Toronto is the largest city in Canada, and the fifth largest in North America.
Population (2011 census): 2.7 Million
Map: 43 ° N / 79 ° W
Climate: Temperate, Hot/humid summer, cold/stormy winter
Average daytime high: July-August: 26°C / 79°F , sometimes feels like 33°C / 87°F
Average daytime high: January-February: -15°C / 3°F , sometimes feels like -25°C / -7°F
Average daytime high: May and October: 10°C / 50°F
Time: Eastern (Daylight Savings Time is recognized from early March to early November)
Transportation: 7 major freeways, subway system, bus service (24 hours in many areas)
Freeway access: Routes 400,401,403,404,407,410,427 limited access major freeways
Public transit: Rapid transit, 4 lines (6 am - 2 am), streetcars (5 am - 2 am), buses (most routes 5 am - 2 am, some 24 hours)
Shopping: 5 major shopping centres, plus many community malls and plazas
Economy: Hospitality, Retail, Banking/Financial, Light Manufacturing, Services
Language, primary: English (English and French for government offices)
Media and Broadcasting: 3 newspapers, 14 radio stations, 7 TV stations, and several community newspapers
Education: 3 universities, 2 community colleges, and several private specialty colleges
Laws, Rules and Etiquette
I guess this is important. You don't want to embarrass yourself, or get in trouble with the law.
Toronto is very multicultural, and also has the largest GLBT community in Canada. Tolerance is very important.
Bi-law: Smoking is not allowed indoors anywhere in the city, including some hotel rooms, and never in any indoor common area, and some outdoor common areas.
Bi-law: Bicycles, skateboarding, inline skates, and motorized devices (except wheelchairs) are not allowed on city sidewalks.
Parking is strictly enforced, carrying fines over $300, plus towing and storage fees. Always obey posted parking signs.
Toronto is a pedestrian-friendly city with many crosswalks. Vehicles must always yield right-of-way to pedestrians. However, jaywalking is strictly enforced. Fines up to $200 for crossing illegally anywhere in the city. Always use crosswalks, and obey pedestrian signals and signs.
Ontario Highway Traffic Act: Distracted driving is strictly enforced. Never use an electronic device while in control of a motor vehicle.
Ontario Highway Traffic Act: Right turns are allowed on a red light when it is safe to do so, and is not posted otherwise. Turning traffic must always yield to pedestrians who are crossing legally. Left turns are allowed on a red, when turning from a one-way street onto another one-way street, when safe to do so, and not posted otherwise, and giving right-of-way to pedestrians.
Getting To, From, Around
To and from the city: Toronto Pearson International Airport, Toronto Island Billy Bishop Regional Airport, Toronto Coach Terminal, Union Rail Station
Around the Greater Toronto Area: Toronto Transit Commission (Municipal Transit) provides underground and surface transportation within the Toronto city limits, Government of Ontario (GO) Transit (Regional Transit) provides bus and rail service to areas around most of Southern Ontario, Mississauga Transit (Municipal Transit) provides bus service within the city of Mississauga, Brampton Transit (Municipal Transit) provides bus service within the city of Brampton, York Region Transit Authority (Municipal Transit) provides bus service in the cities of Vaughn and Markham.
The Villages Within
Indian Village Experience shopping and dining as it is in South Asia, with specialty Indian shops and restaurants. Carlton Street between Pape Avenue and Coxwell Avenue. Accessible by public transit on the 506 streetcar.
Chinatown Asian boutiques and food, and festivals in the summer. Along Spadina Avenue between Queen Street and College Street. Accessible by public transit on the 505 or 510 streetcar.
Greektown Souvlaki anyone? Danforth Avenue between Pape Avenue and Greenwood Avenue. By public transit on subway line 2 [Pape].
Little Italy Some of Canada's finest Italian dining. Between College Street and Dundas Street, and Ossington Avenue to Bathurst Street. By public transit, take the 505, 506 or 511 streetcar, or the number 63 bus.
Portugal Village Portuguese shops and restaraunts grace this area of the city. Along Dundas Street West between Lansdowne Avenue and Ossignton Avenue. By public transit: 505 streetcar, number 47 or 63 bus.
Roncesvalles Village and The Junction This self-contained neighborhood with unique boutiques and eateries. Along Rocesvalles Avenue and Dundas Street West from Queen Street to Runnymede Road. Accessible by public transit by subway line 2 [Dundas West], the 504 or 505 streetcar, or the number 40 bus.
Lakeshore and Queen Quay Lake side cycling and walking by the lake, eateries and events. Along Lake Shore Blvd. By public transit, take the 509 streetcar.
Gay Village GLBT area with coffee shops and eateries. Church Street between College Street and Wellesley Street. Accessible by public transit, 506 streetcar or number 94 bus.
As with any tourist city, there are "traps". These are areas where residents don't usually go, as prices are unnecessarily inflated.
Front Street / CN Tower It is a nice area to walk through in the summer, but stay away from going inside. For example, to take a family of four to the CN Tower observation deck would cost you over $100. There are a lot of other things you can do for that much money, that your family may enjoy more.
Specialty Food and Beverage, Shopping
Coffee The Green Beanery at Bloor Street and Bathurst Street. Coffee beans are roasted on site fresh every morning. The freshest cup of coffee in the city. By public transit: subway line 2 [Bathurst] or 511 streetcar.
Discount Scheduled to close by the end of 2017, Honest Ed's is a giant discount store on the corner of Bloor Street and Bathurst Street. Check it out before its gone. Accessible by public transit from the subway line 2 [Bathurst], or the 511 streetcar.
Culture, Music, and Film, Sports
Molson Amphitheatre Outdoor music venue. In the past, this venue has hosted Bruno Mars, Mumford and Sons, Depeche Mode, and others. Open mid-May to mid-October. On Lake Shore Road, across from Exhibition Place. No direct public transit access.
Rogers Centre Indoor music and sports venue. Home of the Blue Jays and Argos. Plus, various big-name concerts. Next to the CN Tower. No direct public transit access.
Theatre District Many live theatres along King Street. Accessible by public transit: 504 streetcar.
Bell Lightbox/Film Festivals The Bell Lightbox Theatre, also in the theatre district on King Street near Peter Street. Home of the Toronto International Film Festival, and others. By public transit: 504 streetcar.
Bloor Cinema Home of the "Hot Docs" festival. On Bloor Street near Bathurst Street. Accessible by public transit from subway line 2 or the 511 streetcar.
Stuff To Do For Families
Royal Ontario Museum Kids and adults alike will enjoy the exhibits at the ROM. On Bloor Street at St. George Ave. By public transit: subway line 1 [Museum] or subway line 2 [St. George]
Ripley's Aquarium Something fishy is going on here. Located next to the CN Tower. Not directly accessible by public transit.
Toronto Zoo One of the largest in North America. Located in Rouge Valley. Accessible by public transit, number 85B or 86A bus.
Fantasy Fair at Woodbine Centre An indoor carnival with a train kids can ride around, with real crossing gates. Rexdale Blvd. at Highway 27. By public transit: number 37A or 191 (express) bus.
Canadian Broadcasting Museum See the history of broadcasting at the Canadian Broadcast Centre on Front Street. Not directly accessible by public transit.
Stuff To Do For Adults and Seniors
Woodbine Racing and Slots Racing three times a week, plus slot machines 24/7. At Rexdale Blvd. and Highway 27. By public transit: number 37A bus.
Art Gallery of Ontario Special exhibits throughout the year. On Dundas Street West at Mcaul Street. By public transit, take the 505 streetcar.
CNE Casino At Exhibition Place in the former Better Living Centre. During the month of August only. Accessible by public transit, 509 and 511 streetcars, and the number 29 bus.
Entertainment District Nightclubs galore, along King Street and Queen Street between Yonge Street and Spadina Ave. Accessible 24 hours by public transit on the 501 streetcar.
The CHIN Picnic is hosted by CHIN Radio, and was first held in 1966. It has been held every year since.
Canadian National Exhibition Last two weeks of August. (Admission)
CHIN International Picnic July 1st weekend at Exhibition Place. (Free)
Carribbian Carnival In August. (Free)
Pride Parade First weekend of July. (Free)
Santa Claus Parade In November. (Free)
Cavalcade of Lights December at City Hall. (Free)
Indy Car Racing End of July at Exhibition Place and along Lake Shore Blvd. (Admission)
Ontario Place was an amusement park operated by the Government of Ontario from 1971 until 2011. When it first opened, admission was free. The year it closed, it had just celebrated its 40th anniversary. Admission to the park at that time was $25.
Stuff To Do For Free
High Park Toronto's largest park. This 14 x 8 block park has a pool, tennis courts, a zoo, a cafe, gardens and greenhouses, playgrounds, and many walking and jogging paths. Plus, a dogs-off-leash area. Open in the winter for skating. Bordered by Bloor Street and The Queensway, and Parkside Drive to Ellis Park Road. By public transit, subway line 2 [Keele], and limited summer service on the 30B bus that enters the park.
Ontario Place Although none of the attractions are currently operating, the western portion of the park is open to the public to walk through only. It is a nice walk on a hot summer day. Things to keep in mind: No food concessions or washrooms. No maintenance of the property. The eastern part of the property is currently being operated by Live Nation, and is only accessible during special events, and usually an admission fee applies. Not directly accessible by public transit.
Although, you may not need one as a visitor, it is interesting to note that Toronto has one of the highest concentrations of fitness centres and/or recreation centres in North America.
There is at least one of each of the above for every 250 people.
Competition is stiff, so generally gym memberships are very reasonable.
Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Toronto Congress Centre, Direct Energy Centre, plus the International Centre in Mississauga.
Many trade shows are held in these halls, including, Home and Garden Show, Sportsman's Show, and Fan Expo.
Safety and Security
Toronto affords one of the lowest crime rates of most cities the same size in North America,
However, unfortunately it does not mean that crime can not happen.
Always take the same precautions as you would anywhere else. Lock your car. Don't carry valuables or large amounts of cash. Do not leave children unattended.