Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Sarah in gallery, originally uploaded by rowdyman.

Before Sarah stayed with us this weekend, I did a lot of hand wringing over what exactly we could do and see in Toronto. I live here, I don't visit here. Plus, I really wanted Sarah to see something other than the usual suspects of the CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, Eaton Centre (there's a triad of concrete tourism for you). What we did do made for a noteworthy list and probably a good template for anyone coming to visit Toronto. So here's a list of spots to hit in the city (this is as much a reminder list to myself as it is a list for anyone else).

Little Italy
Go for a meal on the patio of Café Diplomatico and people watch while you eat. On that same strip you could check out one of the best CD shops in the country, Soundscapes, or even one of Toronto's better used book stores, Balfour Books. Then cap a stroll along corso Italia with a stop at Sicilan Café for some home made Gelato. If you're still up for more entertainment, make your way to Dundas West and Lula Lounge for a night of latin music and maybe even a dance competition.

Try to Find China Town
The next day, hit the streets for a walking tour through Kensington Market and China Town. A quick subway ride up to Bloor and you can take in an exhibit about Shanghai, or see an incredible display of minerals and crystals at the recently renovated Royal Ontario Museum. Still in the museum mood? You could walk across the street to the Gardiner Ceramic Museum - actually, it's worth the walk even if you can only spare 10 minutes to peruse the tiny but beautifully stocked museum shop. Hungry after all that? Head North on Avenue Road then hang on a left on Prince Arthur Avenue until you come to the Bedford Academy. The fare is typical pub food, but the patio and the street are what make this spot special (oh and if you're visiting during the Film Festival, it's a star spotting hot spot).

Take to the Lake
Heading to down to Queen's Quay you can usually find a free performance or exhibit at the Harbourfront Centre. If you're lucky, you'll see glass blowers or ceramic artists at work in the craft studios. There are usually 3-4 exhibits on at Harbourfront at any given time. From December through February there's also a public skating rink (like the one at Nathan Phillips Square). In the summer there are regular concerts, or outdoor movie screenings, or food festivals. Nearby, as part of the Harbourfront is the contemporary art gallery the Powerplant. If the weather is good, it's great to take a bike on the ferry to Toronto Island and spend the afternoon exploring.

In our Hood
Of course, if you're visiting us, by default you'll be visiting Roncesvalles. Basically, you can work off all those Polish donut calories by walking to High Park. Or you could head to Queen West to go antique shopping or head down to the Lake and see the Toronto skyline from the Western Lakeshore. Which ever you head you're bound to run into some part of Toronto you've never heard about before.

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