For me the perfect way to explore a new city is to get as close to local life as possible. So when I had the opportunity to travel to Ontario in autumn 2016, I knew I did’t just want to spend the typical two to three days in Toronto and race from sight to sight. I wanted to experience what it felt like to live in Toronto, find my favourite coffee shop to work on my writing, discover neighbourhood restaurants and shops, roam the markets and vintage shops, and just generally find out what makes the city so fascinating. I ended up spending 10 days here and wanted to share a list of 25 cool things to do in Toronto – not all of them are sights, some are outright random everyday things I did while I was pretending to be a local – but all are must-do’s on your itinerary!
1) Watch the local neighbourhood of Kensington Market wake up at I Deal Coffee.
2) Hang out in every single cafe, bar or restaurant at Kensington Market.
3) Shop for Asian souvenirs on Spadina Avenue.
4) Learn about the history of shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum.
5) Do a free guided tour of a random collection at the Royal Ontario Museum.
6) Spend a morning at Dark Horse Espresso Bar – but bring a fully charged laptop to the community table!
7) Do a sunset cruise on a Tall Ship.
8) Stay with locals to learn about their city. I had booked an amazing AirBnB!
9) Find your dream house.
10) Ride a bicycle down Landsdowne Avenue.
11) Have breakfast waffles at the Starving Artist or amazing brunch across the street at Hello Darling.
12) Save up money and spend it all in the vintage shops on West Queen West Street.
13) Join a street art tour, or simply roam Graffiti Alley by yourself.
14) Have lunch at the Good Neighbour Espresso Bar.
15) Window-shop at Smash.
16) Take a boat across to Toronto Islands and rent a bicycle or a kayak to explore!
17) Check out the festival calendar at the Harbourfront Centre.
18) Try and visit for Toronto International Film Festival or watch a film at TIFF Bell Lightbox cinema.
19) Taste the vegan pizza at Pizzaiola (I went to their W Queen West branch).
20) Hang out in one of Toronto’s many parks!
21) Ride the elevator up to the top of CN Tower.
22) Have a day out at Scarborough Bluffs Park.
23) Try every single mode of transport – buses, trams and the subway!
24) Discover the shops and restaurants in the Historic Distillery District.
25) Go for dinner at El Catrin.
26) Spend a day by the beach.
27) Rent a Stand-up paddle board at Woodbine Beach.
28) Treat yourself to a set menu dinner at Ruby Watchco.
29) Get drunk and eat poutine! Or just eat poutine…
30) Spend a night at Thompson Hotel just to take a sunrise dip in the rooftop pool.
All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.