How to Plan a Trip to Toronto

by  Kristine Hansen | Jan 30, 2020
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto / JHVEPhoto/iStock

Canada’s largest city is also the cultural capital of the country. Its ethnic neighborhoods (there's about 140 of them!) are pulsing with shopping, arts and dining. And, some of the country’s best museums and live performances are right here. With direct flights from many U.S. destinations, Toronto is the perfect gateway for your first Canadian adventure — you can always tack on a countryside experience within the Ontario province, in which Toronto is based — or a city you’ll enjoy returning to again and again.

Toronto / pabradyphoto/iStock

Where Is Toronto?

Located directly north of the western edge of New York, Toronto is located in the province of Ontario (practically in the middle of Canada and close to the U.S. border), separated by Lake Ontario. Toronto is also the capital of Ontario. 

What to Do in Toronto

Look up at the skyline and you’ll easily spot one of Toronto’s most beloved attractions, the CN Tower. The skyscraper was built in1976 and is the world’s ninth-tallest free-standing structure. Art lovers can spend a few days experiencing visual arts at the Royal Ontario Museum. The museum's Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, which is constructed of glass and aluminum and designed by Daniel Libeskind, is certainly a highlight. The Art Gallery of Ontario — with its eye-catching Frank Gehry renovation — is also not to be missed. Families love to explore Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and the Ontario Science Center. On a nice day, hop a ferry to Toronto Islands, which features an amusement park and hiking trails.

CN Tower / rabbit75_ist/iStock

Where to Stay in Toronto

In recent years, Toronto has welcomed a flurry of new, fun properties with distinct personalities, including Hotel X Toronto, located downtown (rates from $188 per night, depending on the season). Hotel highlights include the restaurant, which overlooks Stanley Gardens, as well as the three-level rooftop bar. Kimpton Saint George in tony Yorkville is the hotel chain's fist Canada location. The property features sleek rooms and a trendy gastropub, complimentary bike rentals, and a 24-hour fitness center (rates from $134 per night, depending on the season). If you're craving a true luxury stay, consider the St. Regis Toronto; the property serves up delectable weekend brunch on its 31st floor, where guests can take in the stunning city views. Rates from $324 per night, depending on the season. 

The St. Regis Toronto / Courtesy of the property

As this is also a city of neighborhoods, consider booking a room where you can enjoy morning coffee and an afternoon browsing boutiques among locals. Gladstone Hotel is the perfect option: a boutique arts hotel within an historic building on a corner along the trendy Queen Street West (rates from $158 per night, depending on the season). The Drake Hotel, also on Queen Street West, is another a hub for the city’s creatives. Rates from $182 per night, depending on the season. 

Where to Eat in Toronto

Not only is Toronto a city of neighborhoods, but many flaunt a unique ethnic culture. Dine on dim-sum in Chinatown, Polish pastries in Little Poland, gyros in Greektown, or naan in Little India. Some of Canada’s most celebrated chefs cook and live in Toronto, including Momofuku’s Kōjin, a steakhouse folding in Ontario-grown ingredients. Another must-visit is R&D, which is run by MasterChef Canada alum winner Eric Chong and serves up delicious contemporary Chinese dishes.

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