This post was written by Deborah Grossman from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Discovering tasty and exciting attractions in Toronto is an easy quest. From film and art to food and shopping, pick a neighborhood and choose from an array of activities.
The CN Tower is not your average tourist attraction. You can read, learn and view. But visitors must summon their courage for the Edgewalk, the world’s highest, hands-free walk around a tower on a narrow platform with no handrails—guaranteed to be an adrenaline-producing adventure. A sit-down on the world’s first tall glass floor at 1,122 feet begs for selfies. The 360 Restaurant in the tower serves up fantastic views and locally sourced food as you revolve around the city. Wine lovers alert: 360 and has the highest wine tower in the world with several cult gems hidden inside. Back at ground level, walk across the street to Steam Whistle Brewing for a cold Pilsner-style lager.
Holt Renfrew’s landmark store in the Yorkville District is worth a half-day visit. The spacious and beautifully lit departments include everything from Fair Trade collectibles to fur coats. The art throughout the store is stunning, and the staff is knowledgeable and gracious. Arrange your visit around a meal at the store’s bistro, Holts Café. The chef sources bread from Poilâne bakery, flown in daily from Paris, and offers signatures roasted chicken pot pies, tartines, and excellent teas.
Decisions, decisions. The Art Gallery of Toronto in the Entertainment District holds treasures from Canadian and international artists plus outstanding rotating exhibits on a host of topics. The size is suitable for a couple of hours or full day visit to explore Canada’ First Peoples and Dutch masters’ classics.
For a fascinating mix of pop culture and history, hitch up your boots and visit the Bata Shoe Museum in the Yorkville district. From the earliest slippers of our early ancestors to Roman sandals, weird Renaissance platforms and Chinese kill-your-feet women’s tiny slippers, this museum summarizes the history of the world from religious traditions to military strategy and social media culture wars—all through the lens of footwear.
Canada’s Top Chef, Mark McEwan, leads a mini-empire of restaurants and culinary emporiums. At One in The Hazelton Hotel, once Drake’s favorite Toronto residence, McEwan showcases the best of Canada ingredients in global style. The tasting menu may segue from miso black cod and grilled octopus to buttermilk panna cotta with cranberry sorbet.
Susur Lee is another celebrity Toronto chef featured on Food Networks’ “Chopped Canada.” His Luckee restaurant at the Soho Metropolitan Hotel offers a lively bar scene and pan-Asia food delights. The food is served family style and covers traditional Chinese food such as shrimp cheong fun rice rolls to ginger and scallion lobster and char siu beef short ribs. The creative cocktails menu pleases a diverse set of palates.
Toronto is serious about having fun. Consider the neighborhood called the Entertainment District. Here you can ping pong at global chain SPiN after dining at Drake and Susur Lee’s collaborative restaurant Fring’s nearby. Cinema buffs flock to the Toronto International Film Festival in September. For sports fans, Toronto Blue Jays Stadium is a short walk from the Soho Metropolitan hotel. And of course, this is ice hockey lovers’ paradise with the Maple Leafs Arena easily accessible.
In Yorkville District: The Hazelton
~ Toronto’s only member of The Leading Hotels of the World is within walking distance to the main shopping district and the film festival venues—the hotel has its own film screening room. The Spa offers a wide portfolio of massage options based on the luxury Valmont line. Keep an eye out for celebrities—the beautifully designed suites and secure elevator entrance attract icons from the film and music industry.
In the Entertainment District: Soho Metropolitan
~ A boutique hotel centrally located for a tour of the CN tower, a Blue Jays game, theatre, dance, art, and late-night-fun with concierge service certified by Les Clefs. In addition to Asian specialties at Luckee, the Senses Café serves up healthy options while Toronto’s only Wahlburger’s offers Donnie, Mark and chef brother Paul’s big burgers with government (yellow American slices).
Deborah Grossman is a freelance food, drink and travel writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find samples of her travels at deborahgrossman.com.
This trip was made possible by Metropolitan Hotels.