Greater Toronto Area
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is centred on the city of Toronto, in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe. It is not legally defined but is used as a catch-all reference, and extends west to include Mississauga and Oakville, and east to include Ajax, Pickering, and Whitby.
- City of Toronto (the six former boroughs of Toronto, York, North York, East York, Scarborough and Etobicoke in area code +1 416)
- Halton (previously Halton County)
- Brampton — local government seat of Regional Municipality of Peel
- Newmarket — local government seat of Regional Municipality of York
- Oakville — local government seat of Regional Municipality of Halton
- Richmond Hill
- Whitby — local government seat of Regional Municipality of Durham
By public transportation
GO Transit runs commuter trains and buses between Toronto and its suburbs. Most train routes only operate during rush hour and are replaced by coach services at other times. The exceptions are the Lakeshore East and West rail lines, which run all day and on weekends from Aldershot to Oshawa. GO Trains as well as a few GO bus routes run to Union Station in downtown Toronto, which is connected to a subway station with the same name. Most GO buses run to Yokdale or York Mills stations on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line or Scarborough Centre on the Scarborough RT line.
VIA rail operates intercity trains Toronto-Windsor, Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa and Toronto-Kingston-Montréal as part of its coverage of the beaten-path Windsor-Quebec corridor. There are onward connections in Montréal for Québec City. A trip across Canada by train requires three legs, Halifax-Montréal, Montréal-Toronto and Toronto-Sudbury-Vancouver. Ontario Northland used to run trains north from Toronto's Union Station, but this has been discontinued and replaced with intercity bus.
Grey Line, an intercity bus operator, is based in Toronto; there are also Coach Canada/Megabus running eastward to Cornwall or Montréal, Greyhound to Ottawa-Gatineau and intercity buses to North Bay and to Buffalo-Niagara.
By public transit
GO Transit operates the commuter transit services between the different regions of the GTA. It operates 7 commuter rail lines, all coming together at Union Station at the base of Toronto's financial district. All the rail lines other than the Lakeshore West and Lakeshore East operate into Union Station during morning rush hour and out of Union Station during evening rush hour and run only on weekdays. The two lakeshore lines run all day from around 6 am to around 1 am on weekdays and weekends. Buses replace the rail lines while they're not running, most GO buses operate out of Yorkdale and York Mills subway stations at the north end of Toronto and several use the Union Station bus terminal, across the street from the train station.
Within each region of the GTA, local municipalities operate transit services. The TTC is by far the largest and serves the city of Toronto, it runs all the buses, streetcars and subways within the city. York Region Transit operates buses in York Region, to the north of Toronto. YRT also runs 5 bus rapid transit lines, known as VIVA; two of these lines operate only during rush hour and four of them connect to subway stations. MiWay (Mississauga Transit) serves Mississauga to the west of Toronto. Most of its services are centred on the Square One shopping centre and many of its routes connect to the Bloor-Danforth subway line at Islington station.
Toronto International airport (IATA: YYZ) in Mississauga is served by an intercity bus (through Belleville to Kingston, with various stops), GO commuter buses (to Yorkdale/York Mills), Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto local buses and a TTC bus (at regular fare, about $3) directly to TTC's Kipling subway station in Toronto/Etobicoke. There's also a train direct to Union Station in Toronto/Downtown with on-board wi-fi.
- Black Creek Pioneer Village, a living museum in Toronto/North York near York University.
- Casa Loma in Toronto, an impressive castle once owned by the proprietor of a local electric company in the early days of electrification of the city, now restored to that historical time period and opened for tours and events.
- The CN Tower in Toronto/Downtown near the Skydome, as North America's tallest free-standing structure.
- Old Oakville has a few small buildings restored to the pioneer era, with costumed interpreters.
- Ontario Science Centre, in Toronto/North York, is an extensive hands-on educational museum.
- Parkwood Estate Gardens in Oshawa, a grand private estate featuring architectural, landscape and interior designs of the early twentieth century English Arts and Crafts period. Now operates as a museum.
- Toronto Zoo, a tautology, occupies a huge area in the east end of Toronto/Scarborough with many exotic animals.
- Unionville Main Street historic village, first developed in the 1840s in what was then Markham Township. As typical of a small village, it boasts numerous quaint period buildings in an idyllic surrounding.
- Canada's Wonderland, a Paramount theme park in Vaughan
- Watch live theatre in Toronto/Downtown or sports teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays or (just for laughs) the Toronto Maple Leafs
- Ontario Place and the Canadian National Exhibition as amusement park and fairgrounds on the west side of downtown Toronto
- Public beaches in the Toronto Islands and east of the city
- Woodbine Raceway, a major horse racing venue in Toronto/Etobicoke
- Caravan, an extensive Folklore festival in which various pavilions scattered across the city represent individual countries
- Caribana, a black Caribbean festival
- A huge gay Pride Festival and parade, usually near the end of June, brings several hundred thousand people
- Santa Claus Parade, Yonge Street, late November
The busy main street of Toronto, Yonge Street, draws a more diverse collection of merchants with more independents than the malls.
Toronto was once headquarters for two rival national department store chains, Eaton's and Simpsons, which both have either closed or been merged into other chains. The largest malls are the Toronto Eaton Centre and Hudson's Bay Centre in Toronto/Downtown, Yorkdale Mall at 401 and Allen Road in Toronto/North York, the Scarborough Town Centre in Toronto/Scarborough, Sherway Gardens in Toronto/Etobicoke and Square One in Mississauga.
Pickering (Ontario) operates an extensive indoor flea market on weekends.
A few national chains claim Toronto or its suburbs as home base; the Swiss Chalet roast chicken restaurants originated in Toronto and the Pizza Pizza delivery chain has strong enough ties to the city to have registered as a trademark the last seven digits of their heavily-advertised Toronto number, +1 416-967-1111. The Harvey's flame-broiled hamburger was first served in York Region.
Because of strong and growing immigrant communities, ethnic foods in Toronto are of good quality and comparable to those of the respective home countries. Greek food on Danforth Avenue or Chinese foods in the various Chinatown districts, among others, are prepared by cooks and chefs from those countries and entice expatriates to visit the city for a "taste of home".
Entire books have been written as collections of reviews of Toronto-area restaurants, which span every segment from takeaway foods to the most expensive of haute cuisine. Within the City of Toronto, very high standards protect food safety and restaurateurs are legally required to post the results of regular inspections.
Toronto is home base to the Loblaw supermarket chain, one of the big three nationally (its rivals Métro from Montreal and Sobey's from Nova Scotia are also widely present). Loblaws city markets tend to be large stores with an assortment of sidelines, ranging from clothing to housewares.
Toronto never sleeps.
Some options for further travel include:
- The Niagara Region - home to the Falls, the Shaw Theatre, a multitude of wineries, and many other tourist attractions.
- Prince Edward County and Eastern Ontario - an opportunity to get out of the city, even pick your own apples and strawberries in season.
- North of Barrie, the Georgian Bay area is cottage country for many Torontonians