I headed to Toronto for the Travel Blogger Exchange (TBEX) conference and was less than ecstatic about the location; then I arrived and quickly figured out that Toronto is an incredible city. Now the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is home to a vast variety of attractions, nightlife and cuisines all wrapped up in a friendly and relaxed Canadian vibe.
What to do in Toronto
CN Tower: The most famous of Toronto’s attractions is the landmark CN Tower. Completed in 1976, it was the tallest structure in the world until the Burj Kalifa in Dubai was finished; it is still the tallest in the Western hemisphere. The tower is impossible to miss while you’re in the downtown area and you can visit the top for $27.20 (also part of the Toronto CityPASS if you decide to pick one up for $61.50).
The Islands: Get out of the downtown area and hop on a ferry to Centre Island where you can relax away from some of the hectic activity to sip a beer at Shopsys while staring across the water at the Toronto skyline. The best time to go is in the evening so that you can see the city skyline in day and after dusk when it’s lit up.
Restaurant row: When it’s time to dine head to restaurant row (King’s Stret West) for a ridiculous selection of great restaurants. You can find everything from Italian to sushi to New Orleans style cooking (definitely do go to N’awlins at least for half priced appetizers to try a few items on the cheap).
Nightlife in Toronto
Toronto has an incredible nightlife scene with way too many bars, pubs and clubs to name them all. Here are a few tips for various types of entertainment.
The Active Drinker: Go to the Ballroom where they have live music, bowling and even a ping pong table in the upstairs bar.
The Dancing Drinker: Go to the 5th Social Club where the beats are very loud, private tables are the norm and every once in a while the bar tender may light the bar on fire with some sort of alcohol concoction.
The Focused Drinker: Go to the Loose Moose where the beers flow quickly with a lot of options and the tables are large enough for a decent sized group to hang out and chat while getting plastered. The downstairs (which you can watch on a monitor is where the rowdiness kicks off if the mood so strikes you)
The Day Drinker: Shopsys on Centre Island is the perfect place to quietly sip beer and wine in the sunshine while watching to city bustle about across the water.
The Martini Drinker: Head to one of the bars at the Fairmont Royal York like the Library Bar where they are very well known for their upscale and delicious mixed cocktails.
When to go to Toronto
May, June and September are going to your best chance at getting warm, sunny weather in Toronto with averages in the 60s – 70s for these months. August can be a bit rainy (being the wettest month of the year) and the winter months are going to put a damper on your ability to casually stroll the city with freezing temperatures.
Getting to Toronto
Toronto is serviced by two airports within the city or there are other options within 90 minutes of the city.
Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) is located downtown and is only serviced by Porter Airlines and select Air Canada flights. This airport is a great option if you can find a flight, as the airport is small, making it easy to navigate and there is a free shuttle to the downtown area.
Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) is your other option and is a bit further out of the city but is serviced by many airlines with international routes. I also know quite a few people who’ve flown into Buffalo, New York, which is about 1 1/2 hours away, as you can often find cheaper flights this way.
You can get a train from most major cities in Canada on VIA Rail Canada, including Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax and Winnipeg. This is also an option from Niagra Falls in the Buffalo, NY area if you decide to check out the falls during your trip (3 hours via Burlington).