Thursday, June 6, 2013

ALOTT5MA TRAVELERS TO THE NORTH DESK:  We get requests. From Heather K:
I was hoping the thing throwers would be able to help me plan a little trip to Canada.  My husband and I and a friend are driving up to Toronto over the 4th of July week/end from Chicago. 
We would like some advice about things to do and see because we know very little of Toronto, we just wanted a road trip over the 4th of July holiday and have never been to Toronto. 
Some notes, we are museum people and theatre people and historical building people and even quirky oddity people.  We are not sports people or beach people.  We also aren't exactly sure where we are staying--thinking we will do air bnb. Oh!  We are good food people, so eat recs are very important but we probably won't be all out fancy restaurant on this trip.


  1. bristlesage1:55 PM

    My husband and I spent a few days up there the summer before last, for a bridge tournament and had a really nice time. Perhaps the best part was how much the Torontonians LOVE Chicago--apparently, Toronto allowed development along their lakefront and they're envious of our beautiful parks.

    Anyway, I think our number one thing was the St. Lawrence Market, but we're partial to that sort of thing. We also went to the Royal Ontario Museum, which is really solid. It has a big Burgess Shale collection that I completely geeked out about.

  2. Randy2:47 PM

    I haven't been to Toronto in a couple of years, but it's a city I love visiting. (Living there, which I've done twice, is another story.) It's a great walking city - lots of fun, distinctive neighborhoods within a reasonable distance from the downtown core. Here are some obvious spots to visit; people who live there can probably give more offbeat suggestions.

    Even if you don't go in the Royal Ontario Museum, it's worth a visit to check out the architecture. Daniel Libeskind's "Michael Lee-Chin Crystal" addition of a few years back is really cool. (I believe that's the official architectural term: "really cool.")

    The Art Gallery of Ontario is also worth a visit - Frank Gehry was responsible for a major renovation a few years ago.

    The curved buildings of City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square are justifiably famous (and appeared briefly in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation!). And if you hang out near City Hall, you might see the mayor smoking crack!

    There are also some nice buildings on the Univ of Toronto campus, but I may be biased since I'm an alumnus.

    Restaurants: Toronto's got a great Chinatown - lots of small, affordable places. My favorite Chinese place is Spadina Garden, which ironically is not on Spadina Avenue. (It's at Bay and Dundas.)

    The Bell Lightbox is the year-round home to the Toronto International Film Festival. It's like a movie theater as museum, and they program GREAT stuff.

    If you're looking in a broader area than just Toronto, there are two famous theater festivals in southern Ontario going on all summer: The Stratford Festival in Stratford, and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Stratford's best known for Shakespeare productions, and Shaw for GB Shaw productions, but they also have musicals and other shows too.

  3. Jason Carlin3:14 PM

    Hi there, I think I'm the ALOTT5MA Toronto Hospitality rep. There's plenty to do here in Toronto - as Randy mentions, we have a great walking city. A day pass for the subway/streetcar and a good pair of shoes means you have the entire city to explore. There are some terrific areas to wander like Kensington Market, Roncesvalles, Ossington, The Beaches, Leslieville.

    I recommend the ROM and AGO - if you have time on a weekday to tour them, it's a bit less hectic than weekends of course. Depending on when you get here, the AGO has a great evening party on the 1st Thursday of each month. It's late night museum party with fun programming, food, and music.

    The NYT "36 Hours in Toronto" has loads of tips and names some of my favourite restaurants and neighbourhoods, probably the best bang for your buck:

    Our Fringe Festival starts July 3rd and is a great source of interesting theatre.

    We have Summerlicious festival starting July 5th, affordable prix-fixe menus as a number of Toronto restaurants

    The site has a great calendar of things happening in the city on a given day too:

    If you need any other tips, tweet me on Twitter Jason Carlin , I have a terrific network of Toronto people willing to offer crowd-sourced advice and tips.

  4. If you like quirky, then the Bata shoe museum is a must!

  5. D'Arcy5:09 PM

    That's EXACTLY what I was going to recommend!

  6. Heather K8:54 PM

    This looks amazing!

  7. Heather K8:55 PM

    This looks like a great start! We will totally look into this, and I am super excited about the fringe festival. And I am @fire4hairlady on twitter, and I will probably tweet you as I plan the itinerary out.

  8. Heather K8:57 PM

    My best friend and I really wanted to go to Stratford, but my husband is being a wet blanket about Shakespeare. However Toronto Chinatown we are all over, and I am super intrigued by the bell lightbox!

    Thank you!

  9. D'Arcy11:36 PM

    Oh, but there is much more to Stratford than Shakespeare (which, coincidentally, is the name of a very small town a few kilometres away) If you decide to go to Stratford, I'm your girl! I used to teach there, and that's where my husband and I got engaged. I highly recommend Fellini's if you're there for dinner, and wandering along the main street (whose name escapes me, I just know it as Highway 7)

  10. The Pathetic Earthling12:23 AM

    I've been to 46 states and 19 countries, but I've never been to Canada.

  11. Eric J.10:07 AM

    I've been to Paradise, but I've never been to me.

  12. Genevieve12:43 PM

    Me either (not quite as well-traveled as you, but I get around). Would like to go to Vancouver and PEI, though that's clearly two different visits.

  13. Sophietje2:24 PM

    I'd also like to put in a plug for Shaw fest- it's about an two hours south of Toronto (in traffic) in Niagara on the Lake. It's a beautiful area, and I've seen some of the best productions there that I've seen anywhere in the world.

  14. D'Arcy2:36 PM

    Just checked the program for Stratford - how does your husband feel about Tommy? Or The Three Musketeers?