Travels In Toronto
For the seasoned traveller, New York is a given. But when you’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt, look northwards and you’ll find Toronto. An equally enticing holiday option that often gets overlooked in favour of its American counterpart, Toronto is a cosmopolitan, culture rich destination that offers much in the way of history, art, music and fashion. And if you’re not quite convinced yet, it’s also the home to the annual Toronto International Film Festival, which takes place this year from September 8 to 18. The world-renowned film fair showcases hundreds of films, hosts a slew of swanky parties around the city, and welcomes countless A-list celebs.
So, if you’re keen to discover Toronto during the film fest, you might want to follow in the footsteps of the famous faces that pass through the city. Start with the upper crust Bloor-Yorkville district. The Downtown area is home to designer shopping, five-star hotels and plenty of stylish restaurants and bars. Indulge yourself in retail therapy at Holt Renfrew, Canada’s answer to Harvey Nichols where racks upon racks of designer wear can make any fashionista’s heart flutter. Next, explore the fashionable boutiques down Hazelton Lane and Avenue Road before stopping for a bite to eat at Italian haven Cafe Nervosa. With a second floor terrace overlooking the quaint streets, it’s the perfect place for an autumn’s day lunch. But if you’re keen to spot a celeb or two, be sure to reserve a table at Sassafraz, the city’s most established celebrity restaurant and piano bar that proves popular for post-screening dinners.
When you’ve had your fill of celeb spotting and movie watching, discover the countless other sides of Toronto. For the culture vulture, Toronto offers everything from art galleries and museums to local marketplaces and ethnic neighbourhoods. Begin at the Art Gallery of Ontario, a Frank Gehry-designed art house featuring works by international and Canadian painters and sculptors. Move on to the Royal Ontario Museum where you’ll find exhibits from Ancient Egypt to the dinosaur era under one spectacular roof. But to get your culture fill while enjoying fresh air, head to Kensington Market, the city’s quirkiest and most loved neighbourhood where you’ll find anything from vintage clothing to antiques and some of the best health food restaurants around.
But, when the sun goes down, Toronto livens up with fun bars and clubs. If it’s a pub crawl you’re after, head to the Diseen. The Roosevelt Room oozes old Hollywood glamour which is sure to draw a celeb crowd!
While you’re there...
See the falls - Well worth the drive from Downtown Toronto, the famous Niagara Falls is a must-see on any holiday to Ontario. Dividing Canada and the United States, the magnificent falls are one of the most beautiful sights, day or night. And there’s even a boat cruise which takes you right up to the base of the falls.
Dine in the sky - Once the tallest building in the world, the CN Tower in the heart of Toronto is a favourite of tourists. But it’s most prized attraction is its revolving restaurant 360˚. Set 351 metres above the ground, the gourmet dining spot offers incredible panoramic views of the city and is well worth the trip up and the price.
Get sporty - There’s no doubt, Canadians love their sports. From basketball to ice hockey to baseball, no trip to Toronto would be complete without watching one of the city’s teams play. Catch the Maple Leafs on the ice at Air Canada Centre or watch the Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre for a truly Canadian experience.
Where to stay...
Hazelton Hotel (00 1 416 963 6300, thehazeltonhotel.com)
A favourite for visiting celebrities, especially during the Toronto International Film Festival, the Hazelton Hotel combines old Hollywood glamour with chic modernity making it one of the city’s most painfully stylish places to stay.
The Drake Hotel (00 1 416 531 5042, thedrakehotel.ca)
Ask any art-inclined Torontonian to name the city’s artiest hotel and you’re sure to get one answer – The Drake. A performance and visual arts hub catering to a funky clientele, this quirky guesthouse-style hotel offers plush suites that make for a unique stay!
Clarion House (00 1 416 921 3142, clarionhotelselby.com)
Ernest Hemingway called it his favourite hotel in Toronto in the 1920s, and today Clarion House remains a Canadian treasure. Offering incredible value for travellers looking to save, this historic guesthouse is ideally located.
Courteney Cox has been spotted dining in Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville district.