Fodor's Editor Caroline Trefler spent a summer weekend in Toronto, that vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolis to the north, keeping cool and seeing how much the city has changed since she grew up there.
It's a great city and is a quick and easy trip from most places in the U.S. It amazes me how many people I meet in the U.S. who say they've never been to Canada. It's so close!
What was your favorite part of the trip?
Hanging out with my four-year-old nephew made me appreciate all the great things to do with kids in the city. One afternoon we took the ferry to Centre Island. The ferry ride itself is great, and we walked around and went to the little amusement park. It's perfect for kids and not overly commercial. The swan boats and the log ride were just as much fun as I remembered from when I was little, and we went to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Bata Shoe Museum, two small museums I've always heard about but hadn't visited.
What surprised you?
How much Toronto has grown and changed in the last few years. I've always enjoyed exploring the different neighborhoods--Greektown out on the Danforth, Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Ethiopia--but there are so many NEW neighborhoods. The Distillery District is great for restaurants and shops, and it's been the backdrop for tons of movies in the last few years. My favorite new neighborhood is West Queen West, a really artsy, hip, and fun place to spend time. You can visit the Drake Hotel, which is not just a hotel but a venue for art and music, and the street is lined with cool caf s and funky little art galleries.
What was the best thing you ate or drank?
I'd been hearing about the bacon sandwich on a bun from the Carousel Bakery in the St. Lawrence Market--perfect with mustard slathered on it.
Just the thing to fortify me for a day of museums and shopping. And of course I drank some great beer. I like to tell people that it's the national drink of Canada.
What advice do you have for someone going to Toronto?
Toronto is a big city and the different neighborhoods are pretty spread out, so having a plan really optimizes what you can see and do. Don't try to cram too much into one day. Kensington market and Chinatown are close to each other, and to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Bloor Street and the Bata Museum took an afternoon. The St. Lawrence Market and the Hockey Hall of Fame were a morning. And I can't recommend the public transportation system enough: it's easy to navigate, and the subway, streetcars, and buses make getting around a cinch.