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bootlegga Toronto - A travel report by James
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Toronto,  Canada - flag Canada -  Ontario
7312 readers

bootlegga's travel reports

Canada’s biggest city is full of charm

  6 votes
Page: 1 2
Toronto likes to style itself as Canada’s version of New York, mostly because it is Canada’s biggest, most cosmopolitan city. From celebrities to culture to fun, Toronto has it all!

Toronto Skyline
Toronto Skyline
As I said already, Toronto styles itself as Canada’s New York. In many ways, this is true; it is the biggest city in the country, is a business centre with dozens of head offices and the Toronto Stock Exchange, it has the country’s busiest airport and so on. Whether Toronto fits the bill generally tends to depend on where you live. Toronto residents look down on pretty much everyone else in Canada and in turn, everyone else looks down on Toronto.

With it’s location in the middle of the so-called ‘Golden Horseshoe’, it is close to major American business centres, as well as close to Canada’s industrial heartland. Toronto’s iconic city hall has been featured in movies (most notably Resident Evil: Apocalypse), and is part of Nathan Philips Square, which features ice skating in the winter and festivals in the summer.

Given its southerly location (relative to most of Canada anyways), Toronto enjoys fairly moderate winters and warm, humid summers. Lake effect snow can cause some major travel problems during the winter.

Favourite spots:
Hockey Hall of Fame
Hockey Hall of Fame
Toronto has a lot of great sights, but for me, the Hockey Hall of Fame was the best one. Centrally located, it had hockey memorabilia from all over the world, ranging from the 1920s to the present.

Wandering through its halls, there were displays, both static and interactive that bring the world of hockey to life, be it NHL, amateur and even hockey from around the globe, including Europe and Asia. It was very interesting to see displays about non-traditional hockey countries like Mexico, Australia and Israel.

What's really great:
Toronto travelogue picture
Toronto is great, because like all big cities, there is something for everyone.

Like nature? There is an abundance of parks, islands and waterways to explore.

Like big city life? Then there are plenty of bars, nightclubs and restaurants to keep you entertained.

Like culture? Wander around Chinatown, Little Italy, or take in the Caribana Festival.

Like sports? Toronto has teams in three of North America’s four big leagues (NHL, MLB, NBA), and hosts games from the NFL’s Buffalo Bills several times each year), as well as teams in other sports, like lacrosse and soccer.

Want to see something truly amazing? Take a tour of Niagara Falls, only 1.5 hours away by bus or car.

Feel like a kid? Drop into Canada’s Wonderland, which has over 200 rides.

CN Tower at night
CN Tower at night
Much like London and several other big international cities, Toronto has a tour bus that runs all day long that stops at all the major tourist sights in Toronto, allowing you to get on and off at will, for about $30.

While the CN Tower is no longer the world’s tallest free-standing building, it still is a sight to behold. From either observation pod, the view of the lake and surrounding area is incredible. A trip to at least the Main deck is a must if you visit.

If culture is your thing, then the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is a must see. It is filled with all sorts of things, from art from Asia to medieval suits of armour to Egyptian tools used in mummification.

Skating in Nathan Philips Square
Skating in Nathan Philips Square
Toronto has dozens of hotels, many of them very expensive ($150+ per night). There are alternatives though. You can stay farther out, on one of the subway/trolley lines and take the subway/trolley into the centre of the city. Or you could rent a car, but parking can be steep, so that’s something I’d avoid.

A better option is to look into staying at a university residence or an immigrant visitor centre. The prices are far lower, but the amenities more basic.

Failing that, I’d suggest a mid-range hotel, like the Best Western, Days Inn, or Choice family of hotels. Because it was Grey Cup weekend, hotel rates were higher than they normally would be in November, so we stayed at a new immigrant visitor centre for the amazing price of only $40 per night (when nearby hotels were charging at least three times that)!

The Harbourfront
The Harbourfront
Sights II:

Shopping at Eaton’s Centre is another great thing to do. It is filled with shops and is a sight to see all by itself, with its massive skylight and artwork everywhere.

If you don’t feel like taking a pricey boat tour, take the ferry across the Inner Harbour to the Toronto Islands. They have parks and a great view of Toronto for only $3 per person!

Are celebrities your thing? Then head up to Yorkville and sit in a streetside café having coffee. It is a popular spot with many actors when they are in town shooting their latest flick. Bloor Street also has a number of shops (Roots for one) that are popular with visiting celebs.

Toronto City Hall
Toronto City Hall
A great place to hang out is the Harbourfront. There are venues for music concerts, little parks, shopping, you name it. Another is Nathan Philips Square, which hosts big parties for a variety of events around the year.

St. James Cathedral is right downtown
St. James Cathedral is right downtown
Wayne Gretzky’s is a must for hockey fans. The food is good, the atmosphere interesting and the prices reasonable.

With one the largest Chinatown’s in North America, Chinatown is full of great restaurants, many of which have excellent food at very affordable prices. We ate dinner several times in Chinatown for less than $20, not bad for one of North America’s largest cities.

Another great place to pick up lunch is the St. Lawrence Market, a few blocks away from Yonge Street. It operates as a Farmers Market on Saturdays and has stalls open all week long selling all sorts of goodies. I didn’t get a chance to eat there during my visit, but I heard from a co-worker that C’est What is also close by and offers micro-brews and good food.

Other recommendations:
Niagara Falls at night
Niagara Falls at night
One of the best day trips you can take, in my opinion, is to Niagara to see the falls and enjoy the wine.

Niagara-on-the-lake offers tours of wineries and spectacular scenery of Lake Ontario. Another attraction is Fort George. It was from this fort that British troops fought to protect a fledgling Canada from American aggression in the War of 1812. Run by Parks Canada, it is filled with historic artifacts and has dozens of people re-creating life in 1812, from soldiers to blacksmiths to cooks. Every hour, an actor gives a demonstration of firing an 1812-era musket.

On the way to Niagara Falls is the memorial to everyone who died in the Battle of Queenston Heights, a crucial battle that prevented a US invasion force from taking over the Niagara region.

Niagara Falls themselves are spectacular. Sure, they are surrounded by cheesy tourist casinos and shops, but the falls are a sight to be seen and heard. If time permits, take the Maid of the Mist tour and you’ll get very close!

Published on Monday February 16th, 2009

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Wed, Feb 18 2009 - 03:51 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Good description and practical info. Thanks.

Tue, Feb 17 2009 - 02:14 PM rating by christianj.

Thats a report of the kind I like: Well written, informative, structured clearly and easy to read - very good! And as from now I am crazy about visition Toronto...

Tue, Feb 17 2009 - 10:07 AM rating by porto

Great report,wish I was there? Indeed I do!

Mon, Feb 16 2009 - 11:02 PM rating by gloriajames

loved it! i always wondered how Toronto was as a place to visit.
well thanks for the great report! i shall include Toronto in my destination if I end up going to new york this august.

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