Great destinations, routes and experiences in and around Toronto.
September 25, 2009 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I want to go to there, but I need your advice on where "there" is. Starting point: Toronto. Range: any land within 100 km (60-ish miles) of High Park, but I can go further for something really special. Means of transport: my trusty steed. Time frame: now until November-ish. I'm looking for great routes or awesome destinations, urban, rural or suburban, like the best roti in Scarborough, a tiny potter's studio somewhere in Peel, or a gorgeous path by some body of water that isn't Lake Ontario. I want to go somewhere to do something neat, like picking apples or riding horses. And this is not Torontofilter or bikefilter. I'm looking for creative ideas from anyone, anywhere.

If you're from the GTA or any place within reach, what places, routes and experiences would you recommend? For example:

- A great view or nearly-secret thing that few other people know about. I never got around to the secret swing, and I regret it.
- The best [meal / farmer's market] in [area of your choice].
- Galleries are an obvious choice for me, but beyond that, is there, say, a raku studio nearby that gives demos or classes?
- Some place I should go to with my camera or sketchpad, or else.
- Where is a movie or tv show being filmed right now? I don't care about star-stalking, but am curious about the ebb and flow of work on site.

If you're not from around here, what kind of place or experience do you have in your neck of the woods that I should try to find locally?

Restrictions: very few.

- These have to be day trips, thus my soft limit of 100 km (200 km round trip). However, if need be, I can justify taking a train partway to get to someplace great and back in one day.
- I favour free or cheap over expensive, but can justify spending some money on an awesome experience.
- I can carry a fair amount on my bike, but there are limits, so I don't think I'll be furniture shopping any time soon.

Otherwise, suggest away!
posted by maudlin to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Make a trip out to Albion Rd and Islington Ave for a day of good eats!

- the best doubles in the GTA are at Drupatis, on Albion (southeast corner). If you can handle heat, say “yes” to the pepper!

- excellent South Indian vegetarian at Madras Dosa Hut (Albion, southwest corner) or Brar Sweets (Islington, northwest corner)

- yummy Afghan kebab at Al-Meezan (Albion, northwest corner)

And further west on Albion, just before Hwy 27, is Tandoori Time – delicious Indo-Pak kebab, butter chicken and fresh tandoori naan

Bonus: get your eyebrows threaded for $3 at one of the beauty salons in the northwest corner (same plaza as Al-Meezan). Both are clean and professional.
posted by yawper at 11:23 AM on September 25, 2009

At Keele & MajorMac is the best Chicago Style pizza available in the GTA at Chicago Pizza Kitchen. Go there. Eat pizza. Be glad that the return trip is more downhill than up.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:25 AM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's not exactly secret, and far from cheap, but the tasting menu at Colborne Lane was the best and most fun meal I've yet had.

Also, for sushi that floats around in little boats, try Fune.
posted by happy scrappy at 11:37 AM on September 25, 2009

What about taking your camera down the recently restored carousel in Port Dalhousie ( an old section of St. Catharines ). That's right at the outside limit of 100km. To get there, you can ride the Waterfront Trail all the way around Lake Ontario.

It's definitely cheap (only 5 cents a ride still!), and very very pretty. It's only open weekends now until Thanksgiving, so keep that in mind.
posted by MagicEightBall at 11:59 AM on September 25, 2009

If you find railroads and local history interesting, you can ride out to the ruins of the Rice Lake bridge that once formed part of the Cobourg and Peterborough Railway. The old causeway is eroding away, but it still extends ALMOST all the way out to Tic Island in the form of a really amazing overgrown finger of land varying from one to three meters wide. There are a few places where you have to hop from rock to rock and one where you need to swim about fifteen meters if you want to actually get to the island. There's a nice little beach too and great fishing if that interests you.

Follow the aforementioned Waterfront Trail east to Port Hope and then follow these directions.

It's a bit longer than you asked for (135km from downtown), but it's a great ride. And if you want, you can take your bike on the GO train out to pickering and ride from there, cutting the trip down to a hair under 100km.
posted by 256 at 12:23 PM on September 25, 2009

Sorry, wrong google maps link. This should be the correct one.
posted by 256 at 12:26 PM on September 25, 2009

Based on a route recommended in an earlier question I posted, try taking the Martin Goodman trail west from Roncesvalles to where it meets Lakeshore. Follow Lakeshore west to Royal York Rd. and head north. Continue north until you hit the Kingsway, and then cut over diagonally to Islington. You can take Islington all the way up to the Boyd conservation area and the McMichael collection. There and back is just under 50 miles.

Alternately, start at the western end of the Martin Goodman, and take it all the way east to the Beaches. From there, cut up to Queen and go a few blocks further to R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, one of Toronto's nicest architectural features. You'll be hungry on the way back, so why not climb up to Christie and St. Clair to see the new Wychwood Barns development, and get some bbq at Stockyards. Or, if you want to fuel up on your way out, stop at the St. Lawrence market (especially on a Saturday morning) for your coffee/fresh pastry/peameal sandwich fix.

Also my cousin did a pretty good century out to Guelph and back. Here's the route.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:41 PM on September 25, 2009

I mentioned this possibility to maudlin at the Meetup tonight, since she asked. Now that she encouraged me to think of it, I'll add it here. I made this ride this afternoon.

In Scarborough, below where Bellamy meets Kingston Rd., is the Doris McCarthy trail, which runs down a ravine to the bottom of the Bluffs. It's a rough trail, deeply rutted in a couple places and shifting between about five different surfaces (loose gravel at the top, packed earth, rocky broken concrete, hardpacked fine stone). I ride down it with my brakes pressed firmly, and ride back up huffing on first or second gear. At the bottom a large metal sculpture called Passages overlooks the lake. It's a horizontal spine with several ribs rising from it, that I think of looking like one of those hunched dinosaurs with the arrowheads on its back, although I don't think it's actually supposed to represent that. From there you portage over a small beach and some dumped concrete to a dirt path that runs below the Bluffs to Guildwood Park. There's usually no one around down there, not even a boat on the lake.

Guildwood is also worth visiting. Carvings and doorways rescued from Toronto buildings demolished in the 1960s found a new home in this park.

Where the Don Valley trail meets splits between paths to Taylor Creek and Sunnybrook are three large white sculptures. I've always thought them strange remnants of the early-70s aesthetic. They're actually Elevated Wetlands. I'll need to take a closer look next time I bike past them.
posted by TimTypeZed at 10:59 PM on September 25, 2009

The Cheltenham Badlands are pretty cool to see. There are hiking trails there, part of the Bruce Trail. It's about 45 km from downtown Toronto.

If you want to pick apples for free, get on the mailing list for Not Far From The Tree. They connect volunteer fruit pickers with people with fruit trees in their yard. They're currently running in the St Clair area, Parkdale, and the Beaches, and it's apple season! I got to pick in Spadina House's heirloom orchards with them last week, and they sent me home with 18 pounds of organic apples. Amazing.
posted by heatherann at 11:05 AM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the great ideas so far. There's lots here that I hadn't even considered. What I can't get to this fall is pencilled in for spring/summer 2010.

I'll report on any rides I make back here.
posted by maudlin at 2:15 PM on September 27, 2009

What I would do is take the Go Train out to Georgetown and start from there. (I think the bike trip up here is about 40k.) You are in the country almost immediately and thanks to the escarpment you'll get a good workout up and down the hills. Local sights near the Go Station: Farmers Market on Saturday, Acton Trunk Sale (have lunch on the shore of fairy lake), Glass Studio/Art Galleries in the glen, Erin Fall Fair (great downtown with awesome milkshakes at Steens), Forks of the Credit, Horseback Riding, Pick Your own Farm and winery, Feed Ostrichs on their Farm (and Screamfest in October), Crawford Lake and First Nations Village at Conservation Halton (ALL of their parks are awesome), Ukrainian church with great acoustics, Lucy Maud Montegomery, see where the windows wallpaper Autumn came from...
posted by saucysault at 7:21 AM on September 30, 2009

Update: I didn't get as much riding in this month as I had hoped I would, but I have my fingers crossed for November.

I got to pick some fruit (and got some awesome pear clafouti from it), but there were only a few sessions left, given the season. I will definitely be picking again when they start up again next summer.

I rode out to my sister's place in Ajax on Thanksgiving weekend and had enough time to make a detour to Guildwood, but not the rest of the Bluffs. I do want to check out that sculpture, some Sri Lankan food and my old neighbourhood, so I'll be trying again.

Thanks again for all the suggestions! If I make any more rides, I'll let y'all know.
posted by maudlin at 5:49 PM on October 31, 2009

« Older Recommendations for online design class?   |   the voodoo that you do Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.