When was the last time you read about visiting Toronto? Did you totally dismiss the article, bored with the prospect of traveling to Canada’s largest city? Toronto is one of the most multicultural and diverse cities in the world, but most travel articles recommend seeing the same old attractions. This makes it hard to get to know the city’s hidden gems. Toronto is definitely worth visiting, but if you want to experience something special, skip the tourist traps and check out some local favorites instead.
Experience Cottage Country in the City
You can escape the city to cottage country quickly and easily. The Toronto Islands are just a 10-minute ferry ride across the harbor, launching at the base of Bay Street. Torontonians flock to the islands to relax on the beach (there’s even a nude one) or to stroll and enjoy the laid back vibe of island life.
When you visit the artistic communities here, expect pangs of jealousy. Residents of Algonquin Island and Ward’s Island enjoy a peaceful, kid-friendly community with little pollution and absolutely stunning city skyline views. Picture clutches of cottages amidst towering maples. Bridges connect all the islands, and you can explore by bike or on foot. No cars are allowed here.
Soak Up the Eclectic Culture at Kensington Market
The Kensington Market is multicultural Toronto at its most authentic. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of shops stocked with goods from South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The world converges at Kensington Market. As you might expect, eating here is absolute bliss, and shopping is a blast. Specialties include baked goods, fresh produce, and vintage clothing.
Snap Great Pics in Graffiti Alley
It would be hard to list all the mind-blowing urban art that adorns Toronto, so I’ll highlight just one really cool example. One kilometer of the alley behind Queen Street is completely plastered in graffiti art created by local and world renowned artists. The colorful installation, redone each summer to cover every inch of space, keeps the art fresh for local fans.
Listen to the Best Live Music in Toronto at the Dakota Tavern
If you’re looking to have a more authentic experience when you go for an evening of food and drink, forget downtown and head to Queen West or Ossington. Two of Toronto’s coolest neighborhoods are home to interesting bars, great restaurants, and eclectic shops. Visit the Dakota Tavern on Ossington Avenue, a local favorite and home to the best live music in Toronto. Make sure you go early to grab a good seat.
There are many good budget hotels in Toronto, so it’s easy to stay for cheap. If you want to splurge and take advantage of some awesome Canadian service, though, stay at Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square. This top-rated hotel is close to the CN Tower, Air Canada Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, so be sure to save time for some of Toronto’s most popular attractions, too.