Visiting Toronto - What to See and Do
(Toronto Pearson International Airport YYZ, Canada)
Alpha World City, metro powerhouse, hub of ethnic diversity and Victorian industrial architecture, and top financial center - the vast lakeside megalopolis of Toronto
is all these and much more. Set along the shores of Lake Ontario, this is the largest of Canada's great cities and is celebrated as one of the world's most liveable conurbations.
Its magnificent cultural attractions include six opera companies, some 50 dance companies, symphony orchestras, endless theater companies and a great selection of world-class museums. As befits one of the planet's most popular visitor destinations, Toronto's dining, nightlife and shopping options are also world-class, and easily accessed via its excellent public transportation systems, including a comprehensive subway network.
A remarkably safe place to visit, Toronto offers everything from grand, historic and stunningly modern architecture, to diverse ethnic districts, famous festivals and sports events, bohemian enclaves, glorious parks, lakeside beaches, winter sports and summer fun, a huge choice of accommodation at all levels, a famous club, restaurant and bar area, and much more. For a memorable day trip, the breathtaking Niagara Falls
region is just over an hour away.
Ten things you must do in Toronto
- Lake Ontario beaches number three, set in the Beaches and Parkdale districts and along the lakeshore of the Toronto Islands. They are mostly quiet and under-populated by crowds, as most locals prefer to travel away from the city to Wasaga Beach in the Georgian Bay area. There is a nudist beach at Hanlan's Point on the islands, along with a small amusement park and lots of green natural beauty.
- The downtown core's harbor and lakefront are pretty places to dine with a view, to people-watch or just to wander and take in the sights. Many free or inexpensive cultural and musical events take place here, and there's a magnificent view of the majestic skyline of Toronto. Every weekend during the summer, crowds arrive here for the entertainment and festivals.
- The Distillery District is Toronto's fashionable pedestrian-only enclave, crammed with art galleries, boutiques, fabulous restaurants, bars and clubs, and is frequently the location for festivals and major entertainment events. You'll be surrounded by heritage architecture, with not a single Starbucks or McDonald's to be seen.
- Chinatown, in downtown Toronto, is one of the largest attractions of its kind in North America, with its buzzing heart in Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West. It is a favorite for its vast selection of Chinese and other Asian restaurants, all serving authentic cuisine at great prices. Founded roughly 100 years ago by immigrant Chinese workers on the railroad, the district now has two Chinese malls and acres of little shops, and is at its very best during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
- The Black Creek Pioneer Village gives a glimpse of the early days of the city through 40 historic buildings, furnished in the 1860s style and set out as a typical pioneer village with domestic animals, horses, sheep and cattle. Costumed actors provide a human touch and, although it is slightly touristy, it is well done.
- The Toronto Aerospace Museum is located in a historic 1920s building, which was once the headquarters of the de Havilland Aircraft Corporation. Set in Downsview Park, the building itself is as much a part of Toronto's aviation history as are the aircraft themselves. From the start of the Space Age and the launching of Canada's first satellite back to the 1920s fabric and wire contraptions, it's all here and great for kids.
- The Bata Shoe Museum is as offbeat as its name suggests, and is devoted to the world history of footwear, however strange. Shoes, boots, slippers, socks and every possible variation on the theme from worldwide cultures ancient and modern are displayed here, with favorites including Napoleon Bonaparte's socks. Seeing is believing, and it is all great fun.
- Celebrity spotting in the upscale Yorkville district is a favorite occupation here, and the district itself is an anomaly amongst the soaring downtown skyscrapers for its quaint Victorian homes. It is a hub for art galleries, fine dining restaurants and fashionable bars, with movie personalities flocking here in their droves during the Toronto International Film Festival.
- The Royal Ontario Museum, with its giant ultra-modern jagged glass exterior, hides one of the finest collections of Chinese artifacts in the Western World. Also on display in its 40 galleries are Native North American Indian artifacts, natural science objects, art works and archaeology exhibits. Interactive displays make visits here fun, as well as informative for all ages.
- Danforth Avenue is the heart of Greektown and the venue for the hugely popular annual 'Taste of the Danforth' food festival, a celebration of Japanese, Indian, Brazilian, Thai and Chinese, as well as Greek cuisine. This is a charming area, with buildings dating back a hundred years or more, and streets packed with authentic eateries and stores.