That all roads lead to Toronto is, in Canada anyway, both a hard fact and a metaphorical truth. Follow the Trans-Canada Highway — the long and winding road that connects coast to shining coast — and you’ll end up there at some point, whether by accident or in search of everything Canada’s largest city has to offer: jobs, nightlife and perennially awful professional sports teams, among other things. If you happen to be a tourist, you’ll also find one of the most exciting cities on the North American continent right now, with an off-the-charts food scene, craft beer everywhere, an aquarium, and lots and lots of Drake. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get yourself to The Six. (And yeah, we blame Drake for that nickname, too.)
|Where to Stay
For a long time, Toronto was a pretty sleepy place. When it came to places to actually sleep, there was nothing but the usual options. But in the last five years, a raft of new luxury hotels has cropped up downtown, including the Four Seasons flagship (the brand started in T.O., and its world headquarters are still based there), the Trump and the Ritz Carleton. The standout, though, is the Shangri-La, which is a nice place to stay, as well as a regular hangout for Bay Street (that’s like Wall Street) types after hours — and the site of Toronto’s three Momofuku outposts (so extra points for noodle proximity). For something a little less flashy and a little more artsy, there’s also the Drake (no relation to You Know Who) and Gladstone Hotels on Queen West, which showcase tons of made-in-Toronto art.
|Where to Eat
The short answer: eat everywhere. But more specifically: start at Bar Raval. This tiny Little Italy bar, which opened a few months ago with one of the nicest interiors anywhere in the city, focuses on cocktails and Spanish pinchos. It’s open all day, from 8 a.m. till way late, and so far, it’s always packed — and if you go, you’ll understand why. For something a little more sit-down (oh yeah: Bar Raval doesn’t have any seats), check out Buca, an upscale Italian restaurant with locations downtown and uptown, or Dandylion, a new addition that focuses on great local ingredients. For lunch, it’s pretty hard to beat the counter at Honest Weight, a fishmonger/restaurant with some of the freshest fish available anywhere in town. And then, of course, there are all the places that aren’t new or trendy at all — especially those places that take advantage of the city’s stunning diversity. If you have a car or are staying nearby, head to Spring Villa in Markham for authentic dim sum. Or indulge in a bowl of bibimbap at Tofu Village in Koreatown. Or a shawarma at Dr. Laffa in North York.
|What to Do
See: where to eat. While you could definitely spend a few hours at the Royal Ontario Museum or the Art Gallery of Ontario (the former with a much-maligned Daniel Libeskind design and the latter with its much-lauded Frank Gehry design), the truth is, Toronto’s much better experienced afoot. On a sunny summer day, there are few cities better to walk. Bum around the Beaches area in the East End, or stroll through Trinity Bellwoods or High Park in the west. Stop for a pint of IPA at Bellwoods Brewery, which makes some of the best craft beer in the country, or go shopping along Queen West or in Yorkville. And did we mention you should make an effort to stop and eat?
Years ago, this section might have suggested a canoe trip through Algonquin Park, or a misguided bus trip to Niagara Falls (which, on the “glorious” Canadian side, is a Ripley’s-strewn pean to gaudiness more than an awe-inspiring natural spectacle). No, you should head the other way out of town, a couple hours down the 401 to Prince Edward County. There you’ll find a little slice of urban hipster cool, transplanted to the country. The Drake Devonshire Inn, which opened earlier this year, almost single-handedly put this region on the international map, and it’s a good thing it did: PEC is also home to some of the best wineries in Canada, like Norman Hardie, which makes a pinot noir that’s more than worth the drive out of town.
What to Pack
The Gear You’ll Want
Zepherin by Jacques Marie Mage $515
Garment-Dyed Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt by J.Crew $45
Promaster Navihawk GPS by Citizen $1,395