24 Hours in Toronto
Toronto was my last stop before heading home for a few weeks and I have to say, I wasn’t overly excited about it. I’ve been through Toronto a few times before when I was younger and really didn’t see the big deal. Though, when you’re 10 and on your way to Canada’s Wonderland, the big city is just in the way of a soon to be awesome adventure at a family fun theme park. I took VIA Rail from Montreal to Toronto and spent 2 days there. If you’re from a small city, like Halifax, that’s right I’m calling Halifax small, then Toronto is going to be a big shock. It’s a massive city with way too many cool things goin’ on and there is no way you can come close to experiencing it in 2 days but I think I did a good job at fitting in what I could. Here are my suggestions for musts in Toronto, in 24 hours:
Stay a night at the Fairmont Royal York
You have one night in Toronto and you want to make it awesome! Find your way to The Fairmont Royal York Hotel, and you will not be disappointed. The Fairmont is renowned throughout the world for their historic architecture. The magnificent building is in the heart of downtown and directly across from Union Square. The staff are more than friendly and go out of their way to ensure that your stay is an amazing one. Not far from the lobby, there is a bar, cafe and a restaurant inside the hotel and they’re quite unique in that the Fairmont has it’s own rooftop apiary and they use their honey in many of their dishes! Corbin Fraser of ibackpackcanada has more about the honeybees right here!
Have a bite at Beer Bistro
There are a plethora of restaurants and pubs in Toronto, and you only have 24 hours which unfortunately isn’t enough time to try them all, so where do you go? I tried a few places but my favourite spot was Beer Bistro, located on Yonge St. Its a classy little joint, and when Summer comes around they set up a great patio. The service was great, and the food has my mouth watering just thinking about it. They’re known for their Belgian Frites which are exquisite. We also tried bacon wrapped shrimp. Keep in mind, I hate seafood. I really really do, but these things were quite possibly the best appetizer I’ve ever had. Along with those, they have a pretty great menu and it’s reasonably priced. Make sure you take the time to check them out, you’ll thank me!
Like Hockey? Check out the Hockey Hall of Fame
As Canadians, loving hockey is in our blood. I may not enjoy watching it on tv, but take me out to a game and I’ll be cheerin’ with the best of them. We headed on over to the Hockey Hall of Fame, on Yonge St and found ourselves in sports fan heaven. It was very impressive and packed with facts, stats and old jerseys. They have a room where you can use the Microsoft Kinect for Xbox and can play some virtual hockey. The most exciting part was seeing the Stanley Cup in all it’s glory. It was in a protective case, behind a ribbon standing tall in the center of the room. People were lining up to take pictures with it. In the same room, they have a section preserving all of the rings that have ever been on the cup in the past. This door has more locks on it than a high security bank on it (not really, I hope…) It’s safe to assume that those rings are very safe.
Stroll Through Kensington Market
You can’t get the full Toronto experience without checking out Kensington Market. Shops are lining the streets with fresh fruits and veggies, or cute handmade clothing and jewelry. Bars and restaurants are in the mix too for when your shopping tires you out and you need a little pick me up beer. The cool thing about Kensington is that a lot of it is very exotic, it’s stuff you can’t find just anywhere else. The whole vibe when walking down through the Market, on a sunny afternoon is very cool. People are friendly and happy to just see you browsing their items.
Visit The CN Tower
Of course you have to visit the CN Tower, you’re in Toronto! It’s the thing to do. We decided to check out the CN Tower at night. I’m not sure if that was the best way to do it, but it was pretty amazing to see anyway. One word to describe it: Lights! Lights everywhere, millions of them. I didn’t realize you were able to go outside while you’re up the Tower and thankfully I’m not afraid of heights or I wouldn’t have dared. It’s pretty safe and secure up there though, and what a view! There is also the famous glass floor that many people, my own sister even was too afraid to stand on. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush to see the ground so far below you, but totally worth doing. I’d love to get back to Toronto to check out the Tower in the daylight though, I’m sure it’s a completely different experience. Next time, Toronto!
Check for festivals!
Of course there might not be any when you’re there, but make sure you take a look for Festivals being held when you’re in town. Toronto is such a busy city and there are always things going on so chances are, if you’re there in the Summer, something will be going on. I ended up being there for the Live Green Festival, where people flooded Dundas Street downtown. Live music filled the air and there were many different tents showcasing the green and eco friendly lifestyle. With or without a festival going on, Dundas Street is well worth a walk through!
Toronto is a fantastic city with so much to do, and so much culture. It’s a buzzing city that never sleeps. From now on, I’ll look forward to traveling there instead of hoping to pass through quickly. Who needs theme parks anyway?
A big thanks goes out to the Royal York Fairmont Hotel for putting me up for a few nights and ensuring I had an awesome experience in Toronto!