Toronto is listed as one of the most spectacular cities in Canada for good reason. The city frequently ranks in the top 10 most liveable cities in the world, and offers countless hours of entertainment for tourists.
When you come during the warmer months you’ll be able to explore Toronto as locals see it, and prefer you see it: full of energy, colour and things to do!
Below I’m going to give you the inside scoop on some of the best shopping areas, food scenes and nightlife opportunities for your next Toronto getaway, plus luxury accommodation options.
Part of staying safe wherever you travel is remembering to buy travel insurance before you go, so both you and your property are covered just in case.
Luxury accommodation picks
Wake up to some fine hospitality.
The Drake Hotel or Broadview Hotel These are two boutique options if you’d prefer to be accommodated in a trendy neighborhood surround by living, breathing Torontonians. The Drake has a very popular music venue on its basement level as well.
The Thompson A scenic rooftop patio and great floor level restaurants.
Shangri-La Toronto A luxury 5-star hotel close to everything downtown: subways, attractions and entertainment.
Top shopping picks
Options for any budget!
Yorkville If you’re feeling haute couture and want to shop-hop from Chanel to Gucci to Louis Vuitton, Bloor street (between Avenue Rd. and Yonge) has various high-budget options for your perusal. Stop by Holt Renfrew, you just might spot a celeb.
Eaton Centre Toronto’s destination shopping mall. It houses many sought-after Canadian brands. Think Roots Canada, Aritzia and Hudson’s Bay, plus flagship stores from all over the world. Outside on its east end is Yonge-Dundas square with plenty of free outdoors entertainment during the weekend or summer festival circuit.
Queen West Tourists often get tricked into hanging around the Eaton Centre/City Hall area. While that’s a good choice if you’re fine with tourist traps, you can walk just a little further west on Queen St (passed University Ave) and there are plenty more options, from revered independent brands and vintage shops in Toronto. It never ends!
Top public parks
Greenspace is good for you, you know. You’ll be able to people-watch or toss the frisbee around any one of these parks. Bring a snack!
Trinity Bellwoods Park So many dogs! If you want to live vicariously through a dog or puppy owner, here’s your place. If you want to see just how many people can fit into a park on a sunny, Saturday afternoon, this is your place. If you want to see two hippies balancing on a tightrope tied to trees, this is also, unfortunately, your place. Across the street to the south you’ll find coffee, ice cream, book shops and more.
Christie Pits This is my pick for the best park in Toronto (and bumped High Park out of my top 3), because it’s a bit quieter, peaceful and friendly. But to describe it is to describe a huge, round bowl where the bottom is filled with not soup but soccer and baseball fields, basketball courts, grassy knolls and playgrounds. More of a family park, Christie Pits has a public swimming pool and skate park/ice rink on its west side.
Once the sun goes down you can roll over to the adjacent Koreatown neighbourhood and do your best Rihanna at one of its many karaoke bars.
Riverdale Park A short subway ride east from the city’s core (get off at Broadview!), Riverdale Park is HUGE. It sits in the middle of a pretty affluent area but you’ll still find the same soccer players bouncing around in the vast fields that give this park its athletic character. If you walk a bit deeper into the park there are dozens of trails that will leave you lost in no time—can you find the farm?
On the east side of this gorgeous park, you can almost see every tiny window on every huge building downtown, it’s really something I can’t describe well. Check it out!
Top food scene picks
If you’re somewhere on the vegetarian spectrum, don’t worry; Toronto is very attuned to the veg lifestyle boasting world class spots. And as one of the most diverse cities in the world, you’ll get to eat nearly every cuisine there is! I’m not kidding.
Kensington Market + Chinatown (Spadina) These two neighbourhoods are beside each other. Do you want Vietnamese, South/Latin American, Chinese, Caribbean, global fusion, vegetarian, Italian, Jamaican-Italian??? Say no more. Find some cool threads in Kensington Market when you’re done.
King West This is a recommendation for those seeking a fine dining experience in Toronto with flavours from around the world. If you want a refined experience, Jacobs & Co., Lee and Buca are some of the hot spots.
Little Italy / College Street Lots of Italian here, but lots of Toronto too, at an affordable price point.
Top nightlife picks
Toronto likes to party folks. Last call is normally 2 a.m.
Dundas/Ossington However young and overrun on the weekends, you can’t forget this intersection. In any direction, you’re likely to find 5 to 10 resto-bars on each block. It’s home to two music venues (The Dakota Tavern and The Garrison) plus free arcade games at The Get Well, and the legendary Lakeview diner is open 24 hrs, 365 days of the year.
Entertainment District A more classically clubby destination that has people flock from all corners of the GTA.
The Village Go to a drag show, they’re actually hilarious!
Top music venue picks
Roy Thomson Hall Symphony orchestras abound paying homage to Mozart, Vivaldi and the like.
Massey Hall Great downtown stately hall that has featured iconic acts like Bob Marley, Neil Young and the Dalai Lama.
Danforth Music Hall
Converted from an old cinema, this is one of the best places to see live music in Toronto. Thanks to its sloped floor, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.