How to Spend 36 Hours (or a little less) In Toronto for the 1st Time.
August 22, 2013 4:07 AM   Subscribe

After nearly five years of being a PR in Canada, I finally get to see your biggest city. But time is short! What are your highlights?

My husband used to live there but that was many years ago. I'm sure he has stuff he'd like to show me himself, but let's get that time jam-packed! We like museums, nature, food markets, etc.

Don't worry about recommending places to eat; we're vegan and Happy Cow has got us covered. Also, if you're in the area, might I recommend a joining us for a meet-up?

Hit me with the best TO has got to offer!
posted by Kitteh to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I forgot to add: we're staying in The Annex.
posted by Kitteh at 4:08 AM on August 22, 2013

My wife and I were recently in Toronto for the first time. Casa Loma, a castle-like estate, was worth a visit. Kensington Market is well worth walking around, and you'll even find some vegan food options (e.g., Urban Herbivore). The Distillery, though touristy, had some neat galleries and shops, including the delicious (and expensive) Soma Chocolatier.

We missed the opportunity, but you can also take the public ferry to/from the islands to get a nice view of the city.

Skip the bus tours on the London-style double-decker buses. They're run down, and the tour isn't all that informative.

Have fun!
posted by maxim0512 at 5:14 AM on August 22, 2013

I did a visit to Toronto and we did a couple of things that were fun.

Catch a show. We were lucky enough to see Evil Dead: The Musical, but there are plenty of fun theatre things to see, including comedy.

Catch a game. We saw the Blue Jays play. If you like baseball, it's neat to do a major league game. Spendy though.

We did a day trip to Niagara Falls. If I had it to do over again, I'd do a half-day, or rent a car and drive. The bus thing takes you to a winery, an adorable town and a place where you can buy candy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:37 AM on August 22, 2013

posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:46 AM on August 22, 2013

Hi, I live in Toronto and regularly play tour guide to out of towners. Can't make the meetup though, sorry!

Fun neighbourhoods to wander around: Kensington market, Distillery, Chinatown are all good, close to the annex I would head west on Bloor and watch it go from cheap student eats to koreatown

Food markets: Go to St Lawrence Market (In the north building, Saturday = farmers market day, Sunday = antique market day, but there's a permanent food market in the south building)

Museums: I like the dinosaurs in the new ROM crystal, but apparently no one else in this town does. Also the ROM is expensive, yikes. Other than the ROM and the AGO I think I've only been to the textile museum, which is smaller but cool if you're into that (Disclaimer, I was with people who were really knowledgeable and into it, so I probably enjoyed it more than I would have otherwise). I think the Ontario Science Centre is best with kids unless there's a particularly special exhibit on (I saw bodyworlds when it was there and it was pretty awesome). People like the hockey hall of fame, but I've never been!

Nature: The ferry to the islands is fun and pretty cheap (I think its $7 return), but if you go on a weekend with good weather be prepared to spend a long time in a hot lineup. High Park is a big central park-like part and a nice place to spend time, but its out of the way (like a ~20 minute subway ride from downtown) and not close to anything. The Don Valley is the only other big chunk of nature downtown, but I find the trails confusing.

Misc: If it's saturday or sunday, get a daypass for the subway, because on the weekends it's good for two people. It's about $10 (~ the price of four trips, or two people going somewhere and back)
posted by quaking fajita at 6:18 AM on August 22, 2013

The Bowie exhibit is coming to the AGO 9-25.
posted by brujita at 7:34 AM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Quaking fajita has you covered. Also consider Greektown, or Queen St. West for the fashion hub or Queen St East (near distillery) for funky furniture. Yorkville is fun for hoity-toity window shopping and a nice elegant evening. If you're there during a weekday, check out Bay St. at lunch time to watch the business suits run around, or Yonge & Dundas which is like TO's Times Square.

TO has the best vegan/veggie food; check the directory from (better than happy cow).

Casa Loma is touristy. Centre Island is very lovely AND crowded.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:44 AM on August 22, 2013

seconding Kensington Market and Chinatown. And the shoe museum, of all things, was actually pretty cool. And I loved the zoo.
posted by xbonesgt at 11:41 AM on August 22, 2013

Starting at College St and Augusta, wander through Kensington market, then through Chinatown along Spadina, turning left/east on Dundas, continuing through Chinatown to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Wander through the museum, and go for a bite to eat at Frank, or somewhere on Baldwin St. Then walk down to Queen West, and walk and shop, and then after a while, walk and gallery hop. (You'll enounter more galleries as you get farther west.)

Then go down the ferry docks and spend a few hours hanging out on toronto island!

Then go home and shower and go out for dinner, and go see a play! or a concert!

Then the next day go for brunch somewhere awesome :)
posted by Kololo at 2:28 PM on August 22, 2013

Do not miss the St Lawrence market! Voted the best market in the world by national geographic.
posted by yawper at 7:41 PM on August 22, 2013

Segway tour of the Distillery District! I live here and I've done it 3 times with visitors. It's so much fun.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:14 PM on August 22, 2013

If you're in town from Aug 25-27th, you could check out the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) at the Exhibition fair grounds. It's like a big version of a town fair, with (sketchy) midway rides, fun games, and some neat exhibits (love the farm building and the SuperDogs show)

If you want to make a full day at the Ex, maybe you can catch a concert at the Molson Ampitheatre. The schedule shows me that Mumford & Sons are playing on Aug 26 (might be hard to get tickets though)

Just putting it out there that there is currently a comprehensive Ai Weiwei exhibit at the AGO right now.

(As an aside, I'd recommend the documentary Never Sorry if you wanted to know more about his works before going to see them.
posted by alvin545 at 7:37 AM on August 23, 2013

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