From the Royal Ontario Museum to the Hockey Hall of Fame, you’ve probably already got all the essential attractions on the itinerary for your Toronto getaway. But have you considered adding some off-the-beaten-path experiences in the GTA? Experience Toronto like the locals do with these five things that many tourists miss.
1. Kensington Market
Most tourists shop for sales at the bustling Toronto Eaton Centre, but locals will tell you that Kensington Market is a treasure trove for bargains and one-of-a-kind finds. Squeezed between Dundas and College and just west of Spadina Avenue, this multi-cultural neighborhood is filled with vintage clothing shops, specialty grocers, quirky boutiques, and a mix of international restaurants and cafes. Plus, getting there from the luxurious Hilton Toronto is easy: it’s just a 10-minute taxi ride or 20-minute walk to the colorful streets and alleys of Kensington Market.
2. The Canadian Stage
As the “Broadway of Toronto,” the Mirvish Theatres are beloved by Torontonians and visitors alike. But did you know that “the 6ix” also has a thriving not-for-profit theater scene? These local “indie” theater companies feature some of the most diverse and daring productions, partly because they have greater artistic freedom. See a contemporary play at The Canadian Stage – one of Canada’s most esteemed not-for-profit theaters – and if it’s summertime, try to score tickets to an outdoor performance of Shakespeare in High Park.
3. Canoe Restaurant
Getting a bird’s eye view of the GTA from The CN Tower is a must-do when you’re visiting Toronto. A lesser-known fact is that there’s also a million-dollar view to behold from Canoe – one of the city’s best restaurants. Situated on the 54th floor of the TD Bank tower, this swanky eatery is legendary for its exquisite cuisine inspired by “Canada’s raw, rich land,” as well as its exceptional service and panoramic vistas through its floor-to-ceiling windows. The venue is especially sublime at sunset, when you can watch the sky erupt in red, pink, and orange hues from your table.
4. Bronte Creek Provincial Park
While Toronto’s High Park isn’t to be missed, Bronte Creek Provincial Park is a hub for families and outdoor lovers living in the GTA. Located in nearby Oakville, this popular park offers five hiking trails, four campgrounds, a children’s farm with live animals, and a Nature Centre where visitors can learn about wildlife or join special outings, such as spirit walks or coyote howls. On hot summer days, cool off in the park’s sprawling 1.8-acre outdoor pool – one of Canada’s largest. And if camping isn’t your bag, make a day trip to Bronte Creek and then retreat to your cozy room at the Hilton Garden Inn Toronto/Burlington. It’s only a three-minute drive to the park.
5. McMichael Canadian Art Collection
The Art Gallery of Ontario in downtown Toronto is phenomenal, but tourists often overlook the lesser-known (and equally awesome) art galleries across the GTA. One of the most impressive is the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, a major public art gallery just northwest of Toronto. Situated on 100 acres of forested land along the Humber River, this majestic building houses more than 6,500 Canadian artworks, including those by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, and Indigenous and contemporary artists who have contributed to the development of Canadian art Since it’s a bit of a trek from downtown Toronto, break up the trip by staying at Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel & Suites. It’s only 20 minutes from the gallery and offers fun amenities, such as an indoor pool, basketball nets, table tennis, and squash courts.
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