Cosimo Commisso plans out your perfect weekend in Toronto, Canada
Toronto — or, as Drake has so famously christened it, “the 6ix” — seems to have exploded with popularity these past few years. From its presence in the sports world to its ever-evolving urban landscape, Toronto has blossomed into an international destination, earning its rightful place on everyone’s travel bucket list.
Whether you live in Toronto or are planning to visit it sometime soon, here are my favourite ways to spend a weekend in this electrifying Canuck city.
Grab a coffee and a ham-and-cheese croissant from Sam James Coffee Bar. Sam has locations across the city, but I recommend stopping by his brand-new shop just across from Trinity Bellwoods Park. Tip: their almond milk lattes will change your world.
(Carefully) cross the street and set up a breakfast picnic in the park. What better way to savour your first morning in Toronto than by enjoying your caffeine in one of the city’s favourite parks? Lay down a blanket in the grass by the dog bowl or find a picnic table to lounge at.
Take a stroll down Queen Street West. If you turn right from Bellwoods, you’ll find yourself in Toronto’s “West Queen West” neighbourhood — yes, the one Vogue recently named the second-hippest ‘hood in the world. If you turn left, you’ll slowly make your way towards the city’s core. Either way, this is your chance to explore Toronto’s most iconic avenue and do a bit of window (or real) shopping.
Lunch at The Good Son. This is one of the best restaurants in the West End. A few TIFFs ago, Jennifer Aniston was spotted dining here, and it’s no wonder why: The Good Son has lovingly embraced the culture of its neighbourhood, and its scrumptious menu (crafted by Top Chef Canada finalist Vittorio Colacitti) is as irresistible as the space’s cross-cultural collage of cosiness and intrigue.
Rent a bike and ride to Kensington Market. This is the kitschiest place in Toronto. Prepare to fall for the bohemian, earthy vibes and low-cost, lovely products of the shops that are crammed into this little corner of Chinatown.
Next stop: Java House. Just south of Kensington Market, at Queen and Augusta, is this ancient-looking dive bar with the cheapest, tastiest sangria in town. I know what you’re thinking – Cosimo Commisso, wine connoisseur, recommending the sangria at a low-cost downtown bar? Just trust me — this place is a must-try in Toronto. Try to snag a spot on the patio and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city as you enjoy residents’ favourite sangria.
Dinner and a show at The Drake. Another iconic restaurant in Toronto is The Drake. Snazzy and chic, the space will inspire you and so will its dishes. After dinner, check out what’s happening in the basement — the stage downstairs is always hosting local bands that are totally worth checking out.
Slumber at The Gladstone Hotel. A historic Toronto landmark, this old hotel was revamped by various artists, each of whom took over a room and decorated it as they pleased. Find a room that speaks to you and enjoy being a part of a life-sized art installation for a night.
Wake up and head to High Park. There’s a grocery store behind The Gladstone. Stop by to fill your backpacks with some breakfast ingredients, then walk, bike or take transit a few kilometers west, to High Park. Spend your morning taking in the beautiful scenery as you explore this sprawling pocket of Canadian nature.
Do the tourist-y thing at Yonge and Dundas Square. Considered “Toronto’s Times Square,” this flashy, buzzing intersection is the epicenter of the city. Make your way over here and spend the afternoon grazing in the Toronto Eaton Centre, catching a flick at the AMC Cinema there and grabbing a scenic drink on one of the area’s rooftop patios (the one at Jack Astor’s has the best view).
Catch a performance. Toronto is home to an abundance of places to see a good show, from dance to theatre to music. See what’s playing at The National Ballet of Canada or one of the city’s many theatres.
And if sports are more your thing, see who’s playing tonight. This city is constantly hosting baseball, basketball and hockey games, so whatever season you’re visiting in, find out where you can catch Toronto’s team in action.
Bring your night to a close at the waterfront. Toronto boasts a beautiful waterfront that can be enjoyed whether you’re in the east or west end. Head south from wherever you are and you’ll eventually find yourself at the water’s edge. Sit back and relax, and enjoy your final moments in the 6ix.