Visiting Toronto, this time in November
September 18, 2022 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Me, my spouse, and our kiddo, all Chicagoland-based, will be spending the Thanksgiving break in Toronto visiting our favorite cousins and their bouncing preschooler. We will have some chances to peel off and do things solo and we may all go out together a few times as well. Difficulty level: we've been there four or five times already, so a lot of the classic Toronto tourist stuff is long-since checked off our list. Outside of our regular trip to St. Laurence Market, the goal is to see new stuff.

Stuff we have done and would not likely repeat on this trip: CN Tower, Casa Loma, Rogers Centre, Distillery District/Holiday Market, Ripley's Aquarium, Toronto Island Park, High Park, Edwards Gardens, Allan Gardens Conservatory, Queen Street, Kensington Market, Toronto City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square, Evergreen Brick Works, Yorkville Village, Yonge Street, Ontario Science Centre, Yonge/Dundas Square, and probably a bunch more I am forgetting.

We've visited in nearly all seasons, so there are not likely to be "but if you go in this season" exemptions to the above.

We're staying in Leslieville and will be visiting family who live in Cabbagetown. I did see SkullStore on Atlas Obscura and that looks fun.

We have never hit any of the big museums, because our kid would not have been old enough to enjoy them. He's thirteen now and tolerant of that stuff, but if there is one with some kind of cool hook to draw him in, that would be an easier sell than like classic paintings or tapestries and such.

Kiddo and I like horror movies to the point of obsession. He also adores video games. My partner loves flowers. She does enjoy shopping, but has a very particular vibe, sort of the European small row shop thing, not too hippie and certainly not mass market.

Restaurant recommendations are cool, if there is an entertainment/destination aspect to them. Otherwise, we know nice places close to where we'll be.
posted by DirtyOldTown to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, two other things I should mention: we will be there November 23rd through 27th. Absolutely nothing specific to Thanksgiving is needed.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:03 AM on September 18

The Bata Shoe Museum is more interesting than you might think!
posted by Threeve at 10:30 AM on September 18 [7 favorites]

Do you have a car (or access to one?). The Toronto Zoo is massive and really great - especially at that time of year when there are far fewer crowds than the summer. Only problem is it is quite far from downtown.
posted by elkerette at 10:31 AM on September 18

Gaming? Zed*80 on the Danforth. Visit would have to end by 8 pm, as it becomes 19+ then.

For museums, the Aga Khan Museum is my favourite place in the world, but it might be too chill for you.
posted by scruss at 10:33 AM on September 18 [5 favorites]

SkyZone Trampoline Park is fun for anyone who's fairly mobile, from age 2-50. Note that adults will likely have sore thighs the next day or so.

Korean Barbecue is delicious and works for a wide range of palettes (although it's not suitable for vegetarians or vegans). Your table has a built in grill and you use little tongs to grill your own meats and seafoods. The meats are very flavourful without being spicy, and it's really fun. I took visiting teen boys and it was a hit. I usually go to Korean Grill House near Queen and University, but there are lots of options.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:53 AM on September 18

Aga Khan Museum - seconding, it is very cool
Riverdale Farm - very cute animals, bring carrots for the horses
The Bluffs - it's pretty! Scarborough though.
Royal Ontario Museum - natural history! I like the ROM, but i don't adore it :)
Monkey's Paw bookstore - it's odd and nice
posted by plant or animal at 11:17 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

The AGO has some stuff going on while you're here that is definitely not of the "stare quietly at paintings" variety...

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory's Naak silavit qeqqaa? is on exhibit at the AGO while you're here. Here's an example of her uaajeerneq work.

Sigur Ros's Jónsi has a sound installation called Hrafntinna (Obsidian) going on at the same time:

Unable to witness the eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland in spring 2021 due to the pandemic, Jónsi has imagined this unique event as a sixteen-channel composition, played across 195 speakers, accompanied by a sweet and smoky scent.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:20 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

our regular trip to St. Laurence Market

You might be interested to know that the St. Lawrence Market recently expanded its hours - it's now open until 7:00 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and it's also open on Sundays.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:28 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]

Black Creek Pioneer Village in North York has the best ghost tour I've ever been on. If nothing else, you're walking around an open-air heritage museum, so that may be interesting on its own. But you're doing it at dusk with a guide who has a lantern and takes you into a bunch of buildings (relocated from parts of Ontario) before telling you about the ghosts that have been seen in them.
posted by LionIndex at 12:48 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Our cousins are Sigur Ros superfans who have flown to Iceland to see them. That might be a great one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:47 PM on September 18

Here are a few smaller ideas:

Pacific Mall can be fun. I have a thing against pirating/bootlegging but I'll say anywhere that depending on when the last enforcement round happened it could be a good place to get obscure horror movies.

You could visit a few horror film spots.

November is touch and go for weather but the Toronto Islands are nice and the boardwalk in the Beaches is another calmish spot. (If you like North Americanized Chinese, the Goof is a classic and is across from Ed's Real Scoop.) I find a lot of tourists never hit our beaches. Bluffers Park or my old Guild Inn are also good lakeside places although further out.

Shopping: Curiosa is fun and in the Annex, and not far from Bakka Phoenix. From there where you can also head up to Bloor West for Thunderstruck books, if you like manga, BMV across the street, and some new-age Seekers if your child likes to look for occult texts. Alternatively you can go south on Spadina to Chinatown (although you may have done that with Kensington).

Your child might enjoy a meal at Storm Crow Manor.

Construction on the new subway may disrupt your route, but I always suggest hopping on and off the Queen streetcar from Neville to Longbranch - it goes through neat neighbourhoods and is cosy with a hot chocolate (not at rush hour though.) Covid considerations apply of course. This is a way to move from "normal tourist spots" to "finding our fav 'hood to hang in."

I think your visit is almost certainly too late for the Royal Winter Fair but that's a thing in November. Sadly most street festivals are over by then.

My kids are pretty gallery and museum friendly but echoing the Bata Shoe Museum and the Aga Khan. Zed*80 is also a lot of fun.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:53 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]

Snakes and Lattes is a fun place to eat drink hangout and play games
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:30 PM on September 18

I haven't been so cannot vouch for it, but Little Canada looks like fun.
posted by Rora at 5:47 PM on September 18

One of my favourite buildings is the Toronto Reference Library and there are a range of events there.

In addition, at the Lillian H. Smith branch library, there is the Merril (ie. Judith Merril)collection, "one of the world's leading research collections of speculative fiction and popular culture. Our 80,000+ items cover speculative fiction including science fiction, fantasy, horror and magic realism. Includes:

fiction books, non-fiction critical works, biographies
pulp magazines
graphic novels
manuscripts, correspondence and other archival records
original art
role-playing game (RPG) books
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 11:39 PM on September 18

If any of your family are Harry Potter fans the ROM has a Fantastic Beasts exhibit that marries the film with the animals the beasts were based on.
posted by machine at 7:25 AM on September 19

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