A city filled with infinite possibilities
July 13, 2012 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Will be flying into Toronto this Saturday for a conference until Wednesday. I will be in the Front St. area. I like to walk, transit and wander, so tell me where to go.

I combed through the other Toronto questions with the most recent being a year old. I know that I need to hit Kensington Market and the shoe museum what else should I see? Any favorites?

Imagine you are choreographing a perfect few days to fall in love with a city and someone where would you place this romance of the city?

The rules of the romance: just by foot and transit; starts at Front St. on Saturday afternoon; never say sorry for quirky, thirfty or splurging with discretion; no fear of fat, sugar or deliciousness; day and night locales and ends at the airport on Weds. afternoon.
posted by jadepearl to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Front Street: you absolutely MUST hit the St. Lawrence Market and you absolutely must go hungry. Do not miss the downstairs level! Beware: it's closed on Sundays and Mondays.
posted by yawper at 7:59 AM on July 13, 2012

There are a lot of fancy Poutine places in the city. Perhaps give one of them at try. Smoke's is on Adelaide, and not far from Front.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:42 AM on July 13, 2012

Best answer: Toronto Island is a short ferry ride from the foot of Yonge St. It's one of Toronto's nicest park spaces that includes a couple of restaurants and a small amusement park. It's fun to rent a bike and ride around the island, getting away from the picnic areas and heading into the quieter residential areas. Some of the best views of the city are from the island. There are also a couple of decent beaches (decent for Toronto, that is). Warning: on a nice weekend day, there can be quite a wait for the ferry.

The Distillery District is a little bit south of Front, a couple of kilometers east of Yonge. It's a series of restored distillery buildings that have been converted into shops, restaurants, bakeries, a brewery and that sort of thing.

Seconding St. Lawrence Market.
posted by flipper at 8:42 AM on July 13, 2012

CN Tower. Been going up since I was 5 and it's totally still worth it. There's a helluva science museum not too far by bus, if that's your thing.
posted by Blake at 8:46 AM on July 13, 2012

Luckily for you, everything in the city is accessible by foot and transit.

Take a little trip to Toronto Island. You can catch the ferry right there at Queen's Quay. When in Chinatown, eat at Mother's Dumplings. Toronto brunch is also a big deal; there's lots of brunch right near Kensington (you might want to Yelp this and pick your poison).

It's gonna be really hot, so maybe you want to kill some time in a movie theatre? Perhaps Toronto Underground Cinema, if you're into cinematic weirdness? Or TIFF Lightbox.

The two best ice cream places in the city are Ed's (in Leslieville and the Beach) and Dutch Dreams (which has unbelievable decor) up near St. Clair W station. Third is Greg's, right at Bloor and Spadina.

Maybe you want to chase down your poutine with a nice Caesar? The Lakeview is not bad for such things (both poutines and caesars).

It's also the Toronto Fringe Festival. Might be fun to catch a play.

As for night life, there's always something interesting going on on Queen Street, sometimes Dundas or College. The Gladstone is fun. The Drake...is a little pretentious, but sometimes has good music. Worth picking up a NOW Magazine when you get to the city (they're free), and seeing what's on.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 8:48 AM on July 13, 2012

Best answer: Pick up a NOW Magazine, or the Grid, or check BlogTO to see if there's anything we've missed - but are you a Cat fan? Like artistic youths? The Parc After Dark music festival looks like fun, if you can grab some tickets.

But I'd say, though it will be busy, if you can get some picnic food at the market then grab a ferry to the Island (especially on a weekday) and rent a bike, go enjoy it. It's the best view of the city, and sometimes I feel like there's no point to being on the water if you don't do something with it.

On that note, one evening you could head east to the Beaches area. The Queen Streetcar currently has a diversion, but it'll still get you there. Get off at Woodbine and keep walking east, poking in shops and eating and drinking according to what appeals to you. Save room for ice cream at Ed's at what's pretty much the end of the fun part of the strip, then walk south to the boardwalk, continuing back west along the beach and boardwalk while enjoying your ice cream. Cut back up to Queen through Kew Gardens, and back along Queen until you want to catch a streetcar.

DO do the Distillery - don't miss SOMA chocolate and Mill Street Beer.

And, if you're doing the College Strip, (Little Italy, roughly between Bathurst and Dufferin, but ever-growing) La Carnita is new and swell!

Buy Day Passes for the TTC - it will save time and aggro, and you can hop on and off as needed. $3 a pop adds up quickly.

And don't forget - there's a MeFi Meetp Saturday night!
posted by peagood at 8:52 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is plenty of excellent coffee in town. My personal favourite is Green Beanery at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst. (I like how they have converted a former bank building.) The block of Bloor between Bathurst and Spadina is pretty delightful.

If you are going to the Toronto Islands, don't forget the nude beach at Hanlon's Point.

If you want to feel uber-sophisticated, go for an (overpriced) drink at Panorama. The view, especially around sunset, is spectacular.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:10 AM on July 13, 2012

I second CN tower (its there might as well), kensington market, china town, st lawrence market. If its boiling out, which it will be there's the eaton centre (just a mall), AGO, ROM etc.

You can take a walk down Queen st. from University to bathurst and beyond for some window shopping that starts commercial and ends up quirky and then streetcar back.
posted by captaincrouton at 10:36 AM on July 13, 2012

The antiques market at St Lawrence Market is every Sunday. It's on the northwest corner of Front and Jarvis.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 1:31 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Island. You must hit the island, if only to get out of the freakish heat a little. Fresh mini-donuts and epic coffee at Little Nicky's Coffee. Wander round the ground floor of 401 Richmond; it's cool, and there are odd stores and art galleries.

One comes to Toronto for food. The market, yes. But food from everywhere else in the world: the South American food in Kensington Market, Korean up on Bloor at Christie, Ethiopian further west; you name it, we've got it, and it's good. It's not a Toronto thing, but Caplansky's does a mean smoked meat.

Transit is generally great in the city, but a few of the streetcar lines are dug up at the moment.
posted by scruss at 3:03 PM on July 13, 2012

I looked up a few more things in NOW. They are things that I'd personally do, if I weren't fighting off a cold and ferrying a kid around to playdates and going to BBQ committments with friends. I do hope you have fun, whatever you find. It's going to be hot, it may rain on Sunday, and construction and busy weekends mean traffic is a jerk.

I was also going to suggest another area to poke around - the Annex. There's nothing like Honest Ed's. If you're of the Comic sort, the Beguiling is a great place to find stuff. I buy a lot of token gifts at Hanji and Just You Sarah & Tom, and both stores giftwrap so beautifully no matter how small the item is. We might always want the schnitzel at Country Style Hungarian Restaurant but by habit, don't head home without a beer on the patio of Future Bakery is something I can't resist for people watching.

But also:

Summerlicious is a great time to try things!
Summerlicious More than 180 restaurants across the city offer special 3-course prix-fixe menus. Lunch $15-$25, dinner $25-$45. toronto.ca/special_events/summerlicious. To Jul 22


(Look out for these guys while you're travelling: Great TTC Knitalong (Sistering) Groups of knitters and crocheters tour the city on the TTC, visiting knitting stores and knitting onboard. 11 am-7 pm. $10. pre-register ttcknitalong.blogpost.com.)

Art & Performance Night Art exhibit, live music, poetry readings, sketch comedy, crafts and more. 8 pm. Free. Smiling Buddha, 961 College, 416-516-2531. (My husband's band has played this bar from time to time, and there's often something arty and interesting - there's a Burlesque event Wednesday night, too - but I think you're gone by then.)

But really - if you see anyone, it should be Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.


Festival Of India A parade down Yonge Street to Queens Quay followed by performances, yoga, vegetarian feast, South Asian bazaar and more on Centre Island. Free. festivalofindia.ca. Jul 14 to 15


Yorkville Exotic Car Show (Prostate Cancer Canada) Display of more than 160 vehicles. Noon-5 pm. Free (donations appreciated). Bloor btwn Bay and Avenue. (A walk around Yorkville, especially if you're hitting the ROM, can be an experience.) (I wouldn't make the trip, but if I happened to be around there, I'd check it out.)

City Cinema: Monty Python And The Holy Grail Outdoor film screening. 9 pm. Free. Yonge-Dundas Square, ydsquare.ca.

Six Nations All-Star Talent Showcase Performances by musicians Derek Miller and Murray Porter, actor Gary Farmer, former Boston Bruin Stan Jonathan and others plus dance exhibitons, lacrosse players and more. 6 pm-1 am. Free. Metro Convention Centre 255 Front W, facebook.com/events/293633677400197. (I'm not sure if my friend is performing a jingle dance at this event, or at another coming up - but I know she's attending this.)


Toronto Music Garden Tours Tours of the garden's unique design and history, led by a botanical guide, happen Wednesdays 11 am to Sep 26 and Tuesdays 5:30 pm to Sep 13. Tuesdays. Free. West end of the garden, 475 Queens Quay W, torontomusicgarden.ca.

The Great Escape Bed Push Parade And Party Mad Pride march/roll down the sidewalks of Queen West to celebrate the escape from asylums back into the community, with drumming, costumes, speeches, music and more, plus an after-party. 12:30 pm. Free. CAMH, 1001 Queen W, madprideto.com. (Queen West, from, say, University as far west as Roncesvalles and up Roncesvalles Village is a great long walk with so much to see. When I was younger and had more free time, I'd spend the entire day doing it on foot.
posted by peagood at 5:13 PM on July 13, 2012

Toronto is awesome, I was just there a few weeks ago. Here are a few things I enjoyed:

- St. Lawrence Market for sure
- the Islands (spent the most time on Wards Island, we bought picnic stuff at the St. Lawrence Market and brought it over on the ferry)
- all of the food at Black Hoof (it's a little further from Front St though)
- the noodle soup at Swatow in Chinatown
- drinks at Cold Tea in Kensington Market
- Monday night at the Communist's Daughter (divey bar) they do a fun thing where people bring their favorite vinyl in, the bartender puts on side A, and everyone votes if they want to hear side B
posted by evisceratordeath at 5:24 PM on July 13, 2012

Response by poster: Quick follow-up of my trip: I did all you suggested on foot. I logged in close to 75,000 steps in one day of walking and eating my way through Toronto. Walked more than using the metro and had a great time though it was HOT. Damn, I was giving a lot of money to coffee shops that could do iced tea! Thanks for all the great advice.
posted by jadepearl at 4:09 PM on August 12, 2012

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