With CMW underway, followed by a summer filled with more fun – NXNE, Pan AM games etc. there is many reasons to be visiting TO. If you find yourself in such a great situation then you’re going to want to use your time wisely friends, there is much to do and see. Having lived in the city for 8+ years, here are a few spots I highly suggest swinging by.
Any good trip has a fair amount of this of course. My favourite bars to lounge around with friends and drink at are Sweaty Betty’s (a tiny local spot where you’re always going to find buds new and old), Pharmacy (located in my neighbourhood of Parkdale, this dark and intimate spot is so unassuming and that’s what I love about it), Ronnie’s (in Kensington market, which we’ll chat more about later, Ronnie’s boasts an amazing patio and always great music), and lastly Cold Tea (also in Kensington, complete with a false entrance dim sum booth). These spots carry great beer and whiskey options and are where you’ll find the locals. If you’re looking for more of a foosball, shuffleboard fuelled night I recommend The Dock Ellis or the newly opened Track and Field Bar. And if you feel like venturing over to the east end Pacific Junction is a fun spot as well.
Toronto is a great hub for craft beer so I suggest visiting the following breweries; Bellwoods Brewery (located on the edge of Trinity Bellwoods Park, great snacks and beer), Steam Whistle (their roundhouse located near the city center is gorgeous) and Amsterdam. These beers are important to Toronto so it’s important you drink them. Lots.
Feeling snacky? The recently opened Junked Food Co. will fill your wildest fantasies with their dynamic sweets. Follow them on Instagram and you’ll know what I mean. Bunners Bake Shop is my go-to, with 1 location in the Junction and 1 in Kensington Market. Your gluten and vegan ice cream and pastry needs will be more than satisfied.
But lets not jump to dessert – if you’re thinking brunch you would be silly not to stop in to Sneaky Dee’s (also known for their amazing late night nachos, upstairs punk venue, and all around good vibes). They are open til 4:30am on the weekends and open for brunch early at 9am each morning. Easy Restaurant is another important piece of the brunch puzzle. With two locations (Parkdale and College St.) their Huevos Divorciados are to die for.
If you love cuban and even if you don’t, La Cubana won’t let you down. Their Roncesvalle location is a great eat-in experience complete with incredibly delicious cocktails. Their meat plates (don’t worry there’s veg options too) will make you cry. The good kind of tears. Grasslands is another great dinner spot and is all vegan. But if you’re just looking for great wings, great beer selection, and pool then The Rhino in Parkdale is where you’ll find yourself.
Toronto is known for so much diversity, so it’s important I bring up my favourite Ethiopian spot Nunu on Queen St. West. Perfect for a healthy delicious meal before a show.
If you consider yourself a serious coffee drinker then it’s important you listen in carefully here. Propeller Coffee, though a bit off the beaten track, boasts a beautiful roastery alongside a big open concept seating area. Bring your laptop and do some writing while taking in the lovely atmosphere and smells. Capital Espresso in Parkdale is known for their amazing blends and Jimmy’s Coffee is a local favourite. You can thank us later.
Live music is alive and well in the city of Toronto. The legendary Horseshoe Tavern has got to earn a spot on your list. They have music every night and it is the type of place you’ll never want to leave. The Dakota Tavern over on Ossington has the same effect. It’s a special basement haunt always featuring the best root-sy, bluesy, rocking bunch. Their Sunday morning Bluegrass brunch is also important to be aware of. Sneaky Dee’s (affectionately referred to as Dee’s by the locals and mentioned above) is also is a great spot to catch music or dance your face off with one of their weekly parties.
It’s always stressful knowing what hood to stay in when you travel. Of course, I am biased, I’m a Parkdale girl through-and-through. There’s lots of affordable AirBNB’s you can find in this area. Kensington Market, the Annex, along College St, Dundas St. W, or Queen St. W are all great choices as well. Planet Traveler on College is a great hostel option with a lovely rooftop patio or if you’re looking for something classier Ocho, The Beverley, and the Drake Hotel are all great boutique hotels worth checking in to.
Toronto has some of my favourite parks in the world. You’ll find the masses lounging drinking Steigl and smoking Belmonts any day throughout the summer at Trinity Bellwoods. It’s right in the center of the west end and easy to get to. High Park is where you’ll find the CUTEST puppies and get lost on their trails. Sunnyside Beach and the west end waterfront leading over to Humber Park is a nice run or walk. You’ll have a moment when you reach Humber Park looking back at the Toronto skyline and think, ‘gosh this city is beautiful’. Because it truly is.
Pedestrian Sundays’ in Kensington market are fun but very overcrowded. It’s worth blending in with the sea of people to experience all the great art that unfolds on the streets in front of you. The Toronto Island is a great get away to spend a day at as well.
My top vintage stores are TUSK and Chosen Vintage, and if you take a stroll down Ossington, Dundas, or Queen you’ll find a number of great and lovely-staffed spots. If you need to bring back some gifts for those back home I suggest Cambie Design in Parkdale. Their candles make my heart flutter.
I could go on but I’ll end here. Enjoy the city friends!