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Toronto Travel Guide
A visit to Toronto.
Currently ranked in the top five of most livable cities in the world, and with a reputation of being both safe and diverse you may have given some thought to a visit to Canada's largest city, economic centre, and Capital of the Province of Ontario. Perhaps you already have a trip planned? Perhaps your trip starts right now with reading this guide?
This is not an all encompassing guide, and will not be suitable for everyone, but Toronto has been my home for most of my life and hope I can offer an insiders view on some of the best Toronto has to offer.
When to visit Toronto
There is truly always something to do all year round in Toronto, but yes it is in Canada and while many winter nights can be brisk and refreshing, it can also become bitingly cold. This is usually remedied by simply dressing appropriately, but all that aside, let's look at some more hospitable months.
Late Spring and Summer are the warmest in Toronto, but can be surprisingly hot and humid. If you are looking for more moderate warmth and a lot less humidity then late Summer going into early fall is the best and often the most beautiful time to visit Toronto.
Now let's look at some of Toronto's best and most famous attractions!
Where To Stay In Toronto
As you might expect as both Canada's largest city and it's business centre Toronto has a wide range of hotels and lodgings. Just keep in mind that Toronto can be a busy city for conventions and events and hotels can book up quickly.
You are not, however limited to hotels as there are 'bed and breakfast' and 'short term stay' options as well.
Now unless you absolutely have to step out of your door to be right in the middle of the downtown core there is one place I would recommend in Toronto's Upper Beaches area called 'Cozy Suites'.
No it isn't right smack in the middle of downtown, but it's charm and coziness is well worth the five minute drive or quick and easy trip on public transit to get to downtown.
I personally stayed in the 'Beach Suite' with my fiancee and we would both recommend it as a great spot for couples.
Charming decor, a fire place and a fully functional kitchen with a beautiful gas range and only a ten minute walk to the beach make this a perfect home away from home.
You can visit the Cozy Suites Inn website for more details.
Some Great Places to Eat in Toronto
A person could write books about the many great places in Toronto to get food. It is impossible to cover all of them in one short article.
That being said I will suggest two that are both iconic fixtures in Toronto and personal favourites of mine.
For a great steak at a decent price you can go just off the Toronto beaches boardwalk at Queen and Coxwell streets to 'The Tulip'.
If you are looking for some ice cream and a little eccentric fun, then 'Dutch Dreams' at Vaghn and St. Clair is just a quick walk from Casa Loma. Don't be surprised if there is a little bit of a line up, but too much fun to pass up.
Toronto Attractions (with ratings)
Now let's have a look at some of Toronto's most famous and popular attractions and see how they match up.
While it has slipped off the podium it stood atop for some thirty years, this iconic feature of the Toronto skyline is still impressive as the world's tallest tower. On a clear day the view can be spectacular and stunning.
At the end of the day though, it really is just a rather pricey elevator ride. Long and frustrating lines not only going up but also trying to get back down and not much to do once your up their than admire the view.
Nice view, but frustrating line ups and completely devoid of soul or heart. Unless you have a lot of time and cash to spare I'd skip the CN Tower.
Sitting just on the eastern edge of Toronto and nestled in the Rouge valley, the Toronto Zoo is something you will want to get an early start on and commit a day to.
If you and your family are animal lovers you will have a fantastic time.
Just be prepared for a fair bit of walking. You might also want to bring a hat if you go in the middle of summer as you can get a lot of sun wandering from animal to animal.
The collection of animals at the zoo is also quite good, with a few like the orangutans and the polar bears being reliable crowd pleasers.
There is also currently a 'Stingray Bay' exhibit where for a small additional fee of a few dollars you can feed as well as pet not only stingrays but also a couple of species of shark! It is a fantastic experience and highly recommended.
If Stingray bay is still happening during your visit put this down as a must do!
Overall one of the better values in Toronto!
A short and very enjoyable ferry ride across Toronto harbour takes you to the Toronto Islands, a place that was a wonderland for me as a young child, and still is as a grown adult.
Centre island has a wonderful amusement park made to resemble an old fashioned town called 'Centerville'. Centerville relies on fun and charm with a lot of rides that younger kids can enjoy, and also has enough to keep the adults happy as well.
There are a lot of fun rides on the island, but the 'Scrambler' is a must as is the gorgeous carousel which was built in 1907.
If rides aren't your thing, the Island still has plenty to offer, whether it is the 'Far Enough Farm' petting zoo, the boardwalk along the north edge of the islands, or simply enjoying the gorgeous parkland or one of the Island's beaches. For those who are interested there is also a nude beach, which is out of view of anyone who does not want to see it.
The only draw back to the Island is that food choices can be a little limited and slightly pricey, although it is an amazing place for a picnic. An all day pass for the rides makes this a great value.
I am and always have been a big fan of the Island. There are no biggest baddest and fastest rides, but there is a lot of charm.
Toronto Island is the place where I proposed to my Fiancee. If you go maybe you will see why.
This Toronto landmark has been in more than a couple of movies so don't be surprised if you recognize it already.
Built around the turn of the century by industrialist and financier Sir Henry Pellat Casa Loma is gorgeous, but at the end of the day more 'really nice house' than castle, although it does have the towers.
The garden is also gorgeous.
A nice visit if you can include it with some sort of offer such as a CityPass. Otherwise not the end of the world or your Toronto visit if you miss it.
Toronto actually has a few meuseums as well as a major art gallery. The main museum however is the 'Royal Ontario Museum' also known locally as 'The ROM'.
The ROM, situated downtown a stone's throw from some of Toronto's more upscale shopping has some great exhibits and is a very pleasent experience.
Some exhibits may prove to be a little tedious for some kids, but rest assured there are indeed dinosaurs to satisfy young and old alike.
The best feature of all that Toronto has to offer, that gives the maximum enjoyment for the best value is it's parks. High Park in Toronto's west end has some great bird watching and even fishing at Grenadier Pond, as well as a small Zoo, and there is a subway stop called 'High Park' that takes you right there.
Also Highly recommended is following the Don River Valley from E.T. Seton park Just a little South of Eglinton ave. near Leslie st. and walking through some gorgeous parkland and nature trails until you reach Edward's Gardens at Lawrence ave. and Leslie St.
Other spots to check out include the G. Lord Ross dam and reservoir, the aforementioned Toronto Islands, as well as many others, Toronto really is full of valley's and parks. The major ones tend to have paved and lit paths.
These parks, more than anything else set Toronto apart as a major city.
Thank you for taking the time to read my Toronto Travel Guide.
It is impossible to cover everything for a destination like Toronto, but I hope it helps and perhaps provides a little insight that helps you with your holiday planning.
Below you will see links to other articles I have written on a variety of topics that you might also enjoy or find useful.
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Thank you all again!