Oops! It’s been about 2 months since we went to Toronto for my birthday weekend… and I am just now getting around to writing about it. Better late than never I guess!
In September, we drove to Toronto for my 26th birthday. I always try to travel somewhere to celebrate, and this year brought us up north! Originally, I had wanted to go to Mexico, but due to the costliness of the flight and trying to save more money (since we bought a house), we switched it up and went to Canada.
So… Did you know you can drive to Toronto?
It sounds ridiculous, but I never really considered that you could just drive to Canada. That’s an entirely different country. You can’t just mosey on in, right?
Buuuut, after ditching the flight plan, I began researching where we could drive to. Renting a car and splitting it is so much cheaper than flying, so it seemed like our best bet. And that’s when I discovered Toronto was only a mere 11 and 1/2 hours away from us.
After driving to Los Angeles this summer, 11ish hours was nothing! In fact, it’s as close as Denver is – which is one of our favorite places to drive to. So, with a bit of sudden planning and a re-watch of Scott Pilgrim, we were off to the land of Canada.
10 Suggestions for a Quick Weekend in Toronto
1. Stop By Niagara Falls on the Way in:
You can’t drive to Toronto without first stopping by Niagara Falls. I have been to Niagara twice now, and while I don’t think it’s as cool as say… The Grand Canyon, it is still a really beautiful part of the world to see.
Niagara is not a National Park (unfortunately) and is therefore heavily commercialized and a bit pricey. For this reason, I would recommend making Niagara just a brief stop and then saving more time for stuff to do in Toronto. You really only need a few hours.
2. Enjoy a Ferry Ride Across Lake Ontario and Visit the Toronto Islands:
One of my favorite parts from our trip was taking the ferry across Lake Ontario to visit the Toronto Islands.
The Toronto Islands are a small chain of islands featuring a park of walking paths, bike trails, and gardens, and even hosts an amusement park, a yacht club, and an airport. It’s the perfect escape to nature and is just right across the lake from the city.
The skyline you bear witness to when across is arguably the best view of Toronto as well!
In fact – before white people ruined the party and colonized the city, the islands were considered a sacred place of healing by indigenous people. With the beautiful surrounding water and abundant weeds and flowers, it’s easy to see why!
3. Walk around Bloor Street.
One of Toronto’s most famous streets, Bloor stretches 16 miles all the way from downtown to the suburbs.
Closer to the city center, one can find all of the high-end shops like Gucci and Burberry, along with a smattering of fine menswear.
We stayed on Bloor near Christie Pits Park, an area known for being more multicultural (and perhaps a bit hipster).
Along the road near our area, we found a variety of vintage shops, vegan food galore, eat-in restaurants, bars, and parks.
Some of the more entertaining shops included: an ice cream shop themed around poop, a cocktail restaurant serving only prohibition era drinks, and a bar named “This Bar Has No Name”.
4. Admire the CN Tower from Below:
The CN Tower is arguably Toronto’s most defining bit of architecture, and it isn’t hard to see why. When viewing the landscape of the city, the CN Tower hogs much of the attention. From nearly every angle of the city, you can catch a glimpse of the building. It’s worth a trip downtown to see it up close in person too!
And if you wanna, you can go up the CN Tower… for the not-so-low price of $38.00 CA. Since we’re cheapskates, we didn’t do that. It was impressive enough from below.
5. Take Photos in Graffiti Alley:
Graffiti Alley is Toronto’s designated spot for spray-paint art. Graffiti is technically illegal in Toronto, unless it is dubbed “a mural”, but this alleyway is constantly covered in colorful decorations. The alley is perfect for taking photos and showcasing some of what makes Toronto unique.
You don’t have to go far to get there either – this spot is located closely downtown, within the Fashion District.
6. Explore Kensington Market:
Kensington Market is a bohemian hodge-podge of shops situated within the bustling city. You can find delicious eateries, cheese shops, record stores, bars, fresh produce, tea, coffee and more all within the tree-lined streets.
The best part of Kensington, in my opinion, was not the variety of places to grab a bite though. Instead, it was the eccentric, colorful buildings and feeling of community. There’s great street art to be viewed here as well. It reminded me a lot of walking the streets in New Orleans.
7. See a Comedy Show or Concert:
Toronto is widely known as a city for actors and artists, so while in it is essential you see a show.
Comedy and improv shops line the streets, and tickets can be as cheap as $10. So stop in for a drink and catch a live performance in this city full of talent!
8. Peruse St. Lawrence Market:
Have you heard of a Montreal-style bagel?
They are smaller, thinner and sweeter than a bagel in the midwest. And are honestly superior, sorry not sorry.
You can find a Montreal-style bagel at the St. Lawrence Market, as well as several other food items in this huge, historic public market.
9. Try the Essential Canadian Foods:
In addition to your freshly consumed Montreal-style bagel, you need to try Canada’s other classics as well.
Examples include: poutine, maple syrup, Tim Hortons, tarts, and all-dressed chips. Also seafood and peameal, if you eat meat.
(FYI: We found the most amazing vegetarian poutine at Clinton‘s!)
Additionally, Toronto is known for it’s amazing diversity and multicultural food scene. Be sure to explore these as well!
10. And Enjoy all of the Diversity:
As mentioned above, Toronto is extremely ethnically diverse and has been made special by all of it’s immigrant communities.
Search for different festivals that might be happening when you are traveling there, visit a shop serving a cultural cuisine, and explore of the many “Little’s” (Little Italy, Little Greece, Little China, etc.).
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave it below! 🙂