Toronto is the capital of Ontario and its largest city. Actually, it’s also Canada’s largest city and boasts the country's largest financial center, Bay St, too.
And it's home to Canada's busiest international airport, Pearson International airport, as well as the Billy Bishop Airport on one of the islands just offshore in Lake Ontario.
Speaking of shore, Toronto has some fine beaches both on the islands and also on the mainland, such as the one at Ashridges Bay.
Bay Street and the downtown few blocks are where the banks and other financial corporations strut their stuff with buildings like these (photo below), some gold, some almost black.
Toronto is pleasantly cosmopolitan, with a lot of fine modern buildings (like the CN Tower and downtown core), a number of interesting old ones (Casa Loma, Fort York and the Flatiron building) and a vibrant night and cultural life, such as the jazz scene.
Speaking of culture, Toronto is home to Ontario's premier Opera Company and also, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Like all of Canada, the city is clean, safe and filled with trees. Raccoons and possums are as much our neighbors here as the folks next door, sometimes even more so. Regular neighbours, for example, don’t rifle through your garbage bins quite so often.
Except for the downtown core with its skyscrapers, the city doesn’t feel overwhelming as many large cities do. It’s human-sized, for the most part. And just offshore, in Lake Ontario, the Islands provide a quiet harbour for sailboats and acres of parkland, as well as a great place for viewing the city from the water for those who don’t sail. The city’s sci-fi skyline (above) seen from the islands is worth the visit alone.
There's also an excellent public transit system with subway, trams, trains, and buses. One way of seeing the whole area is by transit and here's a site to help you plan your Tour by Transit. A travel guide to exploring major world cities by public transit with information on attractions, sightseeing, self-guided tours, activities, accommodations, restaurants and shopping.
The city’s restaurants capture the diversity of the city’s immigrant population with Chinese, Italian, and Greek cuisine hugely represented and Thai, Japanese, Indian, Caribbean, Hungarian, and German putting in solid appearances. For lunch, any of the Chinese restaurants on Baldwin St or the Tim Hortons chain of coffee shops, Canada’s favourite for coffee, work for me. If you want more variety, and like wandering around market stalls, the Richtree restaurant in the BCE place is great for any meal. It’s also handy for visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is right upstairs. You don’t have to love ice hockey to live in Canada but, like soccer in Britain or football in the States, it certainly helps.
Some areas of of the capital of Ontario have become synonymous with particular communities. For example, you’ll find Greek restaurants all over the city but especially along Danforth St where even the street signs are posted bilingually in English and Greek. Similarly bilingual, the Chinatown area, around Spadina and Dundas St. West, has an unbelievable concentration of authentic shops and restaurants. Little Italy is a collection of restaurants and clothes shops (of course) on and around College Street while Little India, with its restaurants and bazaars, is centred on Gerrard St. West. Over time, all the communities migrate out to the suburbs but their jumping off spot in Toronto remains as a spiritual home from home.
For dinner (‘supper’ in Ontario) there's everything from downright snooty to the New World’s usual easy-going attitude to food. At the upper end of the scale, and with a twist, the 360 Restaurant at the top of the CN Tower is a good place to start a Toronto trip -- if you can stomach heights. The view is spectacular. The restaurant makes a complete circle every 72 minutes, providing an ideal spot for fixing the city’s plan in your mind during daylight or seeing the lights of the capital of Ontario laid out below you after dark.
The CN Tower, photo right, is the capital of Ontario’s, maybe even Canada's, most famous landmark.
Like all big cities, Toronto has a lot of attractions and they come at a price. For some free attractions, look at our page here.
The city also has Ontario's largest newspapers and they can point you in the right direction for upcoming events while you're here, see our page of TO newspapers. Visitors to the city are also well served with the shopping (if you'll pardon the pun). The capital of Ontario's many Malls and stores buzz with shoppers any time of the year.
Here's a Shopoholics guide to Toronto shopping, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. It includes neighbourhood maps to show where the stores are situated in the city.
And in the Distillery District each year, from last week of November to the third week of December, you'll find the city's Christmas Market.
Be sure to visit or page weather in Toronto to plan your tour for the right season.
In its two centuries of existence the capital of Ontario has been called ‘Muddy York’, ‘Hogtown’, and ‘The Good’. None of these labels were intended to be flattering. Today it doesn’t really have a nickname, perhaps because we haven’t yet come to terms with how ‘good’ it really is.
And for a hotel in Ontario or anywhere else:
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