Things to do in Toronto, ON

Get Your Bearings in Toronto

By Neil Faba
Toronto Expert

Stay
Eat
See & Do
Party
Shop

Where to Stay

Visitors to Toronto looking to discover some of the city’s hottest attractions and restaurants should stay in one of the great downtown hotels. From here, you’ll be within walking distance to museums, sports venues, such as the Rogers Centre, and Toronto’s subway system. If world-class shopping is what you’re after, consider splurging on one of the posh five-star hotels in the trendy Bloor-Yorkville neighborhood.

Caution:

Book downtown hotels early since these are popular choices for conventions and tourists alike.

What to Eat

Toronto is home to a thriving dining scene, and the city’s best restaurants are scattered throughout virtually all neighborhoods. Generally, you’ll pay more for meals in the downtown core and Bloor-Yorkville area. The Little Italy neighborhood west of downtown along College Street is one of Toronto’s most vibrant dining districts for Italian food and many other cuisines.

Caution:

Many of Toronto's most popular restaurants don't take reservations. Go early to avoid the lineups.

Be Sure to Sample:

Some of Toronto's great farm-to-table restaurants, where you'll get a taste of the best local produce.

Things to See

Toronto is a big city, so it’s only fitting that many of its best attractions are of the imposing variety, from the world-famous CN Tower to North America’s largest car-free community, Toronto Island Park. Admire great art and history at the Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario, both downtown. Parents travelling with little ones will want to spend a day at Canada’s Wonderland, an enormous theme park about 40 minutes north of Toronto.

Hot Tips:

Tourism Toronto's online calendar of events is a good way to keep track of the wide variety of festivals the city hosts each year.

Places to Party

Canada’s largest city offers nightlife for every taste. Options for live music abound, whether you’re into large stadium shows, jazz, world beats or the latest indie rock. End a day of shopping or watching the Toronto Blue Jays play baseball with a nightcap in style at one of the city’s best hotel bars.

Take It or Leave It:

If you're partying downtown, you'll find suits and party dresses common attire. Toronto's west end is where the young and trendy burn the midnight oil.

Where to Shop

The Bloor-Yorkville neighborhood on the northern edge of downtown is definitely Toronto’s best shopping district. Here, you’ll find trendy boutiques as well as retail outposts of some of the world’s most popular clothing brands. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and you’ll discover some unique gifts and food items in neighborhoods such as Greektown, Little India and Chinatown.

Best Local Souvenir:

Visit St. Lawrence Market to buy locally produced food products, such as Kozlik's mustards.

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Things to do in Toronto


Toronto is known for...

Five of Toronto's most unique features and characteristics.

1. Diversity that works:

Toronto is famous as one of the most ethnically diverse cities on the planet. Thanks to a liberal immigration policy, North America’s 5th largest city is home to more than 70 different nationalities. Ride the subways and you’ll hear over 100 languages being spoken. The city’s official motto is “Diversity Our Strength” and you’ll see the word welcome displayed in 64 languages on the “Welcome to Toronto” poster seen throughout the city.

 


2. Food:

Toronto-the-good used to refer to the conservative nature of city but that adjective is applied to the diverse cuisine. Toronto is becoming a foodie destination known for its cosmopolitan mix of restaurants. On one short block you’ll find restaurants from all corners of the world and you can eat your way around the world very easily enjoying cuisine from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. The fresh, local movement has also taken hold here in a big way with many chefs creating signature Canadian dishes. Two major markets offer a chance to enjoy the local produce. The St Lawrence Market is a city-block complex surrounded by great Italian restaurants. Further west, funky Kensington Market has some great Latin American and Caribbean eateries. Since it also borders Chinatown, you are guaranteed to find some excellent Chinese food in the area as well. Add the respectable wines from the Niagara region, only two hours away, and you’re in for some memorable meals.  

3. Neighborhoods:

Toronto's neighborhoods are particularly distinctive and easily accessible. Some such as the Danforth (Greektown), Roncesvalles and Cabbagetown were actually their own village at one point. Little Italy, Little Portugal, Chinatown and Little India were named for the first ethnic group to settle there while Yorkville, the Annex, and Queen West were once scruffy, questionable parts of town re-invented by the artists who moved there. Corktown, Bloorcourt, the Junction, Dundas West and Leslieville are the newest crop of distinctive neighborhoods being transformed by locals.

 

4. Theatre & Film:

With over 50 theaters and close to 10,000 performances a year, Toronto is an important center in the English-speaking theater community. The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre are the world’s sole surviving examples of the Edwardian stacked theaters (one on top of the other). It has a rare collection of collection of vaudeville sets and scenery. Both these elegant theaters host a variety of productions including musicals and operas. Another treasure is the 1907 Royal Alexandra is one of the oldest theaters in Toronto. This grand dame hosts many Broadway and West End productions. Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall are both famous venues for musical performances. The newly erected Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is the new home for both the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada.

Often called "Hollywood North," Toronto is also a sought after location for its ability to resemble New York and other North American cities. Each fall, Holywood stars and the rest of Tinseltown comes for the acclaimed Toronto Internationall Film Festival which draws countless filmgoers and has become an increasingly important showcase for new films.

5. Optimistic Sports Fans:

Maybe ESPN has voted Toronto as the worst place to watch pro sports. So, the hometown hockey team, the Maple Leafs, is known in the league as the Maple Loafs and hasn't won anything since 1966. Okay, the Blue Jays haven’t won a baseball World-Series since the early 1990s and the Grey Cup has alluded the Toronto Argonauts football team since 2004. It’s true that both the pro basketball team the Raptors and Toronto FC soceer team have never even come close to a championship game. Torontoians are die-hard fans and support their teams even when they are perpetual losers. Now, that’s the sign of a true sports town.