A long weekend in Toronto will give you time to enjoy the city’s museums, galleries, and theaters. Base yourself at the arty Drake or Gladstone Hotels, or choose a lodging in the Entertainment District, like the Hotel Le Germain, Soho Metropolitan, or Thompson Toronto. Plan a day trip to see a show in either Stratford or Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Day 1

Start your museum meandering at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which has an extensive collection of Canadian and International art in a striking building designed by Frank Gehry. Next door, you can’t help notice the Sharp Centre for Design—it’s the checkered box floating in the sky supported by yellow, blue, and purple “pencils.”

Head east to The Distillery District to browse more galleries, including the Artscape Building, which houses more than 60 artist studios. After lunch in one of the district’s cafés, go downtown to see what’s happening at the always-bustling Harbourfront Centre. Check out the Power Plant Gallery and the Museum of Inuit Art, and watch the artists at work in The Craft Studio.

Have dinner in the Entertainment District, then catch a concert at Roy Thompson Hall, a performance of the National Ballet of Canada, or a play at one of the city’s many theaters.

Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

On day two explore the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Photo © macfromlondon/123rf.

Day 2

A tour of the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre takes you through Toronto stage history in Canada’s only “double-decker” theater. Then get a dose of world culture and natural history at the Royal Ontario Museum. Nearby is the eclectic Bata Shoe Museum, which houses more than 10,000 shoes—from doll-like slippers worn by Chinese women with bound feet to singer Elton John’s sky-high platforms.

Catch the streetcar to Queen Street West to see what’s on at the small Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art. Wander into whichever galleries and boutiques catch your eye. Detour along Ossington Avenue for the newest galleries, shops, and restaurants. After dinner, see what’s screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Day 3

From Toronto, it’s an easy day trip to either the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake or the Stratford Festival in Stratford. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the theater before lunch, then see an afternoon matinee. You’ll be back in Toronto in time for a nightcap to top off your weekend of art and culture.

View across a wide green lawn of the Festival Theatre with modern angles and tall glass windows.

The Festival Theatre in Stratford. Photo © Robert Taylor, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Ontario.