Walking down Spadina Avenue, past ruby red streetcars under the shadow of the iconic CN Tower in Toronto it feels like the great outdoors are a world away. But the province of Ontario is a haven for adventurers: from those pounding the streets of Canada’s biggest city in search of vibrant local culture throughout its eclectic neighbourhoods, to those dressed in red ponchos under the wall of water at Niagara Falls, and plenty in between, too. Either way, a trip to Canada’s most populous, varied and culturally significant province is filled with things to inspire your imagination, and Toronto is the perfect place to start.
Toronto is a short train ride from Toronto Pearson International Airport, where any adventure in this part of the world is likely to begin, and the first glimpse of the city is the gleaming skyscrapers of the city’s financial district – a sight that reminds travellers, if they had any doubt, of the modern cultural footprint that comes with being North America’s fourth-largest city. But beyond the picture-postcard streets near Union station – itself a stone’s throw from the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre baseball ground – there’s a whole world of local culture to explore in Toronto.
The city has always been home to waves of immigrants from all corners of the globe, resulting in a huge number of languages spoken throughout the city, distinctive neighbourhoods with trappings of local cultures from far and wide; and above all, a culinary scene that’s genuinely unique, full of exciting flavours waiting to be discovered. You’ll find a world-leading Chinatown, as well as plenty of hidden gems serving dishes from the Caribbean to Africa, East Asia and more.
An exciting recent development has seen the Michelin Guide arrive in Canada for the first time. Michelin stars, known as the most significant accolade to be awarded to restaurants, have been granted 13 Toronto venues, with some of the success stories of the last decade of dining in the city – including Alo, Edulis and Enigma, as well as the two-Michelin-starred Sushi Masaki Saito – being recognised. Away from tasting menus and wine flights, the guide has also included a huge number of accessible spots in the list of Toronto restaurants to receive the guide’s Bib Gourmand certification.
The best part? Toronto’s neighbourhoods all have their own vibe, from the elegance of Yorkville and the financial district’s luxurious hotels and restaurants to the thrum of Kensington Market and the hipster chic of Ossington Avenue, plus the distinct and vibrant neighbourhoods of India Bazaar, Greektown, Little Italy, the LGBT Village, Queen Street West and Koreatown. Put it all together and you’ve got all the ingredients for a city break that’s sure to pique your curiosity.
With Ontario being bigger than France and Spain combined, it’s a province with a massive footprint – so much so that it may feel like awe-inspiring outdoor experiences must be out of reach of the city. But Toronto is the gateway to some of the most impressive sights to be seen in the whole of North America, not least the iconic Niagara Falls, which is less than an hour and a half away from downtown Toronto.
You’ll no doubt be able to picture the distinctive Horseshoe Falls, the best known of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara. But to see them in the flesh is an altogether different experience. That’s certainly the case when getting up close and personal on the ‘Voyage to the Falls’ experience with Niagara City Cruises, where thrill seekers line up for a chance to see rushing white water from up close. The falls are one of the true wonders of the world, and an absolute must for anyone looking to discover what Ontario has to offer.
Adventurers in this part of the province can also look forward to a raft of other sights that include ‘The Tunnel’ – a 2,200ft tunnel hewn deep below the restored Niagara Parks Power Station that leads to a never-before-seen view of Niagara Falls. What’s more, with four strong and distinct seasons, both Ontario’s great outdoors and the city are there to be discovered all year round.
Learn more at destinationontario.com/uk