Visting Toronto From a Local’s Perspective

It’s weird that it’s more comfortable writing about places you’re less familiar with than ones you know very well. I think this has a lot to do with the feeling of wanting to do your city justice and represent it well. Toronto has really grown up in the past couple years. This isn’t always easy to translate into words. We’ve seen the city change from a mid ranged North American city to not only one of the best cities in Canada, but also one of the best in North America.

Food Scene

Ice Cream cones
Ice Cream Cones at Sweet Jesus
Persian Brunch
Takht-e Tavoos Persian brunch

Toronto is often praised for having one of the most diverse food scenes in the world. Once we caught ourselves having a Persian breakfast, a Tibetan lunch followed by an Ethiopian dinner. One of the major trends in Toronto food is a push towards more healthy and vegetarian fare.  On the flip side, there’s no shortage of desire for the not so healthy food options. A lot of the great cultural restaurants are located in their respected neighbourhoods or districts in the city.

Dinner at Ethiopiques

Toronto’s Chinatown is one of the most extensive and diverse in the world. It’s one of our favourite places to dine and pick up groceries in Toronto. Kensington Market is also nearby if you’re in the area. Visiting in the warmer months means you can enjoy street festivals while sampling some of the great food and goods Kensington has to offer. It’s a neat place with a distinctly bohemian culture. Close by you’ll also find Little Italy and Koreatown. The TTC is always there to whisk you off to Greektown on the Danforth, Little India or another neighbourhood with delicious food.

Sports

TFC game at BMO Field
TFC game at BMO Field

Growing up as a kid sports in the city and country for that matter have always been hockey-centric. In recent years I’ve seen a paradigm shift as the NBA and basketball in Canada has become increasingly more popular than hockey. This opinion is quite true with the younger generation. As the Leafs struggle to develop a competent playoff team, The Raptors and Toronto Football Club have been coming extremely close to winning championships. It’s also much more affordable to catch a TFC or Raptors game than a Leafs game.

Cultures and Museums

AGO
Art Gallery of Ontario

If museums and culture is your thing, a trip to Toronto wouldn’t be the same without vising the Art Gallery of Ontario. The AGO boasts a large assortment of permanent collections, including one of favorites – Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens. There’s also exhibitions that change seasonally, so it’s worth checking what might coincide with your travel dates. Some other suggestions for museums would also be The Aga Khan Museum and The Royal Ontario Museum. There’s a lot of niche museums, such as The Gardiner Museum, The Bata Shoe Museum, The Textile Museum and The Hockey Hall of Fame. If you’re into History, we recommend checking out Fort York, The Spadina House and of course Casa Loma. If you arrive in early September, Toronto is bustling with life for the Toronto International Film Festival. There’s a ton of activities and movies that are accessible by the general public. If you won’t be here for TIFF, don’t worry as there’s over 70 film festivals in Toronto that run throughout the year! We recommend checking out Hot Docs, Planet in Focus, Inside Out, JAYU and imagineNATIVE.

Leisure and Relaxation

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms in High Park

Toronto has some awesome parks located right in the city. A popular weekend destination close to the downtown core is Trinity Bellwoods where you can often find locals picnicking or basking in the delights  recently purchased at one of the nearby cafes along Queen St. We recommend getting a box of macrons from Nadege.  Go a little further west  and you’ll find High Park. High Park is a popular place year round for local and international tourists, but it’s especially busy in spring when large crows flock to the park to get photos of the Cherry Blossom trees. If you’re into spas, Toronto has some of the best we’ve ever been to! This list should help narrow down your search.

Music

Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall

Toronto’s music scene is pretty diverse. On one hand it’s home to two of the most influential and popular hip hop artists right now, but it’s also home to a ton of established and up and coming artists from all genres of music. Most of the outdoor festivals take place in the summer though there’s also a ton of indoor shows during the colder months. If you’re into electronic music then you might want to check out Veld or Digital Dreams. If indie music is more your jam, then be sure to check out the lineups for Field Trip and the Toronto Urban Roots Fest. If you’re looking for a more intimate environment there is plenty of bars that have nightly and weekly live music. We recommend checking out Horseshoe Tavern, The Rex, Sneaky Dee’s, The Garrison and last but not least our favourite Communist’s Daughter. There’s a number of places to get your classical on as well; the Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays regularly at Roy Thomson Hall. The Royal Conservatory, Koerner Hall and The Sony Centre also hold frequent performances.

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