Toronto/Entertainment and Financial Districts
The Entertainment and Financial Districts, along with Yonge-Dundas to the north, form the heart of Toronto's downtown. By day, the suits and powerbrokers of the Financial District drive the city's economy from their glass and steel towers. But as night comes, the towers empty and people pour into the Entertainment District to catch the show, see the game or party at the clubs. Whether it's day or night, many of Toronto's larger attractions are located here, so it's an essential part of any visit to Toronto.
The Financial District is the economic powerhouse of Toronto. Dozens of towering glass, concrete and steel monoliths are a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. The district is actually quite compact and walkable, even in inclement weather. That's because of the "PATH" - 27 km (16 miles) of interconnecting passageways under the streets that feature more than 1,200 stores and services. Street entrances to the subterranean walkway are indicated with "PATH" signage.
The heart of Toronto's Fashion District is along Spadina Avenue from Front Street in the south to Queen Street in the north. However, hardly any garment manufacturing is done here today as garment industry work has long since left for cheaper places. Along Spadina, you can still see many graceful, multi-storey loft buildings that used to house garment manufacturing operations; buildings of this type also appear north of Queen Street to Sullivan Street at the southern end of Chinatown.
The Fashion District overlaps the Entertainment District along the east side of Spadina Avenue. The name "Fashion District" appears on a street sign at the south-west corner of Spadina Avenue and Richmond Street West beside the Fashion Building, a warehouse-loft.
Rogers Centre, formerly known as SkyDome, is a multi-purpose stadium, situated next to the CN Tower near the shores of Lake Ontario. Originally opened in 1989, it is home to the American League's Toronto Blue Jays and the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large-scale events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, funfairs, and monster truck shows. The stadium was renamed following its purchase by Rogers in 2005, but locals prefer the original "Skydome". The venue was noted for being the first stadium to have a fully-retractable motorized roof, as well as for the 348 room hotel attached to it, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. A popular venue for large scale rock concerts, the stadium is the largest indoor concert venue in Toronto; it has hosted many international acts including Metallica, Madonna, U2, Depeche Mode, The Rolling Stones, The Three Tenors, Radiohead, Simon & Garfunkel, Garth Brooks, Backstreet Boys, Roger Waters, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Limp Bizkit, Eminem, Janet Jackson, Avril Lavigne, Jonas Brothers and Cher. The stadium is a centrepiece of the 2015 Pan American Games as the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.
Public tours of the stadium are sometimes available.
The nearest airport to Toronto's financial district is the Toronto Island Airport, which is located across a narrow channel from the foot of Bathurst Street in the Harbourfront district. The main commercial airline serving the airport is Porter, operating year-round flights to New York City, Chicago, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax as well as winter flights to Mont-Tremblant. Air Canada Express also offers service to Montreal. Porter operates a free bus for its passengers between the airport and Union Station; alternately, you can take the 509 streetcar from Queen's Quay and Bathurst, a few blocks from the airport, to Union Station.
Toronto's main railway station, Union Station is located at the foot of the financial district, on Front Street between York and Bay Streets. All commuter rail lines in the city run to and from Union Station and are run by Go Transit. Trains run all day on weekdays and weekends on the Lakeshore line from Hamilton in the west to Oshawa in the east, all the other lines run only at rush hour on weekdays. All intercity trains in Toronto run to Union Station and are operated by Via Rail. (Ontario Northland no longer runs Toronto-North Bay-Cochrane by rail.) For more information on intercity and commuter rail services to Toronto, see the Toronto city article.
The financial district is well served by subway line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) with Queen, King, Union, St Andrew and Osgoode stations all lying in the district.
Many streetcar lines run through or terminate in the financial district. The 504 King line runs along King street, through the centre of the neighbourhood, The 501 Queen line runs along Queen street at the north end of the district and the 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Rd lines terminate in the district.
Both the subway and streetcar lines are run by the TTC and a TTC fare includes transfers between both modes to complete a single trip.
Most of the major highways passing through Toronto pass through the downtown core at some point.
- From the DVP: follow the DVP south towards Front Street - the southernmost exit brings you into downtown.
- From the Gardiner Expressway: exit at Spadina, next to the CN Tower.
- From the 401: follow the 401 until you reach the Don Valley Parkway (just east of Leslie Street), then exit onto the DVP southbound, and follow until you reach Front Street.
Parking in the area is very expensive, and there are always traffic jams late at night.
The easiest way to find downtown Toronto is to locate the CN Tower, and head towards it. Be advised that Toronto is considered a very dangerous city to bike in by many people, and accidents are frequent. Stick to less populated roads, and be aware of people and vehicles around you.
- Canada's Walk of Fame, King St & Simcoe St (2 blocks west on north side, 1 block west on south side along King St; 1 block south on west side along Simcoe St). Toronto meets Hollywood where visitors can see plaques for most of Canada's famous names (Martin Short, for example) embedded in the sidewalk. The plaques are stylized stars that look a little like maple leaf.
- CN Tower, 301 Front St W, ☎ +1 416 868-6937. 10AM-10:30PM. The much-acclaimed CN Tower is Toronto's most recognizable and famous feature, and was the world's tallest free-standing structure until the Burj Dubai surpassed it in September of 2007. It is still the tallest free-standing structure in the Americas. At a dizzying 553 m high, a visit is worth it for the view of the city alone. A glass elevator will take you up to where you can look out from behind glass windows or from an outside observing area through a metal screen. It attracts large numbers of tourists; best times are weekdays in the morning. You can jump up and down on the thick glass floor in parts of the observatory (the view from the floor downward essentially shows the base of the tower). 360, the revolving restaurant, is located in the main deck, but isn't particularly renowned. Restaurant diners with reservations can avoid the queues for the observatory, and at night the lights from distant Rochester, New York are visible over the lake. Adult (13-64) $32, Senior (65+)/Child (4-12) $23; separate rates for additional attractions.
- CBC Museum (Canadian Broadcasting Centre), 250 Front St W. Mo-Fr 9AM-5PM.. The collection contains over 4,000 items that chronicle the history of Canadian broadcasting. Free admission.
- Design Exchange (DX), 234 Bay St (South of King St), ☎ +1 416 363-6121. A museum of design in Canada and around the world. The permanent collection is only open by appointment, but the 3rd floor showcases interesting changing exhibitions, and there's always something on for free on the 1st floor as well.
- Hockey Hall of Fame, 30 Yonge St (at Wellington St, in Brookfield Place), ☎ +1 416 360-7765. Open daily with hours varying by season. A shrine to Canada's pastime in the heart of the city. The Stanley Cup is usually housed here - if seeing it is important, call ahead and ensure it's not in another city before you visit. General $18.00, Senior(65+) $14.00, Youth(4-13) $12.00.
- Since 1993, the Hockey Hall of Fame has been housed in the former Toronto head office of the Bank of Montreal. Completed in 1885, the building has two fine monumental facades with an impressive entrance bay between them. It continued in use as a bank until 1982, when it closed.
- Ripley's Aquarium, 288 Bremner Blvd (At base of CN Tower), ☎ +1 647 351-FISH (3474). 9AM-6PM (9AM-9PM Sa Su and peak season). Home to 13,500 species of sea creatures from habitats around the world. Café, souvenir shop. $30/person.
- Roundhouse Park, 255 Bremner Blvd (S side of CN Tower, across the street). This public park offers has a number of preserved exhibits: roundhouse and turntable, coaling tower, water tower, signal tower, small railway station and several railway cars and locomotives including a 4-8-4 Northern-type steam locomotive. Free to view outdoor exhibits.
- Toronto Railway Museum, 255 Bremner Blvd, Unit 15 (Roundhouse Park) (S side of CN Tower, across the street). Open daily, 12:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m.. The museum, located in the roundhouse building, has railway exhibits, cars under restoration, and a gift shop. When the miniature stream trains are running in the park, you can purchase separate tickets to ride them from the old Don Station building. Museum:$5, $3 for children under 14; miniature train:$3, $2 for children under 14.
- TD Gallery of Inuit Art (Toronto Dominion Gallery of Inuit Art), 79 Wellington Street West (TD South Tower (west side of lobby), TD Centre, south side of Wellington St just east of York St). Mon-Fri: 8am - 6pm, Sat & Sun: 10am - 4pm. Collection of Inuit art, about 100 items on display. (There is also the separate Museum of Inuit Art at Harbourfront.) Free admission.
- Union Station, 65 Front Street West. Union Station is the largest and most opulent railway station in Canada and a landmark in Toronto. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style and finished in 1921, this Heritage Railway Station is a National Historic Site of Canada. The main internal feature of the station is the Great Hall which is 250 feet (76 m) long and 88 feet (27 m) high at its highest point. Materials such as bronze, limestone, marble, tiles, and translucent glass create a sense of enduring quality. On the east side of the station, there is a bridge to the Union Station Bus Terminal where you can get a glimpse of the train shed without buying a train ticket. On the west side is the SkyWalk, an approximately 500 metre enclosed walkway from Union Station to the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre. On the south side, is a tunnel leading to the Air Canada Centre.
- Union Subway Station (under Front St at the Union Station entrance). Union, the subway station, has a major artwork in the form a glass partition running the length of the station. The art piece is called "Zones of Immersion" by Stuart Reid, a professor at the OCAD University, and comprises 166 large glass panels, each measuring more than one by two metres, extending 170 m (560 ft) along the length of the platform. Mostly transparent, it is visible from both the Yonge and University platforms. Each panel contains images or words, many based on sketches of commuters that Reid drew while riding the subway. TTC fare or pass is required.
Small parks and public squares
There are several downtown parks and squares nestled between tall buildings that are pleasing to look at or convenient for a rest.
- Cloud Gardens, 14 Temperance St (Between Temperance St and Richmond St W, ½ block west of Yonge St). This small park has a waterfall fountain along its east wall. The garden includes a small greenhouse set to the conditions of a rainforest, planted with tree ferns, palms and other exotic plants which provide colour and interest year round. A walkway from the lower-level entrance to an upper-level exit by the waterfall reinforces the feeling of going up into the clouds.
- Commerce Court, Wellington St and Bay St (Behind the buildings near the corner of Wellington St and Bay St). This plaza features a fountain and a three piece bronze sculpture by Derrick Stephan Hudson entitled, Tembo, Mother of Elephants completed in 2002. These near life-size sculptures of a mother elephant and her 2 cubs were installed on site in 2005 on loan from the L.L. Odette Foundation of Windsor, Ontario.
- Toronto-Dominion Centre, Wellington St (NE of the corner of York St and Wellington St). A small plot of grass within the TD Centre square displays 7 life-size sculptures of cows giving the square a rather pastoral atmosphere.
- Victoria Courtyard, King St E & Yonge St (Behind the buildings at the NE corner of King St and Yonge St; west of Victoria St). The small park is nestled between tall buildings away from traffic noise. It contains a number of permanent decorative art objects.
- Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St (Subway line 1 and streetcars 509 & 510 to Union Station), ☎ +1 416 815-5500. This hockey arena plays host to all Toronto Maple Leafs homes games as well as Toronto Raptors basketball games. It also hosts many of Toronto's large concerts. The arena is directly adjacent to Union Station and there is a passage leading from the underground concourse into the arena, however the passage can be confusing.
- Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St W (504 streetcar to John St; 3 short blocks from St Andrew Subway Station), ☎ +1 416-872-1212. Modern theatre for musical productions.
- Rogers Centre (SkyDome), One Blue Jays Way (510 Streetcar to Bremner Blvd or Subway to Union Station and follow the Skywalk), ☎ +1 416 341-1707. This large stadium is home to the Toronto Agronauts football team and Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, and it also hosts large concerts. It has a retractable roof, allowing games to be played in all weather. To access the stadium from Union Station follow the Skywalk from the western waiting room.
- Rogers Centre Tours. Tours of the Rogers Centre are sometimes available. Consult the website for details.
- Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St (1 block west of University Ave and St Andrew's subway station), ☎ +1 416 872-4255, e-mail: email@example.com. Home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The venue also hosts other musical events. It's distinctive round glass shape makes it a Toronto landmark.
- Royal Alexandra Theatre (The Royal Alex), 260 King St W (504 streetcar to Simcoe St then ¾ block west; 1¾ blocks from St Andrew Subway Station), ☎ +1 416-872-1212. Opulent century-old building in the beaux arts style, hosting touring plays & musicals.
- Scotiabank Theatre (formerly Paramount Theatre), 259 Richmond St W (501 Streetcar to John St, then one block south on John), ☎ +1 416 368-5600. first films start at noon; last films start at 10:30PM. This is one of central Toronto's few large cinemas. It has several screens and shows mainly major, first-run films. It also has an IMAX screen. General tickets: $9/$13 (child & senior/adult).
- Second City, 51 Mercer St (at Blue Jays Way), ☎ +1 416-343-0011. Nightly performances of improv and sketch comedy.
- TIFF Bell Lightbox (Toronto International Film Festival), 350 King St W (504 streetcar to John St), ☎ +1 888-599-8433. TIFF Bell Lightbox is a cultural centre and the headquarters for the Toronto International Film Festival. The building contains a theatre and galleries. The fourth floor gallery is free to the public, while the larger main gallery on the first level hosts large paid exhibitions.
- Take a historic walking tour of the area. Muddy York Walking Tours, offers "Toronto History: the 20th Century" and "History of Downtown Street Names" tours that cover the downtown area.
- LCBO, 200 Bay St, Brookfield Place (Within a mall opposite Union Station), ☎ +1 416-368-9644. Liquor store.
- MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop), 400 King St W (1 block east of Spadina Ave at Charlotte St), ☎ +1 416-340-2667. Large store for outdoor wear and gear.
- The PATH (Accessible from Dundas, Queen, King, Union and St Andrews subway stations.). The PATH is the world's largest underground shopping complex with 27 km (16 miles) of shopping arcades. It is a city under a city and extends from Union Station in the south to Yonge-Dundas Square in the north. The PATH has numerous branches with alternate routes creating an underground maze.
There are restaurants located in attractive row of older buildings along King St W at John St opposite the TIFF Bell Lightbox. There are many restaurants in nearby districts such as Chinatown, and the Fashion District along Queen Street West.
- Burrito Boyz, 218 Adelaide St W (west of Simcoe St). Open until 4AM on weekends. Very tasty burritos. The halibut burrito is especially popular. Arrive early for lunch as there can be a long line-up by 12:30PM. Large burrito $6-8.
- Modern Wok, 145 King St W at St. Andrews Station (Simplest route: Descend the stairs from University Ave. a few metres south of King St.), ☎ +1 416-364-3840. Open work days. Chinese & Thai cuisine. Get there at least 15 minutes before noon to avoid a long line-up at this popular under-ground food-court counter. Dishes less than $10.
- Shopsy's Deli Restaurant & Catering, 96 Richmond Street W (in Sheraton Centre opposite City Hall), ☎ +1 416-365-3354. Diner-style decor, serving fine deli food.
- The underground PATH has many food courts for budget meals.
- Try the many hot dog stands, also known as "Street Meat," located sporadically around the downtown area of the city. These vendors are conveniently located just outside of subway stations, big buildings, malls and clubs. Prices range from $1 to $4, and most stands offer hot dogs, veggie dogs, sausages, and cold drinks. Changes to provincial health regulations are expected to bring a variety of new food choices starting in Spring 2008.
- Marché Restaurant (formerly Richtree Market), 42 Yonge St (Brookfield Place, south of Weelington St), ☎ +1 647-350-6999. Good if you have to please many tastes as options include personal pizzas, pasta-of-the-day, sushi, stirfries, seafood, steak, rosti potatoes, soup, sandwiches, crepes, waffles, etc. Casual, cafeteria style.
- Beerbistro, 18 King St E (at Yonge St). Open to 2AM Th-Sa. Over 130 ales and lagers. The dinner menu offers a wide range of appetizers and steak frites, mussel bowls, roasted knuckle of pork, seafood chowder and rabbit curry. Patio. Also open for lunch and brunch on weekends. $18-24 dinner mains.
- KAMA, 214 King Street W (between Simcoe St and Duncan St), ☎ +1 416 599-5262, fax: +1 416 599-4640. Indian buffet (Lunch $11.95, Dinner $18.95), slightly whitewashed to suit tastes of largely non-Indian clientele, but with very good selection. Good way to introduce novices to Indian foods.
- Jules, 147 Spadina Ave (south of Queen Street), ☎ +1 416 348-8886. Open Mo-Sa. Good, inexpensive French bistro fare including quiches, crepes, baguette sandwiches, steak frites and croque monsieur. Very busy at lunch, not so busy at dinner. ~$15 per person lunch.
- Kit Kat Italian Bar & Grill, 297 King Street West (at John St). Conveniently located near the Royal Alex and Princess of Wales Theatres, the Kit Kat offers a quirky decor and menu choices like: bruschetta, warm scallop salad, fettuccine alberto with four cheeses, rigatoni bolognese, roast lemon chicken, osso buco, baby back ribs, New York striploin, and fish of the day. $20-38 dinner mains.
- Momofuku Noodle Bar, Ground Floor, 190 University Ave (between Ricjmond St and Adelaide St), ☎ +1 647 253-6225. Lunch: Everyday 11:30am - 3pm. Dinner: Sun - Mon 5pm - 10:30pm, Tues - Sat 5pm - 11pm. Delivery hours: Mon - Fri 11:30am - 2:30pm, Everyday 4:45pm - 9:30pm. Offers high quality ramen ($15) and steamed bao. Can also buy cookies from Momofuku's milk bar. $15.
- Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant, 99 Blue Jays Way (½ block south of King St). BBQ baby back ribs, fire-grilled steak, 1/2lb sirloin burgers, steak sandwiches, wood-oven pizzas and handmade pastas. In the summer, the Oasis rooftop patio features a barbeque menu.
- Bardi's Steak House, 56 York St (south of Wellington St), ☎ +1 416 366-9211. M-F 11:30AM-4PM (lunch), M-Sa 5PM-10:30PM (dinner). Serving only the finest cuts of certified Angus beef, Bardi's does not scrimp on quality. Fresh Atlantic salmon, chicken and ribs are also available and delivered to you with exceptional personalized service. Highly recommended. Mains $24-66, Appetizers $7-24.
- Canoe Restaurant and Bar, 66 Wellington St W (TD Bank Tower, 54th floor), ☎ +1 416 364-0054. M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM (lunch) and 5PM-10:30PM (dinner). Regional Canadian cuisine, breathtaking views of the city skyline. The menu offers fresh Canadian fish, game and produce. Mains $40-44.
- The Entertainment District (Clubland) has North America's highest density of clubs, restaurants and bars. Dance clubs are located mostly along Richmond and Adelaide Streets, but there are some on the side streets. The clubs don't generally last very long. In many places, every year a new club opens in the same location with a new name.
- Steam Whistle Brewery, The Roundhouse, 255 Bremner Blvd (509 & 510 Streetcars to Rees St or subway line 1 to Union Station), ☎ +1 416-362-2337. M-Sa noon-6PM, Su noon-5PM. This large-scale microbrewery provides tours every 30 minutes with options. The $10 tour includes a glass of beer.
- Canadiana Backpackers Inn, 42 Widmer St (between Richmond St & Adelaide St). Youth hostel with 18-seat theatre.
- Hyatt Regency Toronto, 370 King St W (at Peter St), ☎ +1 416 599-4000. 4-star hotel with 425 rooms. Fitness centre, in-room spa services. Pet friendly rooms available.
- Le Germain Toronto, 30 Mercer St (1 block south between John St and Blue Jays Way), ☎ +1 416 345-9500. 4-star hotel located in the heart of Toronto's Entertainment District, right next to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
- One King West Hotel & Residence, 1 King Street West (corner of King St and Yonge St, at King Subway Station), ☎ +1 416 548-8100, toll-free: +1 866-470-5464, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 4-star hotel centrally located in downtown. Above the King subway station. All rooms have washer/dryer and kitchenette with dishwasher. Excellent views from upper floors.
- Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front Street West (across from Union Station), ☎ +1 416 368-2511. Toronto's historic grand old hotel. 4-star hotel featuring indoor pool and fitness centre, on-site restaurants and bars, business centre.
- InterContinental Toronto Centre, 225 Front Street West (1 block west of Union Station), ☎ +1 416 597-1400. 4-star hotel located downtown in the theatre district and connected to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
- Renaissance Hotel Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way (inside the Rogers Centre), ☎ +1 416 341-7100. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. 4-star hotel, 348 rooms in total, with 70 rooms overlooking the stadium. Pet friendly. From $159/night.
- SoHo Metropolitan Hotel, 318 Wellington Street West (corner of Wellington and Blue Jays Way), ☎ +1 416 599-8800. 4-star luxury hotel with rooms and suites featuring Italian Frette linens, down duvets, and Molton Brown bath products. Senses Restaurant and Bakery is on-site.
- Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, 325 Bay St (1 block north of King St at Adelaide St), ☎ +1 416 306-5800. 5-star hotel features guestrooms and suites, a spa, health club, meeting space, event locations and restaurants. Also offers Toronto vacation packages.
- City Hall Library, Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St W (within Toronto City Hall), ☎ +1 416-393-7650. Closed weekends and holidays. Wi-fi, computers with internet access.
- Toronto Commerce Court Post Office, 25 King St W, Suite 176 (From the food court in the underground mall, look for PATH signs towards BCE Place and Union Station; the PO is under the stairs to Wellington St), ☎ +1 416-956-7452. Closed weekends and holidays. Besides stamps, shipping services and money orders, this outlet offers some items for stamp and coin collectors.
Here are a list of neighbouring downtown districts, most of which are within walking distance:
- Downtown East: St Lawrence Market, Distillery District.
- Kensington-Chinatown: Kensington Market, Chinatown, Art Gallery of Ontario.
- Harbourfront: Harbourfront Park, harbour tours, Toronto Islands.
- Yonge-Dundas: City Hall, Eaton Centre, Yonge-Dundas Square.
|Routes through the Entertainment and Financial Districts|
|North York ← Yonge-Dundas ←||N S||→ Reverses direction|
|Barrie ← North York ←||N S||→ END|
|Kitchener ← West End ←||W E||→ END|
|END ←||W E||→ East End → Oshawa|
|Hamilton ← Harbourfront ←||W E||→ END|
|Milton ← Etobicoke ←||W E||→ END|
|Richmond Hill ← North York ←||N S||→ END|
|Whitchurch-Stouffville ← East End ←||N S||→ END|