I was recently approached by WorldNomads.com to participate in their Blog your Backyard project. All I had to do was answer a simple question from a local’s perspective – what to do in Toronto?
But I don’t often recommend people visit and usually suggest Vancouver or Montreal. The reason is Toronto is an amazing place to live but it’s a bit difficult to get to know as a tourist and I’m constantly frustrated that every single What to do in Toronto post I have read is lame: CN Tower, St. Lawrence Market, Royal Ontario Museum.
I don’t want you to be bored with my city, instead let me tell you the 5 things I think you should do in Toronto over weekend:
Take the ferry to Toronto Island
Torontonians who aren’t lucky enough to have a cottage flock to Toronto island on weekends for a brief escape. If you don’t want to take a picnic basket there’s plenty to eat and drink on the island and if you are feeling adventurous there is even a nude beach!
Head to Kensington Market
Sure St.Lawrence Market is a pretty place to go and I have shopped there but honestly it’s a bit of an old school yuppie market. If you want a more interesting, ethnic market head to Kensington Market.
In the early 1900s it was known as the Jewish Market but in the last century it has turned into a multi-cultural food area intermixed with vintage clothing whatever will appease the hippies and hipsters who somehow peacefully co-habitat, eat cheap empanadas and overpriced grilled cheese sandwiches.
Eat at Lee.
Susur Lee is my absolute favourite chef. I have never left another restaurant saying wow I don’t even know where to begin on how to make that… Susur is a genius and his food is untouchable. On Top Chef Masters his fellow chefs were constantly in awe of his skill and were shocked that he didn’t win. Go there and get his signature dish, Singapore Slaw.
Have drinks at the Dakota Tavern
The biggest miss for tourists is that they think they should go for drinks downtown and end up at some generic chain bar.
Instead go to Queen West or Ossington, sure the neighborhood gets a bit of hipster-hater backlash but it’s where the locals go and the bars are interesting. The Dakota Tavern is a favourite amongst locals so go early.
Take your camera to graffiti alley
One of my biggest tips is a kilometer of walkway that is central but most people never see. Almost every inch of the alleyway behind Queen Street West is completely covered in graffiti art.
Each summer for the past few years the alley is repainted over a 24 hour period – not as a means to clean up the alley but to reinvent it with new art.
On Google Maps just look for Rush Lane.
So there you go, my five quick tips on what to do in Toronto. If you have any questions or disagree with me be sure to let me know in the comments.