Between its stadiums, green spaces, historic architecture, and impressive art galleries, Toronto is a city that caters to every type of traveler. Whatever it is that inspires your wanderlust, you’ll find a world to explore in Canada’s biggest and busiest metropolis.
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Toronto has it all when it comes to sports, and cheering on the home team is an exciting way to get a taste of the Canadian city. The hottest game in town is undoubtedly the Maple Leafs, one the NHL’s most storied franchises. The Leafs are in search of their first Stanley Cup since 1967 (a stat you may want to avoid reminding locals of), and the ScotiaBank Arena is packed night in and night out as blue jersey-clad fans await a long overdue championship. The NBA’s Toronto Raptors share a building with their hockey comrades, and have become synonymous with hometown hero and rapper Drake. The hip-hop icon has helped internationalize the team’s motto, “We The North,” which stems from their hallmark as the league’s only Canadian team.
Just a few blocks away from where the Raptors and Maple Leafs play, the Toronto Blue Jays take the field at the Rogers Centre. With a retractable roof and nearly 50,000 seats filled with roaring fans, this stadium offers a unique ballpark experience. If it’s a football fix you’re looking for, though, the Toronto Argonauts will do the trick. The Argonauts compete in the CFL (Canadian Football League) — an entity that’s been around for more than 100 years — between June and November. Soccer fans are in luck, too, as Toronto FC has taken the city by storm since their inception in 2007. Since then, their following has grown steadily, and we highly recommend stopping by BMO Field for a match. For other sport-related experiences, be sure to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame to see the Stanley Cup and other historical exhibitions, and stop by the SPORT Gallery, a vintage-inspired shop in the Distillery District that sells everything from old prints to game-used gifts.
The creative scene in Toronto is alive and well, as the city showcases its arts and culture through a number of multidisciplinary efforts. Co-working spaces like East Room and Free (where the Creator Class works) are prime examples of the collaborative community in Toronto, offering presentations, workshops, and even wellness get-togethers like yoga and meditation classes.
To check out local artwork, be sure to stroll down Graffiti Alley (just a few blocks north of the Fashion District), which displays works made by local designers, and make stops at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Patel Gallery, and the Power Plant. Toronto also boasts a vibrant theatre scene. Be sure to pay a visit to to historic venues like the Royal Alexandra Theatre (in continuous operation since 1907) and the Princess of Wales Theatre, and if you’re in town in July, try to score tickets to Fringe Fest, an annual theatre festival that showcases over 150 indie productions across the city. Speaking of festivals, you may want to plan your trip to the Six in accordance with one of the city’s other major creative gatherings, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) — a 10-day celebration of more than 300 films from around the world. This year, TIFF begins on September 5. We’ll see you there!
Toronto has seen a lot of changes over the years, and though the city may be known for its modern flash and dazzle, there’s plenty to unearth beyond the skyscrapers for those looking for a glimpse into the past. The first place you’ll want to explore is Old Town, where you’ll find historic sites like Union Station (opened in 1927), the Gooderham Building (completed in 1892) and St. Lawrence Market. While visiting the market, you’ll not only have the chance to indulge in a wide array of world-class food, but you’ll step back in time to Toronto as it was founded back in 1803. Since then, it’s expanded, burned to the ground, been rebuilt, moved, and endured other changes. Other long-lasting sites in the area include City Hall and the Birkbeck Building, and even wandering the older grounds of the University of Toronto will provide some insight into the city’s past.
For a broader look into the area’s history, be sure to check out the Royal Museum of Ontario. This picturesque institution houses more than four million specimens, with collections exploring everything from paleontology to First Nations art. The city also boasts historic attractions such as Fort York where the Battle of York took place during the War of 1812, and the gorgeous gardens of the Spadina Museum (located right next to the eerie, yet beautiful Casa Loma building). Last but not least, you won’t want to miss out on the Distillery District. With its cool shops and tasty restaurants, this is a neighborhood that you could dedicate a whole day toward exploring, but even wandering around the cobbled streets and taking in the 19th-century architecture is a blast from the past for history nerds.
Toronto isn’t spared from winter’s frigid blows. But the cold temperatures do afford a few unique activities, and a fresh coat of snow always makes the holidays more enjoyable (and picturesque). For those looking to take advantage of the wintry weather, lace up a pair of skates and glide around Nathan Phillips Square (and get a picture in front of the famous TORONTO sign) or Bentway Skate Trail, which snakes under the city’s main thoroughfare, the Gardiner Expressway.
During these colder months, the city also hosts a number of seasonal events, most notably the Christmas Market, which you’ll find amid the storied streets of the Distillery District. Here you’ll find a joyous celebration in the form of crafts, choirs, and warm, seasonal beverages. At the time of writing, dates have yet to be announced for 2019, though festivities usually begin around mid-November and carry on right up until Christmas. Other happenings to consider include Bloor-Yorkville Icefest, Toronto Light Festival, Winterlicious, and — if you’re feeling extra adventurous — a New Year’s Day Polar Dip in Lake Ontario. Though you may not get a tan during your cold-weather visit, after a few days up north, you’ll realize there’s a special buzz about Toronto during winter, and it’s sure to make for an unforgettable experience.
Though Toronto may be known for its lofty skyscrapers and eclectic neighborhoods, there’s a whole slew of green spaces and natural areas for travelers to discover on their next visit to the Six. Take the city’s waterfront real estate, for instance. Because Toronto is located on the shores of Lake Ontario, visitors can visit a number of beaches during their stay, both on the mainland and on Toronto Island, just a short ferry ride away. If you’re looking for a picturesque park to relax in, you can’t go wrong with either Trinity Bellwoods Park or High Park — ideal places to spread out a blanket and have a picnic.
Another spot to spend an afternoon in the sun is Don Valley Brick Works Park, an old quarry that’s been repurposed into a stunning green space. Though a little farther from the city center, it’s worth the trek, as newly made trails, lush meadows, and crystal-clear ponds have made this space one of the best of its kind in the city. The Scarborough Bluffs is another area that should be high on a nature lover’s list of things to see. Running along the colorful escarpment are parks, beaches, gardens, and hiking trails, some of which offer up incredible views overlooking the lake. Just be careful, as the eroding bluffs aren’t the sturdiest of grounds. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the city offers relatively quick access to the famous Niagara Falls. From downtown, you can be at the falls and taking in one of the prettiest sights the world has to offer within 90 minutes (depending on traffic). It’s all part of the nature lover’s dream in Canada’s biggest city!
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