This past weekend, my husband Ryan and I decided since we had a weekend free it would be the perfect time to finally visit Canada. We tried to pick a time of year that was warm and boy did we pick it! Low 90s, sunny and it happened to Canada Day so it was a very festive weekend. This time around, we decided on visiting Toronto, and it was a great experience! Everyone was very friendly, the food was great, and we had an easy time navigating the city with all their transportation options.
We didn’t jam pack our weekend with lots of activities, since we’ve been leading a very hectic life lately and wanted to relax. We did a couple things a day, took some nap breaks at the airbnb, and just really took our time. I can’t give recommendations on the usual attractions of a big city like this (museums, observation towers, etc), but I can give you feedback on what we did do.
WHERE WE ATE/DRANK:
- Pig Out BBQ **** (4 out of 5 stars)
When we had lunch at this joint, it was pretty much dead, but I think it’s mostly because during the day they get mostly take out orders. The atmosphere was nothing to sneeze at, but the BBQ was spot on! Ryan had the rib sandwich while I tried the sweet BBQ tacos. The food came quick, fresh, and very flavorful.
- Sukhothai ***** (5 out of 5 stars)
This Thai place had a cool contemporary decor that super popular in the states as well; rustic, industrial chic with some small Asian touches. It was a popular dinner spot, but we didn’t have trouble getting a table. Ryan has his usual Thai chicken fried rice while I tried pad Thai for the first time. I couldn’t finish my huge portion, but I really enjoyed it’s nutty flavor.
- The Shameful Tiki Room ***** (5 out of 5 stars)
This tiki bar has been one of my favorites I ventured to so far! The decor was spot on, the music had ultra surf vibes (a la Quentin Tarantino) and the drinks were superb. A group of friends near us kept ordering the mystery ______, which includes theatrical smoke and fire from the shelled basin, a bang on the kong, and the bartenders shouting along with the patrons “The mysteryyyyyyy bowl.” While Ryan had his usual Blue Hawaiian, I tried the Rum Barrel, and I’ve never had a hard time slurping up my drink before Ryan finished his until now. I don’t know if it was because we didn’t have straws with our drink or the portion size was larger than my usual, but I definitely got more bang for my buck and I think I found a new favorite to recreate at home!
- Brickworks Ciderhouse **** (4 out of 5 stars)
Ryan was super excited to try this place when he found out there was an all cider brewery in Toronto. It had a great atmosphere with its exposed vats of cider and urban decor, excellent waitstaff and the drinks/food were phenomenal. The only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is because it wasn’t air conditioned, and the large windows made it very hot and sweaty. The waiters gave us fans to borrow, which was sweet of them, but I was definitely feeling the heat of summer in there. We both tried two ciders each, the ______ (sweet), ______ (sweet), _______(semi dry), and ________ (semi dry), all which we enjoyed. Ryan had a succulent pork chop while I had one of the best black bean burgers with guacamole.
- Evviva Breakfast and Lunch *** (3 out of 5 stars)
This chic brunch place is in the middle of downtown, so it was very busy. The wait for our table wasn’t terribly long, but the wait for our food was. I occupied my time with people watching from our patio seating, one of my favorite activities. I wasn’t wowed by my omelet and home fries, but it filled me up. Ryan enjoyed his classic scramble and bacon more.
- “The Pub” ** (2 out of 5 stars)
(Not even going to actually give you the name, because I wouldn’t recommend it) We had planned on another brunch place for Sunday, but didn’t realize some restaurants were closed for Canada day, which included our chosen restaurant. Instead, we ventured across the street to a pub. It was a plain, local joint that was playing the soccer game with locals huddled around with beer. The atmosphere and food was subpar (dripping air conditioner above us wasn’t so great), but it was peaceful and fairly inexpensive.
WHERE WE WENT:
Blue Jays Game at the Rogers Centre
We chose a night game so it wasn’t so hot, and the large retractable ceiling helped keep it cool as well. The view of the city from the stadium was great and the game was lively. We grabbed hot dogs and soda at the concessions for dinner, and we got a great deal on our tickets. All in all, a great night for a game.
This was the highlight of our trip and I highly recommend going! For a cheap ferry ticket, you can choose from 3 different spots on the island (we chose Centre where the most is going on), and a short trip over transports you to a lush landscape with spectacular views of the Toronto skyline. The island has winding paths for walking or cycling (bicycle rentals are available), docks for private boats, paddle boats in the shape of swans, lounge chairs overlooking the water/skyline, multiple playgrounds, a beach for swimming and lounging on Lake Ontario, several pools and much more! We weren’t prepared with swimsuits, so we meandered around the paths, lounged at the chairs, and walked along the beach to dip our toes in the cool water.
When we first entered the area, it looked more like a dilapidated flea market with junky trinkets. As you get further in though, it’s chock full of interesting murals, colorful vintage shops and quirky restaurants. It’s gritty but colorful, and we found a few great vintage pieces at various stores. We stopped for dessert at GRK YGRT, a delicious Greek frozen yogurt shop with lots of yummy toppings.
If you’re a historic architecture enthusiast like me, this is a nice neighborhood to walk around for pretty victorians.
The Distillery District Once a cluster of distilleries, these historic beauties were renovated into condos, shops and restaurants. The character of the buildings has remained, with its red brick facades, large curved windows and industrial flare. I recommend going in the afternoon, since many of the shops close by the evening. We stopped in a few shops that were open, like the vintage sports memorabilia store, took in the the yummy smells from the taqueria, and stopped for homemade gelato.
HOW WE GOT AROUND
It was very easy to navigate this big city with its multitude of public transportation options. Pick up a day pass at one of the subway stations and you can use it for any of the subways, buses or tram lines. During the week a day pass is sold per person, but the weekends it’s a two for one deal, which is an awesome price. Don’t be afraid to ask the transport drivers how to get around, they are SUPER friendly.
I hope this helps anyone thinking of heading to Toronto, it’s definitely worth a visit!