Whether you’re looking for an arts immersion, nighttime thrills or a lively food scene, this buzzy metropolis of more than 2.7 million residents, lovingly dubbed “The 6ix” by superstar Drake, has serious appeal. The staple attractions—such as the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario—should be experienced; but, really, it’s all about exploring Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods, each steeped in history and a smorgasbord of international flavours. Plus, autumn is a lovely time to visit, with fall colours rippling across trees throughout the city.
Morning: Fill up on a hearty Irish breakfast at The George Street Diner in Corktown, then walk 15 minutes to the Distillery District, a cluster of historic factories converted into a pedestrian-only village of stylish boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Refuel with the lava-thick Mayan hot chocolate at Soma Chocolatemaker.
Afternoon: Savour fish and chips and craft ales at the Mill Street Brew Pub before hopping in a cab to catch a matinee of North by Northwest at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on trendy King Street West. Running until Oct. 29, this stage adaptation of the Alfred Hitchcock classic made its North American premiere here earlier this fall.
Evening: After the show, walk down the street to Buca for traditional Italian fare, including pasta dishes such as the carbonara served with guanciale (a type of cured meat), duck egg and pecorino romano cheese. Then, taxi over to “Queer West”—a hipster neighbourhood in the west end—and join the dance party at The Beaver, a bar famed for its guest DJs and special events.
Morning: Explore Yorkville, a chic neighbourhood north of downtown known for its high-end designer boutiques, fine-dining restaurants and galleries. Grab a coffee and a spinach and Parmesan croissant from Goldstruck and snag a table in the Village of Yorkville Park. This unique park is divided into 11 sections, each representing a different Canadian landscape through features such as a marsh, a herb garden and an orchard.
Afternoon: Walk a few minutes down Bloor Street to check out the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), the country’s largest museum with 40 permanent gallery and exhibition spaces and a wide variety of featured exhibitions throughout the year. The ROM’s world-renowned collection includes everything from dinosaur fossils and meteorite fragments to African artifacts and objects from Canadian history.
Evening: For the Holy Grail of burger joints, head to The Burger’s Priest in The Annex neighbourhood and order the Goliath-sized Vatican City burger—a double cheeseburger served on two grilled cheese buns. After dinner, walk west down Bloor Street and croon tunes in Koreatown’s karaoke bars until the early hours. If you’re peckish, The Owl of Minerva serves pork bone and potato soup and other succulent Korean eats 24/7.
Morning: Start your day at Toronto’s best-known, gotta-do-it-once attraction, the CN Tower. It’s 58 seconds up the tower to the LookOut Level, which offers killer views of the city. Thrill-seekers can sign up for the EdgeWalk to tread around the tower’s main pod on an outdoor ledge that’s suspended 116 storeys in the air.
Afternoon: Wander the labyrinth of colourful Victorian houses and alleyways in Kensington Market, a multicultural enclave filled with quirky vintage shops, international restaurants and distinctive cafés. Eat a swoon-worthy slice of sour cherry pie at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky while enjoying some people-watching on the chairs outside.
Evening: Head to Chinatown to browse the East Asian grocers, then settle in for dim sum at King’s Noodle, which offers 50 types of noodle soup. From here, it’s a short walk to the Horseshoe Tavern. Featuring almost nightly live music, this storied venue has hosted a variety of legendary bands and is the perfect place to end your trip.
One-of-a-Kind Hotels in Downtown Toronto
Built in 1903, the “King Eddy” was once one of the city’s tallest buildings and has hosted VIPs such as Mark Twain and the Beatles. Today, guests gravitate to this historic hotel for its lavishly refurbished guestrooms and convenient King Street East location that makes getting around town a cinch.
Tucked inside a restored 1850s chocolate factory, this luxury boutique hotel on Queen Street East conjures old-world European elegance and charm. Each of the four opulent rooms is outfitted with stylish furniture, a spa-like bathroom and a sprawling terrace overlooking an 18th-century courtyard.
Getting there: WestJet flies to Toronto 120 times a day from 20 Canadian, 10 U.S. and 23 international cities.