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 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best places for breakfast in Toronto?

    Torontonians love a good brunch on the weekends. It’s our chance to sit back and relax with friends. Summer’s got its own appeal too.

    Here’s where to go:

    The vegan crowd – It’s stroller busy at Lady Marmalade, a hip vegan resto in trendy Leslieville. The owners work closely with local organic food suppliers like St. John Bakery and the Big Carrot to create some stellar brunch dishes. The small seating capacity means no reservations so arrive early.

    The posh crowd - King Edward Hotel is where opulence and pedigree are hand in glove at this luxurious Edwardian property where the brunch tradition scores high. Don’t be surprised if you spot some A-listers either. Over the years Hollywood royalty like Richard Burton and Liz Taylor canoodled in the corner of the Sovereign Ballroom ironically the setting for the brunch scene.

    The Morning after crowd – Spice it up with Canada’s favorite tomato-spicy clamato juice-based cocktail, the all mighty Caesar. Over at Miller Tavern in Toronto’s tony Hog’s Hollow district mixologist Rob Montgomery is known to make some mean Caesars. For the downtown crowd a.k.a the urban hipsters and parents pushing strollers head to the second location on 31 Bay Street. Montgomery’s bacon infused vodka comes with bacon on the side plus bacon dusted on the rim. The Caesar creation has even caught the attention of USA Today which lauded the spicy bacon cocktail as one of the ten best in North America.
  • On July 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best golf courses in Toronto?

    Toronto’s got a whole whack of golf courses around the city.

    For folks who are shy at the first tee check out a helpful pace and etiquette program from the City of Toronto designed to make golf experiences a good one. 

    Thankfully the City maintains five public golf courses. Usually bank on four hours for a round of golf at any of them. Most of the golf courses are situated in historic surrounds.

    Now let’s tee-off at two. 

    Dentonia Park Golf Course – One of Toronto’s turn of the last century tycoons Walter Massey of Massey-Harris fame bought countless acres outside the city limits, made a farm, died, and his wife Susan lived there. A city philanthropist herself, she opened a school and donated part of the land to the city. Fast forward to the opening of the golf course which debuted in the sixties and discover why locals have enjoyed these greens ever since.

    Don Valley Golf Course – Named after the historic Don River that winds through the valley, this course was the result of a happy accident. A couple of years before its opening, the stretch of river became tattered in shambles due to a horrific hurricane in 1954. The city jumped in, restored the mounds and opened what has become one of the city’s nicest public golf courses.
  • On July 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best parks in Toronto?

    With Toronto’s condo boom and more construction than you could imagine, the precious green space around the city has instantly become a huge hit for locals and tourists. 

    Try the tried and true.

    High Park – Located in Toronto’s west end on the subway line (you get off at the High Park station and cross the street), miles and miles of green patch situated on a former cottage of one of Toronto’s early city mavericks, John Howard, has walking trails, a wonderful pond teeming with wildlife, some historic buildings, and a couple of fun surprises: a zoo and an alfresco summer stage. The zoo has resident animals like lamas, bison and peacocks.

    Toronto Botanical Garden  – Located in the city’s north end also accessible by public transit (although it’s a bit of a longer ride from downtown due to the distance), this slice of aromatic bliss tickles the senses with its abundant florals and wild herbs. I love wandering and exploring the fabulous gardens and grabbing a lunch at the Garden Cafe where owners Omar and Betsy Price of P&H Farms outside Port Hope whip up a menu using locally sourced organic foods. Watch for a Farmers Market held at the TBG on Thursdays 3 pm – 7 pm until Oct. 10.
  • On July 29, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What are the best tours of Toronto?

    Tours run the gamut in Toronto.

    Here’s what the time starved should aim for: quick and easy.

    Hop on and hop off City Sightseeing Toronto  – Double Decker bus tours seem to be creeping up everywhere. Toronto is no exception. Climb aboard the vintage cherry coloured open deck double Decker and whizz by historic landmarks hopping off at 24 stops. You get a good overview on the tried and true.

    Here’s what the sweet tooth types aim for: samples and stories.
    Tasty Tours  – founder Audrey Ooi runs a two hour foodie walking tour called the Kensington Market Sweet Tour on alternate Sundays that explores two of the city’s most eclectic neighborhoods: Chinatown and Kensington Market. The tour guide has a keen interest in tying historic moments into today’s foodie favorites. Right now the city’s got a love fest with churro at Pancho's Bakery, the Mexican deep fried sweet pastry. Find out the connection this sweet has with the Far East and Portugal.

    Strap on the sandals, pack a water bottle, and get ready to discover an international gastronomy that literally covers a few city blocks. Dip into Lebanese, Syrian sweets; savour a smooth custard tart the Chinese way; throw back some mini donuts; and don’t forget the goodness of handmade chocolate.
  • On June 30, 2013
    Rosemina Nazarali answered the question: Rosemina Nazarali

    Where is the best nightlife in Toronto?

    Most Toronto neighbourhoods have great nightlife, but two specific areas come to mind when looking for the best nightlife the city has to offer. Entertainment District is the first place that comes to mind, playing host to a myriad of popular nightclubs, bars and restaurants. The next place to visit is King West. King West hosts more of an older crowd -- Entertainment District nightclubs are usually 19+, where King West nightclubs are usually at least 21+. This is the area where young professionals will go to unwind after a long week of work. Not only will you find great eats here, you’ll also find fun bars and beautifully-decorated nightclubs.
  • On June 30, 2013
    Rosemina Nazarali answered the question: Rosemina Nazarali

    What restaurants have the best views in Toronto?

    Canoe -- Canoe is a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant located in Toronto’s financial district and provides some of the most beautiful views of the city. Located high in the TD Tower, the restaurant provides diners with a birds-eye-view of the city, thanks to large floor to ceiling windows.

    Panorama -- Panorama sits on the 51st floor of Toronto’s Manulife Centre, and provides panoramic views of the north and south sides of the city. Enjoy your meal from one of the restaurant’s romantic rooms, or enjoy the scenery from one of their patios.

    360 -- 360 is the restaurant located at the top of the CN Tower, one of the world’s tallest free-standing structures. The restaurant revolves more than 1,000 feet above Toronto, giving diners unbelievable views that are sure to take your breath away.
  • On June 30, 2013
    Rosemina Nazarali answered the question: Rosemina Nazarali

    What are the best tours of Toronto?

    Toronto Bus and Boat Tour -- If you only have a few short days to see everything there is to see in Toronto, this is the tour for you. Purchasing a ticket for this tour will give you three days of hop-on hop-off privileges to 25 stops that include the CN Tower, Dundas Square and Casa Loma. The tour also includes a 45-minute cruise of Toronto’s Harbourfront and islands.

    Heart of Downtown Biking Tour -- Hop on a bicycle and see the city’s sights on this bike tour of Toronto’s downtown. You’ll hit sights like the Art Gallery of Ontario and Sugar Beach, and will have the opportunity to stop and take it all in.

    Trinity Bellwoods Chocolate Tour -- Do something a little different during your visit to Toronto by indulging your sweet tooth with this chocolate tour. Walk through Dundas West and Queen West, the neighbourhoods surrounding Trinity Bellwoods Park, and learn all about chocolate while visiting five shops.
  • On June 30, 2013
    Rosemina Nazarali answered the question: Rosemina Nazarali

    What are the best neighborhoods in Toronto?

    Bloor-Yorkville -- Bloor-Yorkville is the area of Toronto where you can indulge in some of the finer things in life, combining the best of fashion, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. You’ll find stores like Chanel and Harry Rosen and eateries include fine dining restaurants like Sassafraz and Amber.

    King West -- King West is Toronto’s answer to New York City’s SoHo. The urban area is the perfect spot for young professionals, with a myriad of businesses, dining options and stores in the area. The area has also become a hotspot for nightlife with popular venues like Brant House and C Lounge.

    Bloor West Village -- Bloor West Village is like a little town situated in the city. The area is the place to find local markets, boutiques and flower shops, while also providing great places to eat. Just west of the city and minutes from High Park, this area is a great place to spend a day with friends or with the whole family.
  • On June 30, 2013
    Rosemina Nazarali answered the question: Rosemina Nazarali

    What should you pack for a trip to Toronto?

    If you were to pack only one sensible item for a trip to Toronto, I would recommend that be a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Toronto is a great city to explore by foot, no matter what season you happen to be visiting in.

    Which brings me to my next point -- what you pack will vary greatly by season. Summertime will require flip flops, light and airy clothes for hot and humid days, and a light jacket for possible cooler nights. During the fall and spring seasons, pack a combination of t-shirts and long pants with a jacket, closed shoes and a sturdy umbrella. Winter will require a nice warm coat, sweaters, socks, winter boots, scarves and gloves.
  • On June 28, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the food truck scene like in Toronto?

    Butting heads beside the chi-chi restos is a wave of food trucks that have arrived on the scene. Need something yummy to eat but don’t have the time for sit-down full service?

    Food trucks could be your answer.

    Besides some of these meals on wheels have even entered sacred ground as their expertise i.e. fast delicious food on the fly is being requested at special events.

    Check out Gourmet Gringos, Toronto’s first gourmet Latin food truck. Last time I spotted this portable eatery they were dishing out tacos at an evening fashion soiree at the ROM. Krystian Catala co-owner uses influences from his dad’s Argentinian and mom’s Equador roots. “I’m a gringo,” he laughs, “I’m from here.”

    Spices are hand blended, meats are from the butcher. Beer battered mahi mahi fish tacos are amazing! He likes spicy. Don’t worry about seeing the line-ups either. Five to six kitchen staff are on the scene.

    And his executive chef (yes this meals on wheels has one) Arturo Gress Cardenas is no slouch. Trained in Barcelona, Spain at the Culinary institute Ambrosia, he cut his teeth working at two Michelin Star Restaurants as well as working alongside some of Toronto’s top chefs.

    Be sure to catch their Tweets @gourmetgringos to find out the truck’s location.

    Feisty Jack Mobile Food Company has found the answer to mundane fish and chips. Covered in a British flag with a honking huge open shark jaw, comes this food truck serving this traditional Brit mainstay the old fashioned way. Loads of fried spuds and beer batter dipped fish.

    While the canteen isn’t housed in a double decker reminiscent of old London town itself, the food truck with signage like “Keep calm” and the Tube’s logo “mind the gap” makes you think that hey these crisps and fish can’t be all that bad. Sarah Grundy, a Feisty server, says ‘they are the best fish and chips in town.”

    Hogtown Smoke – Nothing beats sampling slow cooked pork brisket or a pulled pork sandwich especially when in Toronto. After all we haven’t quite lost our ‘hogtown’ moniker but today it has come to mean something other than our once numerous slaughter houses. This truck’s got a fun seal in billowing smoke clouds but might get a redo soon. The neighborhood where you’re bound to meet up with them is in The Beaches in Toronto’s East End.

    It’s best to check on Facebook or Twitter for their latest locations.  One handy resource for the low down on Toronto’s latest chow down is @foodtrucksTO.
  • On June 28, 2013
    Ilona Kauremszky answered the question: Ilona Kauremszky

    What is the craft beer scene like in Toronto?

    Is it any wonder this hockey town has seen a huge profusion of craft breweries lately?

    It looks like the big brands remain popular but now local microbreweries are adding even more suds to the landscape.

    Mill Street Brewery in the Distillery District launches a summer series. For a limited time you can quaff back two new ales. The Mill Street Curious Parrot is a blonde ale inspired by the golden ales of Hawaii and the Don Valley Bench Estates Ale makes you think of a chardonnay-like beer made of course with no white grapes but boy is the herbal flavour refreshing and smooth. 

    The Indie Alehouse in the Junction has become a huge hit in this hood that for years was plagued as a dry spot in Toronto, a weird law dating back to our temperance days; i.e. no alcohol served on the premises but that thankfully has changed only recently.

    Bellwoods Brewery in Toronto’s newest hip hood on Ossington Avenue is a trendy brewpub catering to the city’s growing Brewster-philes. Expect a surprisingly long beer menu and be ready for some of the best ale in the city.  Try fun names like Wizard Wolf and Grizzly Beer.
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