Ah, Toronto. This is my final post from my trip there last May, so the question is: how exactly to sum it all up? The thing that keeps popping into my mind? It’s a good city.
A good city. Well, that doesn’t sound particularly sexy or exciting, now does it? Nonetheless, that’s what I’ve got. It’s not my favorite place in the world, nor did I have a bad time there by any means. It’s not the prettiest city I’ve ever seen, nor is it ugly at all. It doesn’t have the best food I’ve ever eaten, but it has a lot of really great food nonetheless. And so, here we are again: it’s a good city.
My home base in Toronto was the Gladstone Hotel. It reminded me strongly of every hipster-haven hotel I have stayed in of late…which sounds like a criticism, but I keep staying in these places so they are clearly my cup of tea (or my cup of organic raw kombucha, as it were). More to the point: my room was adorable, and I just love that wallpaper.
One of my favorite Toronto haunts was the Distillery District, which in recent years has been transformed from abandoned industrial zone to a thriving, fun area filled with shops and restaurants. The old Victorian buildings remain, so the area is beautiful to look at, with lots of cool juxtaposition to the more modern art and touches that the space contains today. I found the shopping in this area – with all the local artists and craftsmen – really good (and I say this as someone who does not particularly care for shopping).
The most touristy thing I did in Toronto was definitely my visit to the CN Tower. While the views from the top were great – I particularly loved peering down into the baseball stadium right below – the experience was quite honestly a slog. The ticket buying area was a madhouse (I should have pre-booked), the lines were long, and it was hot. So, my advice is go, but go prepared.
I love a good art museum, and Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario fits the bill. For one, the space itself is marvelous, with bright, airy, and gorgeous architecture. For another, the art is great too, and the crowds aren’t overwhelming. The collection includes a lot of the usual suspects, and a lot of Canadian art: I loved seeing all the gorgeous nature paintings of Canada’s great outdoors.
Another highlight was my visit to Kensington Market. I had heard this neighborhood was cool but, unbeknownst to me, I happened to visit it during Pedestrian Sundays – aka, the time when the whole neighborhood basically becomes a giant street fair. I had such fun exploring here.
The Bottom Line: Toronto didn’t blow me away – but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it; the city is extremely pleasant. I loved the colorful street art, the maple bacon doughnuts, and the quirky museums. I would happily return.