First Time Visit: 1o Places to Add to Your Toronto, Canada Trip
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Record-breaking high rise buildings, a castle upon a hill, and a city with so much cultural fusion, it'll leave you dizzy.
Toronto, Canada will leave you stunned. On this girl's trip, we spent a week walking through the busy streets of the city and fell in love with the neon lights.
I packed as much as I could into the 7-day trip and didn’t want to leave. I felt at home in a welcoming city. Surprisingly, my trip turned into an in-depth history lesson. Everywhere I went, I was exposed to important historical monuments.
If it is your first time visiting Toronto you should consider adding these 10 places to your itinerary.
Pai Northern Tai Kitchen
After taking public transportation and settling into the hotel, we wanted to see the city.
I remember this day distinctly because I was hangry after a 35-minute train ride. Wasting our first-day wasn't an option and we decided to walk to find food. With no direction or plan, we set out.
After thirty minutes of walking and ending up on the opposite side of the city, we decided to eat at the Pai Northern Thai Kitchen.
I can honestly say that I’m glad we ate at this restaurant.
The establishment was opened in 2008 by a couple with deep ties to Thailand. Their goal was to recreate the exact experience and food they had back in Thailand. It's recognized as one of Toronto’s Best Restaurants.
Now, I haven't been to Thailand yet but, if the food tastes like this, then I need to get moving.
I choose to have the PAD GRA PROW with chicken.
I wouldn’t even chalk it up to being hangry. The food was great. I ate my food way too quickly. There was a laid back and calm atmosphere in the restaurant and everyone was so nice.
Pai Northern Thai Kitchen [http://www.paitoronto.com/]
Address: 18 Duncan St | Toronto, On | M5H 3G8 |
The next morning, we ate at an egg McMuffin at McDonald's across the street and took a brisk walk around the block. During our walk, I noticed a single bright pink pastel shop. It was hard to miss considering the surrounding businesses weren’t as vibrant.
Looking in the shop window, there were a dozen colorful crepes on display. Alas, the shop was closed and didn’t open until 12 in the afternoon. That afternoon we returned deciding to have an after-dinner dessert.
We found out that this bright pink pastel shop was called Crazy Crepes. It's one of the leading Japanese crepe chains in Japan with over 50 locations worldwide. And in 2019 they opened their first store in Canada. Whew! Lucky us.
I suspect the shop opens at a later time because their staff was primarily university students.
Visit the shop if you like or want to try tasty crepes with a cute aesthetic. The tables resemble horses on a carousel with a clear tabletop. If you’ve never had a crepe then this would be a cute affordable option.
Crazy Crepes [https://www.crazycrepescanada.com/]
Address: 366 Church St, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2
Dish Cooking Studio
Toward the end of our trip, I decided to find the elusive Kingston's Market. Everyone had been talking about it. And when I say “everyone, “ I literally mean everyone. Of course, trying to GPS the area didn't work.
Que walking montage.
About twenty minutes in, we stopped at a cute cooking studio in Little Italy.
Totally missing our mark.
But finding the dish cooking studio was a great alternative,
Dish cooking studio is a small restaurant and cooking studio. What made the experience even better was that the cooking classes and restaurant were all run by women.
The studio is committed to creating a holistic food experience using thoughtful, helpful, and flavorful methods.
I left satisfied and the cashier was kind enough to point me in the right direction.
Dish Cooking Studio [https://www.dishcookingstudio.com/]
Address: 587 College Street, Toronto, O
Earlier I mentioned Kingston's Market. Yes, I made it there and Kingston's Market is basically an international market. The city of Toronto has a blend of different cultures and many people come to the market to buy traditional items. It is an eclectic area.
If you’re not an adventurous eater then there are still plenty of places for you to eat in the city. Like Boston Pizza on Younge Street. The restaurant is on top of a convenience store and you have to ride an elevator to the second floor.
Being on the second-floor allowed us to look at the skyline of the city while eating. The menu was inclusive of all palates and needed had vegan and vegetarian options.
Boston Pizza: [https://bostonpizza.com/en/index.html]
Address: 401 Yonge Street Toronto, ON M5B IS9
If you want to leave your trip with cute clothes that may not be in your country consider Eaton Center.
With a striking glass galleria and iconic "Flight Stop" geese, CF Toronto Eaton Centre is a celebrated Canadian landmark. Home to over 250+ best-in-class retailers, restaurants and services in the heart of downtown, Eaton Center is the city’s premier urban shopping location.
Right beside the massive four-story mall is a bridge linking it to other retail stores on the opposite side of the street.
Shopping in this massive mall was fun until I noticed that the city of Toronto has a tourism tax of at least 4%. But the tourism tax in the city allows for other provisions like free healthcare to its citizens.
3D Toronto Sign in Phillips Square
The 3D Toronto sign was installed at Nathan Phillips Square in July of 2015 for the Pan American Games. Due to popular demand, the illuminated sign still remains. The sign is a major attraction for tourists.
The colorful sides can be covered in a changeable vinyl wrap allowing the letters to be re-skinned with different designs. The sign even has a commemorative lighting schedule. On occasions like world pancreatic cancer day and stomach cancer awareness day, the sign will be lit a different color in support of the movement.
Groups and organizations can send a request to operation officials and ask for it to be lit a specific color.
A prime example of modern Toronto’s commitment to its rich history. Casa Loma was first built in 1914 by financier Sir Henry Pellat.
The castle is located in midtown Toronto and is now owned by the city of Toronto. It is the cities top tourist attraction. The castle also hosts hospitality venues along with an option to watch a movie in an unfinished pool.
While we walked through the Castle, I found The Dark Side Tunnel Exhibit, which is an 800 ft tunnel that runs below Austin Terrace. It connects Casa Loma to a carriage house on the opposite side of the street. The tunnel is an archive that details the darker side of Canadian history.
Every few feet you can expect to find a display telling the history of Canada during the war, prohibition, and other historical events.
Casa Loma [https://casaloma.ca/]
Address: 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON
OUTSIDE OF THE CITY
Canadian Food/Wine Institute
If you are able to travel a short while beyond the city of Toronto, check out the Canadian Food and Wine Institute.
The Institute is located in the small town of Niagara-on the-Lake. The campus offers programs that provide students with valuable hands-on experience in all aspects of food, wine, and beer. They also host tours of their personal vineyard. And, at the end of the tour, you can taste three of their award-winning wines.
The reason why I’m mentioning this school is that I was first introduced to Ice Wine here.
Ice wine is believed to have been first created in Germany in the late 1700s when freezing weather occurred before the grape crops could be harvested. This wine is made in countries that have below freezing winters regularly. The most important factor in creating ice wine is freezing temperatures, making Canada a prime location.
If you aren’t visiting Canada during the winter you can still experience and purchase ice wine while on your tour. If you find yourself on the tour please know that the price of ice wine at the school ($45 USD) will be significantly less than other retail prices.
Canadian Food and Wine Institute: [https://www.canadianfoodandwineinstitute.ca/teaching-winery/]
Niagara By the Lake
If you want to experience the feel of a small British home town head on over to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The small town is only about an hour and a half outside of Toronto.
Staying true to the historic feel of Toronto, Niagara-on-the-lake has a hotel called the Prince of Wales. This landmark hotel is located in the most popular corner in town. The historic Victorian-style hotel has 110 individually decorated guest rooms and an award-winning restaurant.
Prince of Wales Hotel: [https://www.vintage-hotels.com/princeofwales/]
Did anybody say wine and cheese?
Now that I’ve told you to try the highly acclaimed Canadian ice wine, head on over to the Cheese Secrets shop in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Cheese Secrets is the quintessential choice for many of the Niagara Region’s wineries, chefs, and caterers. They have a wide variety of rare, hand made, and farm-fresh specialty cheeses from the many areas of Ontario and other provinces in Canada.
Niagara on the lake [https://www.niagaraonthelake.com/]
If you are planning to stay in the city, I recommend walking. Walking around Toronto, made this trip so much more memorable but also cost-effective.
Public transportation in Toronto is easily accessible and a better option than using an Uber or driving yourself. Like any other city with traffic and construction, driving can add to your travel time.
From the airport, you can take an express bus to the outer city subway station. This only $7 per person. As long as I had the ticket from the express bus, I could ride the subway stations all over the city. After a 35 minute ride, we were in Younge and Dundas square, the heart of the city.
Another cost-effective way to travel in the city is by purchasing a tour bus ticket. Once you buy a ticket, you can hop on and off a double-decker bus throughout the day at designated stops. It also gives you a chance to see the entire city.
My personal recommendation is the City Sightseeing Tour company. I used them during my stay.
City Sightseeing Tours [ https://city-sightseeing.com/en/13/toronto]
A week wasn't nearly long enough. After a week in the beautiful city, I didn't want to leave. There were so many things that I didn't get a chance to explore. If you are planning a trip to Toronto what do you plan on doing? Drop a comment below.
Thanks for reading,