Toronto’s hockey team may not have won the Stanley Cup since 1967, but its fans sure don’t get discouraged. With the energy of the city behind them, every hockey game passes with enthusiasm and hope in the Canadian-adored sport. That energy doesn’t only exist in the potentially futile cheering of the fans. With an abandoned castle, comfortably shocking new theatre companies, and a huge international base of lifestyles, Toronto is alive with a rich cuisine scene, family-friendly activities, and a gaze towards the future. We’ll cheer to that.
For the standard set of tourist landmarks, head over to Nathan Phillips Square, a landmark park for Ontarians and the choice ice-skating rink come wintertime. Stop by in the other seasons to admire the fountain underneath the magic. For another Canada staple, check out the City Hall.
So much of the individuality of the city exists in its quirks: a faultily-constructed building (Leaning Tower of Pisa, for one), ancient government’s revealed dirty laundry (Paris’s Catacombs), or just the abundance of mysterious, and sometimes, unsettling history. Toronto is no stranger to the latter. One evening, take a different kind of tour, with the city’s Haunted Walks. Skip the cheesy Black Creek Pioneer Village, and head to the local-feeling neighborhood of Kensington Market and window-shop retro clothing boutiques, quirky furniture shops, and cute coffeehouses. The Distillery District is also a cool place to spend the afternoon, where the technical home of the largest distillery in the world meets an upscale pedestrian paradise of sophisticated art galleries and restaurants.
Given that almost half the population of Toronto originated outside of Canada, one of the extreme bonuses to the city is its cultural smorgasbord of food and drink. Roam through Little Italy, Chinatown, and Little India for a large selection of authentic cuisine, or try to make the Taste of Danforth, a Greek summer festival with special focus on Mediterranean tasties. Named one of the Top 25 World’s Best Markets by Food & Wine Magazine, the St. Lawrence Market belongs on your short list. Perfect for a casual stroll and maybe a bit of souvenir shopping or a treat, stop by in between activities to experience this foodie’s paradise and take a breath.
Originally created for Sir Henry Pellatt in the late nineteenth century, but abandoned during construction, this eerily empty castle shell named Casa Loma became a tourist attraction with its incredible architecture and the oddities of a half-home. Look for the conservatory dome of Italian glass and pendulum lights that hang from it, all of which resemble grapes. The dark, slanting gardens and secret passageways to the stables are all included in the tour entry fee. If you find yourself wandering in the Secret Garden by chance, test your character by ringing the bells on the dragon sculpture. Legend has it that those who are pure of heart will make the dragon burn to life.
All the world’s a stage, and Toronto is one of the biggest players. With a surplus of incredible theatres and striving, creative companies, it’s worth your while to reserve a few velvet seats for you and your family during your next visit. Some of the most classic theatres are Elgin & Winter Garden and the Young Centre for Performing Arts. The highly-acclaimed Toronto Fringe Film Festival, the progressively edgy Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, the “humor with grit” Factory Theatre, and the humour-obsessed Bad Dog Theatre Company are excellent options for a more alternative setlist.
Do your little ones need a little structured space to run, play, and get their giggles out? Look no farther than the Toronto’s zoo and premier amusement parks. Canada’s Wonderland has everything from plush, life-size cartoon characters to stomach-clenching-and-churning thrills to satisfy all ages, even Mom and Dad! The Ontario Place puts a twist on your normal family-movie-night-out with a grand IMAX theatre right on the water. Spend a day with the animals at the Toronto Zoo before 2018 and you’ll see Er Shun and Ji Lee, on loan from Beijing.
Discover the rich culture and invigorating energy of Toronto this summer. Who knows? Maybe their hockey team will have better luck this year.