Alright, if you’ve navigated your way through Part 1 of the playbook, give yourself a pat on the back! If you haven’t, go check out our Part 1 of unlocking Toronto. Now that you’ve gotten a taste of what the city has to offer, it’s time to elevate your Toronto experience. No more wading in the shallow end—let’s dive deep into the vibrant heart of the ‘6ix’. Ready to sprinkle some extra maple syrup on your Toronto adventure? Let’s dive into the good stuff that’ll make your trip unforgettable. Trust me, by the end of this, you’ll know Toronto in a way that would make any local nod in approval.
Table of Contents
The Fun Stuff in The City
Okay so although Toronto is a city, if you ever get tired of dwelling in the streets (which you probably won’t) here are three badass day trips guaranteed to inject a dose of adventure into your veins.
EdgeWalk at the CN Tower
Brace yourselves. Ever experienced the thrill of being on the edge of Toronto’s highest skyscraper? Been there, done that. Just last May, I took the challenge of skirting around this towering giant. And trust me, it’s an adrenaline kick like no other.
Though I’ve had my share of adventures, this experience? Absolutely unparalleled. For a whole hour, I was treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the city. While you might assume I’d be ready for round two, I don’t think my fear of heights would let me. But for those chasing an unmatched thrill? This is your moment. Because how often can you brag about something this wild?
It comes with a $195 CAD price tag, but the bragging rights? Priceless.
The CN Tower isn’t just for daredevils. Simply visiting the tower’s observation decks offers mesmerizing views, and it’s a lot gentler on the nerves (and the wallet). Currently, a general admission ticket for adults is about $40 CAD. You’ll still get that soaring feeling, minus the heart palpitations. Whether you’re there for the thrill or the view, the CN Tower is an experience you won’t forget. So, who’s up for the challenge, and who’s taking in the sights from the safety of the glass floor?
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
I’m sure no Torontonian has only been here once. As someone who grew up in Toronto, I’ve been to the AGO countless times, but each time there were fresh new exhibits that are bound to peak anyone’s interest. From whale exhibits to historical war ones, I think this place is a well rounded place to see and learn more about how special art really is.
Some of my favorite exhibits were for none other than the Andy Warhol and Van Gogh exhibits. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m obsessed with their work and when I tell you I went back a couple times, I’m dead serious, it was amazing!
Adult tickets cost $25 CAD, while those aged 25 and under enter free. Make sure to check the website to see if there are any cool exhibits running.
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
The ROM is a staple for people from Toronto, similar to the AGO in terms of exhibits, the museum has so much to offer. They even do the ROM After Dark, which features curated music, visual arts, popup performances, and distinctive food and drink, designed for adults looking for a fun, art driven night out.
The first time I went I was taken aback by it! It’s definitely something to try at least once. Encounter world culture and natural history in Canada’s largest museum, it’s definitely something that takes a little more than an hour.
General admission is $23 CAD for adults, $18 CAD for seniors, $14 CAD for children aged 14, and free for children 3 and under.
The classic, what Canada is basically known for is Niagara and maple syrup. Only 90 minutes away, this mammoth marvel of Mother Nature is so close, it’s practically begging for your attention. But it’s not just about the falls, Niagara is a playground with plenty to offer. Not only do you get the chance to see the gorgeous falls, but you also have the chance to walk the Niagara strip where there’s tons of games and activities to do.
One of my favorite things to visit was the Upside Down House that features a home with different rooms that are all an upside down optical illusion! I will say, it did make me a little dizzy, but it was an experience worth having!
There’s a lot of fun stuff you’ll come across there, but be wise with the spending, as this area is more for tourists, the prices are a little higher than normal, maybe skip out on the Mystery Maze that’s in this area too if you’re not with kids because that place was false advertising!
The Maid of the mist is an unparalleled adrenaline rush that’ll set you back around $25 CAD for adults and $15 CAD for kids. I remember going as a kid and it was one of the coolest experiences, sitting on the boat for an hour sailing under the falls listening to the roar of 600,000 gallons of water crashing down around us every second. I remember feeling the mist as it drenched everything around us, and as a child this experience was one to remember! I’ve yet to go back but this should definitely be something on your Toronto Bucket list!
Over 2000 butterflies flutter about in this tropical garden, this is something you do not want to miss. Entry fees are $16 CAD for adults and $10 CAD for children. It’s busiest between March and May when new butterflies emerge.
A glittering hub of fun attractions, from the Niagara SkyWheel to spooky haunted houses. A ride on the SkyWheel costs around $12 CAD and offers a panoramic view of the falls and areas around. Take it from me, the best time to go is definitely at night.
A two hour journey from Toronto, the Blue Mountains aren’t blue, and they’re not quite mountains. But who cares when they offer such a variety of year round activities? Hang out in their warm hot tubs and get a taste of the Canadian winters.
When winter rolls in, the resort is the place to shred some snow. Lift tickets start from around $60 CAD per day. But be careful, I’ve had a couple tumbles that I’m still recovering from!
After your daring adventures, unwind at this tranquil outdoor haven. Bath access starts from $70 CAD, and trust me, it’s worth every penny. I keep going back because of how relaxing the whole experience was.
A bustling hub of shops, eateries, and events, open all year, prices vary by shop and event.
Join the largest Bavarian bash outside of Germany each October. Events are ticketed, with prices varying. Remember, the earlier you book, the cheaper they are.
Open year round, this is Canada’s largest ongoing farmers’ market, where you’ll find everything from fresh veggies to vintage vinyls. Entry is free, prices vary by vendor.
The Cafe Crawl: My Fav Places To Work Out Of
Working remotely doesn’t mean you’re banished to a home office or, god forbid, a cubicle. Nope, not in a city that treats coffee like a sacred ritual. Here’s my insider scoop on the best caffeinated corners for your remote work needs
Top Cafés for Remote Work in Toronto:
- Jimmy’s Coffee (Ossington): Known for its sublime coffee in a laid-back atmosphere. This is a spot where a lot of people come to work!
- Quantum Coffee (King Street West): A spacious haven with a contemporary touch and dependable WiFi.
- Rooster Coffee House (Broadview): Pair your work with not just scenic skyline views and their top-notch coffee, but their pastries are to die for!
- Boxcar Social (Harbourfront): This unique café is super cozy but can get packed really fast, so early birds get the worm—or in this case, the best seat.
- Odin Cafe + Bar (Corktown): A minimalist’s dream workspace with renowned cappuccinos. The evenings buzz with energy.
- Snakes and Lattes: More than a café, it’s a board game paradise. This is one of my favorite places to go when co-working with friends.
Toronto Culinary Diaries: My Top Eats
Scattered locations, always fantastic. Their pizza and bolognese pasta are monthly rituals for my partner and I.
- Poutini’s House of Poutine:
The memory of the hot gravy melting over those crispy fries, coupled with gooey cheese, still lingers. For a mere $8 CAD, trust me, it’s an experience you’ll cherish.
For some good Indian food, right in St. Clair West, every visit feels like a flavor festival. Their butter chicken took me by surprise.
- Bombay Palace:
My Brampton pride, embodying tradition. Don’t skip the lunch buffet.
- Sotto Sotto:
Yorkville allure with an intimate touch. Their risotto? Unmissable.
My Ethiopian cuisine intro. The Lentil soup and vegetarian platter are a flavor revelation.
- Naija Jollof:
Modest on Parliament St but a flavor powerhouse. The pounded yam with chicken stew? Unforgettable.
- Hong Shing Restaurant:
A Dundas St gem. Their BBQ duck is a culinary masterpiece.
- Congee Queen:
A North York comfort zone. Perfect for hearty Chinese cuisine cravings.
- Caribbean Queen:
Authentic flavors that transport you straight to the Caribbean. The locals will vouch!
- Simone’s Caribbean:
Their rotis and braised oxtail? Simply magical.
A chic brunch spot, their Full Gaucho made a lasting birthday impression on me.
- Comal y Canela:
Mexican delight in North York. Their Birria Tacos? Letters-worthy.
My Etobicoke favorite for an authentic shawarma.
A treat for the eyes and taste buds. Their Hummus and Baba Ganoush are unforgettable.
In Toronto, if you’re yearning for a culinary adventure, bookmark these spots. And who knows, we might bump into each other indulging in these flavors.
My Toronto’s Must-Visit Nightspots:
Toronto Nightlife Explorations: Top Picks
- The One Eighty:
Perched on the 51st floor, it’s the go-to for dazzling city views. The cocktails might be around $14 CAD, but that skyline is worth every penny. A local favorite, but a tip: sometimes they undergo renovations, so peek at their website beforehand.
- Cherry Street Bar-B-Que:
A delightful find for BBQ lovers. Expect dishes ranging from $12-$30 CAD. The relaxed vibe is just the cherry on top.
- The Writer’s Room:
Nestled in Park Hyatt, the balcony rooftop showcases the CN Tower and downtown. The patio operates on first-come-first-serve, but book indoors and you can always wander out.
Not just a bar, it’s an adventure. Enter and encounter a vibrant jungle theme enhanced by 3D elements, fusing urban chic with Brazilian tradition.
- Coffee, Oysters and Champagne:
This spot is full of surprises. It might look like a classy cafe, but whisper the secret code and discover a hidden realm that fuses 1920s flair with contemporary luxury. A tad pricier, but oh-so-worth it.
My Nightlife Adventures
Toronto doesn’t just sleep when the sun sets; it pulsates, dazzles, and dances. Here’s a quick peek into my nocturnal escapades in this vibrant city.
In the Heart of the Entertainment District:
Spanning a whopping 45,000 sq. ft., Rebel dominates Toronto’s club scene. Whether you’re into EDM or hip-hop, its themed rooms have got you covered. While entry might range from $20 CAD-$30 CAD, the views and ambiance are unmatched. I’ve had my share of raves here, and trust me, it’s electrifying.
But a heads-up: Post-event transportation can be chaotic. I remember one freezing night when a taxi overcharged us horrendously. One even turned aggressive. Memorable? Absolutely. Pleasant? Not quite.
This place is futuristic, filled with LED marvels and the thump of techno. Five visits and counting with my crew, every time drawn in by their epic DJ sets. Typically, you’re looking at a $20 CAD entry. This used to be my go to spot before I headed off to University. All I can remember is good vibes and hazy nights.
Unique Night Ventures:
I boarded the Mariposa Dinner Cruise with quite the expectations. The evening unfolded with breathtaking waterfront views, a lovely table, and surprisingly pocket-friendly drink prices. Bottled wines started at $28 CAD, and other beverages floated between $6-$10 CAD. At a starting price of $72 CAD, it’s a floating feast for the senses.
An elixir for laughter, hosting a medley of improv, sketches, and stand-ups almost daily. A mere $15 CAD guarantees an evening of chuckles. Don’t miss out on this, sometimes you never know when you come across an underrated comedian!
Imagine an arena of ping pong tables, garnished with a backdrop of chatter and laughter. That’s SPiN for you. Post 5 PM, a $10 CAD cover lets you step into this bubbly environment, with hourly table rents beginning at $29 CAD.
Toronto’s Festival Lineup: My Recurring Shenanigans
Toronto’s festivity game? Top-notch. And me? Your resident festival junkie. Here’s where you’ll likely spot me, year after year, making memories or questionable life choices:
Big Toronto Bashes:
Every September, TIFF is my scene. Stellar films, occasional celebrity photobombs, and me critiquing films like I know any better. For the love of cinema, the Festival Pass is my recurring splurge.
June screams Pride. Colors, camaraderie, and a chance for me to flaunt my “yearly dance moves”. A reminder of Toronto’s ever-vibrant spirit and my questionable rhythm.
As August peeks, I gear up for Caribana. Music, parades, and a calorie overload. At around $20 CAD, it’s less than my monthly impulse buys and twice the fun.
For the Foodies:
Toronto’s food festivals are where my diet plans go to die. The aroma is irresistible, the variety unmatched, and my enthusiasm? Borderline embarrassing.
Bridging Cultures – Indian Style:
Being Indian, I’ve got an inside scoop on these, blending nostalgia with Toronto’s backdrop:
By October, my feet itch to dance. It’s Garba time! Join me? Just a heads-up, my enthusiasm sometimes outdoes my skills.
Spring is all about colors and Holi mischief. Splashing friends with water and feasting on ‘gujiyas’ are non-negotiables. And if you haven’t seen someone’s face dyed blue, you haven’t truly experienced Holi.
Diwali nights are about lights, laughter, and a desperate hunt for the best sweets. It’s a brilliant blend of traditions and Toronto’s charm.
Handy Tips and Tricks
Toronto Tips: A Local’s Guide
- Master the TTC:
Dive into Toronto’s reliable public transportation. Know the subway, bus routes, and the iconic streetcars. And, for a smoother ride, snag a PRESTO card.
- Tipping Know-How:
Gratuities are standard here. Aim for 15-20% on restaurant bills and don’t skip on tipping bartenders, cab drivers, or hotel staff.
- Evade the Tourist Hotspots:
For a genuine Toronto feel, bypass the crowded places. Consider exploring Kensington Market, The Beaches, or Leslieville for an authentic touch.
- Hunt for Bargains:
Want some deals? Websites like Groupon or WagJag are your friends. And don’t miss out on “pay what you can” evenings at many museums.
- Etiquette Matters:
With its multicultural backdrop, Toronto values politeness and courtesy. A little respect can make your interactions more pleasant and fruitful.
Living in Toronto has been nothing short of an adventure. From the bustling streets of the east to the dynamic vibes of the west, the city never ceases to amaze. Toronto is more than just its iconic skyline; it’s a blend of cultures, flavors, and experiences. Each neighborhood offers something unique, from local markets to trendy boutiques, historic sites to cutting-edge galleries. It’s a place where old meets new in the best possible way. If you’ve never been, I wholeheartedly recommend a visit. Dive into Toronto’s diverse tapestry, and you’ll quickly see why I hold this city in such high regard.