Happy Birthday Canada! The City of Toronto just officially celebrated Canada’s 150th Anniversary, but is still in the midst of a special year of commemorations and exhibitions associated with its To Canada with Love campaign. Think now might be the perfect time to explore Hogtown and see what all the fuss is about, eh?! We agree!
But you can’t get the most out of a jaunt to The 416 (and 647) without a solid plan. So here’s our Top Ten experiences to celebrate Queen City to the 150:
Have a whale of a time at the Royal Ontario Museum. Toronto’s famed museum of art, world culture and natural history is one of the largest museums in North America, and the largest in Canada. It attracts more than one million visitors every year, and you should be one of them! Go geek out and get a glimpse of the museum’s notable collections of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites, Near Eastern and African art, Art of East Asia, European history, and Canadian history; The ROM also houses the world’s largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale. As of this writing, the Blue Whale exhibit (through September 4th) is really making waves.
Shop ’til you drop on the Mink Mile. Bloor street in the Bloor-Yorkville neighborhood is home to Toroto’s top shopping and boasts most of Canada’s flagship stores. The stretch between Yonge and Avenue Road is so luxe laden that it is known as the Mink Mile. Canada’s favorite department store, Holt Renfrew, has its largest footprint on Bloor, and its about to get even swankier. To fete the 150th anniversary, “Holt” has offered a special Uncrate Canada section to feature homegrown Canadian artisans and showcase their work. But dare we say we’re even more excited for later in the year, when a major renovation of the Toronto store will unveil individual shopping suites — complete with shower and hotel-like amenities — for those just in town for a short stay to prepare for a major event, or just check those essentials off the itinerary. Gents never fear! Harry Rosen is for you. A five level flagship on Bloor Street has exclusive brands, and the made-to-measure offerings are quite extensive. Our pick for smaller shop that really steals the show is Black Goat Cashmere – named for the rarest in the herd, and this delightful cashmere den has rare delights indeed. And if all that perusing leaves you peckish… get excited for the Eataly Toronto (location set to open in Yorkville in 2019).
Get high on a Toronto Heli Tour. Wondering how you can rush by the CN Tower, Roger’s Centre, Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario’s Parliament, Air Canada Centre, Toronto’s picturesque Inner Harbour and so much more… all in about 20 minutes? Soar into the air 2,000 feet and check out the tallest tower in Toronto at 100 miles per hour on a Toronto Heli Tour! It’s a mild adrenaline rush, awesome views, and an amazing memory to take with you all at the same time.
Push yourself over the edge. Warning! This one is only for the extreme adventurer. The famous CN Tower Edge Walk in Toronto is a hands-free walk above the CN Tower’s revolving restaurant, 116 stories (356m/1,168ft) above the ground! It’s the world’s highest sky walk — and a must if you’re an exhilaration junkie. In groups of six, daredevils take an outdoor walk, and maybe even lean back over Toronto with nothing but air and breathtaking views of Lake Ontario beneath them. But rest assured, it’s all designed with the highest international safety and security standards in mind.
After you’ve seen it from on high, take in Toronto by boat! Rent a private yacht excursion from Mariposa cruises, or join in on any of their public cruise options, and set sail through the lagoons on a sun drenched day … or perhaps an evening under the stars. We suggest posting up on the deck to take in the harbor views with a specialty cocktail in hand.
This one happened for the first time earlier this year, but this brand new favorite is sure to return next winter! The Toronto Light Festival transforms the Distillery District (more on that later) into a huge open air gallery, brightening the night with works from lighting artists to experience the city in the most unique way. According to event organizers, the showcase was made to “create a positive, magical urban world that people of all ages and backgrounds will enjoy and look forward to.” Magical and memorable!
Rock the Casbah, but eat the disco. A relative newcomer on the Toronto foodie scene (that has taken it by storm!) is La Banane (227 Ossington Ave). Tempt your tastebuds with new flavors and exceptional raw bar offerings at this hot new French restaurant concept from Chef Brandon Olsen. But skip the dessert menu, because there’s only one thing you should order: the Ziggy Stardust Disco Egg. Crack open this artistic sweet and feast on what delights you find inside.
Get caught up in the chaos of Kensington Market. In the 1920s, Jewish families in this neighborhood would set up stands in front of their homes to sell goods to each other. On the last Sunday of every month, you’ll get as close as you can to that traditional market experience. On any other day you can visit the area’s many shops and restaurants, but on that Sunday, the street goes car-free and fills up with street performers and shopping pedestrians.
Get sporty. See the Maple Leafs during this, their Centennial season, or take in the Invictus Games (September 23 – 30, 2017) as 550 competitors from 17 nations compete in 12 sports over 8 days. Established by Prince Harry in 2014, the Invictus Games are the only international adaptive sporting event for ill, wounded and injured active duty and veteran service members. You might even see the Prince a.k.a. “Captain Wales” and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump between bouts of competition, as both are scheduled to attend.
Toast to Canada with a cold one. The Distillery District is a waterfront neighborhood that was home to Canada’s largest distilling company, The Goodenham and Worts distillery, in the 1800s, but now — in addition to a brewery — its cobblestones are lined with art galleries, cafes, restaurants and performance arenas. The ambiance makes it a beloved hangout spot and the perfect place to kick back, relax, enjoy an authentic Canadian brewski, and revel in Toronto’s portion of the country’s 150 year tradition.