Travel Guide: Toronto

Until recently, Toronto was widely known as that city in Canada with the CN tower in its skyline. Today, New York city’s little brother is all grown up and is an urban metropolis boasting one of the most culturally diverse scenes on the planet. 

Along with being Drake’s 6ix and being home to the 2019 NBA champions the Raptors, Toronto is ranked as one of the best places to live and has also become a global travel destination. 

Call Toronto your home away from home, and check out our favourite Toronto spots below. 

 

Hotels in Toronto:

Toronto’s hotel scene reflects the city’s unique and diverse crowds and tastes. Here, you will find stylish and comfortable hotels, that definitely set a higher bar than your typical Marriott or Hilton. 

Photos by The Drake Hotel

A Toronto institution on its own, but not to be affiliated with the rapper, The Drake Hotel is a hotbed for culture and design. Located on Queen West, one of Toronto’s most iconic areas, The Drake brings the city’s spirit into its walls and under its sheets. The hotel brings people in for food, music, and a sense of community, mixing locals and guests together through food and art for an unbeatable hospitality experience. Enjoy seasonal and local sips and eats on one of their patios or indoor dining spaces. In the basement of the hotel, you will find the Drake Underground, an art exhibit during the day, and a music venue at night. Recharge in one of their modern and luxurious rooms that feature high-quality amenities. Rooms feature rotating art pieces, queen/king-size beds, and Malin+Goetz toiletries. Sleep, eat, drink, party, and repeat at The Drake, you might never want to leave! 

Down the street, and another popular downtown Toronto staple is the Beverly Hotel. This boutique hotel offers a perfect blend of minimalistic design and comfort, the perfect spot for the urban adventurer to recharge after a long day or night out. Each room is designed with utility and comfort in mind, featuring a mini-fridge, flat-screen TV, IPad, and high-speed internet. In the warmer months, enjoy the hotel’s rooftop bar that is operated by Chef RR, featuring flavourful Mexican bites and the view of Toronto’s Queen St West. 

Photos by The Annex Hotel

Check out The Annex Hotel for a familiar yet fresh experience. A newer addition to Toronto’s boutique hotels, The Annex has already made a name for itself. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto and steps away from all the major neighbourhoods, The Annex makes sure their guests feel like locals. An “anti-hotel’, The Annex decided that traditional hotels had too many unnecessary frills, instead, they focus on technology, versatility, and utility. Guests seamlessly check-in online, and receive full concierge service at the touch of their fingers. Each floor is equipped with a self-serve closet filled with extra amenities such as toiletries, pillows, etc. This modern and unique approach to hospitality allows guests to save on costs while providing them with a comfortable, home-like stay. Guests have 24hr access to a fully equipped gym 5 minutes away from the hotel and are recommended to explore the city like locals using public transit, as the hotel does not offer private parking. The Annex collaborates with multiple neighbourhood favourites, discover local art, food, and music in each room. 


Think lacquered wood, crushed velvet, elevated design, prime location, and hospitality and you have imagined up The Bisha Hotel. A minutes walk from the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre, and in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district. The hotel features four gourmet and Michelin star restaurants and offers guests usage of their rooftop infinity pool on the 44th floor. If the location and amenities are not enough to hook you in, check out their details in the design. Rockstar Lenny Kravitz even had a hand in choosing the hotel’s interior decor. Enjoy the wall to ceiling windows and the decadent heated marble bathroom floors. The Bisha Hotel has everything you need to have a luxurious stay. Wake up in Frette linens and sip on Nespresso coffee while you plan your Toronto adventure. 


Things to do in Toronto:

Photos by BikeShare, Andre Furtado (@andre_furtado) and Larissa Megale (@larimegale)

Get moving and explore the city on a bicycle using Toronto’s Bike Share! Bike Share is a short term bike rental system. Bike Share Toronto offers 24/7 service and offers nearly 7000 bikes across the city. There are 625 conveniently located bicycle terminals in the city, where guests can hop on and hop off their bikes as they please. You can purchase a rental at the kiosk at each terminal or rent using their app. Rental passes can be booked for a single trip (30 minutes), the whole day, 3 days, or the whole year. Explore the city like a true urban adventurer, and check out the downtown bike trail situated right along the Harbour Front! 

If you feel like a relaxing activity with friends, make a picnic or grab lunch to go, and set up a fun afternoon in Trinity Bellwoods Park. A lush park located in the heart of downtown and surrounded by coffee shops, you won’t find a shortage of cute dogs and young Torontonians. Pack a couple of drinks, have some snacks, and play a friendly game of frisbee or spike ball in this urban park.

Photos by ROM and Lotus Raphael (@raphaelo)

Stimulate your inner intellectual at The Royal Ontario Museum. From ancient civilizations, animal biology, and dinosaur bones, the ROM has something for everybody. Museums don’t tickle your fancy? This museum might change your mind with their monthly Friday Night Live events. An after-dark event exclusive to crowds 19+. See the Museum in a new light while sipping on an Asahi Dry and listening to the featured DJ.   

Loving the cityscapes but feeling the FOMO for not booking that trip to a tropical beach? Look no further than the Toronto Islands. Catch a ferry or water taxi along the waterfront and make it to the islands in no more than 20 minutes. The best view of the Toronto skyline can be captured while on the water, so don’t forget to snap a photo or two. 

Photos by Andre Furtado (@andre_furtado), Jasmine Chew (@majestical_jasmine) and Annie Spratt (@anniespratt)

There are three main islands, visit one or all three depending on your mood!

Wards Island is the quietest and residential area of the three islands. Visit Ward’s Island if you are looking for a hike or beach trip with fewer tourists. 

Hanlan’s Point is on the west side of the islands. It is notoriously known for its clothing-optional beach, so leave the swimsuit at home but make sure you bring sunscreen. If the nude beach isn’t your thing, check out The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. Built in the 1800s, the lighthouse is rumoured to be haunted by its first lighthouse keeper who was murdered and body mysteriously vanished. 

Centre Island is the busiest of the three islands. Here you will find a few restaurants, outdoor bars, fountains, amusement park rides, and a long boardwalk. A little bit of everything on this Toronto Island paradise. 


Things to See in Toronto

As touristy as it is, you have to experience the view from the CN Tower at least once in your life!

Nearly 2,000 feet high, see the city from the building that gives it its iconic skyline. It takes a total of 58 seconds for the glass elevators to take you all the way up to the top. See the city from a new perspective through floor to ceiling glass walls.

If you are really looking for a thrill, try the CN Tower’s Edgewalk

Photos by Elyse Turton (@elyseturton) and Miltiadis Fragkidis (@_miltiadis_)

Where tourists and locals collide is the Distillery District.

Go back into time while walking along the cobblestone in this pedestrian-only neighbourhood. Once an area that housed an old whiskey distillery in the 19th century has now been transformed into a hip neighbourhood filled with gourmet restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, music, and outdoor exhibits.

From Sunday Art Markets to the Toronto Christmas Market, there’s something happening at the Distillery District all year round. 

Photos by Jeff David King (@iamjeffdavidking) and Sebastian Gabriel (@sgabriel)

If you are a morning person, then you’ll know that nothing starts off a day better than seeing a beautiful sunrise - with a cup of coffee in hand of course. Drive down to the Scarborough’s Bluffer Park Beach right before the crack of dawn to see the sun emerge above the water.

If you like to cycle, start your morning bike routine with seeing the sunrise at the Dufferin Gates. Watch as the sun illuminates the sides of the skyscrapers, turning them golden-yellow.

Check out High Park, the Toronto equivalent of New York City’s Central Park.

Photos by Jeff Smith (@smitty1966) and Csaba Pap (@csabapap)

Just off the subway line, High Park is a mix of a recreational park and nature conservatory, so there’s definitely something for everyone. From playgrounds, zoo, to bird watching in the tree, High Park is abundant with days worth of activities.

In May, the park is famous for their cherry blossoms, so make sure you see it while the flowers are in bloom. Its transformation into a pink and white haven marks the beginning of summer for many Torontonians.

For a romantic start to an evening, bring your S/O to Grenadier Pond in High Park to watch the sunset while listening to the frogs croak in the forest. 


Best Restaurants in Toronto: 

As Julia Child once said: “People who love to eat are definitely the best people”. 

Which is why Torontonians are arguably the best people! Check out Toronto’s food scene if you don’t believe us. From brunch to late-night boozy bites, Toronto’s immense restaurant list will work for picky eaters and foodies alike. 

Who doesn’t like brunch to start their weekend? Or a late breakfast to soak up last night’s mistakes.

Check out Aunties and Uncles, right by College and Bathurst St, for a greasy but well-deserved meal. Feeding locals since 1998, Aunties and Uncles has always been a crowd-pleaser. Enjoy buttered challah toast and their daily omelette while taking in the diner’s quirky interior design filled with vintage toys and trinkets. 

Photos by @astravel_eats and @mildredstemplekitchen

If you are looking for classic brunch with a modern twist, visit Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. Mildred’s boasts using locally sourced ingredients, making everything from scratch and fresh to order. Located in the heart of Toronto’s Liberty Village, this restaurant is serving up brunch fare in an industrial yet warm environment, creating an exceptional dining experience. Focused on hospitality and innovative flavours, Mildred’s is Instagram famous for a reason. We recommend trying their famous blueberry pancakes! 

Something more a-typical? Try Maha’s Egyptian Brunch. “5000 year old food, Made 5000 years later” is their tagline, and you have got to try it. Located on the east end of Toronto, Maha isn’t serving up your classic brunch fare. Enjoy flavours from the Middle East while feeling at home in a warm setting. 

You rather keep your meals separated? No big deal, have lunch at one of Toronto's many amazing restaurants!

Right around the corner from Trinity Bellwoods, along with a few other locations is Toronto based vegan chain Fresh. This vegan spot has been so successful, they have recently expanded into LA. Innovative and flavourful vegan meals are served in a relaxed modern environment. The Queen and Crawford St location biggest highlight is it’s massive covered and heated patio! Enjoy healthy bites on Fresh’s patio throughout the year. 

Photos by @pennies.bar

In the Trinity Bellwoods or Liberty village area but not feeling like something healthy? Treat yourself and a group of friends to a meal at Pennies Bar. The restaurant/bar earned its name for a reason, everything on their menu is five dollars - including drinks. Buy a round of sliders, tater tots, and drinks for your crew and you definitely won’t break the bank. If it’s warm out, soak up the sun on their patio. In the colder months, dine-in and start up a game of pinball. 

Check out Famiglia Baldassarre for a quick take out lunch or buy some fresh in house pasta to cook at home. Located in one of the final standing artisanal manufacturing strips in Toronto. Famiglia Baldassarre kitchen supplies Toronto’s top chefs with their artisanal in house pasta. Their lunch hours are short and sweet, but well worth it. Visit the kitchen for lunch from 12-2 PM Wednesday - Friday. The Famiglia Baldassarre puts emphasis on tradition and high-quality simple ingredients. Try it and grocery store pasta will be forever changed. 

Photos by @sarsooori and @eatstrand

If you are in the mood for tacos, you need to try Seven Lives Tacos in Kensington Market. Originally named Seven Lives for the seven people always working asynchronously in the kitchen. You can see the team working perfectly together in their tiny kitchen takeout counter. Offering five-dollar generously sized Baja style tacos, you can’t go wrong. 

You can never go wrong with pizza, especially with all the pizza joints Toronto has to offer. Hidden in a residential neighbourhood is one of Toronto’s best kept secrets, Bitondo Pizzeria. Not trendy and with no frills, this mom and pop shop is serving up the biggest slices for the cheapest prices. 

If you are looking for pizza with a bit more pizazz, head to General Assembly. Located in the heart of downtown, this spot is serving up classic Neapolitan style pizzas with fresh and upscale ingredients. Dine-in their trendy, lofty styled space and enjoy traditional Italian techniques with a modern twist. 

Photos by @makerpizza and @foodismto

When greasy New Yorker styled pizza meets Neapolitan, you have a Maker Pizza slice. Celebrity chef Matty Matheson’s creation has lead to innovative and bold flavours. Check out this trendy take out spot for yourself! 

After a long day of adventuring, refuel and reminisce over a delicious evening meal. 

Toronto’s staple Italian chain Terroni is always a crowd-pleaser. Having three locations across Toronto hasn’t dulled their attention to quality and service. Their original location on Queen St West has been feeding traditional Italian fare to the neighbourhood since 1992.

Photos by @sugotoronto

If you are feeling classic American Italian, give Sugo a try. Instagram famous for its big and decadent servings, get ready to wait in a line of fellow foodies. Sugo doesn’t take any reservations, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Check their Instagram to see their daily specials! 

Perfect for date nights or happy hour with friends, check out beautiful Oretta. Serving traditional Italian with a modern twist, this King St West restaurant is known for its stunning interior decor. Enjoy their extensive drinks list while being mesmerized by their high ceilings and soaring arches. 

Photos by @reynatoronto

Enjoy Mediterranean tapas with a modern twist at trendy Bar Reyna. Reyna’s Yorkville location boasts a year-round patio. The building is a renovated two-story Victorian era building. Enjoy innovative cocktails, intricate flavours, and attentive service at this cozy spot. We recommend trying their grilled octopus! 

For some Asian fusion, try Pinky’s Ca Phe. Located right off of College St on a residential street, Pinky’s is serving up inventive Vietnamese fusion with a fun cocktail list. Built in an old residential building, the restaurant owners transformed it into a dine-in space inspired by a Vietnamese 1970s speakeasy. Go back into time and teleport to a foreign land while eating at Pinky’s Ca Phe. 

If the city never sleeps, you might not want to either. Satisfy that late-night craving after a night out at one of these spots: 

Photos by @hanm0t0

From the same creative owners of Pinky’s Ca Phe, Hanmotto is a small speakeasy and izakaya specializing in late-night Japanese style snacks and drinks. Just north of Dundas St and west of Ossington Ave resides this hidden gem. The kitchen is open nightly from 6 PM to 2 AM every Monday to Saturday. Listen to old school hip hop while trying umami dishes in this exposed brick, open-concept restaurant. 

Try Roywoods if you are downtown with a late-night craving for jerk chicken. On weekends you can find this spot serving genuine Jamaican meals to the downtown clubbers until 4 AM. Whether your looking for the after-party or just need a rice and peas fix, check out Roywoods at the end of Bathurst St. 

Chinese-American your late-night guilty pleasure? Same here. Check out Rol San Restaurant in Chinatown to fulfill your nighttime dim sum or kung pao chicken dreams. Look for the big yellow and red signage, and glowing fish and lobster lights on their windows. So long as there are customers eating in their dining room, this spot never seems to close. 

Photos by The Lakeview Restaurant 

The Lakeview Restaurant is a 24/7 Toronto classic. Enjoy milkshakes and greasy diner foods at this retro spot. Located right at Ossington and Dundas St, this spot has been serving Toronto since 1932. This diner is often utilized in many international film sets! See the Lakeview in Hairspray (2007) and The Shape of Water (2017). 


Where to go Shopping in Toronto:

Being one of the world’s fashion capitals, Toronto has an extensive list of unique shops and shopping districts. 

Photos by George Bakos (@georgebakos)

Toronto’s version of New York’s Fifth Avenue is Yorkville. This downtown neighbourhood is a mecca for anything high-end and designer. It’s Canada’s top destination for affluent shoppers. From boutiques dedicated to mink furs and cashmere to designer fashion houses like Channel and Louis Vuitton. Have your Carrie Bradshaw moment in this area. Afterward, enjoy an Italian biscotti and espresso at one of the many local cafes in the area. 

Photos by Sean Thoman (@sthomanns) and @KOTN

If designer fashion houses aren't your thing, check out down to earth Queen St West. Hundreds of boutiques and stores geared towards the young trendy crowd reside on Queen West. A few of our Queen St West favourites include KOTN, Zane, Park and Province, and 18 Waits. Shop local and support small businesses! 

If you are a lover of vintage and everything cool, check out Kensington Market! Kensington Market is a distinct neighbourhood with a unique history in Toronto. Originally housing many immigrants throughout the world wars, Kensington Market has become a mosaic of culture and history. In 2006, Kensington Market was proclaimed a National Historic Site of Canada to help protect its unique atmosphere. Today, the market is filled with artists, musicians, street performers, and various cultural restaurants and shops. If you are looking for good vintage shops, our neighbourhood favourites include Sub Rosa Vintage and Bungalow

If you are a one-stop-shop type of person, check out Toronto’s Malls!

If you are downtown, head to the Eaton Centre for your shopping needs. In the heart of downtown Toronto’s Entertainment district, and right next to Dundas Square. 

Just north of downtown Toronto is Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Canada’s premier shopping mall. Yorkdale opened its doors in 1964, as the then biggest enclosed shopping mall. The mall is constantly changing and has numerous upscale and exclusive shops. 

 

Best Nightlife and Bars in Toronto: 

With COVID 19 in mind, remember to practice safe social distancing and listen to regional health regulations. While we wait for things to go back to normal, grab a socially distant drink, and plan your next outing at one of our favourite Toronto spots. 

Photos by @thedrake

As mentioned before, The Drake Hotel is a hub for locals and guests alike. Enjoy a variety of craft beers and cocktails on either of their patios. Check out their Sky Lounge on their top floor for a heated rooftop patio experience. Pre-COVID, their basement, The Drake Underground is a venue for live DJs, musicians, and dance parties. On Friday evenings, the Drake Hotel’s main floor is transformed into another dance floor, typically different music than the basement, such as disco or jazz. 

Along the Dundas St West and Ossington strip, you’ll find many unique and fun late-night spots. If all is well and the world is healthy again, we would recommend a bar hop. 

For now, grab a cocktail at Mahjong Bar. Hidden behind a Chinese candy shop front, you will find Mahjong, a secret cocktail bar. Great for a casual cocktail or dance party if the night is right. 

Photos by @getwellbar

Down the street is Get Well, known for its extensive list of craft beers. Slingback a cold one and hang out in this taproom with vintage decor and arcade games. 

Tucked away in Kensington Market, you will find Cold Tea Bar. Open every day until late, this Kensington Market bar serves up dumplings and various drinks. In the warmer months, enjoy their large back patio. 


Now that you know the what and where of Toronto, it’s time to start planning your trip! 


Did we mention that Monte & Coe is based in Toronto? Get inspired and dress like a local by checking out our latest collection!

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