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Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. Toronto, with a population of 2.6 million, is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) which contains 6.2 million people. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe region, which wraps around Lake Ontario from Toronto to Niagara Falls and totals over 8.5 million residents, approximately a quarter of Canada's entire population. Toronto is the fourth largest city and fifth largest urban agglomeration in North America. Spawned out of post-glacial alluvial deposits and bluffs, the area was populated at different times by Iroquois and later Wyandot (Huron) peoples. The settlement by Europeans started with the French building a seldom occupied fort near today's Exhibition grounds in the mid-1700s, then grew out of a backwoods English trading post established as York in 1793 (reverting to the current name Toronto in 1834). Later in the 19th century, it grew to become the cultural and economic focus of Canada. Owing largely to the country's liberal immigration policies starting in the 1960s, and the region's strong economy, Toronto has, in recent decades, been transformed into one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world. More than 80 ethnic communities are represented, and over half of the city's residents were born outside Canada. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Toronto
- Art Gallery of Ontario. Tu, Th-Sa 10AM-5:30PM, W 10AM-8:30PM (free admission after 6PM), closed M. The largest art gallery in Canada, recently redesigned by architect Frank Gehry. It has a great Canadian paintings exhibit and the world's largest collection of Henry Moore sculptures. The European paintings exhibit has a few excellent pieces and it has one of the world's most expensive paintings on view (Ruben's The Massacre of the Innocents). Adults $18, seniors $15, students and youth $10, children free.
- Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen's Park, ☎ +1 416 586-8000. F 10AM-9:30PM, Sa-Th 10AM-5:30PM. One of the better and larger museums in North America. The original building was built in 1910, and is a handsome romanesque revival, with many carvings of people and events. The newer addition is a large deconstructivist crystal, made of steel and glass. Thousands of artifacts and specimens are featured in over 20 exhibits; including dinosaurs, Ancient China, native Canadians, Canadian furniture, medieval Europe, art deco, ancient Egypt, textiles, middle east, India and Pacific islanders. The world's largest totem pole, which is over 100 years old, is also housed in a place of honour. In October of 2011 the museum drastically reduced admission prices (formerly $24 for adults). Adults $15, Senior/Student $13.50 Friday night half-price.
- Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd, ☎ +1 888 696-1110. 10AM-7PM daily. Lots of hands on science exhibits, including a rainforest, a tornado machine, a sound proof tunnel, balance testing machines and more. It also contains Ontario's only Omnimax (full wrap around) movie theatre. Adults $22, Child $13, Senior/Student $16.
- Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor St W. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. This offbeat museum is devoted to shoes and footwear, and contains Napoleon Bonaparte's socks, and footwear from cultures all over the world. $12 adults, $10 seniors. Pay-what-you-can admission ($5 suggested) Th 5PM-8PM.
- Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). — Annual agricultural exhibition that is Canada's largest fair and the fifth largest in North America, with an average annual attendance of 1.3 million.
- CN Tower. — The second tallest free standing structure, at over 500 metres tall, in North America. There is a glass elevator to the top. The view is incredible and there is a glass floor, which for some is very scary to walk on. There is also a revolving restaurant, which offers spectacular views as the sun sets over the city.
- Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace (at the corner of Davenport Rd and Spadina Rd), ☎ +1 416 923-1171, fax: +1 416 923-5734, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9:30AM-5PM daily May-Oct. Visit Casa Loma and step back in time to a period of European elegance and splendour. The museum is the former home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt complete with decorated suites, secret passages, a 250 metre long tunnel, towers, stables and beautiful 5-acre estate gardens. A self-guided digital audio tour in 8 languages (English, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin and Korean) is available. $18.
- Spadina House - A historic mansion dating from the 1860s, the grounds contain a beautiful garden, which is free to walk around in. If you want to view the historic interior, you need to pay.
- Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. — Dedicated to ceramics in an exquisite contemporary building right across from the Royal Ontario Museum - from Ancient to Contemporary with an extraordinary European collection.
- Hockey Hall of Fame. — Dedicated to the history of ice hockey, it is both a museum and a hall of fame. It is housed in the historic Bank of Montreal building and dates from the 1880s.
- Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy (One set of lights east of Jane Street, on the South side of Steeles Avenue (follow the Village signs). TTC: Bus Steeles 60 West route from Finch subway station or Jane 35 route from Jane subway station. YRT: From the York University Terminal, take the Route 10 (Woodbridge) bus or the Route 20 (Jane-Concord) bus to Jane Street & Steeles Avenue. From the Vaughan Mills terminal, take the Route 20 (Jane-Concord) bus to Jane Street & Steeles Avenue.), ☎ +1 416 667-6295. Historic site in northern part of Toronto, just west of York University and southeast of the Jane and Steeles intersection. It overlooks Black Creek, a tributary of the Humber River. The village is a recreation of life in 19th-century Ontario and consists of over forty historic 19th century buildings, decorated in the style of the 1860s with period furnishings and actors portraying villagers. The village is populated with ducks, horses, sheep and other livestock and is self-explored, although many of the individual sites will have a guide inside to explain details of the structure. A good time to visit is weekdays during the autumn as there are comparatively few visitors.
- Ontario Place. — A great place to take children in the summer with an Imax theatre inside.
- Toronto City Hall. Two buildings forming a semi-circle overlooking Nathan Phillips square, which has a very popular skating rink in the winter. Architecturally stunning, and next door to Old City Hall (currently the court house)which has a more classical architecture.
- Toronto Zoo. A world-class facility, the Toronto Zoo is best accessed by car or GO Transit + TTC bus as a day-trip as it is located at the eastern reaches of the city. The zoo is divided into zones (such as Africa, South America and North America) and features both indoor and outdoor displays. Open daily except for Christmas Day, and worth a visit in both the winter and summer months.
- Toronto Aerospace Museum, Parc Downsview Park, 65 Carl Hall Road, ☎ +1 416 638-6078, fax: +1 416 638-5509, e-mail: email@example.com. The Toronto Aerospace Museum (TAM) is dedicated to developing an exciting educational, heritage and tourist attraction at Parc Downsview Park. Founded in 1997, the museum lost it's lease and is currently looking for another location to house it's artifacts.
- Rogers Centre. Rogers Centre, formerly known as SkyDome, is a multi-purpose stadium, situated next to the CN Tower near the shores of Lake Ontario. Originally opened in 1989, it is home to the American League's Toronto Blue Jays, the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, the site of the annual International Bowl American college football bowl game, and as of 2008, the National Football League's Buffalo Bills' second playing venue in the Bills Toronto Series. While it is primarily a sports venue, it also hosts other large-scale events such as conventions, trade fairs, concerts, funfairs, and monster truck shows. The stadium was renamed "Rogers Centre" following the purchase of the stadium by Rogers Communications in 2005.
The venue was noted for being the first stadium to have a fully-retractable motorized roof, as well as for the 348 room hotel attached to it, with 70 rooms overlooking the field. It is also the most recent North American major-league stadium built to accommodate both football, as well as baseball, although some of the newer baseball parks have been known to host the occasional college football game, such as AT&T Park, Chase Field, and Safeco Field.
Soon after its opening, the stadium became a popular venue for large scale rock concerts and is the largest indoor concert venue in Toronto; it has hosted many international acts including Metallica, Madonna, U2, Depeche Mode, The Rolling Stones, The Three Tenors, Radiohead, Simon & Garfunkel, Garth Brooks, Backstreet Boys, Roger Waters, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Limp Bizkit, Eminem, Janet Jackson, Avril Lavigne, Jonas Brothers and Cher.
The stadium will be the centrepiece of the 2015 Pan American Games as the site of the opening and closing ceremonies.
Popular events in Toronto in the near future
Toronto's climate is on the whole on the cool side and variable conditions can be expected, temperatures average -3.8°C (25°F) in January downtown, however the type of extreme cold experienced in parts of Canada further north do not hold a tight grip for usually more than a couple of days at a time, despite this come prepared, winters are still cold, mostly cloudy and at times, snowy and uncomfortably windy. The city experiences warm and humid summers with an average high of 27°C (80°F) and a low of 18°C (65°F) in July/August with many muggy evenings but rarely extreme heat, with an average of only 12 days where the temperature exceeds 30°C (86°F) but hotter airmasses often arrive with moderately high humidity levels. Late spring/early summer and early fall are generally considered to be the best times to visit for weather and less crowds, mid-summer is the peak tourist season, but visitors will find that Toronto's vibrancy extends through the winter with outdoor skating rinks and bundled up clubgoers, etc. Toronto's public buildings are nearly all air-conditioned and fully heated.
Sometimes during the winter, severe storms can slow down transportation and activities in the city for a day or two. In the summer, thunderstorms occur from time to time, most lasting less than an hour.
- Just walk. Toronto has so many eclectic neighbourhoods that a random walk is fascinating in its own right. You might start in the Downtown area and then try other neighbourhoods around the city. You will also find that Toronto is "the city within a park", with miles and miles of parkland following the streams and rivers that flow through the city. Edwards Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Gardens in the neighbourhood of North York might just be the place to start exploring this natural environment.. Also the City of Toronto has designated various Discovery Walks which highlight both the natural and human history of the region. These can be found with brown circular signs along the route and highlight other regions such as the Belt Line, Garrison Creek and the Humber River as well as the downtown core.
- Take a free walking tour with Tour Guys to explore the downtown core, or any of the other specialty tours they offer.
- Go on a Toronto Urban Adventures walking tour to experience "Multicultural Kensington Market & Chinatown", or learn about Toronto's history and Canadian beer on a "Beer Makes History Better" tour.
- Beaches. Toronto has three main sections of beach along Lake Ontario. The most popular of these is in the aptly-named Beaches neighbourhood. A less popular alternative is the beaches in the western end of the city in the Parkdale neighbourhood; this was once Toronto's Coney Island, with an amusement park and numerous beach-style attractions; however in the 1950s the city built the Gardiner Expressway along the lakeshore, effectively separating the beaches from the city and causing the demolition of the amusement park; over the years attempts have been made to re-energize this area, but the Gardiner remains a major barrier, as well as a source of noise and pollution to keep away would-be beach-goers. On the plus side, the beaches are largely empty most of the time, providing solitude for those who seek it. The third major beach area in the city runs along the south shore of the Toronto Islands. This area is pleasantly secluded, with most of the islands covered with parkland and a small amusement park. Hanlan's Point Beach on the western shore of the islands is the City of Toronto's only officially recognized clothing optional beach, and a popular gay hangout. Despite these options, many Torontonians prefer to leave the city for beach trips; the most popular beaches are those in the Georgian Bay area north of Toronto, Wasaga Beach in particular is very popular during the summer.
- The Distillery District. The former Gooderham & Worts distillery lands have been rejuvenated into a pedestrian-only village dedicated to the arts and entertainment. It has fantastic restaurants, festivals, and art galleries.
- The Lakefront and Harbourfront, in the downtown core . Biking and walking trails, with an excellent view of the Toronto skyline. The Harbourfront Centre  is situated right by the lake, and is home to numerous cultural events of which most are free or relatively inexpensive. Take in some of the worlds most critically acclaimed performing arts productions, or enjoy one of the many world festivals that take place every weekend.
- The Toronto Islands. A short inexpensive ferry ride from the foot of Bay St. and you leave the bustle of the city behind. Visually, the views of the skyline from the islands is stunning, and for cycling, walking, picnics or just relaxing, the Toronto Islands are hard to beat. There is even a small amusement park for kids, Centreville. On hot summer days, temperatures here will often be about 2-3C less than the mainland providing relief. By mid-summer the water is warm enough to swim at Hanlan's Point or for the more adventurous, a nude beach is located nearby.
- Comedy, . World renowned Second City  comedy/improv theatre has a location in Toronto. See great improv and situation comedy performed live with audience participation over dinner and drinks in the heart of the club district of downtown Toronto.
- Theatre. Toronto has a great theatre scene for every taste and budget. Check out the big theatres on Yonge Street for the big splashy shows, such as. Small theatres in the Annex and elsewhere offer smaller productions that range from original Canadian works, avant-garde, experimental theatre, small budget musicals to British murder mysteries. A variety of theatre festivals such as the New Ideas, Rhubarb and Fringe festivals are the seed for many commercial success such as The Drowsy Chaperone. Also try to check out the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the new home of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. The Toronto Symphony plays in the recently acoustically renovated Roy Thomson Hall. TO Tix, located in Yonge-Dundas Square, is the best place to get both full-price advance and day-of discounts on shows across Toronto. They also offer theatre and dining packages, partnering Toronto’s theatre, dance and opera companies with local downtown restaurants and cultural attractions.
- Canada's Wonderland. A big theme park located in Vaughan, 30 kilometres north of downtown Toronto. It is considered one of North America's premier amusement parks, with more than 200 attractions. The park is open seasonally from May to October.
- Little Italy/Portugal Village. Centred at College and Grace, this is the spot to get a sense of the Western Mediterranean. Sit at one of the many coffee shops and watch the world go by on the weekends. A great time to visit is during the men's FIFA World Cup competition (in football / soccer), regardless of where in the World it is actually being held as both communities face off and rivalries reach a fever pitch. Recently the rivalries have begun to infect adjacent communities and it is now getting to the point that the entire city is being draped in a mind numbing variety of flags once every four years.
- Chinatown, is an ethnic enclave in Downtown Toronto with a high concentration of ethnic Chinese residents and businesses extending along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue. First developed in the late 19th century, it is now one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and one of several major Chinese-Canadian communities in the Greater Toronto Area.
- Little India, on Gerrard Street between Greenwood and Coxwell. If you want to get a sense of Toronto's vibrant South Asian community, this is where you want to be; not only is Indian culture represented - visible Pakistani and Afghan communities are also alive along the street.
- Koreatown, is composed of the retail businesses and restaurants along Bloor Street between Christie and Bathurst Streets in the Seaton Village section of The Annex.
Since the early 1990s, a Koreatown has also emerged in North York along Yonge Street between Sheppard Avenue and just north of Steeles Avenue. The area comprises parts of North York, Ontario (Willowdale, Toronto and Newtonbrook) and Thornhill, Ontario (Vaughan, Ontario and Markham, Ontario). The new Koreatown has many retail stores, Korean grocery stores (some quite large), karaoke bars and family restaurants catering to younger Koreans and those living in the north part of the City of Toronto and York Region. A larger proportion of this neighbourhood are recent immigrants or visa students from South Korea.
- Kensington Market, is a small community at Spadina and Dundas known for its immense multicultural makeup, and its variety of cuisine. Within Kensington there are many different eclectic clothing and food stores, and almost all are small family run businesses. Once a week, the community also closes most roads in the area, to allow pedestrians to take the street. Kensington has proved nearly untouchable by the gentrification sweeping through other downtown neighbourhoods, resolutely maintaining its quirks and character. For the true sense for what Toronto's cultural scene is, visit Kensington market to make the most of your stay.
Toronto is generally considered to be one of North America's top food cities. It has the same variety as New York or San Francisco and the compact and safe downtown keeps them closer together. As one of the most (if not the most) multicultural cities in the world, Toronto has authentic ethnic cuisine like no other city in North America. It is easy to eat out in Toronto and have a superb meal for cheap.
Surrounded by the extensive fertile farmlands of Southern Ontario, Toronto has an abundance of farmer's markets - one is happening, in season, almost every day. Several markets are year round, while others are seasonal, generally running from May to October.
- St. Lawrence Market. Has been bringing the freshest foods into the city for Torontonians and visitors alike since 1901. Located at Jarvis and Front, the St. Lawrence Market stretches over 2 buildings, the 'North Market' and the 'South Market' - and often over the section of Front street between them! The North Market is home to a Farmer's Market, open Saturdays year round. It features fresh vegetables in season, preserves, spices and herbs, and direct from the source foods, such as honey direct from the beekeeper or maple syrup from the people who tapped and boiled it, as well as quality Ontario wines. The South Market has over 50 specialty vendors, with a large seafood section, a dozen butchers, several bakeries, and three very extensive cheese shops. In the basement, there is also a specialty area for handcrafters, and an extensive foodcourt, with merchants often cooking food that they bought fresh that morning from upstairs. The South Market is open year round, Tue-Thu 8AM-6PM, Fri 8AM-7PM, Sat 5AM-5PM.
- Riverdale Farm, 201 Winchester Street (three blocks east of Parliament Street). A year-round producing farm owned by the City of Toronto as part of its extensive park system, open daily for tours, education, and more 9AM-5PM. The Friends of Riverdale Farm operate an onsite store and restaurant, Shop at the Farm and Farm Kitchen, in Simpson House (daily 10AM-4PM), and a weekly Farmer's Market (Tuesdays, May 10 - Oct. 25, 2005, 3:30PM-7PM. Riverdale farm is a working farm, with barns and outdoor paddocks, and animals of all types. In an attempt to provide education about farming, the staff is approachable, and will discuss chores as they go through the daily tasks of keeping a farm running. Tours are available, or you can wander the 7.5 acres freely.
Other farmer's markets in Toronto:
- City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West. Wednesdays, 1 June-5 October, 10AM-2:30PM (except June 29 due to Jazz Festival).
- East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue. Tuesdays, 24 May-25 October, 9AM-2PM.
- Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall. Saturdays, 4 June-29 October, 8AM-2PM.
- North York Civic Centre, Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge St. Thursdays, 16 June-20 October, 8AM-2PM.
- Scarborough Civic Centre, Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Drive. Fridays, 3 June-14 October noon-5PM.
- The Dufferin Grove Farmer's Market, 875 Dufferin St (across from the Dufferin Mall). Thursdays, year round (outdoors around the rinkhouse in summer and in the rinkhouse in winter) 3:30PM-7PM.
- Green Barn Market, , 601 Christie St. Saturdays 8AM-12PM (located within the restored Artscape Wychwood Barns).
Interesting food districts
- 'Cabbagetown,' is a designated Historic District in the eastern half of the downtown core.
- University District, small section of Baldwin Street (east of Spadina, north of Dundas) has many small outdoor cafes ideal for summer lunches.
- Chinatown, now features many Vietnamese and Thai restaurants.
- Hakka Food, is a style of Chinese food that originated in India with the migrant Chinese of Kolkata. Also known as India-Style Chinese food, outside of India and certain Southeast Asian countries, Toronto is the only city in the world to have such a variety of Hakka Restaurants.
- King Street between University Avenue and Spadina Avenue has many restaurants appealing to theatre goers.
- Queen Street East between Empire and Leslie has a number of casual, trendy restaurants that match the vibe of Leslieville.
- College Street to the west of Bathurst has a cheaper set of eclectic restaurants popular with university students from nearby University of Toronto.
- Bayview Avenue south of Eglinton, is the location of some of Toronto's best French pastry shops.
- Bloor Street to the west of Spadina in the Annex has a similar set of restaurants to College, with a particularly heavy concentration of budget-friendly Japanese restaurants. Most restaurants tend to be very laid back.
- Yorkville, it's more about being seen than actually eating but there are a few hidden gems, and this area is famous for sightseeing celebrities. Restaurants often charges premium for otherwise mediocre meals. Mere 1 subway stop away from Yorkville, a meal of similar size and quality can be purchased for nearly half the price.
- The city's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, once chose the Downsview Park Flea Market food court as the best in the city. Although it is open only on weekends and rather remote, it offers a variety of authentic food from Afghan to Trinidadian and lacks the chain restaurants that dominate the city's food courts. It is located north of downtown, but is accessible from the Downsview subway station on the Spadina line and shares space with over 400 independent retailers.
- Dufflet's. Cakes to die for—they supply desserts for a number of the city's best restaurants. Limited seating, but taking out a coffee to go and strolling along this interesting stretch of Queen St is ideal in warmer weather. You can also buy customized birthday cakes here.
- Bulldog Coffee, 89 Granby St. Espresso and espresso based drinks. One of the owner/baristas regularly wins competitions for his latte art. Daily 7AM-7PM.
- The Red Tea Box, 696 Queen Street W. Excellent teas, good food, cozy atmosphere, and decadent desserts that look too good to eat. Not cheap, but worth the cost. Open only for lunch. 416 203 8882.
- Red Rocket Coffee, 401 Logan Ave. Finding a branch of this eclectic space-themed cafe is not hard; look for the red circle with the white rocket inside. Additional locations at 154 Wellesley St E (Downtown) and 1364 Danforth Ave (East End). Licensed by LLBO, serving wines from Niagara Region, beer from the Mill Street Brewery, and Waupoos cider from Prince Edward County.
See district articles for further information
- Le Commensal, Downtown. Cafeteria style restaurant that even has a small grocery area full of organic, vegan and vegetarian produce. Menu is standard, but the portions are generous and the atmosphere is amiable.
- Fresh by Juice for Life, The Annex & Richmond Street West. Serving mouthwatering servings of salads and juices of inspired combinations. Somewhat overpriced but all this healthy stuff does make you feel good.
- Fressen, Queen West. Great reviews of this restaurant by locals, who pack the place for its innovative and tasty vegetarian dishes. The gluten roast (a kind of faux roast-beef) comes recommended and the wine list features organic wines.
- Buddha's Vegetarian Food, Bathurst and Dundas; 666 Dundas West. One portion serves at least 2 very hungry people and costs $8. Closed on some Tuesdays.
- Hibiscus, 238 Augusta Avenue. In Kensington. Everything is gluten free. Excellent buckwheat crepes and salad bowls. A meal is about $8.
- Urban Herbivore, 64 Oxford St. In Kensington. Salad bowls and sandwiches for about $8.
- Vegetarian Haven, Baldwin Street. Staff are friendly and the restaurant is clean and charming, very filling, big portions, outdoor seating a big plus, although some find the food underflavoured. $13.60 for entree and soup.
- Live Organic Food Bar, The Annex. Freshly squeezed juices accompany complete meals that cost $35. Open Tuesday to Saturday 11AM to 10PM. Brunch Sunday 11AM to 4PM. Closed Monday and holidays.
- Annapurna, The Annex
- Simon's Wok, Gerrard & Logan. Vegetarian Chinese cuisine served in communal manner.
- Green Earth Vegetarian Cuisine, 385 Broadview Avenue. Don't be fooled by the name - all three locations (others in Ottawa, and Pasadena, California) are vegan. Features vegan versions of international dishes (USA, Italy, Mexico, China, Thailand, Vietnam). TV mounted above counter shows Supreme Master Television.
The majority of nightlife in Toronto is centred on the appropriately named Clubland and in the fashion district on Queen Street West. Nearly everywhere is packed to the brim with pubs and bars, but none so much as Adelaide and Queen Street in those districts. Clubs tend to operate on Richmond and Adelaide streets (both run east-west, 1 block apart); names change frequently, but the district keeps on going. Four other clubs of note outside this district: The mega club/ultra lounge Muzik Nightclub (by Exhibition Place), The (long-lasting) Phoenix (on Sherbourne), The Guvernment (Toronto's largest club - on the harbour east of Yonge Street) and the Docks (literally operating on part of Toronto's commercial port, but this place has an outstanding view of the city on warm summer nights, and boasts an extensive entertainment complex).
Some of Toronto's newest and hottest nightclubs have opened up in the King Street West / Liberty Village area. This area tends to attract a more mature (25+ years old) crowd; however this comes at a cost as drinks and admission into the venues are typically a bit more expensive here than in Clubland.
Hip art and music oriented crowds tend to gravitate towards Parkdale (Queen West past Bellwoods Park). The hipsters hangout in the wide array of bars, galleries and clubs that dot the area - in particular Stones Place (mostly Indians and sometimes gay crowds), The Social (a mixed bag), and the Drake and its poor cousin Gladstone Hotels. The same folks also frequent the Annex / Kensington Market Area of the city at night for club nights, casual drinks and art / music events. One of the main "corsos" of the city is Little Italy: College Street, between Bathurst and Ossington flows over with music, sidewalk cafes and excellent food and a crowd that enjoys the summer heat and the offerings. College Street, east of Bathurst, is home to many student hangouts, including Sneaky Dee's which is famous among locals for its nachos. The legal minimum drinking age is 19.
Toronto is also home to a number of microbreweries. These include Mill Street, Steam Whistle Pilsner, Cool, Amsterdam, Bellwoods Brewery, and Great Lakes. The breweries offer free samples and some have restaurants. Although a tour of the Steam Whistle Brewery costs $10, it includes a gift.
Toronto has ample opportunities for shopping, and nearly any section of the city has unique places to shop:
- Yonge Street, is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world. It runs from the edge of the lake to about 1896 km north of the city, and the Yonge subway line runs right under the Street from King Street North to Finch Avenue. You can drive along this street if you want (give up trying to find parking), but the smart way to explore Yonge is on foot, with a subway day pass to whisk you between the spots you want to see.
- Yorkville. The high-end shopping district of Toronto. Once a haven for Toronto's hippie population, it is located just north of Bloor and Bay Streets and is now home to many designer boutiques. During the annual Toronto Film Festival the area is "ground-zero" for celebrity watching.
- Located a short walk West of the Eaton Centre is the city's fashion district along Queen Street West, an area usually bustling with locals looking for the latest fashion in a variety of trendy stores. The stretch between University Ave and Spadina tends to be much more mainstream with an ever increasing number of chain stores, but it is still well worth the look. More offbeat choices can be found west of Spadina Ave stretching all the way into Parkdale (at least 2 km/ 1.4 miles). Take the University subway to Osgoode station and walk West.
- Kensington Market (around College and Spadina. Take the Bloor-Danforth subway to Spadina station, and then take the Spadina streetcar South into Chinatown. Kensington Market is one block West of Spadina. You can get off anywhere between College and Dundas streets.). Saturday is a good time to go; some stores are closed on Sunday.. Once a centre of Jewish life but has morphed into the centre of Toronto's bohemian scene. Visitors will be assaulted by sounds and smells unlike anywhere else in the city, as narrow streets bustle with immigrants, punks, and yuppies alike. Stores include surplus shops, coffee houses, small restaurants (including vegetarian), clothing vendors, and record stores. Fish and fruit markets are also present in great numbers, and the area is experiencing a boom of South American food stalls of late. Several weekends throughout the summer are designated "car-free" by the city, but even on the average weekend this is a place to avoid with a car, as pedestrians tend to wander as they please.
- Pacific Mall. At Steeles and Kennedy in Markham. The largest Chinese indoor mall in North America, and definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Asian-Canadian culture. Take any 53 bus from Finch subway station (it's a long bus ride!). About 45 minutes from downtown by car, well over an hour by transit. Also located close to Milliken GO station.
- Chinatown. Centred at Dundas and Spadina, Toronto's Chinatown is a great way to sample a tiny bit of cities like Hong Kong, without spending the airfare. Vast crowds crush the sidewalks as vendors sell authentic Chinese and Vietnamese food, and not-so-authentic knock-offs. It is one of North America's largest Chinatowns, and with many shops aimed at tourists, it is a good place to pick up some unusual and inexpensive souvenirs. The area is also home to a growing number of Korean and Vietnamese shops and restaurants. Toronto's multicultural mosaic never stops evolving. For a complete tour, travel along Spadina (North/South) starting at College Street in the north or Queen Street in the south.
- Yorkdale Shopping Centre. A shopping centre located in the north of the city, accessible from Yorkdale subway station. This is a full-service, upscale mall with hundreds of stores, but which is also rife with packs of roving teenagers who use the facilities as a social scene. Make use of the subway if possible on weekends, as locals pack the parking areas to capacity.
- The 'PATH' System. Stretches from the Eaton Centre south to Union Station, an underground shopping mall has been created for all the commuters to get from Union Station to their offices and back without ever going outside. In a city of Toronto's summer heat and winter cold, this is essential.
- Scarborough. Kennedy Avenue from Lawrence Avenue East to Ellesmere Avenue is a commercial district featuring dozens of independent furniture, electronic, houseware and computer businesses that all share some of the best deals the city has to offer, together with a couple of large electronic chains. It is often very congested on weekends by automobile, and many merchants lack adequate parking, but it is within walking distance of the Scarborough RT and there is bus service from the Kennedy subway station on the Danforth line. This is not really a destination for tourists, and it's quite a drive from the city centre, but if you're in the area, and want to do some discount shopping, there may be something here to suit your needs.
- Vaughan Mills. Big, new, outlet shopping mall 6 km North of City of Toronto.
- Toronto Hockey Repair and Goalie Heaven. A world-renowned ice hockey equipment vendor, attracting people from around the world to shop.
- Microbrews, (such as Cool beer) can be hard to find outside the GTA. These can be purchased at the brewery, Beer Store, or LCBO.
Most Canadians don't carry large amounts of cash for everyday use, relying on their credit cards, ATMs and direct debit cards. Personal cheques are rarely accepted. Very few places in Toronto accept US Dollars for small transactions - with a rough 1:1 exchange rate - and it advised to obtain some Canadian dollars if you will use cash. That being said, US coins are sometimes mixed in with Canadian coins at stores since they are similar in appearance.
Interbank ATM exchange rates usually beat traveller's cheques or exchanging foreign currency. Canadian ATM fees are low ($1.50 to $2 per transaction), but your home bank may charge another fee on top of that.
- Credit Cards
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards are widely accepted in Canada. Credit cards can get you cash advances at bank ATMs, generally for a 3% surcharge. Beware: many US-based credit cards now convert foreign charges using highly unfavorable exchange rates and fees.
- Changing Money
Always change your money at a recognized bank or financial institution. Some hotels, souvenir shops and tourist offices exchange money, but their rates won't put a smile on your dial.
American Express (905-474-0870, 800-869-3016; www.americanexpress.com/canada) branches in Toronto only function as travel agencies and don't handle financial transactions. Instead, tackle the banks, or try Money Mart (416-920-4146; www.moneymart.ca; Yonge Street Strip, 617 Yonge St; 24hr; Wellesley).
Affiliated with Marlin Travel (www.marlintravel.ca), Thomas Cook (www.thomascook.ca) branches include the following:
- Bloor-Yorkville (416-975-9940, 800-267-8891; 1168 Bay St; 9am-5:30pm Mon-Fri; Bloor-Yonge)
- Financial District (416-366-1961; 10 King St E; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri; King)
- Travelex (www.travelex.com/ca) has branches:
- Financial District (416-304-6130; First Canadian Place, Bank of Montréal, 100 King St W; 8am-5pm Mon-Fri)
- Pearson International Airport Terminal 3 Arrivals (905-673-7042; 8:30am-midnight)
- Pearson International Airport Terminal 3 Departures (905-673-7461; 3:30am-10pm)
Another organization, Calforex Currency Services (290 Queen St West) give good rates for cash, buying and selling GBP, USD, EUR; on substantial sums can be as little as 1% from interbank rates.Fremdh 15:28, 16 January 2010 (EST)
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Toronto on Wikivoyage.