In Toronto but only have 24 hours? Well you’ve got your work cut out for you! Toronto is a fun, vibrant, energetic city with loads of neighbourhoods to explore and food to eat. Here are some great suggestions from our local experts here in Toronto.
Breakfast (7am – 9am)
In Canada, breakfast isn’t usually a huge meal, and most eat just a bowl of cereal, some toast and jam, or a muffin for breakfast. For those that work in Toronto, breakfast is usually something taken on their commute to work. You’ll see Torontonians walking or driving to work with a paper cup coffee from Tim Horton’s, Second Cup, or Starbucks in-hand. We are a very caffeinated city!
Toronto is also home to some pretty amazing independent coffee shops like Jimmy’s, Pamenar, and Dark Horse, where a light breakfast of a muffin, croissant, or bagel and cream cheese can be picked up. Don’t forget your coffee or tea “to go” so you can join the rest of the morning commuter crowd on your way to your adventure in the city!
Note: if you’re in the city on a weekend, we’re brunch fiends. Definitely do brunch. The possibilities are endless, but here’s a good list to get you started: Aunties & Uncles, Starving Artist, School, Lady Marmalade, Saving Grace, and Morning Glory (to name just a few!).
Morning (9am – 12pm)
Beat the crowds to Kensington Market and Chinatown. By the afternoon these two colourful neighbourhoods are bustling with shoppers looking for vintage clothing, fruits and vegetables, cheeses from around the world, fresh fish and meat, and all manner of goods. A morning visit can be much more peaceful and enjoyable if you don’t like crowds. Many shops and stores start opening at 9 am, and by 11 am everyone is open for business! Be sure to explore the laneways and alleys between buildings for a look at some of the best graffiti and street art in Toronto!
Toronto Urban Adventures offers the Kensington Market & Chinatown tour every day but Mondays starting at 10 am. It’s a great way to get your bearings in this neighbourhood and plan your shopping and lunch options!
Lunch (12pm – 2pm)
There are many amazing lunch spots in Kensington Market and Chinatown. Try some of the city’s best Chinese dumplings at Mother’s Dumplings, melt-in-your-mouth smoked meat sandwiches at Caplansky’s Delicatessen, tacos with pineapple and pork cooked Lebanese shawarma style at El Trompo, feel-good vegan sandwiches and wraps at Urban Herbivore, and finish it all off with a sweet treat from Miss Cora’s or Wanda’s Pie in the Sky!
Afternoon (2pm – 6pm)
Once you’ve spent some time eating and poking into the independent shops in Kensington Market, take the Spadina streetcar south, and then wander east along Front Street (or Queens Quay). Along the way you will pass the CN Tower and Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome), as well as Union Station and the Air Canada Centre, two more of the city’s major landmarks.
Past Union Station continue to walk east along Front Street to the St Lawrence Market – voted the best in the world by National Geographic! Here, be sure to try some Ontario wines at Wine Country, a butter tart at Future Bakery (or other bakeries in the building) and some gourmet mustard at Kozlick’s.
Afterwards, head further east to the Distillery District – once the largest whiskey distillery in North America, it is now a restored pedestrian neighbourhood filled with art galleries, cafes, restaurants and high-end shops.
Toronto Urban Adventures offers the Beer Makes History Better tour, which covers all of this. Tours start in front of the Hockey Hall of Fame at the corner of Yonge St and Front St every day except Mondays. Tours start at 3 pm (Sundays at 2 pm) and finish in the Distillery District.
Dinner (6pm – 8pm)
Enjoy a local craft beer and some well-paired food at Mill Street Brew Pub in the Distillery District. It’s Canada’s most award-winning micro-brewery! Beer highlights include their Coffee Porter, Hellesbock, Lemon Tea Beer, Organic Lager, and their seasonal specials.
Evening (8pm – 10pm)
If the weather is cooperating, take a stroll north to Queen Street and head east to Riverside and Leslieville. This part of Toronto is becoming popular with young professionals and families. It also has the best ice cream shop in Toronto: Ed’s Real Scoop. After enjoying a cone or cup of their store-made ice cream, head back the way you came along Queen Street to one of the hottest little (and I do mean little) bars in Toronto called Hi-Lo for a beer or a cocktail, a box of Cracker Jacks, and a game of pinball.