How to Spend a Day in Toronto, Canada

Toronto is Canada's business capital and largest city, a clean, safe and vibrant metropolis where real estate prices are high and blood pressure levels are low. It's remarkable that despite the massive tax burden imposed on Canadians generally—and Ontarians and Torontonians in particular—this city devours and reinvents itself every couple of years. Hence the identity crisis. Though there are quite a few genuinely good bars in Toronto, going for the cheese factor can be a lot more rewarding. It’s the one of the safest and cleanest places on earth so you are unlikely to become a crime victim.


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    Find out where to stay. Drake Hotel - A secret hideout for artists and indie musicians, the Drake Hotel has a sophisticated flavour and a cool nightclub. Located in Toronto's arty design neighbourhood, where galleries, fashion boutiques and interior design shops abound.
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    Find a good place to eat (safe) cheap Chinese food - Lee Garden (331 Spadina Ave.) A clean place that serves top-quality Chinese. Always packed. Eat the steamed grouper with ginger and the hot-and-sour soup.
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    Look for places to eat modestly. Ematei - A slightly off-the-radar address doesn’t keep bargain hunters from finding this unpretentious spot where three-course dinners (beef teriyaki with soup, salad and rice, for example) can be had for as little as $22. Divider walls framed in strips of dark wood nod to rice paper tradition; steel chairs and multiple bits of kitsch on the walls conjure more Bill Murray’s Tokyo.
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    Look for a very classy restaurant. Scaramouche - After more than 25 years, the restaurant is still seducing diners with its luxurious food and understated but powerfully romantic setting. Book early for one of the coveted window seats offering sparkling views of the skyline. The menu luxuriates in delicacies: foie gras, truffle, lobster, veal — often combining many elements into a grand whole.
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    Find out where to slum it at a dive bar. Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen St. W.) - A portal to the dark side, for a lot of good reasons. And the dark side in Toronto is dark, like an LA, aluminum-foil-on-the-windows kind of dark. Rock, punk and other happening sounds blare at ear-bleeding decibel levels, while TV screens show a wide range of films. Everything a seedy Queen West bar should be and more, the 15-year-old Bovine has valiantly resisted the war on sleaze that’s been sweeping the rest of the neighbourhood. Bolted to the ceiling is a collage of weird and wonderful knick-knacks, the pièce de résistance of the strange, even menacing décor: gold-painted cherub dolls grin creepily, hanging out among old tires and bicycle wheels.
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    Find out where to drink with every kind of person. Ted’s Collision (537 College St.) The best bar left on College, a house of refuge amid the dross. Ted’s Collision is a great place to drink, but staff, we have a tip for you: We are smart enough to carry on conversations, and we like the company, so lower the music. It’s too loud and you’re driving people away.
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    Find the best small bar. Sweaty Betty’s (13 Ossington St.) A little hole-in-the-wall that serves imported absinthe, sake martinis, and Cheez Whiz on toast. Get falling-down drunk and then wander over to a Vietnamese “karaoke bar” and puke on one of their couches. That goes over really well. They love that.
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    Find the best vintage clothing shop - COURAGE MY LOVE (14 Kensington Ave.) This place is epic. How about the name? Hippies founded it in the 60s (OK, maybe a bit later but the myth shall live on). It’s family run. The jewelry is one-of-a-kind. Their cat loves to be petted. This is a bit more than just a shop: it’s the closest thing we will ever get to that better time. And go for a wander around Kensington, there are a lot of other great vintage shops in there like Flashback and Dancing Days.
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    Find Toronto's Best Art - Skip the hundreds of tiny galleries and go the The Art Gallery of Ontario - Picassos, photography, Renaissance, Group of Seven, Henry Moore gallery.....
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    Check out the historical Distillery District. A neighbourhood used as the backdrop of several Hollywood films. Check out some local art and have a pint at the Mill Street Brew Pub or a latte at Balzac's Coffee shop.
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    Check out Harborfront and the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery. (231 Queens Quay West Toronto) - The Power Plant has three major exhibition galleries and smaller, adjacent indoor and outdoor sites which lend themselves to virtually any presentation circumstance. The interior of The Power Plant is comprised of three major gallery spaces.
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    Stay at a boutique hotel. - Cosmopolitan Toronto Hotel - A serviced apartment, with kitchens and everything. You'll feel right at home. Another cool thing was the quietness of the hotel. It's tucked in a small street by Yonge and Bay. So, even though you know you are a block away from everything, it's quiet.
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    Go to the most diverse neighborhood in North America. - Kensington Market - Crammed with everything from a cheese store with every imaginable variety (and a few others) to handmade crafts straight out of Nepal to vintage clothing to authentic Jamaican fish vendors, Kensington showcases Toronto's many diverse cultures.
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    See the most celebrities in a two week period. - The Toronto International Film Festival is the biggest film festival in North America and second to Cannes worldwide. Head to restaurants like Bistro 990, Pangaea Restaurant, Sotto Sotto and the Four Seasons Hotel and see an overwhelming number of stars.
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    Find Chinatown - Toronto's Chinatown is one of the world's largest. This downtown location is one of three large Chinese communities in Toronto. Dundas Street West from University Avenue to Spadina Avenue and north to College Street are the boundaries of Chinatown. As the Chinese community has grown, it has extended along Dundas Street and north along Spadina Avenue. Here you'll see a fascinating mixture of old and new. Hole-in-the-wall restaurants share the sidewalks with glitzy shopping centers built with Hong Kong money.
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    Stand in the tallest building in North America. - CN Tower - As you approach the city, whether by plane, train, or automobile, the first thing you notice is this slender structure. Glass-walled elevators glide up the 553m (1,815-ft.) tower, the second tallest freestanding structure in the world. The elevators stop first at the 346m-high (1,136-ft.) Look Out level. (It takes just 58 seconds, so prepare for popping ears.)
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    Find Little Italy. No food review would be complete without mentioning Little Italy. With the highest Italian population outside of Italy the possibilities are endless, although you might want to start at The Sicilian Café for unparalleled gelatos and tiramisu.


  • Fall (mid-September to late October) is crisp and beautiful - all of Ontario is renowned for its autumn colours.
  • Take advantage of the Toronto public transit system to get around. Toronto has an extensive subway, streetcar and bus system making it easy to get to many of it's parks, and attractions. Specific instructions on getting around Toronto by public transit can be found at - Toronto and at the Toronto Transit Commission website.
  • In summer there are free outdoor festivals going on all the time.
  • Toronto has a warm summer (June to mid-September) filled with festivals and events, making it the best time to visit.


  • You must be 19 or older to drink in Toronto. Do not go just to get a drink. This is not the U.S, so the drinking age is lower.
  • There are homeless people in Toronto so don't be surprised.
  • Toronto gets downright frosty in winter (November to March), with cold spells averaging between 2°C and -20°C (35°F and 14°F), although in the last few years there have only been a few extremely cold days.
  • All of Canada, but especially Toronto is multi-cultural, so again, don't be surprised.
  • It can be very hot and humid in July and August. Check the weather before you choose what to wear and take when going out.
  • Don't run after a celebrity if you see one. If you see a celebrity make sure you treat him or her like a normal person.

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Categories: Canada