Toronto can rack up the superlatives: It’s Canada’s largest city as well as its media and financial capital, and arguably one of the world’s most diverse destinations (not to mention a frequent film stand-in for New York). The Ontario capital has also been undergoing a transformation, thanks to a recent explosion of starchitect-designed museums and stylish restaurants, hotels and boutiques. A weekend getaway offers just enough time to sample some of its top neighborhoods and eat your way through the food-obsessed city. Here’s a look at some of the highlights — all served up with a side of that infallible Canadian politeness.
Where to go
Kick off your stay with killer views at CN Tower (about $26/person, ages 13 and up; 301 Front St. W., 416-868-6937), one of the world’s tallest structures. Daredevils can book the EdgeWalk, a hands-free walk along a 5-foot ledge, 116 stories up (about $146/person).
Back on solid ground, browse the design shops of the Junction District for inspiration or quirky souvenirs. Head to Take Note (2993 Dundas St. W., 416-766-1235) for exquisite letterpress stationery and Mjolk (2959 Dundas St. W., 416-551-9853) for a well-curated collection of Japanese and Swedish housewares.
For culture, the footwear obsessed will love the Bata Shoe Museum (admission about $10/adults; 327 Bloor St. W., 416-979-7799), whose collection spans ancient Egyptian sandals to shoes worn by Justin Bieber. The nearby Royal Ontario Museum (admission about $13/adults; 100 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8000) has a striking extension designed by Daniel Libeskind which resembles shards of glass. Don’t miss the Egyptian collection.
For more art and shops, browse the galleries and boutiques of the historic Distillery District in Downtown Toronto. Also explore the hip West Queen West neighborhood, which is packed with designer boutiques and cafes. The Drake General Store (1144 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042) has a sly sense of humor, evidenced in its adult onesies and donut Christmas ornaments.
Where to eat
Start your day with the eggs and multiple types of bacon at the vintage-y Flo’s Diner (70 Yorkville Ave., 416-961-4333). Nab the “worst table in the house” for a 10% discount.
Beyond breakfast, the city is home to a diverse array of restaurants. Yasu (81 Harbord St., 416-477-2361) is one of the best spots in town for sushi, while DaiLo (503 College St., 647-341-8882) focuses on French-inspired Chinese food. El Catrin (18 Tank House Lane, 416-203- 2121) serves up killer mojitos and small plates of Mexican food in the backdrop of bold murals. And it may not look like much, but the dive-y Golden Turtle (125 Ossington Ave., 416- 531-1601) is a perfect spot to warm up with a bowl of steaming Vietnamese pho.
For more eats, get the shrimp po-boy at Buster’s (93 Front St. E., 416-892-8140), one of more than 100 vendors located inside the bustling St. Lawrence Market. And satisfy your sweet tooth with pumpkin macaroons at Nadege (3401 Dufferin St., 416-368-2009).
Where to stay
If you’re looking to treat yourself, check into the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto (60 Yorkville Ave., 416- 964-0411), the Canadian brand’s global flagship, in sophisticated Yorkville. When you’re not wallowing in the luxury of your room, unwind at the spa, swim a few laps and take in the city views at the ninth floor pool or grab a bite at the new Café Boulud. Easier on the wallet is the 19-room Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042), which has quirky vintage décor and doubles as an art space and concert venue.