Yonge-Dundas Square, one of Toronto’s main centers // © 2013 Suranga Weeratunga
Three Great Side Trips from Toronto
Niagara Falls: Niagara Falls is actually made up of three waterfalls that straddle the Canada/U.S. border. You can get to the falls by car or by rail and the journey takes about two hours. Rail tickets cost about $35 one way. There are also several companies that offer motorcoach tours from Toronto. www.niagarafallstourism.com, www.viarail.ca
While in Niagara Falls, visit the new Niagara Falls Incline Railway, a new Niagara Falls Incline Railway opening in spring 2013, which will improve the link between Niagara Parks attractions at Table Rock and the Fallsview Tourist Area. www.niagaraparks.com/attractions/falls-incline-railway.html
Stratford: Famous for its annual theater festival, which runs from April through October, Stratford is arguably one of the best known arts and theater towns in Canada. Visitors to Stratford can enjoy great dining, visual arts and theatrical productions. You can get to Stratford from Toronto by car or by rail in about two hours. www.visitstratford.ca, www.viarail.ca
Niagara-on-the-Lake: One of the prettiest towns in Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is in one of the best wine-producing regions in the country. Visitors can enjoy tours of the wineries, a visit to Fort George, carriage rides or sternwheeler cruises. Though you can reach the town via bus from Niagara Falls, a car rental is the best way to visit the area. www.niagaraonthelake.com
With 200-plus ethnicities, Toronto is a vibrant, multicultural city that is as cosmopolitan as any major metropolis in the world. In fact, many films that are supposed to be set in London, New York or Hong Kong are actually filmed in Toronto, and some people like to close their eyes and imagine they are having tapas in Barcelona or eating noodles in Beijing when they are really in one of the city’s many ethnic neighborhoods. But Canada’s largest city is coming into its own these days and realizing there’s no need to pretend to be anything but itself. With its striking architecture, thriving arts scene, culturally diverse populace and dynamic dining scene, Toronto is an ideal place to enjoy a thrilling city break.
New and Improved Hotels
Wandering around the city, it’s hard to see much effect from the economic crisis that has been plaguing other major centers. In the last two years, a barrage of new hotels, restaurants and attractions has opened in the city, including the Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, which was named the tallest new building in North America in 2012. The Toronto skyline is constantly evolving, and it can be hard to keep up with all the new changes.
Four Seasons Hotel Toronto: Officially opened in October 2012, highlights of this new luxury property are its 30,000-square-foot luxury spa and its signature restaurant, Cafe Boulud, run by international restaurateur and three-star Michelin Chef Daniel Boulud. www.fourseasons.com/toronto
Shangri-La Hotel Toronto: Opened in August 2012, this new hotel is one of only two Shangri-La brand properties in North America. The most stunning feature of the building itself is a dramatic multi-story sculpture that was created by internationally acclaimed artist Zhang Huan. The sculpture begins outside the building and winds its way inside the hotel lobby. Other highlights of the hotel are the state-of-the-art theater and the signature restaurant called Bosk. www.shangri-la.com/toronto
Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto: Highlights of the structure include a 15,000-square-foot, bi-level spa space with a 65-foot natural salt lap pool and an infinity-edge whirlpool that overlooks the ever-changing Toronto skyline. www.trumphotelcollection.com/toronto
Major Hotel Renovations: A number of Toronto-area hotels have undergone major renovations, including a $10 million renovation at the Bond Place Hotel, $10 million in renovations at Delta Meadowvale and $5 million in renovations at Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites. The Radisson Admiral Hotel also opened a new conference center, which includes a glass-enclosed atrium and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. The Metropolitan Hotel was sold and is currently under renovation, set to reopen as the city’s first Doubletree by Hilton this summer.
To See and Do
Attractions continue to open, giving visitors more choices than ever.
Legoland: The biggest news in Toronto attractions was the recent opening of Canada’s first Legoland. The 34,000-square-foot indoor facility includes a 4-D movie theater, a Lego Master Builder Academy and a Lego mini-replica of the City of Toronto. www.legolanddiscoverycentre.ca/toronto
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada: Set to open this summer, the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is expected to be a major attraction in the city that will host millions of visitors annually. The $130 million facility will feature more than 13,500 aquatic creatures, a unique 315-foot-long moving walkway through an acrylic tunnel deep below the 750,000-gallon Shark Lagoon, a tropical reef tank and a Marine and Freshwater Education Centre with dedicated classroom space. www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada
Toronto Zoo: The city’s zoo is planning on welcoming two giant pandas from China’s Chongqing Zoo next month. The new Giant Panda Exhibit will also feature a Panda Interpretive Center to engage and educate visitors about worldwide efforts for the conservation of giant pandas. www.torontozoo.com
Sky Zone Toronto: The recently opened Sky Zone Toronto is one of the city’s newest active attractions. This $1.5 million trampoline facility has three all-trampoline dodgeball courts, a Sky Slam basketball court where anyone can practice dunking a ball and a giant foam pit. www.skyzone.com/toronto
Nearly one in two Torontonians was born somewhere else — many from off the continent. This cultural milieu gives the city its vibrancy and also its incredible array of dining options.
Foodies on Foot: A new tour called Ultimate Foodie Experience consists of visits to several restaurants, bars and/or lounges with a pre-arranged unique experience that “only an insider would know of and be able to provide.” The company can also arrange interactive cooking classes. www.foodiesonfoot.ca
Cooking Class With Chef Donna Dooher: Specializing in classic comfort food with a gourmet twist, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen chef Donna Dooher is hosting private cooking classes for up to 15 guests at the Kitchen Table. Classes can be customized for the group and include a stove-to-table experience. www.templekitchen.com
Momofuku: Located in the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto, this eatery is a sister-restaurant to the ones of the same name in New York City. The restaurant is owned by David Chang and features a menu of ramen noodles, steamed buns and rice cakes. www.momofuku.com
Trump Chocolate Lab: Pastry chef David Chow has created a Chocolate Lab at Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto to produce chocolate confections and desserts. Inside the lab, hand-dipped, hand-formed chocolates, truffles, bars and desserts are created, including sea salt and caramel chocolate toffee, 66 percent dark chocolate with spring jasmine tea and scones with Valhrona chocolate. www.trumphotelcollection.com/toronto
Strada 241: This new Italian restaurant by renowned chef Guy Rubino and his brother Michael has been creating a buzz in Toronto since its opening last October. Southern Italy is the culinary focus of the restaurant and everything is made in house — from the breads and sauces to the desserts and pastries. www.strada241.com
Tabule: The spring 2013 opening of this restaurant has received some media attention, including being named among the 15 most anticipated restaurant openings in 2013. The owners have spent more than $500,000 to transform a former clinic into a warm, inviting dining space. www.tabule.ca