I’m not sure why it’s taken me nearly two years to write about my trip to Toronto, Canada. In person, I couldn’t wait to tell people about it; even nearly two years later, Toronto has become so much a part of me that I think of it often and long to return. I guess the reason why I might have failed up till now to get the words written down, was because I feel this pressure to do the city justice, to really portray this wonderful place as if it were my own hometown.
With that being said, this short guide is probably completely obvious to any Torontonian or frequent traveller, but this isn’t for them. This guide is of 10 things you can do in Toronto that will make you fall in love with it, just like I did. The great thing about this large city is that there are a million and one different neighbourhoods and places to explore, so even though this guide is pretty tourist-focused, I hope it provides a small insight into what this city (and surrounding area) has to offer.
Visit the Distillery District
The Distillery District is a must-visit when you are in Toronto. A historic district full of majestic Victorian industrial buildings, formerly known as the Gooderham & Worts Disitllery, has been turned into an arts and cultural hub. Wander through the old brick buildings and stone pathways, and you’ll be greeted with unique sculptures and independent stores and eateries. Brimming with creativity, the Distillery District is the place to be for entertainment and a spot of culture.
Take a stroll down Yonge Street
Toronto’s main street spans from the shores of Lake Ontario to the edge of Lake Simcoe. Throughout the year, Yonge Street plays host to a variety of parades and performances. I remember the first piece of advice we were told when we first stepped onto Canadian soil: as long as we made our way to Yonge Street, we would be able to navigate Toronto without a hitch. This is because the street runs through most of the city’s neighbourhoods, meaning even the most novice of map readers can walk Toronto’s streets and find their way.
Cycle around Toronto Islands
Keep heading down Yonge towards Lake Ontario then hop on a ferry for 15 minutes and head over to Toronto Islands for a view of the city you could only dream of. If you’re not familiar with Toronto, then you’re probably confused when I say the city has a lot of beaches. That’s right. A city with beaches. Skyscrapers and sand. If you vacate to Toronto Islands in the Summer, you can head on over to the shore and bask in front of Lake Ontario. We decided to rent a bike and cycle around the Islands instead. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the quaint houses surrounded by lush greenery and overlooking a view unlike any other. This day put Toronto in my heart forever.
Go shopping at Kensington Market
If you’re anything like me, you love wandering around flea markets looking at all the handmade goods and vintage pieces. I’d heard Kensington Market was like the Camden of Toronto, so of course, I had to go! Full of colourful buildings, street art and lots of food, Kensington was so much fun to explore! This multicultural district regularly holds festivals, and if you head there on a Sunday you’ll be greeted by street musicians and stalls galore selling a mix of vintage clothes, handmade jewellery and old records. The atmosphere in this place is just incredible! If you’ve got a good heart and a funky soul, Kensington Market is for you.
Cheer on the Blue Jays!
I’m not a sporty person. Honestly, I only really enjoy tennis. However, when I saw the Rogers Centre and the amount of people wearing Blue Jays merchandise, I was curious. This curiosity mostly came from the sense of camaraderie I saw in the fans before a game. It wasn’t like sport here in the UK; most of the time, it’s the way the fans act that puts me off a sport entirely. We decided to buy tickets to a baseball game and go cheer on Toronto’ finest, the Blue Jays. I loved baseball way more than I thought I would. I actually had goosebumps when a local school sung Canada’s National Anthem and I screamed and clapped way louder than I should have when the Blue Jays won. When we left, we followed the crowd as people gathered outside the Rogers Centre, and cheered. It was magical.
See the city from above!
I get why people tell tourists to avoid the CN Tower. It’s expensive, but I think if you’re the type of person who loves a view, you’ve gotta try it. I love heights, so the 1,815.3 ft size didn’t bother me. I loved jumping around (and lying down) on the glass floor just to scare, then reassure those who were too scared to try it.
Go on a free walking tour
I think this is an absolute must if you really like to explore a city and learn more about its history. We booked the Downtown Toronto tour with Tour Guys and I highly recommend them. We learnt so much about the Downtown area in the 90-minute tour and discovered places we never would have stumbled across ourselves. We still tell people about some of the stories we were told on this tour, so they’re definitely worth your time even if you’re not in the city very long. Just make sure you tip your guide! History buffs, unite!
Eat all the food at St Lawrence Market
I say ‘eat all the food’ but what I really mean is eat all the cake. You won’t be able to walk around St Lawrence Market without buying something delicious, so I recommend going on an empty stomach and making the most of it. The cakes are particularly impressive, but there’s also plenty of fresh fruit and savoury Canadian delicacies to sample.
I know, I know, it’s not in Toronto, but it’s close enough that if you’re in the city, you need to see Niagara Falls. I can’t begin to describe or explain the feeling of standing on a boat and heading into the falls. The noise. The air. The breeze. I still get tingles just thinking about it. I was completely drenched from the spray but I didn’t care. My camera broke from water exposure, but again, I didn’t care. You need to go and experience this.
Again, not in Toronto, but if you’re heading to Niagara Falls, you need to stop at this quaint town with plenty of wineries nearby if you want to sample some Ice Wine. If you’ve ever seen Gilmore Girls, Niagara-on-the-Lake reminded me of Stars Hollow; the type of town that has been groomed to perfection and where everyone knows each other. It was modest luxury.
So there we have it! I’m sure when I eventually return to Toronto, I’ll put together a less touristy guide, but if you’re lucky enough to be heading there for the first time, I thoroughly recommend you do the above. Oh, and head to Tim Horton’s every day for breakfast of course.