So I’ll be in Toronto for a week at the end of this month for a conference. I’ve never been there before–in fact, it will be my first time in Canada, period.

My days will be relatively full, but my evenings are completely free. Living as I do in the deep sticks, I like to live it up when I get a chance to spend some time in the Big City. Any thoughts on what I shouldn’t miss? In general, I’m fond of food and drink, music, interesting nightlife, and general wandering around.

On a more practical note: I haven’t decided if I’m going to drive or fly to get there. The flight is expensive considering that it’s only an 11-hour drive, but I’m staying downtown, and the cost of parking probably negates any savings. Any ideas on where I might leave my car on the cheap? (I don’t expect I’ll need it while I’m in town.)

There are several previous threads on people coming to visit Toronto. You don’t say where downtown you’re going to be, but if it’s a major convention, it might be at the Metro Convention Centre in the theatre district. That’s a pretty good place to be; lots of decent restaurants and clubs (the main downtown “club district” is very nearby). There are a number of downtown areas worth visiting, if you like diversity: the main Chinatown (Toronto has several) centered at Spadina and Dundas Streets, Korea Town near Christie Station on the Bloor subway line, Greek Town which goes east from Broadview Station on the Bloor line, the Distillery District just south-east of the downtown core, and Dundas Square, at Dundas and Yonge Streets. There’s also Little Portugal and Little Italy (one of several Italian areas) along Dundas and College Streets through the western part of downtown.

If you have a car and are interested, there’s also the Toronto Zoo; it’s accessible by transit, but it’s a long ride to the north-eastern part of the city. A lof people like to take an excusion to Niagara Falls, a roughly 1.5-2 hour drive west of the city. If you do that, I strongly recommend visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake, a nearby town known for being the heart of Ontario’s wine-growing region.

Parking will likely be in the $20+ range per day, although the hotel might have a cheaper deal (and if your company is paying, they may not mind including that as well). One caution about driving: depending on when you reach the border and where, it might add an hour or more to the trip.

No doubt, Sunspace and others will be along soon to offer more detailed suggestions, as well.

I’ll be staying at the Strathcona. They don’t have their own parking garage, or any deals with one.

Thanks for the advice!

Closest parking lot is the Green P at 40 york. Parking details $18/day.

It’s probably not worth the time to find a place outside the city to leave it given the cost of transportation back to your hotel.

Tons of things to do in Toronto, you can check what shows are in town while you’re there at Mirvish. Most of their theatres are quite close to your hotel. I always love walking through Union station, although more and more of the architectural elements are being hidden behind false walls and storefronts. The Distillery district has some interesting tours and a few movies have been shot there. Rogers Centre (formerly the skydome) also might have something going on and is co-located with the CN Tower. Queens Quay is a nice walk by the waterfront with shopping.

Where are you driving from? That will tell us where you should cross.

CN Tower is pricey but fun and impressive as hell.

The Blue Jays may be in town. They are hosting Boston April 26-28, then Oakland 29-30-May 1-2. See some big league baseball!

Second City’s latest show is one of their best in some time, by all accounts.

The Royal Ontario Museum is always a good time, as is the Art Gallery of Ontario if you like art.

Check out the Hockey Hall of Fame, which more than anywhere else in the city will make you feel, well, Canadian.

I’m driving from Lexington, KY. Shortest route is through Detroit, but it’s only about 30 miles further to go through Buffalo.

Second City sounds cool. I’m there April 19-25; the Blue Jays are at home the 19th-21st against the Royals. I haven’t been to a baseball game in a while.

A relatively recent “what to do in Toronto?” thread.


The Masked Man’s Indian Companion!

If you cross at Buffalo you might want to make time to visit Niagra Falls before or after Toronto itself.

Make sure you don’t drink any Tim Hortons coffee while you’re here either. It tastes like Satan’s urine but we’re all addicted to it and more than a few of my American visitors have gone half-mad when they had to go home and find a substitute.

The donuts are completely harmless though. Honest. Would I lie to you? [sub]Don’t andswer that.[/sub]

I’ve heard about you Canucks and your Tim Hortons. I figure six days is long enough to get a serious monkey on my back, so steering clear would probably be the smart move lest I find myself jonesing back here in KY.

We should plan a small dope fest… maybe a Jays game or a dinner one night.

I went to Toronto last summer, here’s the advice thread from then. I strongly recommend eating at Cava. The owner was described by Gourmet magazine as a defiant charcutièrist, and our dinner of tapas inspired food was amazing.
I also enjoyed the Royal Ontario Museum and The Art Gallery of Ontario (Although the surrealism exhibit I loved is probably gone by now.)

I had one of the best meals of my life at Barberians.

Definitely go to the CN Tower. Some may think it’s a cliche’ thing to do while in Toronto, but it is, as RickJay mentions, impressive as hell.

I also recommend taking the ferry from Toronto Harbour over to the islands. You can have a pint and enjoy the scenery when you get there.

Toronto has had some negative press in Canada about safeness issues in the last couple of years, but overall it’s undoubtedly one of the safest major cities in North America, perhaps even the planet.

Ride the subway and just explore. I’m one of a minority of Canadians from outside of Toronto who actually LIKES the city. Most Canadians loathe Torontonians because they think the country revolves around them: they don’t. Toronto is a great place to visit.

Hint: if you go to the CN Tower, skip the rest and go right to the restaurant. It’s a better view, it spins, you don’t have to stand in line to go up, up again, down, down again.(spent at least on hour standing on these lines!) You’re not packed in like cattle. For the same amount of money we could have come and gone at our leisure, not stood in any lines and enjoyed a 360 degree view, while sipping overpriced tea and cakes.

Trust me on this.

Thanks to everybody for all the wonderful suggestions.

Any thoughts as to which route I should take? I can take I-75 through Detroit or I-71 and I-90 through Buffalo. Any difference in the border crossing PITA? Going up I’ll be crossing the border in the late afternoon to early evening, but coming back it’ll be Sunday morning.

Best resource for US/Canadian border crossing at buffalo/Niagra Falls is 1-800-715-6722. Updated every 30 mins or so with wait times at several crossings.

For long term planning use their website at the approximate times you think you’ll be crossing and compare them a couple days in a row.

Queenston/Lewiston used to be my favorite but it’s under contruction and not currently recommended.