Toronto checks all the boxes for everything you could possibly in a vacation destination. A modern, world-class city on the shores of Lake Ontario, from citycapes to nature, it's easy to pack an itinerary whether you prefer keeping it urban or exploring Canada's charming countryside. From top restaurants to quirky museums, and sandy beaches to eclectic ethnic neighborhoods, Toronto oozes sophistication and charm at every turn, while still offering a friendly, welcoming vibe that makes it feel like home no matter where you're from.
9:30 AM – RELAXATION TIME
188 UNIVERSITY AVE. TORONTO, ON M5H 0A3
Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, which is evident not only in their diverse ethnic neighborhoods and food, but also in their spa offerings. Start your day with an authentic Turkish hammam at Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris, located on the fifth floor of the Shangri-La Hotel. Breathe in the intense mist chamber infused with eucalyptus, before making your skin baby soft with a vigorous exfoliation mask of mineral-rich clay.
11 AM – BATA SHOE MUSEUM
327 BLOOR ST. W. TORONTO, ON M5S 1W7
Catch up with the well-heeled set at this unique museum showcasing the history and evolution of the shoe. A sole-seeking adventure, the quirky museum is home to a world-class collection of 13,000 artifacts spanning more than 4,500 years of history. Visitors love the exhibit of celebrity footwear, from Elton John’s platforms to Shania Twain’s thigh-high boots.
1 PM – LOKA’S CHIC CHARCUTERIE
620 QUEEN ST. W. TORONTO, ON M6J 1E4
Chef Dave Mottershall’s talent was so impressive that this new restaurant opened in part thanks to funds raised through a Kickstarter campaign. He’s passionate about tip-to-tail cuts of meat and manages to do wonders with them, whether it’s the deliciously savory beef carpaccio or crispy pig’s head. Order the tasting menu to experience it all. And not to worry: If there are vegetarians in your party, Loka is super accommodating to non-meat eaters.
2:30 PM – THE TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX
350 KING ST. W. TORONTO, ON M5V 3C6
The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the most important film festivals in the year, but if you come outside of September, you can still take part in the fun. The TIFF Bell Lightbox serves as the festival’s main hub and offers screenings and film-focused exhibits year-round. Past shows have included the likes of Andy Warhol, James Bond, and Canadian director David Cronenberg.
4 PM – THE AGO
317 DUNDAS ST. W. TORONTO, ON M5T 1G4
Legendary architect Frank Gehry designed this impressive building, but the interior is equally as awesome as the exterior. An interesting mash up of Canadian art, impressionists and special exhibits devoted to photography, sculpture and pop art, it's a great mid-day jaunt for creative types.
7 PM – CHINATOWN
463 DUNDAS ST. W. TORONTO, ON M5T 1G8
Just a short walk from the AGO, Toronto's Chinatown is one of the largest in North America. There’s a bounty of authentic restaurants, but one to try is Rosewood Chinese Cuisine, a popular spot for dim sum (starting at $16.99 CDN per person) and Fuzhou (a region in Fujian province in China) dishes. The plump shrimp dumplings and BBQ Korean short ribs are divine.
9 PM – GROSSMAN’S TAVERN
379 SPADINA AVE. TORONTO, ON M5T 2G3
Since you’re in the neighborhood, head this local institution that has been showcasing live jazz, blues, rock, and folk acts since 1943. The space is more gritty than pretty, but it has a laid-back and welcoming atmosphere that appeals to music lovers.
10 AM – A WORLD OF FOOD
92-95 FRONT ST. E. TORONTO, ON M5E 1C3
There has been a market on this site since 1803 so the love of food runs deep. Nibble your way through the food stalls of St. Lawrence Market and fill your belly with tasty lobster rolls (Buster’s Sea Cove), the famous peameal bacon on a bun (Carousel Bakery), or still-warm Montreal-style wood-fired bagels that are baked on site (St. Urbain).
12:00 PM – COOKING SCHOOL
95 FRONT ST. E. TORONTO, ON M5E 1C3
Upstairs in the main building of St. Lawrence Market, it's time to test your kitchen prowess. Sign up for a class focused on topics like Perfect Pizza, Knife Skills, Biscuits & Scones, and Homemade Pasta. Some sessions will have you cooking in a team, which is a great way to make friends with the locals.
2 PM – THRILLS AT THE CN TOWER
301 FRONT ST. W. TORONTO, ON M5V 2T6
The CN Tower has been an iconic Toronto landmark since 1976. Sure, you could whizz up the observation deck, but why be like every other tourist? The EdgeWalk is a casual stroll around the outside of the tower 1,168 feet off the ground. The world’s highest full circle hands-free walk, make sure to buy the package that includes a photo and video because no one will believe you actually did it.
5 PM – MILL STREET BREWERY
55 MILL ST. TORONTO, ON M5A 3C4
Once the home of Gooderham & Worts Distillery founded in 1832, this development took full advantage of the area’s historic warehouses and charming cobblestone streets by converting the space into a lively area of shops and restaurants. Grab afternoon drinks at the Mill Street Brewery and opt for the guided tasting of Toronto’s finest ales, including Original Organic Lager.
7:30 PM – SECOND CITY
51 MERCER ST. TORONTO, ON M5V 9G9
Canada is famous for its top comedy talent from Jim Carrey and Dan Aykroyd to Mike Myers and John Candy. Most got their start at Second City. Book tickets to see the next generation of superstars at this popular sketch comedy club that's guaranteed to have you rolling with laughter.
WHERE TO STAY: SHANGRI-LA TORONTO
188 UNIVERSITY AVE. TORONTO, ON M5H 0A3
With a central location ideal for exploring, the luxurious rooms at the Shangri-La are some of most well designed you'll ever find anywhere– plugs in the right places, exquisite bedding, decadent well-lit bathrooms, and blissfully quiet. Its on-site restaurant BOSK is perfect for fine dining, while the lobby turns into a happening with special events, cocktails and an elegant afternoon tea that attracts locals across a wide range of ages.