When I was recently home in Albuquerque for Christmas, I failed miserably at being a tourist in my own city. But my friend Simone, of the sassy award-winning blog Skinny Dip, is a rock star. She created for me the best itinerary for her home digs, a little town called Toronto.
I have so many trusted online friends who I’ve never met, but Simone and I got to spend some quality time together when she last visited Las Vegas for (what else?) a blogging convention. I hope you enjoy her Toronto itinerary for the perfect day trip in Toronto as much as I did. I made it to Montreal this year and have been to other places in Canada, but not Toronto.
I’ve always wanted to go!
Like Abby’s Las Vegas, Toronto has worlds within worlds: Since it is Canada’s largest city, with a population of 2.7 million and a metro area of more than 5 million, it has to. Toronto is ridiculously multicultural. I always joke that you know you’ve gone for a really long walk in the city when it feels like you’ve passed through 12 different countries! Almost 50 percent of Torontonians born outside of Canada, and a 911 service that is equipped to answer calls in more than 150 languages. I live in a heavily Portuguese and Italian neighborhood that borders on a main artery that is lined with Latin American eateries, Greek diners and East African restaurants. A few minutes on the subway and you can easily go from Little Portugal to Koreatown to Chinatown to Greektown to Little India and still have enough time to make it back to the Westside for dinner plans at that Somalian restaurant you really like.
Here’s what I consider a perfect day trip in Toronto, done local-style:
Wander: Most of Toronto’s downtown core can easily be accessed by foot or by a short streetcar or subway ride. Wander around the tree-lined streets of The Annex – a student area close to the University of Toronto that is full of coffee shops, restaurants and used bookstores. Take a jaunt down to Kensington Market – a large multicultural market that makes you feel like you’re in another country all together. When you get tired of browsing the fruit & vegetable stands, taquerias, organic vegetarian restaurants and vintage clothing stores, you can walk down the street to Chinatown for some Dim Sum. Head over to the cobble-stoned Distillery District – once one of the largest alcohol processing centers in North America, all of the Victorian Industrial buildings have been converted to art galleries, shops and restaurants.
Shop: I love the Queen Street West strip – a shopping area full of restaurants, coffee shops and independent clothing stores featuring lots of indie Canadian designers. If you keep wandering west, you’ll eventually hit Ossington St – another great shopping area especially if you’re looking for high quality vintage & independent clothing finds!
Eat: I eat out WAY too much in my city because there are just so many good places. Here are my top five:
1. La Bella Managua – chef Jesus Morales makes Nicaraguan comfort food, and it’s delicious. His ceviche, pollo a la parilla, tamales and ropa vieja are to die for.
2. Tacos El Asador: Grab a picnic table at this tiny eatery and enjoy more Latin American comfort food and the best tacos in the city.
3. Harlem: Inspired by the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance, this cozy restaurant serves a fusion of Caribbean, Creole and southern doul food all, to a great soundtrack.
4. The Real Jerk: a visit to Toronto isn’t complete without a enjoying a meal at this Jamaican Eatery. Order a Red Stripe beer, some oxtail and enjoy the kitschy island-themed decor.
5. Marben: Farmhouse-chic dining with all locally raised & grown ingredients. If you like burgers, try theirs. It’s like an orgasm in a bun.
Drink: After a long day of walking around, nothing beats a little Vegas-style glamor that comes along with enjoying a drink and the view from the roof-top of the Thompson Hotel.
Simone is a freelance writer based in Toronto and the author of Skinny Dip — a cheeky blog about love, sex, relationships and everything in between. When she’s not writing her heart out, she loves wandering around her city, large cup of coffee in hand, in search of the next great story.
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