A Perfect Toronto Day

Midday view of a ferry and across the water the dramatic Toronto skyline.

Toronto’s spectacular city skyline. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Making a quick trip to Toronto? Whether you’re in town for business, a conference (like the upcoming TBEX travel bloggers conference), or a short holiday, you’ll want to know how to get the most out of your visit to Canada’s largest city. And if you have more time in Toronto, then you’re lucky! There’s plenty to see and do in this multicultural city by the lake.

Here are some of my favorite Toronto activities and experiences that you can fit into one perfect Toronto day:

Get oriented by taking a free Toronto Greeter tour, a city-run program that matches visitors with a knowledgeable local guide. You can ask to tour one of Toronto’s historic districts, explore one of the many multicultural neighborhoods, or opt for “guide’s choice,” where your guide takes you around his/her favorite area.

If you have time before lunch, visit one of Toronto’s museums. My favorites are the Art Gallery of Ontario, located in a striking Frank Gehry building, or the quirky Bata Shoe Museum, which exhibits Elton John’s platform shoes, Napolean’s socks, and all sorts of eclectic footwear—tracking the history of various cultures by what people wore on their feet.

Next, wander through the international shops in Kensington Market or stroll around Chinatown. Either neighborhood makes a great stop for a quick, inexpensive lunch.

In the afternoon, head toward the lakeshore. You can see what’s going on at Harbourfront Centre; watch the artists at work in the craft studios, check out the exhibits at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, or simply soak up the sun along Lake Ontario. You could also wander over to the Distillery District, where the restored buildings house a variety of galleries and shops, including Toronto’s first sake brewery, the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company—and yes, you can taste the brews.

If the weather is particularly fine, hop on the ferry to the Toronto Islands, making sure to turn back and snap photos of the skyline along the way. Once ashore, go for a stroll, enjoy one of the beaches, or rent a bike to make a full island circuit.

Back in the city, catch the streetcar to West Queen West, an artsy district on Toronto’s west side. You can check out the galleries, have dinner in a contemporary bistro on Queen or along nearby Ossington Avenue, and then see what’s happening at either the Drake or Gladstone hotel bars. If you’d rather top off your adventures with a sunset drink on top of it all, go back downtown to the CN Tower, where you can enjoy the panoramic city views and toast your perfect Toronto day.

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