After my road trip through British Columbia this past summer, Canada has quickly become one of my favorite countries to explore. And while Vancouver is where I truly fell in love, this fall I got to spend a couple weeks exploring Toronto and it became a close second.
Where I Stayed:
Because this was a work trip, I didn’t have much say in where I was staying. I stayed in a very spacious, updated Airbnb in the east part of downtown Toronto near the St. Lawrence Market. The view was amazing! And the sunset was even more amazing.
Fairmont Royal York: If you’re looking for a hotel option in Toronto, I recommend the luxurious Fairmont Royal York across from Union Station. It’s in a convenient, central location of downtown and is walking distance to Lake Ontario. And the lobby looks straight out of Tower of Terror. Or you know, old school Hollywood…if Tower of Terror freaks you out. However you want to picture it, you will feel like a star staying at this hotel.
But I would actually recommend staying in the Queen West district. While downtown Toronto is very easy to get around by walking or metro, Queen West is a much more interesting area. Great restaurants, shopping and with the street car, you can get anywhere easily!
Where I Ate
Gusto 101: A cute little spot for lunch or dinner with a wide selection of fresh pizzas, pastas, salads and more. It has a rooftop as well as outdoor seating out front. Great for a warm, clear day! And two Torontonians recommended this place for lunch so you know it’s good if the locals love it! I recommend the Cavolo Caesar.
El Catrin: A hip, tapas style Mexican spot in Toronto’s Distillery District. It has a huge menu and variety of margaritas. Order the Baja fish tacos for sure! They also have a massive outdoor seating area. But be warned that Toronto is COLD in the winter.
Bestellen: If you have a meat-loving group, definitely check out this spot in Toronto’s West End. They’re known for their “Family Style” Whole Roasted Suckling Pig which serves a minimum of 8 people and requires 72 hours notice. The menu isn’t huge but there is something for every meat lover. You’ll also find an impressive cocktail and wine list.
What I Did:
Casa Loma, meaning “House on the Hill,” was built by Sir Henry Pellatt from 1911 to 1914. Today it’s a museum and event space just north of downtown Toronto. It’s also a popular filming spot for television and film. The building itself looks like it was plucked right out of Europe and the architecture is simply stunning.
The history of Casa Loma was fascinating as well as exploring the filming locations throughout the building. There were also beautiful views of Toronto from the grounds! The day I visited, they were having a jazz night in the garden. It was free with admission to enjoy the music or there was a (very) expensive dinner option.
Entrance to Casa Loma is $25 CAD and the last entrance is at 4:30 p.m. You get a free audio guide with entrance. Parking on site is $10 or you can Uber like I did!
Toronto’s Distillery District is similar to New York’s SoHo. Several old industrial buildings have been turned into hip restaurants, trendy boutiques and laid back coffee shops. I could not get enough of the cobblestone streets! It’s a really cool area to walk around and grab food or a drink.
Toronto Eaton Centre
I love malls. Is that weird? I think it takes me back to being 14 and having the mall as the only place to hang out without parents. But let me tell you, Toronto’s Eaton Centre is way more than a place to hang out. With four floors, it is mother effing MECCA! There is basically every store you could ever want as well as several food options. You can get lost in there for hours. Bring your credit card! And plan to spend a lot of money. Get a full store list here.
If you’re looking to explore the outdoors near Toronto (which you totally should), check out my blog post here!
Toronto overall is a very walkable city and it’s filled with to die for restaurants and an abundance of history. It can be done in a long weekend from New York but it’s always better to explore a place with a little more time!