AT THIS POINT I consider myself a New Yorker, a Manhattanite to be specific. But I was proudly born and raised in Toronto’s West End. Since my departure from the city, I’ve done my fair share of frolicking — with stints living in Vancouver, Copenhagen, and Los Angeles and travels throughout Central America, Asia, and Europe. But it’s always good to return to good ol’ Toronto. Yes, there’s family and a network of childhood friends, but also something that makes it stand apart. It’s cosmopolitan, but with logic and a sensible pace. It’s invitingly doable.
In its vibe, Toronto is similar to Chicago or a little cousin to New York, but it’s distinctly Canadian. The city has diversity and liveliness, but it’s livable. The streets are clean, people are friendly, and it’s quiet — or at least the roars of sirens and honks of gridlocked cars are less frequent. Toronto has the same assortment of world-class restaurants and cultural institutions you’ll find in other capital cities, but without the unrelenting pace of a London, New York, or Paris. Oh, and the green space! Never have you ever seen so many trees, parks, and urban trails. This city has room to breathe. There are so many pockets and different worlds you can experience in a day, from the idyllic Roncesvalles Village to the painfully hip Ossington strip to two bustling, thriving Chinatowns. It’s all within reach.
After a bit of a post-pandemic boom, there has been a lot of new to experience. As a food, film, and travel writer, I’m always on the lookout for what to eat, what to see, and where to stay. Here are a few of my picks from a recent summer stretch.
Where to ExploreToronto is Canada’s largest city and, I’d argue, its cultural capital. It’s home to countless theaters, galleries, and music venues that make it easy to take in a lot in a short weekend. I’d also recommend experiencing a park or two, since they really are urban oases like no other.
Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA)There won’t be any Manet or Picasso, but you’ll be better for it.
Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)It’s worth the hype.
High ParkHome to many of the city’s millions of trees.
Where to EatToronto has always been a great food city. Its diversity has meant stellar dim sum, banh mi, Jamaican patties, and Portuguese chicken, but recently it’s seen a boom in splurge-worthy meals, meaning there has never been a better time to fine dine in Toronto as well.
Prime Seafood PalaceToronto’s first really great steakhouse with an AD-worthy interior.
Mamakas TavernaThe best Greek food, even if you’ve been to Greece.
MIMI ChineseGo with a crowd and order the whole menu.
Writers Room Bar at Park HyattClassic cocktails with a view.
Where to StayDespite being a world-class city, until recently Toronto had relatively meager options for lodging. In the past five years that has all changed, with renovations, reimaginings, and new openings.
Four SeasonsWho knew the world’s favorite 5-star hotel chain was born in Toronto?
The Drake HotelCheck in for the most local experience.
1 HotelFor glamorous, sustainable luxury with a healthy focus.
Kyle Beechey Writer
Kyle Beechey is a New York–based writer. She’s either writing a screenplay, on a far-off adventure, or baking a cake.