Toronto - Sightseeing
Downtown (or Old...) Toronto is home to some of the city’s most impressive shopping districts, centred on Yonge Street and, particularly, the venerable Eaton Centre mall, with its high street brands, department stores and cafes, this has been Torontonians’ favoured shopping destination for three decades. For more urban thrills, the eclectic, independent clothes, gift and jewellery stores of Queen Street will delight the funky, fashion-conscious traveller, while the upscale boutiques (such as Prada and Gucci) of Bloor Street West and Yorkville are as fun to window shop as they are to hunt out something special (with a price tag to match) - try the Canadian flagship department store, Holt Renfrew, for cosmetics and fashion.
Yonge Street scythes downtown Toronto clean in half, lined with shops and bars, but the best stretch - The Yonge Street Strip, is between Bloor and Dundas. It’s kitschy, but fun, with souvenirs, vintage fashion, and cheap and cheerful warehouse-style retailers. For more highbrow browsing, head to the bookshops of The Annex, centred on Toronto University’s campus.
The ever-bustling St Lawrence Market is another Toronto shopping institution, with a riot of stalls selling crafts, art, antiques, local produce and ephemera. St Lawrence Market North is the place to head for antiques, and the South market is the place to find excellent food and leisurely cafes and restaurants. They’re both at Jarvis and King Street. The historic Kensington Street Market, College Street, is as esoteric and eclectic as shopping gets. All human life (and practically all human needs) can be found here, in a buzzy neighbourhood of ethnic cafes, electronic stalls, bookshops and delis. A great day out.
From the Convention Centre to Dundas Street, the PATH underground tunnel system is lined with shops and stores - making this the world’s largest underground shopping complex. Expect shoes, clothes, confectionery, gifts and magazine stalls aplenty. And no rain.
Head a little out of town for Roncesvalles, a thrifty area of retro gifts, funky fashions, books and bric-a-brac.
Toronto’s no slouch when it comes to must-see sights and world-class attractions. The city’s currently spending millions of dollars transforming its waterfront, with set-piece architecture, generous boardwalks, green parks and family attractions. It’s already an impressive district, especially at night, when its huddle of skyscrapers are set twinkling against the darkness. Most of the city’s attractions are within easy exploration of each other, making Toronto a perfect place to explore.
For a communications mast, the CN Tower certainly packs a punch. At ground level, there’s a market place, restaurants and 3D cinema. In the ‘bulge’ three quarters of the way up, there’s a revolving restaurant and observation deck, and, higher still, the Observation Sky Pod, complete with glass floor, should you dare to walk across it, a full 103 feet up.
Yonge Dundas Square
A vibrant city centre square, complete with dancing fountains, outdoor stage, buskers, cafes and bars. A pleasant place in the summer months, there’s usually something happening here. And if not, it’s the perfect place to grab a coffee and rest your feet.
Something of a religion around these parts, the Toronto Bluejays are the World Series-winning baseball team. They play at the cavernous and legendary Rogers Centre (formerly the Skydome). Catch a game here, or check out who else is in town: the venue’s used for major-league pop and rock stars, too.
Fort York, Garrison Road
Once a wooden fort, these historic barracks were built to guard the growing city, in the 18th century. The fort saw active service in 1813, when 1,700 American troops invaded Toronto. Today it serves as a museum, with a lively programme of summer historic reenactments, and a rare survivor from the city’s earliest days.
Exhibition Place, Lakeshore Boulevard
Exhibition Place is the natural home to most of Toronto’s major conventions, shows and exhibitions. It was host to the landmark Canadian National Exhibition at the end of the 19th century, and many of its historic pavilions and buildings still stand. The complex is home to over 100 exhibitions and events each year.
Casa Loma, Austin Terrace
This stately, castellated pile, once the home of the financier, Sir Henry Pellatt, is a striking contrast to the glass and steel skyscrapers of the modern city. With its secret passageways, elegant drawing rooms, gardens, ramparts and towers, it’s a batty and engaging folly, and thoroughly charming.
This iconic building, fronted by gracious fountains, rises - in two semi-circular skyscrapers - from Nathan Philips Square. Next door, Old City Hall’s court house frames the scene with its more traditional, classical facade.
The Toronto Islands
A great excuse to leave the city for the afternoon, the Toronto Islands offer unbeatable views of the city’s skyline, as well as a small funfair, Centreville, picnic spots, bike and walking trails.
Harbourfront Centre, Queens Quay West
This well-loved arts centre is home to concerts, dance and cultural events throughout the year.
The Queens Quay Terminal houses a wide variety of shops and services. The York Quay Centre houses an art gallery, installations, the Lakeside Terrace, a patio and an information booth. There is also a large pond that doubles as a seasonal, outdoor skating rink.