Toronto. The brick-paved streets are lined with European-style wood cabins selling handicrafts, food, treats and other goods to people strolling by and the decorations and lights create a festive and enchanting atmosphere. It has become a tradition for the two of us to go each year and it has become a highlight of winter and the Christmas season for us both. We stroll through the market grabbing some hot chocolate or Gluhwein (mulled wine) to warm ourselves from the cold and usually find something ridiculously delicious to eat from one of the vendors. It is a place where you can forget the hustle and bustle of the city streets beyond and find some time to really enjoy the holiday season.
– Carolann and Macrae of One Modern Couple
by Justin Plus Lauren
I thought I would take a moment to add one of my favourites to the list. High Park is a huge green space in downtown Toronto. It’s similar to Central Park in New York City in many ways. There are walking paths, huge trees, places for kids to play, and even a Japanese garden. In May, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and High Park becomes a popular spot for viewing these beautiful flowers. You can see many swans, geese, and ducks down by the water. High Park is a quiet spot away from the noise of the city.
Here are all of the best places to visit in Toronto, represented on a map:
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What’s your favourite place in Toronto? Where would you like to visit?