When I Went: April 2012
Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? Almost; I went just shy of the month of May, when the majority of summer-related events begin to unfold, so I did miss out on some. Although, there’s something to be said for having a park or museum block all to yourself.
Why I Went There: It was a suitable getaway for a long weekend. I have also never been, and I wanted to see Niagara Falls.
Who Went With Me? I went by myself.
I Stayed Here: I booked at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown. Its biggest draw was its location. It’s right in the middle of Downtown Yonge and was only a block away from one of the main subway lines. The rooms are decent in size, relatively quiet, and have free WiFi. Rates start at about $99 Canadian dollars.
You Won’t Want to Miss: Just wandering the city streets is fascinating enough, but there are a handful of places you ought to make time for and visit. First is the CN Tower. This towering structure is one marvelous piece of engineering. It is the tallest tower in the world (at 1,815 feet), and it also has some of the best views of the city. For a more grounded view of Toronto, ride a ferry towards Centre Island. Centre Island is part of the group of islands collectively known as the Toronto Islands and serves primarily as a recreational area for most of the city’s residents. There are several parks and beaches within and surrounding the islands. There are also small pockets of residential areas, as well as a science high school. Toronto has two superb museums. The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America and has seen several expansions throughout the years. Its collection amounts to more than 80,000 works of art. For another one of the city’s celebrated museums, head north to the Royal Ontario Museum. This natural history museum contains 6 million artifacts from all over the world. The building itself is a piece of art to view, and in my opinion, symbolizes Toronto more than any other building in town. Finally, get to know the town by walking around its neighborhoods. One of the most interesting ones I’ve encountered was Downtown Yonge. This area is divided by its namesake, Yonge Street, which is the longest street in the world. It starts north of the Financial District, from Richmond Street until Grosvenor/Alexander Street. In here you will find Dundas Square (Toronto’s Times Square) and the massive shopping mall called Toronto Eaton Centre, but the smaller shops and eateries that line up along Yonge are what makes this area all the more captivating. The diversity is beyond comprehension. There are places to eat that serve every conceivable cuisine you crave and shops that you never would have expected to be right next to each other.
Eat Here: When I asked my cousins living there if they can recommend any particular place, they just smiled at me. What and where to eat in Toronto depends on your mood at that particular time. If searching for mainstream or unique cuisines, venture into College Street, west of Yonge, all the way to Spadina, and Yonge Street from Bloor to Queen streets. Check out the window displays and the crowd. If it suits your fancy, go in and be adventurous.
Play Here: Toronto Islands — this giant playground has a huge park, a children’s theme park, historical markers, and beaches. Not to mention a great view of Toronto.
If I Went Again: I will dedicate some time to exploring the Royal Ontario Museum and will head earlier to the St. Lawrence Market.
Other Tips For Fellow Travelers: Visit Niagara, if time permits. Also, do your best not to over-think the culture. Toronto is unique, and its greatest asset is its diversity.