Torontoooooo let’s go!
That basically sums up how I felt the moment I arrived in Toronto. If you read my last post on the blog, you’ll know that I recently headed out east to Ontario this summer. My last post described my adventures re-connecting with some friends in Ottawa (and exploring a bit further afield as well), and today I’ll dive in to all the juicy details about my time in Toronto. I made sure to hit all the classics, and made time to visit a few places that I hadn’t been to before as well! However, the moment I arrived, my breath was simply taken away by the view from outside my hotel window – see below. I mean, seriously?!? It doesn’t get any better than that!!
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The next morning, I also woke up to this jaw-dropping view of the CN Tower, which had me pinching myself. (I stayed at the Delta Hotel downtown for those wondering – highly recommend!) After getting ready, I hit the town, starting out by taking the subway all by myself! It might not seem like a big deal, but since I hadn’t been on public transportation in so long due to COVID, it felt like a milestone for me. It was pretty rainy, so I’m glad I decided to bring a rain jacket with me on my trip. It came in handy. I had breakfast at Egg Bae, absolutely delicious breakfast sandwiches! Then I walked around Yonge-Dundas Square in the rain. They had a cool art installation outside where people from Toronto wrote the things that they missed about the city and were excited to explore again after the lockdowns – see one option below, written in a heart. <3
After exploring Yonge-Dundas Square, I then walked over to nearby Nathan Philips Square with the famous Toronto sign. It’s always fun to snap a pic here. Next, I did some shopping at Eaton Centre – it was the perfect time to be doing so, since it was a rainy day! Though it was fun to visit Eaton Centre, it’s always more exciting to be there at Christmas time when they have the big tree all lit up. Perhaps on my next visit! 😉
Next up, I headed to the AGO (the Art Gallery of Ontario) to check out the art gallery and the Andy Warhol exhibit. It was really neat to be back in an art gallery after the pandemic, and the Wahol exhibit was super cool! I had never been to the AGO before, and I’m so glad I went – it’s definitely earned a spot high up on my list. I recommend visiting if you haven’t been before, and even if you have, it sounds like they have new exhibits quite frequently that are also worth a visit.
Afterwards, I headed to Eataly for dinner. I was supposed to eat out on their patio, but we got hit with a downpour shortly after I sat down, so they moved me inside to finish my meal. I had an aperol spritz, of course, which was excellent and their gnocchi, which was equally delicious. Eataly is such a cool concept, the entire building contains multiple restaurants under their umbrella and also has sort of a grocery store, with different options to shop and purchase goods. It’s a really neat place and I highly encourage you to check it out if you’re in the Toronto area! After this delicious meal, I headed back to my hotel to relax after a pretty spectacular first day in the city.
On my second day in Toronto, I was up bright and early to hit the road. My first destination was Casa Loma in the Spadina area. Again, I took the subway to get here (the benefits of being located close to union station!). Casa Loma was a new stop for me so I was excited to check it out, and the area as a whole was super gorgeous – if I ever moved back to Toronto, I’d definitely want to live in this area. I was blessed with a nice and sunny day while I toured the castle.
Casa Loma is definitely a bit touristy and likely haunted, but you’ve got to check it out at least once! The highlight for me was the view from the top of the towers, where you could look towards downtown and even see the CN Tower in the distance. You have to take a lot of stairs up a windy, narrow path to get to the top, but the views are definitely worth it. I also explored their secret garden on site, which was set up for an exhibit they were planning in the coming weeks – super cool. I’ve heard they also have a great restaurant on site, so if you’ve got the chance, maybe plan to dine here after your visit as well.
After eating lunch in a nearby park, I headed downtown to wander around the University of Toronto and Queen’s Park. It was a great day to be exploring the park since it was nice and sunny; however, I may have tore a leg muscle slightly, but I kept on trooping! Then I headed to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum), also a new stop for me. I saw the whales exhibit (SO cool) and the animal sections, they both featured lots of discussions on climate change and it was all so interesting. I was there for at least two hours and only saw about half of the museum, so I highly recommend giving yourself a large chunk of time if you want to explore the entire museum. By now I was straight up limping but I had to rush back to the hotel to get ready to meet up for dinner with my friend at Piano Piano. It was so fun to see each other and catch up, and dinner was great. My leg hurt a bit, but all in all it was still a good day.
Since my leg was busted, I decided to take it a bit easier on my third day. After going pretty hard yesterday, I slept in and when I woke up, it was a rainy and gloomy morning. I decided to start the day at union station grabbing a coffee from Pilot Coffee Roasters – literally the best mocha I’ve ever had. Highly recommend if you’re in Toronto! Then, I visited one of my favorites, Peace Collective. I did a bit of shopping and added a few more pieces to my collection. If you’re interested in checking them out, follow my customized link to receive $5 off your first purchase! 🙂 Next, I headed towards King, and the rain had cleared up so I got the chance to check out one of my favorite spots in the city, Graffiti Alley. They always have new and interesting street art, and I love checking it out when I’m in Toronto!
Next, I took the bus towards Ossington and Queen St W. My feet were already a bit sore so I stopped at Frankie’s for a quick lunch – their grilled cheese was a great price and delicious. Then I began to explore the Ossington strip. It’s such a cool area of Toronto with a lot of neat stores along the way for me to shop around at 😉 After wandering for awhile and getting tired legs, I decided to stop for a drink at Venice Beach Club. I also explored nearby Trinity Bellwoods Park before deciding to head to the restaurant I had booked. Pizzeria Libretto was located on the Ossington strip and I got to sit outside on their patio. It was amazing, the pizza and glass of wine I had were excellent – truly one of my favorite restaurants from the trip. Once finishing up the delicious meal there, I headed back to the hotel and put myself to bed to recover for the next day.
My fourth day in Toronto was a slightly more relaxing day as well. I started the day going to the Distillery District, a super cool area of Toronto. Not all of the shops were open but it was still neat to walk around. It’s a great historic area, and I will say it’s a lot more fun in the winter when they have their Christmas market; however, it was nice to explore and bring back some great memories of previous visits. I got coffee from Balzacs, visited The Ordinary, and got some cool candles too.
The Beaches was my next destination. Upon arrival I sat on the beach and ate my lunch while overlooking the lake. It was perfect, so nice and relaxing. The water was pretty cold so I did not go swimming, but I put my feet in to test the waters a bit. Once I finished lunch, I walked along the boardwalk to explore more of The Beaches. There were a lot of dogs and friendly faces along the way, and we were blessed with a very sunny day. After some more exploring, I got some ice cream, mint chocolate chip of course – then I decided to head towards my dinner reservation, as it was a bit of a trek to get there.
There was a bunch of construction on the way to get to Cabana for dinner, and it took me quite awhile to find it. It felt a bit over-rated to me, I think the main draw is the view but you can’t see the CN Tower when you are actually in the restaurant, unless you are at the very edge. The food was okay and unfortunately I got a very bad sunburn while I was there. Cabana would likely be more fun with a big group of people, but for me personally, I actually had more fun drinking wine in my hotel room overlooking the CN Tower. I headed back to my hotel and started packing, while simultaneously taking in those gorgeous views of the CN Tower, right outside my window.
Finally, my last day in Toronto arrived. I packed most of my things the previous night, and the rest in the morning of my last day in the city. I decided to spend my last day exploring Toronto Islands, which I had never visited before! I got my ticket for the ferry, and the terminal was pretty crowded as so many people were wanting to explore the islands on a sunny weekend day. The ferry ride was cool and very brief, maybe 15 minutes at the most, and then you have the islands to explore. There are lots of parks and beaches, and also an amusement park that lots of kids and families visit. I wandered all throughout the islands and eventually found the best spot with a view looking towards the city, where I could eat my lunch and admire the view. It was breathtaking.
I spent as much time as I could really taking in this incredible view before heading back. The ferry ride back from the islands into the city was less busy and had even more spectacular views. I am so glad I decided to check out the islands, they were absolutely stunning and it was the perfect way to end the trip! I highly recommend checking them out if you haven’t had the chance yet – there are tons of great activities to do, and I wish I had more time to explore. Before I knew it, I was checking out of my hotel and heading towards the airport (shoutout to my fav, the union-pearson express). Then it was up, up, and away!
All in all, my trip to Toronto was pretty damn incredible. It’s hard to believe it had been three years since I had been back! I definitely hope to be bac again much sooner than that. It’s always a pleasure to get the chance to explore this city and adore my once-brief home (check out #chiaratakestoronto for more on that adventure!). I’ve got one more adventure coming up this summer before we begin to wind things down, along with the change in seasons. Tell me, what’s one more thing you want to enjoy before summer comes to a close? If it’s a last-minute trip to Toronto, I hope this post helps provide you with a few suggestions of places to check out! Bon voyage! 🙂