Exploring “The 6”: How To Enjoy A Long Weekend in Toronto

Downtown Toronto

When I made my inaugural visit to Canada in the summer of 2016, I chose the city of Toronto as my first stop before heading east to the city of Montréal.  I decided that I was going to spend a long four-day weekend in the city exploring everything that it had to offer and eating as much food as humanly possible within that time frame.

The Art Gallery of Toronto

Art Gallery of Toronto

After dropping off my bags at the cozy Avalon Tourist Suites, I made my way over to the Art Gallery of Toronto. Featuring works spanning over 20 centuries, the Art Gallery of Toronto has such a wide collection of pieces that it is considered to be one of the largest art galleries in all of North America.

One of the most interesting and thought-provoking pieces that I saw on display at the museum was a nine-panel piece called ‘The Shirt’ by Shelly Niro, a member of the indigenous Mohawk Nation. The piece explored how the colonization of North America robbed the indigenous people of so many things.

Bannock Toronto

After wandering around the museum for a few hours, I built up quite an appetite. I turned to Foursquare for recommendations of places to eat in the area and stumbled upon a restaurant in the Financial District called Bannock, which is known for their creative Canadian-inspired dishes.

I was really curious to try Canadian comfort food and so I ordered the Fogo Island Wild Cod Chowder with Klondike potatoes, celery, and a warm cheddar biscuit. It was magnificent and I would definitely return to the restaurant to try out other Canadian comfort foods.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Ripleys Aquarium

The following day, my boyfriend H arrived in Toronto and was eager to hit the ground running. He is a huge animal lover so we decided to visit the famous Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which boasts over 13,000 exotic sea and freshwater specimens.

The Aquarium in Toronto is quite a sight to see; it is massive and has a wide selection of fish. If you find yourself in Toronto with children, on a rainy day, or near the CN Tower, I  would definitely not skip visiting the aquarium.

Jellyfish

My favorite parts of the aquarium included seeing the (overly Instagrammed) massive jellyfish as they changed colors, watching sharks swim over my head while I traveled on the moving walkway through an underwater tunnel and petting stingrays as they glided past me in a tank of water.

Centre Island

The excitement of the day did not end at the aquarium. After leaving the fish behind, we decided to board a ferry and make our way over to Centre Island, a small island directly across from downtown Toronto.

Centre Island Toronto

The first hour on the island consisted of H and I hanging out on the pier and frolicking on the beach. After wandering around, we decided to rent bikes to explore the entire island.

We cycled out bikes along Lakeshore Avenue to the western edge of the island and were rewarded with amazing views of the Toronto skyline that I could not resist photographing.

Toronto Skyline

After cycling around for a few hours we were famished. We walked over to the Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co. for poutine, beer, and waterfront views of downtown Toronto.

Poutine Toronto

If you do not have a lot of time to visit Toronto, I highly recommend at least making your way over to the Toronto’s Centre Island (weather permitting) and spending the day there soaking up the sun, cycling around the island, and eating poutine.

The Distillery District

The following morning after paying a visit to the local Salsa on St. Clair festival, H and I decided to head over to the popular Distillery District, which contains a number of shops, restaurants, and cafes.

One of the reasons that H and I were so eager to get to the Distillery District is because we wanted to visit a brewery, and the area houses the famous Mill Street Brewery that a couple of friends had recommended that I visit.

Mill St Brewery Toronto

H and I decided to get the full experience of the Mill Street Brewery by taking a tour, which not only provided us with information on the beer making process of the brewery, but we also got to taste a large range of their beers.

City of Toronto Sign

City of Toronto Sign

After leaving the Distillery District, we made our way over to the famous 3D Toronto Sign (aka Toronto Sign) near City Hall to snap a few photos and people watch.

CN Tower

CN Tower Toronto

As the night drew to an end, H and I decided that we wanted to watch the sunset over the city from the top of the CN Tower, so we made our way back over to the Entertainment District, passed the people crowding around the windows, and peered out over the city from the 360 Restaurant. The view of the city made me reminisce about the city views that I had seen from the Willis Tower in Chicago and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

If you decide to visit the CN Tower while you are in Toronto, the city is much less obstructed from the 360 Restaurant, so grab a drink and enjoy the view.

Kensington Market

Kensington Market Toronto

The following day, H and I made our way over to the hip Kensington Market area, which is a quirky little neighborhood filled with independent shops and cafes.

The neighborhood is great for people watching and has some wonderful places to eat too! For a quick bite, I recommend grabbing a torta at Torteria San Cosme.

Graffiti Alley

Graffiti Alley Toronto

If you have been reading this blog for some time, you will know that I LOVE street art, and my first visit to Toronto would have felt incomplete if I did not get a chance to stop by Graffiti Alley. The three block alley between Queen and Richmond Streets in Chinatown has several colorful murals that are fun to take pictures in front of.

The afternoon ended with H and I eating gelato from Death in Venice under the shade of trees at Trinity Bellwoods Park before parting ways for him to return to New York and me to head on my next adventure to Montreal.

Practical Tips for Your Trip to Toronto

Arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

  • Immigration: Upon arrival to the Toronto Pearson International Airport from an international destination, you will pass through a computerized automated border clearance immigration system. Curious about how it works before your arrival? Check out this video.
  • Getting to Toronto: When departing the immigration hall, head to Terminal 1, where you can board the UP (Union Pearson) Express train. A one-way ticket will cost $12 CAD from YYZ airport to Union Station

Luggage Storage in Toronto

  • Toronto Coach Terminal: If you are looking for a place to store your luggage while you are in transit, the Toronto Coach Terminal has lockers located in the rear hallway on the main floor of the station. The cost of the lockers is $5 CAD for 24 hours.

Further Reading

Looking for more things to do during your trip to Toronto, check out these local travel tidbits from two of my favorite Canadian bloggers: Oneika the Traveler and Bacon is Magic!


FTC Disclosure: Tourism Toronto provided admission to a majority of the activities listed above, however all opinions about my trip are entirely my own. 

By | 2017-07-30T01:09:54+00:00 July 11th, 2017|Canada, Destinations|34 Comments
  • Nadeen

    I still can’t believe I haven’t been to Toronto! I’m looking forward to spending time there and these all look like great activities.

    • Hey, Nadeen! I only made it Toronto for the first time last year and it is only about an hour or so flight from me!

  • Lizzie Pluta

    some great tips. It is such a beautiful place.

  • Jade Dsa

    I did all these things during my one month stay at Toronto! Kensignton market was lovely! The highlight though, was the CN tower edgewalk!

  • ‘Lovely tips Chanel. Very useful! 😀

  • Wow! Toronto looks like a beautiful city! I never thought of visiting before but it looks fun enough to add to my future list.

    • Canada was also on my back burner for a while prior to the trip Stacie but now that I have been, I want to see more!

  • I loooove Toronto. It was one of my favorite cities. Graffiti Alley was definitely my favorite moment from that trip. I would have loved to go to the top of the CN Tower and I am really determined to see Toronto during warmer months. Maybe I can swing to Caribana next year.

    • Toronto is a fun city Courtney and next time you get back to the city you should try to make it up to the CN Tower!

  • Carissa

    Looks like it was a greay trip! I havent been to Toronto since I was little…definitely think its time to go back!

  • You and H made good work of Canada. I’ve never been but would love to go. Graffiti alley, the aquarium and biking around the island all sound good to me.

  • Tracey Crockett

    This is so awesome! I’ve longed wanted to go to Toronto and you’ve just created a to die for itinerary for me. Which locale did you prefer most: Toronto or Montreal?

    • Personally, I liked Toronto a bit more. I usually do not go into a place with expectations but I did with Montreal and I was a little disappointed because I was thinking Montreal would be more like Quebec City.

  • Ashvaughn

    I love Toronto! It’s one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited. So much to do and see, next time you go hit up the Rage Room–a great stress reliever!

    • I agree that the city does offer a lot to see and do. I will definitely have to look into this Rage Room Ashvaughn!

  • Toronto is such a nice city, I haven’t been in years.

  • Shantel Turner-Collins

    Oh wow! The last time I visited Toronto, we didn’t need a passport. It’s definitely on my Bucket List to visit it in the immediate future. Looks like you had an awesome time there too.

    • I heard the rules changed a few years back Shantel, you even need a passport to go across Niagara Falls these days!

  • I want to visit Canada. These are all cool places to visit. I am particularly interested in Graffiti Alley

  • You looked like you had a super blast in Toronto. I would love to visit in the summer only though and I gotta make my way to Graffiti Alley!

    • A lot of people seem to be intrigued with Graffiti Alley Kiwi. I think you would definitely enjoy it 😀

  • Toronto was one of my favorite cities. I went during NYE and stayed for 4 days. I wish I had had the opportunity to visit the top of the CN tower but it was cool to see it with red and green lights to commemorate Christmas. It was clean and diverse. Being a fellow street art nut, Graffiti Alley gave me ALL kinds of life.

    • I would love to get to Toronto in the winter and see a different side of the city. Graffiti Alley was a lot of fun to take pictures in – I love seeing street art wherever I go!

  • Heartunderconstruction.com

    Never been but your incredible photo’s sold me (The jellyfish one looks like an award winning piece. That’s real views from the 6! Plus I thought the Mohawk tribe originated in New York, learned something new! Dope post x

    • Thanks so much for the compliment! You are absolutely correct – the Mohawks did originate in New York. The artist who created the piece is a member of the Mohawk nation 🙂

  • Ra’Nesha Wilson

    I love the photo’s sending my husband to Toronto for his birthday based on your photos it seems like the city is quite a good time.

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