There’s always been this city rivalry between Vancouver & Toronto — West Coast vs. East Coast. And even though I’ve lived in Vancouver for most of my life and have only been to Toronto for just a week, I must say that Toronto is pretty amazing. Of course, I was there during the beautiful summer weather and not in the dead of winter, so I’d love to experience an East Coast winter one of these days! So what did I love about Toronto? The people. The little (but really not that little) neighbourhoods and areas in around the downtown core. The night life (even on a random Tuesday night). The fact that there’s always something to do – there’s always some kind of festival, or community event. The food. I’m not a vegetarian, but I was pleasantly surprised at the number of REALLY GOOD vegetarian/vegan options at a lot of restaurants. A lot of Pho places had REALLY good vegetarian options – I was amazed! Toronto makes it easy to be a vegetarian/vegan. The beautiful graffiti street art. They were all over the place and they were gorgeous.
So here’s my suggestion (Travel Tips) of must see and must do and must eat things for Toronto:
- Kensington Market. Toronto has lots of areas (Little Italy, Little Portugal, Koreatown, etc.) but this was by far my favourite little area. If I had to compare it to an area of Vancouver – it’s sort of like Commercial (The Drive) and Strathcona combined but not really. Ha! It’s not an actual building, but a collection of small local markets and shops and coffee shops spanning a few blocks – it’s definitely very hipster. Every last Sunday of the month they have something called Pedastrian Sundays where they close off the streets and have a full day of farmers markets, street performances, food & music. If you’re lucky and you happen to be in Toronto on the last Sunday of the month, you MUST go there. There’s talks of a Walmart being built there and I really hope that doesn’t happen.
- Khao San Road. The most delicious Thai food I have ever had. Vancouver lacks good Thai food so, I give this to Toronto. Plus they have a huge vegan menu!
- Roasted Marshmallow Ice Cream from Greg’s Ice Cream. I don’t know how they do it, but it tastes EXACTLY like roasted marshmallow over a campfire.
- Ossington Avenue & Queen Street West. Another area with a variety of local boutique shops, restaurants, pubs, coffee shops – spend a day wandering through this area, you won’t regret it.
- Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) are only $2. You’ll find a huge selection of them especially in Chinatown (on Spadina avenue).
- Other eateries & cafes worth mentioning – Fresh Restaurant. Chatime (known for their Roasted Milk Tea). Korean food in Toronto tastes so much better than Vancouver. I don’t know why. It just does.
- Trinity Bellwoods Park. If you’re looking for a nice patch of grass to have a picnic, to read, or simply just to relax after a day of walking, go to Trinity Bellwoods Park. It’s right off Queen Street West.
- Niagara Falls IS worth the trip. I’ve seen some amazing waterfalls before (like in Iceland) and Niagara Falls was more than what I had expected. It’s bigger and more beautiful when you see it up close. I did pay about $20 to go on the Maid of the Mist and even though it’s a HUGE tourist attraction, it’s rare that you get a chance to see such a massive powerful waterfall up close.
- If you are making a day trip down to the Niagara Falls, make sure to stop by the small town of Niagara on the Lake and drive through the wineries. The wineries itself wasn’t anything spectacular, the few that we did visit were short of being spectacular. Most of the staff at the various wineries seemed like they didn’t want to be there and weren’t interested. However, I’d recommend Reif Estates Winery. They were very knowledgeable and went above and beyond in terms of customer service. They even gave us some free tastings on the house! Plus, their wines especially their dessert wines were delicious! Two thumbs up.
- The Pie Plate Bakery and Cafe. This small little cafe is just outside of the Niagara on the Lake area. Don’t get their sandwiches because the bread seemed a little too crispy and hard for my liking, but their pizzas are AMAZING. Their peach pie was also delicious. Two thumbs up.
Will spending a week in Toronto make me want to move there? I can’t say that for certain. I did miss the beautiful Vancouver beaches and mountains – something that Toronto definitely lacks. But if there’s a job opportunity or some greater calling or whatever, I would definitely consider it.
>>> more photos of my Toronto trip <<<