Things to do in Toronto when you're not dead
November 9, 2006 8:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Toronto for a week soon: things to see and do?

I'm scouting it as a potential place to move to in a year or two, but that's based more on friends and family telling me about what a great place it is. I basically know nothing about the city and while I will be staying with relatives they're in their 70's so I'll be on my own while I'm there.

What are some can't miss or shouldn't miss things? I'm coming across from Australia but I've lived in Vancouver and Saskatchewan in the past. (I'm also spending a few weeks visiting friends and relatives in those two places so I'm not coming all that way just for a week!)
posted by Silentgoldfish to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I assume you will be going downtown, so I recommend visiting all the little areas there: Little Italy, Kensington Market, Chinatown, Little India, Koreatown, Greektown. Walk along Yonge and Queen St. Also, if you are considering moving there, you might want to take the TTC (public transportation system) to get a feel for it. is a great site to find event listings.

I think the Santa Claus parade is coming up soon.. and it's probably too early for this, but in Jan/Feb, Winterlicious is a great way to try restaurants! Participating restaurants offer specially-priced items.

Is there anything you are particularly interested in? (Music, art, food...) Maybe people could give you more specific recommendations.
posted by catburger at 9:41 AM on November 9, 2006

What are the dates? What are you interested in? Might help people give you some focused answers.

Try here, here, here and here for many ideas and opinions.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:42 AM on November 9, 2006

Best answer: This is hard to answer... I moved to Toronto 4 years ago, and before that had spent about 4-5 days here on vacation. The impression I get from LIVING here is totally different from the impression I got from VACATIONING here. I like living here better, so I'll try to list things I hadn't discovered on my first trip here:

-The Annex - the neighbourhood where I ended up living. There is a stretch of Bloor Street between Spadina and Bathurst street with a lot of stores and restaurants that you should take a walk on to see what goes on in a downtownish neighbourhood.
- St Lawrence Market neighbourhood. The market itself is indoors and market-like. It's like Granville Island in Vancouver. Outside on Front street are a couple of nice places to go out: C'Est What for example (restaurant/pub/music bar)
-If you were coming in summer I'd recommend the Toronto Islands, but in winter they're harder to reach. You can still go: people live there, but it's totally different during the summer when it's also a busy park. It's nice to walk around though, even in winter.
-Yorkville - upscale downtown shopping (roughly on Bloor street and just north of Bloor between Yonge Street and Avenue Road)
-Queen Street - go for a streetcar ride on Queen Street!! It goes pretty far both ways, and there are all kinds of different neighbourhoods along the way, including shopping districts and artsy neighbourhoods, but also some parks and residential areas.
posted by easternblot at 9:44 AM on November 9, 2006

We'll have to do a meetup
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:48 AM on November 9, 2006

What do you do at home? Are you into theatre? Music? Food? Bar scene? Do you cook a lot or eat out? Are you more into underground scenes or trendy scenes?

If you're evaluating a city as a place to live, you'll want to see it from the perspective of the sort of things you do on a day to day basis, rather than as a tourist. With a little more information about you, we could point you to where you can find the things you'll like about Toronto.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:51 AM on November 9, 2006

Best answer: All good ideas so far. If you're interested in checking out the art/writing/film scene in Toronto, you may want to sign up for the instant coffee Toronto events list -- it'll point you in the direction of openings, viewings, lectures, and parties you may not come across as easily by reading the free weekly rags.

Go for brunch. Toronto is a big brunch city. Check out Aunties and Uncles or Saving Grace for a good, mid-priced brunch, or get $2.99 bacon and eggs at Green Room (green room is good for cheap decent food all day). Get roti from Gandhi's on Queen Street.

Walk around a lot. If you go west on Queen street into the Parkdale area, you'll come across a ton of antique stores, some which are actually reasonably priced. Pop into museums and art galleries, check out the free concert series at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Canada's first opera house.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:09 AM on November 9, 2006

Best answer: I agree with easternblot that Toronto can be kind of hard to 'get into' as a visitor. At first it can seem concrete-gray and rather cheerless.

You have to dig deeper - get into the neighbourhoods and walk around, even in winter (you'll have a ready-made incentive to duck into a local shop or cafe every couple of blocks). I recommend the Annex or Roncesvalles for a start, but it's hard to be more specific without knowing what kinds of things you like. I avoid Yorkville like the plague, but if you're into celeb-watching, it might be just the place. Some useful neighbourhood sketches are here.

If it's too cold for walking (though it shouldn't be in November), hop on the Queen streetcar and ride it from end to end.

If you have a cellphone, check out the [murmur] project.

As for food/drink/entertainment, BlogTO has compiled a list of the Best of Indie Toronto - people might dispute some of the choices, but it's a good place to start. Finally, Toronto Life City Guides are like guidebooks for locals (wealthy locals, for the most part).
posted by Urban Hermit at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2006

Two weeks from now is the One of a Kind Christmas Show which is like two football fields of arts and crafts.
posted by GuyZero at 12:08 PM on November 9, 2006

Crap, wrong button. The One of a Kind Christams Show.
posted by GuyZero at 12:08 PM on November 9, 2006

Wander around at random. Toronto has so much stuff in it that I found it really easy to find new and interesting and good things just by walking.

I second The Annex, I lived there when I lived in Toronto, too. It's really a great place to live. (Well, when you're a college student.)
posted by blacklite at 6:13 PM on November 9, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks all! I do plan on wandering about a fair bit -- I had a good week in Christchurch (NZ) just walking around the city so it's good to know that I can do the same in Toronto despite it's far larger size.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:35 AM on November 10, 2006

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