Toronto is a giant hub of culture and economic activity. In fact, more people live in Toronto than in Canada's four Atlantic Provinces combined. Known for its vibrant neighbourhoods, outstanding museums of science and history, and thriving arts and entertainment, Toronto is a cosmopolitan treasure. Major attractions include the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Museum, and the CN Tower and Skydome, defining Toronto's skyline. Being in the top three cities of the world for theatre, after London and New York, it is well worth it to spend an evening or two immersed in the wonderfully artistic world of theatre, ballet, or the renowned Canadian Opera Company.
Toronto is officially the largest city in Canada and is located on Lake Ontario. It is also one of the youngest cities in the country, dating back to the 18th century. When compared with much of Canada, the climate is fairly mild, but the city does see some very cold winters. The city is fast becoming one of the main commercial areas in the country.
Top Toronto Attractions
If you are in the city for business, you will likely end up at the Toronto Congress Centre. With more than 1 million square feet, the Centre is full of exhibits, conferences, and trade shows. Luckily, there are also plenty of cheap Toronto hotels nearby.
If you want to shop-till-you-drop, Toronto is a great place to do it. Toronto Eaton Centre has hundreds of stores from which to choose. In fact, it was the very first mall in North America. When all of that shopping starts to make you thirsty, go grab a beer. Toronto is chock full of microbreweries. Whether you are a fan of light or dark brews, there is a local beer that will wet your whistle.
For a look at Toronto's Irish roots, head to Ireland Park. The area used to be home to Irish refugees. Today, it's a quaint, historic area that boasts great farmers' markets and restaurants. Part of this area is known as Cabbagetown, and it has become a very desirable area in which to live, even though it used to be a run-down part of the city.
Even though it is 90 minutes away by car, visitors can easily make the trip to Niagara Falls. This natural attraction should not be missed, and there are plenty of opportunities to get close to the waterfalls and shop for souvenirs. It is possible to stand behind the waterfalls or even fly over them in a helicopter.
Thanks to the location on Lake Ontario, there are plenty of waterside attractions to visit, including the harbour. There are also walking trails that can be followed. Ontario Place has a number of activities for children, although this does involve getting at least a bit wet at some point. This is close to the centre of the city and the ideal way to let off some steam.
The Downtown area of Toronto is one of the most popular with visitors. It is close to many of the city's main attractions, and it is a commercial district, so it attracts many business travellers, there are many hotels in the area. In addition, it is home to the St. Lawrence neighbourhood where there is a well-known market. This part of the city dates back to the early 19th century.
Tourists may be interested in the Distillery District. This district is close to the Downtown area, and having been preserved as part of the city's heritage, is now an historic attraction that brings in many visitors each year.
Another area of the city that is particularly popular is the Beach of East Toronto. This is the ideal place to head for when a few hours relaxation in the sun is required. This has become popular with those who want to move away from the city centre, and there are parks that are ideal for those who have families.
The Downtown area of Toronto is a popular place for those who want to eat out. There are restaurants and bistros there that will suit all tastes and budgets, as well as featuring cuisines from all over the world. The city has a Portuguese Quarter with many fine restaurants that serve Portuguese cuisines. Chiado is one of these restaurants, and the menu specialises in seafood, although other dishes are available.
For traditional Canadian dishes there is the Canoe Restaurant and Bar. This is popular with both locals and tourists, and has a warm and welcoming atmosphere, although a reservation is essential. The Paddock Tavern has décor that harks back to the 1940s, but the menu is right up to date. Weeknights are quieter than weekends.
Arts and Entertainment
Toronto has a strong theatre tradition, and part of the city is labelled as “North Broadway." There are a number of different theatre venues throughout the city, and many theatres are in older-style buildings where the architecture has been preserved. The Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre is a two level theatre complex and is particularly popular with locals. There is also the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, which is housed in an old building in the Distillery District.
Opera lovers will also not be disappointed with Toronto. The Canadian Opera Company has made its home in the city, but shows sell out very quickly so reserve tickets far in advance. The Royal Conservatory of Music also has a popular venue for shows, as well as educational resources. The Glenn Gould Studio and the Massey Hall are ideal for those who enjoy recitals of classical music. In addition, there is the Trinity St. Paul's Centre, which is home for the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
Parks and The Great Outdoors
Toronto parks and gardens offer something for everyone. From fabulous plant life and flowers to activities, families of all ages can enjoy visiting the many parks and gardens in and around the city. The Toronto Islands are one of the most popular parks and gardens areas in the city. A ferry from downtown Toronto will take visitors to the park where they can enjoy a children's garden, restaurants, and an amusement park. The park itself is around 325 hectares, of which 230 hectares are public parkland.
The Music Garden is a unique experience; each section of the garden is inspired by dance movements from Bach's First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello. High Park remains in a fairly natural state, which makes it very attractive to several wildlife species, including fish, birds, and animals. It is considered one of the most natural sites in the city.
Guildwood Park has beautiful garden areas and a vast history. The park is home to many sculptures and is a popular place for wedding photographs, even though the weddings themselves are not permitted at the park.
Ireland Park is close to a variety of Toronto hotels. In fact, cheap accommodation can be found in the middle and eastern parts of the city. If you want luxury, choose a room with a view in a Toronto hotel that overlooks Lake Ontario.
The city is filled with hotels of all shapes and sizes, and there are plenty to choose from, whether you are on holiday there or are travelling on business. The city centre features a number of hotels from well-known international chains, which are ideal for the business traveller. Those who want a smaller, independent hotel with a family atmosphere may prefer to look further away from the commercial districts of Toronto. The hotels in the city are known for offering a warm welcome to all guests, and there are plenty that are family friendly and have child-friendly facilities.