By Nicola Brown
Toronto is the kind of place where historic neighbourhoods like the Distillery District vie for attention with emerging trendsetters like west-end Ossington Avenue, where new craft breweries seem to open every day. Or east-end Riverside where a notorious strip club became the boutique Broadview Hotel, with one of the best views of the city from their rooftop bar and restaurant.
In the summer, everyone’s outside on the Toronto Islands, picnicking in Trinity Bellwoods park, or watching al fresco movies in Christie Pitts. In the winter, we’re fireside with a pint underground at C’est What?, cozying up with bookish cocktails at Famous Last Words, or braving sub-zero temperatures with our kids for the maple syrup festival at Black Creek Pioneer Village.
We hang on the latest trendy openings—Rosalinda for next-level vegan Mexican, Kukum for Indigenous creations, and mini French diner Aloette since nobody can get a table at its famed parent Alo these days. It’s a testament to Torontonians’ quirky cultural prowess that we’re just as chuffed about our restaurants as our racoons (our unofficial mascot), and we can never get enough of patio season. Head to Bandit Brewery for proof.
A few fall and winter must-dos are loved by locals just as much as visitors: pick up farm-fresh finds at St. Lawrence Market, go ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square against the backdrop of the colourful Toronto sign and City Hall, or indulge your inner foodie with special prix fixe menus at hundreds of restaurants across the city during Winterlicious in January.
Head to Yorkville for splurge-worthy shopping, or Kensington Market for the exact opposite. If haute couture is what you’re after, you’ll want to check out Sentaler, one of Meghan Markle’s favourite Canadian designers for royal-calibre outerwear.
Toronto is a city you appreciate more as you hop between disparate cultural pockets, eating and drinking as much as you can along the way. One of the best ways to experience the city is to don your comfiest walking shoes and explore on foot. You’ll never get through it all on the first visit, nor will you have done on the hundredth. That’s probably the thing we love most about this city.
ESSENTIAL TO BRING BACK
Take a piece of Toronto’s food obsession home with you in the pages of Toronto Eats by Amy Rosen. The recipe book contains over 100 signature recipes from the city’s top chefs and restaurants. You’ll find the book for sale at many of the restaurants whose recipes are featured, like gorgeous Argentinian eatery Leña so you can continue exploring the city from your home kitchen.
Photo: Mwengi Gatheca