What’s the best time to visit Toronto?

As the largest city in Canada, Toronto offers something for you to do no matter what time of year you visit. Winters in Toronto are as unpredictable as the weatherman; one January may bring snow banks as tall as your 10-year-old, while the following year it barely slips down to the 30s. But, to be safe, unless you have a parka made out of whale blubber, you’ll want to stay away from Toronto during the winter months. With the wind whipping off Lake Ontario, the winter days that barely reach the teens are that much worse. Though you can hop over to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, and skate on the Rideau Canal, which becomes the world’s largest skating rink during the winter. When the waterway is not completely frozen over, it’s the oldest continually operated canal system in North America.

If you prefer to walk the streets without turning into an icicle, plan your trip to Queen City during the summer. The last two weeks of July and first two weeks of August are particularly awesome times to visit. As you stroll the streets of the vibrant neighborhoods where the sidewalks are overflowing with patios, you’ll truly understand that Toronto bursts to life in the summer. Chock full of street festivals and open-air extravaganzas, the warm months in Toronto mean nonstop activity. Whether you venture to the enormous Toronto Pride Festival in June or the Toronto International Film Festival in September, your trip to this metropolis will be jam-packed with culture and fun.

  • On July 31
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the best way to see Toronto in one day?

    For the time starved visitors who want to see as much of Toronto as possible why not head to the tallest perch to get the best city views?

    The CN Tower which once held the world’s tallest freestanding structure title has an elevator that beams sightseers to the observation deck in under a minute. Hold onto your hat during the walk about outside and for those who’d rather stay indoors, the enclosed observatory also give a fabulous vantage point. I like how maps outline the various landmarks too.

    Another wonderful way to see Toronto is by heading to the Toronto Islands. It really gives the ultimate view of the city. The short 10 minute ferry ride to Centre Island is a treat on its own. But of course, the best part is seeing the vast city skyline topped with the CN Tower and the massive Skydome known as the Rogers Centre which houses the world’s first fully retractable roof.
  • On July 31
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    Where is the best nightlife in Toronto?

    Basically any neighborhood is up for grabs as locals and out-of-towners are kicking up their heels for some fun city nights.

    If dancing and staying up all hours is your thing strap on those stilettos and find your way to the Entertainment District.

    Blocks hemmed in with nightclubs open their doors. You’ll know you reached one when you spot the insatiably long cue and red velvet cords holding back the dance crowd masses.

    The Fifth Social Club a den sanctuary accessible by a private freight elevator looks like a TV set for the ABC hit Revenge with all its chic Hamptons-like white interiors but instead it’s a backdrop to some serious DJ playing and house dancing.

    Styled in big white sofas, white gauze curtains, sweeping dark wood floors, the atmosphere says come and linger for a few hours.  Still if you get bored there, the property has another place called Cabin Five which is a party bar that mirrors a cabin in the woods. The swanky watering hole features lots of wood decor, antlers and legendary blanket stool covers from Canada’s oldest department store, the Hudson's Bay Company.
  • On July 29
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is 401 Richmond Street Westin Toronto?

    In the middle of Toronto’s condo madness by the Entertainment District spot a non-descript red brick factory building --- a left-over from Toronto’s factory days --- and head inside.

    Dubbed 401 Richmond this world of studios, galleries and funky one-of-a-kind shops cinched in a multi-storey is a fabulous detour to the rampant construction sites taking place around it.

    I go there for peace of mind and to bump into some of Canada’s legendary artists who have had studio space there for decades. Over 140 artists call this nook home.

    Paul Fournier is one of them. The acclaimed Canadian contemporary artist whose philanthropists have been some of the country’s biggest tycoons (there’s art collector/theatre baron and now soon to be in the condo biz David Mirvish as one) is soft-spoken but gets excited when you mention the word ‘paintings’ around him.

    Much of Fournier’s highly collected work is in institutions like the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and the revered Smithsonian Institute (You could see his whimsical Florida Mirror at the latter). Folks might recall the stunning photo of Princess Diana and Prince Charles at the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel in ‘86. They are standing by Fournier’s Oceanus, he tells me.

    Here are some other neat 401 Richmond finds:

    Print making – Did you know the city’s only working studio for printmaking artists, Open Studio has been around for 40+ years and now calls this turf home? Think Joyce Wieland and Derek Sullivan shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award and tons more as some of the past residents. Even my other half was a student there in the swingin’ seventies when Open Studio was on King Street.  ;-)

    Abbozzo Gallery – While a fairly new gallery, it just became a 401 Richmond tenant in May, this Canadian contemporary gallery is one to watch as exhibitions are scheduled regularly. Upcoming is David Blackwood’s Revelation Oct. 5 – Nov. 2.

    The take away – the center is like a living breathing organism and it’s constantly changing with the characters and events who enter this fabulous premise. It’s a definite must-see.
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  • On July 29
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the Yorkdale Shopping Centre like in Toronto?

    A mall shrine in Toronto’s north end, there’s been a lot of ink splashing lately and much of it is due to a huge ongoing expansion plus the arrival of additional ritzy retailers.

    Once it’s all said and done, expect more high-end international brands nicely wedged between the bigger box stores.

    I like the British invasion myself. A couple of luxe retailers originally from Scotland, Ted Baker and AllSaints, are about edgy but don’t-take- themselves-too-seriously-wear. Canada’s first Ted Baker flagship uses exquisite fabrics. Watch the fall and winter collection – it’s all awash with nostalgia and old fashioned glamor in soft nudes and natural tones accented with hot chilli reds and bright greens that harken to a Gustav Klimt painting.

    Other cool Yorkdale Shopping Centre notes:

    - Don't call it a mall which sounds so tired. Refer to it as a shopping centre implying more of an upscale experience with customer satisfaction at the forefront.

    - Guest services have a hotel reception look and attitude. Can’t find something, ask. Need gift cards, they are there.

    - Culinary food stations. This ain’t no cafeteria, you’ll hear the words Dine on 3, the new food court on the third level with 19 offerings in this food collection that has a fully plated service i.e. real cutlery, real glasses and real plates. There’s free Wi-fi and even purse hooks to hook your purse and shopping bags to help organize your lunch/dinner break.

    - Concierge – find a dedicated one by Dine on 3. They offer dining reservations so you could reserve a seating in one of the restos or in the food court.

    - Fragrance butler – yes these are free sample perfumes you can dab at the concierge desk.

    - Fruit infused water – maybe you’re thirsty or have a pill to swallow, head to the concierge desk for some complimentary flavored water. 

    - Reading material – we all like fashion magazines and local tourism pubs so be sure to pick up some complimentary issues by the concierge desk.

    - Curbside valet parking at a cost ($15) but it saves the hassle in parking, freeing up more shopping time plus call ahead for your departure time and voila your vehicle will be at the ready.

    - website that’s gone totally international – over 20 languages to help you get your retail fix.

    More later – now it’s back for more shopping. ;-)
  • On July 29
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is Toronto’s TIFF in the Park?

    No drive-ins here.

    But instead Toronto’s downtown core amid the flurry of pedestrians, cyclists and cabs, it’s the annual outdoor summer movie night under the stars at one of Toronto’s trendiest urban parks.

    David Pecaut Square conveniently located across the street from TIFF HQ transforms into an alfresco cinema dubbed TIFF in the Park.

    Every Wednesday starting at dusk (9 pm) until August 28 expect the stars to shine in this avant-garde approach to movie theaters.

    The free screenings showcase the tried and true romantic classics. There’s Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone in Amy Heckerling’s clever modern rendition of Jane Austen’s Emma on August 7.

    Another Jane Austen themed classic Sense and Sensibility, Ang Lee’s version starring Emma Thompson screens on August 14.

    Summer can’t be summer without one Audrey Hepburn classic film. In this case it’s the legendary Roman Holiday starring the cinema icon beside her leading man Gregory Peck. Roman Holiday shows on August 21.

    TIFF in the Park’s summer movie night finale ends with a Nick Cassavetes love story, The Notebook starring Toronto gal Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling.

    Bring the popcorn, grab a picnic blanket or find a seat if you can.
  • On July 29
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best spas in Toronto?

    Guys and gals will have their own favorite spa spots to exfoliate and soften taught muscles.

    For guys the Forbes four-star rated spa at the Hazleton Hotel  is known around town for its ace men’s facials. Swiss Valmont facial products are used. Spa guests can enjoy the glamorous surrounds. Get whisked on a private elevator to the private lap pool accented with fine imported Bissaza mosaic tile.

    For gals, the Forbes rated spa at the Ritz Carlton Toronto is heavenly for full body pampering. The urban retreat begins as soon as you see the glass enclosed sanctuary room tucked away on the fifth floor. Don’t fret if you see some spa men by the vitality pool, this section is co-ed and features a steam, sauna and a pool with green tea infused water. The French luxury cosmetics company Clarins and the revolutionary skin care product line MY BLEND from France are used exclusively by Ritz-Carlton Toronto in their rich spa treatment menu.
  • On July 29
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is Toronto’s dining scene like?

    Toronto’s dining scene is thriving. A very competitive culinary offering is around to satisfy any palette.

    Even for those suffering from food allergies or are die-hard vegans or vegetarians, there’s been a crop of raw food restos, juice bars and vegetarian restaurants giving some nice competition on the foodie front.

    Here are two for the veggie set:

    Vegetarian Haven Located in a tree-lined enclave known as the Baldwin Street Village only steps from the city’s acclaimed Art Gallery of Ontario, vegans and vegetarians hunker down at owner Ms. Shing Tong’s quaint bistro for Asian-style dining. The setting is intimate, dimly lit with tables along the walls and original art pieces. This is a non-alcoholic premise in keeping with certain Buddha practices. Instead green tea smoothies, fresh pressed juices and cleanses are offered. Portions are huge so it’s recommended to share plates. (lunch and dinners)

    Live Organic Food Bar Considered Toronto’s premier raw food restaurant (it was the city’s first gourmet raw and vegan eatery), this dining nook on Dupont Street has a loyal clientele coming ever since the restaurant opened 10+ years ago. During the summer the back patio is great for private dining. The menu has gluten and sugar free vegan dishes. The owners , internationally known chef and restaurateur, Jennifer Italiano and her brother Chris Italiano, CFO and manufacturer, whip up sublime dinners fusing herbs and spices to these aromatic plates.

    The restaurant is licensed and has a nice selection of Ontario wines mostly from the Niagara region and Prince Edward County.
  • On July 29
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the best way to see Toronto in one day?

    For the time starved visitors who want to see as much of Toronto as possible why not head to the tallest perch to get the best city views?

    The CN Tower which once held the world’s tallest freestanding structure title has an elevator that beams sightseers to the observation deck in under a minute. Hold onto your hat during the walk about outside and for those who’d rather stay indoors, the enclosed observatory also give a fabulous vantage point. I like how maps outline the various landmarks too.

    Another wonderful way to see Toronto is by heading to the Toronto Islands. It really gives the ultimate view of the city. The short 10 minute ferry ride to Centre Island is a treat on its own. But of course, the best part is seeing the vast city skyline topped with the CN Tower and the massive Skydome known as the Rogers Centre which houses the world’s first fully retractable roof plus.
  • On July 29
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    Where is the best nightlife in Toronto?

    Basically any neighborhood is up for grabs as locals and out-of-towners are kicking up their heels for some fun city nights.

    If dancing and staying up all hours is your thing strap on those stilettos and find your way to the Entertainment District.

    Blocks hemmed in with nightclubs open their doors. You’ll know you reached one when you spot the insatiably long cue and red velvet cords holding back the dance crowd masses.

    The Fifth Social Club a den sanctuary accessible by a private freight elevator looks like a TV set for the ABC hit Revenge with all its chic Hamptons-like white interiors but instead it’s a backdrop to some serious DJ playing and house dancing.

    Styled in big white sofas, white gauze curtains, sweeping dark wood floors, the atmosphere says come and linger for a few hours.  Still if you get bored there, the property has another place called Cabin Five which is a party bar that mirrors a cabin in the woods. The swanky watering hole features lots of wood decor, antlers and legendary blanket stool covers from Canada’s oldest department store, the Hudson Bay Company.
  • On July 29
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best seafood restaurants in Toronto?

    Seafood and fresh are synonymous so call it a no brainer that our waterfront city has pooled together a few iconic ones.

    For years the celebrity crowd and high browed patrons of the arts and business tycoons have made their way to Joso’s, a favorite Mediterranean restaurant.

    The city’s landmark seafood haven that debuted in the swinging sixties turned the local dining scene upside down as Joso introduced finicky meat and potato types to the world of calamari, clams buzara and grilled octopus. 

    Things haven’t been the same since. Fresh smoked Ontario rainbow trout prepared the Mediterranean way (lots of capers and olives, olive oil and lemon) is delightful. 

    Oyster king Rodney Clark, a Maritime transplant whose lived in T.O. for years, is a fixture at Rodney’s Oyster House.

    A true oyster connoisseur and arguably the city’s preeminent oyster purveyor be sure to head to his Maritime inspired setting on King Street West and prepare to slurp back some tasty albeit slimy protein-rich ones. The heaping oyster menu -- many of them are culled from Rodney’s own oyster beds back in P.E.I. -- will truly astound. Think meaty malpeque oysters that you can literally taste the salt of the sea.

    If oyster’s not your cup of tea there’s a good seafood selection of fish and chips, clam chowder and other mains.
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