Toronto, aka “Hogtown,” is a hidden gem. It’s got the friendliness of Chicago, the international flavor of New York City, and it’s as clean as Boston. Not to mention, it’s only about an hour and a half flight from both NYC and Chicago. With a metro area of over 5.5 million people, Toronto is a fantastic city to visit when you’re looking for big city summer adventure.
Weekends away are precious, and you want to make sure you spend your time wisely. Here's where to eat, explore, and book a room:
Queen Street West:
This is a must-go for any Toronto visitor. An interesting blend of independent shops, big-name staples, and gritty bars, this is the Toronto neighborhood that's so fashionable it’s bored with itself. While you’re there, make sure to stop by Trinity Bellwoods Park, a huge green space filled with dogs, families, bikes, eclectic hippies, and plenty of people partaking in the “other Canadian leaf” (if you know what we mean). It'll definitely show you how chill Toronto can be, especially in the summer.
Kensington is a little slide of bohemian in a relatively well-behaved city. There’s thrift shops, street art, hole-in-the-wall coffee houses, and a good dose of political activism. Make sure to visit Wanda’s Pie in the Sky
for a delicious sweet treat and Courage My Love
for vintage loot. A busy street in Kensignton Market
. Photo Credit: Bill Genova
Ah, Koreatown. If you’re a Toronto resident, you'll be asking, “Which one?” Toronto has several Korean neighborhoods, but newcomers should take a quick trip to Toronto’s Koreatown on Bloor. If you currently live in a city without a large Korean population, you'll bask in all of the amazing dining options, Korean candy, and K-Pop music blasting up and down the streets. For delicious Korean barbecue try Arisu
, then top off the evening at Bean and Baker Malt Shop
, a throwback soda shop with sweet and savory confections and retro decor.
Not far from the waterfront, the Distillery District is a great place to bike, enjoy picturesque patio dining, and try a great beer (as you might have guessed). With square brick buildings, tons of flowers, and even an antique car full of foliage, this is a popular destination for engagement photos, after-work happy hours, and a reprieve from the “go-go-go!” pace of downtown.
A scene from the Distillery District
. Photo Credit: Renee Mitson
It might seem strange to feel like you’re leaving Toronto while visiting, but this place is worth it. A quick ferry ride from downtown, Toronto Island is the best place to view the Toronto skyline. A small island made up of pristine bike paths, gardens, nude beaches (oohlala), and even a few sleepy residents, it's a magical spot unlike anything else you'll experience in the city. Don’t have a bike? Don’t worry, there are bikes for rent on the island as well as tandem and four-person pedal bikes for larger groups.
Beautiful Toronto Island. Photo Credit: Chelsea Toronto
Ready to hit the road this weekend? Check out these other must-see destinations:
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Tell us in the comments: Did we miss your favorite 'hood or spot in Toronto? Where are you headed next?