Hello friends! My name is Jeremy and I am a wedding officiant, chaplain and educator here in Toronto Canada. Whether you are here for a day, week, year-or a lifetime-I hope that your stay here is both enjoyable and welcome. This is the Very Best of Toronto and area.
If you are coming by car then you are entering the city via one of the 400-series highways or the QEW (coming from Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, or the USA).
It is purely magical seeing the skyline in the distance, with all its unique architecture and flair.
The lights reflect beautifically off Lake Ontario, one of the greatest sources of fresh water in the world.
The people of Toronto are warm and worldly, despite the frigid winters that we willing subject ourselves to.
Toronto was always a meeting place of sorts, an open forum for discussion and commerce between the the First Nations and European settlers.
Built on that optimism, Toronto is now the most multicultural city in the world, with nearly every language spoken here on a regular basis.
This has made it welcoming for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, religion or appearance.
Toronto Is Open For Business!
Black Creek pioneer village
Like, legit this is my favorite place to visit in the city. It is a bit on the outskirts of town, kind of close to York University. Not only is it one of our highest-ranking attractions, but it is also like a time machine, transporting you back a century and a half back to the Days of Confederation. You should be prepared to do some major walking, with the property sporting a huge array of paths and greenery. Yes, your shoes will likely get a little dusty, especially if you decide to go off the wooden path. You will see animals of all sorts, from heritage breeds right through to common trash pandas and squirrels. The main entrance offers a boutique giftshop and some interesting things to see on the wall! Don’t be “that person” who tries to get someone to leave character! Have fun and play along!
So this is located downtown, right near the intersection of Spadina and Queen. This was the heart of both the Jewish and Chinese Communities, which have both migrated north to York Region and beyond. Chinese and Jewish people tend to share the same neighbours since they are not racist against each other. Kensington Market has a storied history, chalk-full of interesting characters, immature bickering and other interesting artifacts to uncover. The food is to die for, with every imaginable genre and combination. It is a brilliantly welcoming hood, where everyone is loved and accepted. While this might be because they smoked too much legal marijuana, this is just part of doing things “Toronto”. I do not like shopping in conventional malls, unless it is really bad weather outside. I prefer outdoor malls, flea markets and so forth. I always end up getting something cool to put on my desk, making it progressively difficult to manuever or get my work done!
Do you like scoring a deal on perscription glasses, technology, or anything else? This mall plays up all of the playful stereotypes, with dragons and pandas everywhere! If you are in the mood for some Canadian Chinese Food (think red sauce, egg rolls, and chicken fried rice) you can score it at the food court. If you want something more authentic, like something that real Chinese people like to eat, you can get some hand pulled noodles or chicken waffle. I know this sounds weird but the Chinese have brought this American Soul Food Dish to new heights! Be sure to check out the second floor where there is a store called Best Shop. While this might seem like a little bit of hyperbole, it actually has some of the best stuff around! It is like going on AliExpress and being able to see the products before buying them. Everything is priced reasonable and is often cheaper than online! The best eye doctor is Dr. Guo, who was able to find the perfect perscription so that I would not squint anymore! I recommend to go to him for the script but to shop around for the best deal on glasses, both perscription and designer sunglasses.
St Lawrence market
While Kensington Market is an outdoor market, this is the indoor alternative. You will find every cultural dish available here, in addition to the ingredients needed to “perfect” your dish at home. You can do it on your own or you can take cooking classes here, learning Thai, Chinese, European and more! The bread here is delicious, being made non-stop all day. You can get a huge assortment of varieties, from regular French Loaves to Jewish Challahs to sweet brioche! It is located on the other side of town, assuming that you are coming from Kensington Market (I highly doubt that someone would visit all of my favourite places in order, but who knows?). Just to warn you, you will see a large assortment of fish and meats, some of which still have the head on! If this is something that makes you uneasy, be sure to avert your eyes when approaching either vendor! The workers here are diligient and kind, offering you help you if you have any questions. This is the beauty of Toronto, where the whole world comes to do business!
Mount pleasant cemetery
This necropolis is located in Moore Park, ranked the best neighbourhood in the city to live in. The bike (and running) paths are well integrated into the property, creating an amazing backdrop for anyone looking to get a exercise. It was established in November 1876, roughly a decade after Canada achieved independence. Many of Canada’s leaders are buried here, ranging from Prime Ministers right through to industry giants. While Gen Z will not be familiar with the Eaton family, older generations remember both the Eaton’s store and the Eaton’s Centre. Eaton’s Centres were indoor malls that were built around this flagship brand. Timothy Eaton, their patriarch, occupies one of the most interesting markers. The lawns are perfectly manicured and the paths are clear and safe. You will notice that some graves have buildings built above ground, much like Queen Victoria’s grave in England. This is to commemorate someone of high statue, communicating that they could afford such a lavish monument. However, some are erect to honour a group of people, like soldiers who fell in a specific war or campaign. While Canada is a fairly new country, our past is full of interesting tidbits scattered around, waiting for you to discover. This is my favourite place to take my drone in the summer, that is before I lost it this spring. You can get a great aerial view of the greenery, noticing how the cement contruction married perfectly to the lush vegetation. One could almost say that it is like a Secret Garden, even if it is a bit darker, especially after night falls.
Best Kid’s Parks In Toronto
- McCowan Park (Scarborough, Lawrence and Midland)
- Corktown Commons (Downtown, Gardiner and DVP)
- Earle Barles Park (Bathurst and Sheppard, North York)
- High Park (Bloor and Parkside, Downtown West “CNE”)
- Neshama Park ( Yonge and Chaplin, Midtown, near Mount Pleasant)
- Warner Park ( Victoria Park and Eglinton, North York)
- Jamie Bell Adventure Playground (right beside High Park, I recommend it if you got youngsters.
- Dufferin Grove Park (Bloor and Dufferin, West End Toronto)
- Woburn Avenue Playground (Yonge and Lawrence, North York)
- Oriole Park (Oriole Parkway and Chaplin, Midtown Toronto)
Best Restaurants in Toronto
For Kosher restaurants in Toronto, please click on the hyperlink.
- Me Va Me (Thornhill, Steeles and Hilda, Middle Eastern)
- Mandarin Buffet (Scarborough, Chinese and Canadian)
- Il Fresco (Scarborough, Italian)
- Canoe (Downtown, Canadian and regional)
- Volos (Downtown, high quality Greek)
- Babel Restaurant (North York, Mediterranean-inspired fare)
- Armenian Kitchen Restaurant (Victoria Park and Eglinton)
- Congee Queen (Chinese Noodles, North York)
- La Vecchia Restaurant Uptown (Bustling Italian eatery for traditional cuisine, with black-&-white photos & decor evoking the past.)
- Jerusalem Restaurant (North York, Arabic-Middle Eastern)
Best Time To Visit Toronto
Toronto has four distinct seasons: hot summers, refreshing falls, cold winters, and bright springs. Each season has its own charm, needing only a change of clothing and some gloves. Summer is best is you are interested in street festivals, like Caribana or the CNE. Fall is best for watching the leaves change colour while winter is great for tobogganing and outdoor skating. Frigid winters lead to spring greenery, with the trees budding and vegetation growing from every crevice and nook.
Canadian temperatures are given in Cesius, as opposed to Farenheit. This can be confusing for many tourists, who are used to “80 degrees being a nice day”. In Canada, a nice day ranges from 20-30 degrees, meaning that you will not have to wear a coat or sweater. In the winter, it is common to see temperatures hovering around 0 degrees C, which is the weather needed for liquid water to ice over. This is essential for ice skating, since warm weather will melt the hard surface. In other words, warm weather means that you skates will “dig” in deeper, making it difficult (if not unsafe). If you wanting to go skating in warmer weather, consider an indoor rink, of which Toronto has many.
You cannot change the weather but you can change your attire!
Winter means a heavy parka and touque while summer accomodates a whole range of outfits, making shorts and skirts comfortable, even at night. If you are unsure of what to wear, go ahead and check The Weather Network or another reputable source. They offer tempatures in both formats (C and F) so you will not be confused. Luckily, we do not have the tornados or hurricanes that our southern neighbours experience, making it a safe travel destination year round. Most Torontonians check out CP24, our news station that is played in gyms, restaurants, and bars. With all that being said, Toronto has better weather than Montreal or Ottawa, who experience colder winters, a product of the Lake Effect that keeps us warm during the darkest months.
Best Places To Stay In Toronto
Toronto has many amazing hotels, motels, AirBNBs and hotels. Regardless of whether your budget is $70 ot $7,000 per night, you will find exactly what you are looking. Hostels are the cheapest option offering both group and individual sleeping accomodations. That means that you will be sharing a room with many different people, giving you a chance to make friends from different countries and backgrounds. However, many people prefer to have their own room (with a lock and key). After two years of lockdowns, Toronto is open for business and is able to host tourists from every corner of the planet.
- The Only Backpacker’s Inn (Downtown, roughly $100 per night)
- Toronto Travellers Home (Downtown, budget hotel)
- The Planet Traveler Hostel (Downtown, shared and individual room formats)
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Toronto Downtown (reasonable rates, clean rooms)
- Montecassino Hotel and Event Centre (North York, $180+-)
- The Annex Hotel (near the University of Toronto Campus)
- Fairmont Royal York (Downtown, used to be the tallest building in Toronto)
- Liberty Suites Hotel (Yonge and Steeles, on the Vaughan side of the border)
- Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites (Mid-town North York, nice property at a reasonable price)
- Pan Pacific Toronto (DVP and 401, older property but well maintained)
Top Things To Do In Toronto
When I am talking about Toronto, I am also including the surrounding cities, boroughs and suburbs. For example, I consider Mississauga, Thornhill, and Durham all to be “Tdot” even if residents have a different phone number. While not everyone can brag about having an OG 416 phone number (like myself, sorry for bragging), 905 and 289 people are also part of the mosaic. Putting aside my “area code snobbery” here is my list of the Top Things to Do in Toronto Canada.
- Toronto Zoo (Sadly, there are no longer Giant Pandas at the exhibit you you will see a huge array of different species, plants, and wildlife. East-end Scarborough, near 401 and Morningside).
- Ripley’s Aquarium (Located right beside the CN Tower and Rogers Centre. If you have been to Niagara Falls, think of the Ripley’s Museum on Clifton Hill. My favourite part is the underwater tunnel, which moves you via a moving sidewalk.)
- Scarborough Bluff (This is beside the Guild Inn, which is a tourist destination in itself. It is where all of the old Toronto architecture was compiled after the buildings were replaced with modern constructions. The Bluffs are cliffs where oversee Lake Ontario. This is one of my favourite places to bring my family and take some drone pictures).
- CN Tower (No trip to Toronto is ever complete without taking a ride to the top of Canada’s tallest structure. It used to be the tallest in the world but other countries have given us a run for our money. There is a restaurant on top, which rotates constantly, giving you a perfect view of the cityscape and lake. You do not have to eat at the restaurant but it is a great opportunity for a date or business meeting).
- Ontario Science Centre (Located in North York, close to Don Mills and Eglinton. Most of us went here on school trips, remembering lining up the doors near the lockers. This place oozes inspiration, encouraging young minds to think both creatively and scientifically. There are many thing to touch, especially with their unique digital integration. Parents will not get bored, not even for a moment. If you get tired, feel free to buy a movie ticket to see a film on the IMAX screen. Did you know it was developed by Canadians?)
- Canada’s Wonderland (In Vaughan, at the crossroads of highway 400 and Major Mackenzie. This is our answer to Disneyworld and Universal, albeit limited in comparison. While it only used to be operational during the summer months, they now offer Halloween and Christmas festivities. Toronto is hottest during July and August, with the muggy humidity causing many people to head to Splash Works. You will find a huge assortment of water slides, pools, and other water-based activities.)
- Woodbine Mall and Fantasy Fair (The mall is really nothing to write home about, it houses a unique indoor amusement park. It isn’t going to rival anything at the CNE or Wonderland but it does have a carousel, kiddy rollercoaster, arcade, railroad, and more. You can score an excellent deal at Groupon where you can play all day for a set price. Inside the premises you can find food vendors as well as an arcade. Some of it is renovated but much of it has not changed since I was young. I definately recommend this place for cold winter days, where you want to get out and about but don’t want to freeze your tuchie off).
- The Canadian National Exhibition (Also known as The Ex, this massive carnival erupts during the last couple weeks of summer. While it is beyond interesting, it reminds young students that their summer break is coming to an end, with school quickly approaching. Beyond the rides-which used to have an unsafe reputation-you will find many attractions, vendors, shows and other forms of entertainment. There is much to buy, you might want to ask the vendor to put your items aside so you can pick them up at the end. My wife says that I have a weird sense of art, always bringing home weird ornaments and statues).
- Yonge Street (This is the longest street in the world, Yonge Street is an impressive 1896 KM long. It starts from the foot of Lake Ontario and keep going and going and going! The beginning of the street is marked by the Toronto Star Building, which is located right beside Habourfront. Each section has it’s own charm and mystique, transitioning from urban core to multicultural community to sleepy commuter suburb. Chances are, if it doesn’t exist on Yonge Street then it doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. Think theatres, restaurants, hotels, bars, nightclubs, boutique shops, supermarkets and more. Just remember, the slant goes towards the Lake, so it is easier going south as opposed to going north. If you ending up walking too far, you can always take a taxi or an uber back to your car or hotel.)
- Jewish Districts (Toronto has a variety of Jewish communities, each with a unique story to tell. Jews used to live in the Ward, a poor community. that they shared with Chinese neighbours. While most of of the Jews have moved out of Kensington Market, there has been an influx of professional workers moving into the neighbourhood, buying condos and nearby properties. You can find synagogues, restaurants, and some artifacts from the past. The main Jewish community is position around Bathurst Street, which runs parallel to Yonge. The core starts around Eglinton and goes north up to Elgin Mills (Richmond Hill) and beyond. You can find Kosher/Israeli restaurants, cool shops, art galleries, community centres, street festivals and more. You need not be Jewish to enjoy this part of the city!)