Prior to visiting Toronto, I had heard that the city was young, diverse and eclectic, but I had no idea that they had such a big food scene. Luckily, three days was more than enough time to check out some of the city’s major sites and of course, indulge in as much of the city’s food scene as humanly possible. Read on check out my full weekend guide to Toronto.
Luckily, Toronto is only a short hour and a half flight away from NYC and at an affordable price of $176 per ticket, it’s the ideal place to escape for a weekend getaway.
Where to Stay:
The Gladstone Hotel – A boutique art hotel in downtown Toronto, The Gladstone Hotel is the city’s oldest continually operating hotel and the only B-corp (B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy) certified hotel in Canada. What I loved most about it was that it was full of personality – down to the art that they showcase throughout the hotel and karaoke nights for guests in the bar. We had such a great time relaxing and letting loose at this spunky downtown hotel.
The bonus? They have a pretty great hotel bar/restaurant that serves up some great breakfast dishes and a bar that hosts a crazy karaoke night.
What to Do:
Art Gallery of Toronto (Cost: $25 for adults) – Located in downtown Toronto, the AGO’s works range from cutting-edge contemporary to European masterpieces. On top of the art, the building itself is a true masterpiece as well. We’re not usually one for museums, but we had such a great time here.
Bata Shoe Museum (Cost: $21) – The Bata Shoe Museum was the best place to spend our last afternoon in the city. Showcasing footwear from all around the world, it was really interesting to see the progression of shoe styles throughout the years.
Distillery District (Cost: Free) – This is a unique area of the city. Set in 19th century buildings, the Distillery District is only accessible via foot and is home to a number of restaurants, bars, boutiques and galleries. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day when we decided to walk through the Distillery District, but luckily we found shelter (and drinks) in the Spirit of York Distillery Co.
St. Lawrence Market (Cost: Free) – A public market packed with a slew of unique vendors offering everything from food to vintage jewelry and of course, maple syrup. The best part? Most vendors offer free samples, so you can spend the afternoon snacking on samples before you commit to just one.
Queen Street West (Cost: Free) – A popular Toronto neighborhood, Queen Street West is home to some of the city’s hippest restaurants, bars and boutiques. Spanning almost 9 miles, we made our way up and down this neighborhood quite a few times, popping in vintage furniture shops, quaint French bars and local sustainable clothing stores. I highly recommend carving out a morning or an afternoon to explore the neighborhood and all that it has to offer.
Where to Eat / Drink:
We had some great restaurant experiences while we were in Toronto. From Chinese sharing dishes to French delicacies and local dive bars, this city has something to offer no matter what you’re craving.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting on a weekend, I highly recommend you do your research and make reservations ahead of time. Restaurants in the downtown area are small and fill up pretty early in the night.
Côte de Boeuf (Cost: $$) – One of our favorite meals of the trip, this quaint French restaurant and locally sourced butcher shop is the perfect spot for a delicious, romantic meal. Just be prepared for a wait as there aren’t many tables! I highly recommend their specials and the creme brûlée.
La Palette (Cost: $) – A relaxed French bistro situated right on Queen Street West, we wandered in here for a glass of wine (or two) after it started snowing one afternoon. After traversing Queen Street West, La Palette was the ideal respite from the cold.
Melody Bar at The Gladstone Hotel (Cost: $-$$) – After frequenting the local spots one night, we decided head to the hotel bar for a nightcap before turning in for the night. Luckily, we just happened to be there on karaoke night. Now, Zach and I aren’t typically ones to karaoke but we said hey, when in Toronto, and I’m so glad that we did. We had such a great time watching everyone perform and were pleasantly surprised by how packed the bar was. Definitely one of the best hotel bar experiences in my book.
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (Cost: $$-$$$) – After arriving in Toronto early Friday morning, we were in search of a good brunch spot in close proximity to our hotel and after doing some research I found Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. An airy space with Instagram-famous pancakes, this is everything you expect a 2019 brunch spot to be. While it wasn’t my favorite meal, the brunch was decent and was enough to fill us up for our adventures.
Nuit Social (Cost: $) – After spending close to 45 minutes walking in restaurant after restaurant looking for an open table, we were lucky enough to grab two seats at the bar at Nuit Social. This small wine bar has a drool-worthy selection of charcuterie and cheese plates that pair perfectly with their affordable wine selections. This place was packed to the brim on a Friday night and rightfully so.
Otto’s Bierhalle (Cost: $) – We had such a great time taking in the fun, vibrant atmosphere of this beer local beer hall, and of course enjoying some of its tasty food. Just be sure to either make a reservation or pop by at an odd time because this popular spot fills right up with locals.
Soso Food Club (Cost: $) – A picturesque restaurant serving small plates with flavors from all over China. We decided to only have a few dishes here so that we could pop by another spot, and while I did enjoy what we had, it had more of a late night vibe than a sit-down restaurant.
Sweaty Betty’s (Cost: $$) – A fun dive bar on Ossington Avenue, Sweaty Betty’s is a casual local watering hole with a dark and dingy vibe. It’s conveniently located within walking distance from a ton of restaurants so it’s the perfect place to kick off the night before looking for a spot to dinner.
TERRONI (Cost: $$-$$$) – A chain Italian restaurant in Toronto, we stopped in here for a few small bites one afternoon, opting for the meat and cheese board (our second of the trip). Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the one we had at Nuit Social, but we enjoyed the restaurant’s atmosphere.
Tim Horton’s (Cost: $) – Canada’s largest quick service restaurant chain, Tim Horton’s is a must if you’re in Canada. Zach, having grown up in Buffalo and having Tim Horton’s often, insisted that we go to get the “timbits” which we both inhaled within a matter of minutes. Looking for a cheap coffee and a tasty treat? This is your spot.
Found other spots that you enjoyed in Toronto? Leave them in the comments below!0