I was recently at an event in Miami where I met a whole mass of incredible women with talents too vast to number. I was one of the few Canadians at the event and ended up in several conversations describing the glories of my homeland. I was surprised to learn that a few of these well travelled women had never been to Toronto, or even Canada.
I live in a deliciously beautiful country. And I say delicious because we try and find ways to include Maple Syrup in our menus as much as humanly possible. Yes, if you come to Canada you will enjoy maple syrup on your bacon and never turn back. (I am also married to a Quebecer who drinks it out of the bottle. It’s a staple in our house.)
I also understand that traveling with a family is no joke. If you can make it to your destination in the clothes you left in then you should consider your travel a success. And if only one person gives you a dirty look then you are knocking it out of the park. But what do you do after you check into your hotel? Where do you go? What do you eat?
Let me help you.
A big thanks to The Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto who is sponsoring this post, therefore allowing me to pour more glory upon the city that I love. The Westin is located on the Waterfront allowing great access to my favorite parts of the city by train, streetcar and Ferry.
Book your plane tickets, gas up your car, take the train….just get here when you can.
Here’s an introduction to Toronto:
Toronto Island 1 of 11One of my favorite places in Toronto can be easily accessed by a Ferry that is located directly behind the Westin hotel. Within ten minutes you'll have access to swimming, beaches, Centreville Amusement Park, bike rentals...you name it. There are several food options on the Island but there are also plenty of picnic locations if you're interested in bringing your own. One of my favorite pastimes is simply walking along the shady side lanes (they can't really be called streets) and admiring the many homes that are clearly inhabited by artists and various creative types. Toronto Island is magic - don't miss it!
Toronto Harbour 2 of 11You'd be hard pressed not to find some activity happening at the Harbourfront Centre at any given time. My family doesn't even check the listings, we just pop down there and allow ourselves to be surprised by any number of the festivals that are surely in full swing. They even have a food section on their website because they often feature some cultural fair. In addition to the Harbourfront Centre there are also areas to hang out under umbrellas, lounge in beach chairs or rent a canoe if you're so inclined.
Terroni 3 of 11I've been going to Terroni long before I had children but soon realized that if you're looking for a great restaurant, with stellar food, that fully welcomes families look no further. I'll never forget being 9 months pregnant , pretty much ready to go into labour, and standing in line to get a seat at the Queen Street Terroni Restaurant. Their manager Cosmo took my order so that when I sat down the food arrived on my table. That kind of service basically makes us blood brothers. And their pizza! Oh my, their pizza…mouth watering.
Hockey Hall Of Fame 4 of 11I'm not going pretend I watch hockey, but I'm also not going to pretend that hockey is not our national sport in Canada. I lose friends once hockey season begins. Men, and sometimes women, put their fashion sense aside to sport Jerseys for months. Do you love hockey? Then go to the Hockey Hall Of Fame which is arguably the best hockey museum in the world...and even I know that.
The Dream in High Park 5 of 11Toronto has one of the most dynamic theatre scenes in the world. And may I say, affordable? A personal favorite is Canadian Stage's The Dream in High Park, which is open-air Shakespeare hidden within a forest. It's pay-what-you can and the perfect way to introduce the wonder of Shakespeare to your family in a way that is not remotely intimidating. In fact, it's magical. With twinkling lights, fabulous costumes and top notch actors it's a guaranteed great night. Bring a blanket, bring a picnic and be amazed.
Art and Dinos 6 of 11
Guaranteed Laughs 7 of 11I've featured The Second City in the image but don't stop there. You'll find more laughs at Comedy Bar, The Rivoli, Yuk Yuk's and dozens of venues across the city. I'm biased, of course, but in my humble opinion you'll find some of the best comics in North America right here in Toronto. Don't miss them.
Beer! 8 of 11I simply cannot write a post on Toronto and not include something about beer. We take our beer very seriously and trust me, once you indulge in a pint you may end up purchasing property in our fair city if you live south of the border. It's just that good. A personal favorite is Steamwhistle. Their brewery is open to the public and hosts a "tour and taste" so you're able to see how the beer is made. Steamwhistle is also a proud sponsor of countless arts organizations in the city and that makes me very happy. I only serve one beer in my house and that's Steamwhistle (and Guiness, I am Irish after all)
Canada’s Wonderland 9 of 11You'll need a car to get to Canada's Wonderland but it'll be worth the ride...literally. If you're a fan of roller coasters like myself then prepare to have your mind blown. Wonderland's latest coaster â€˜Leviathan' is 5,486 feet (1,672 m) long, 306 feet (93 m) tall, and with a top speed of 92 miles per hour (148 km/h), â€˜Leviathan' is the tallest and fastest coaster in Canada and ranked as the seventh tallest, and the eighth fastest roller coaster in the world. I rode it 4 times in a row like a teenager…almost as cathartic as Body Blitz. Wonderland also has rides and attractions for all ages. If you like amusement parks this is the MacDaddy.
Yonge-Dundas Square 10 of 11There's a moment shortly after you give birth where you start to appreciate the word "free" on a more profound level. At the corner of Yonge and Dundas streets you'll be able to catch any number of free events, live free concerts and great shopping. Not to mention excellent people watching.
Now Magazine 11 of 11NOW Magazine is my personal preference to find out "What's On" - from live shows to movies to books...you name it. If you find me muttering "What should we do tonight?", you'll most likely find me pouring myself over a NOW magazine to find the answer. Another great reference for families is The Little Paper. With both of these papers on hand, or on-line, your stay in Toronto will be full. Come find out for yourself!
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Check out other posts by Allana and Sam: