11.28.2005

t.o.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I'm an intrepid urban explorer. Since moving here, however, I haven't seen all that much of Toronto. I was more focused on our house and our own neighbourhood here in Port Credit. And who could blame me: our first house, first yard, first life in suburbia, our incredible proximity to the lake and the waterfront trail. There's been so much to enjoy right here.

Now, after three months, I'm feeling the urge to see more of Toronto. I've done a handful of things in the city, seen a few neighbourhoods, maybe more than many suburbanites do in a year. But for me, it's next to nothing. I'm ready to start.

By the way, I did get that Soulpepper subscription I mentioned earlier, so that guarantees a certain number of city days. But now I'll start flipping through my Time Out Toronto and randomly picking things to see.

As always, I'm open to all your suggestions. I may not hurry off to do them right away, but if they're on The List, I'll get there eventually.

18 comments:

Expat Traveler said...

hey laura, I think I feel a bit like you in that I know around my area quite well but never explore parts of the city enough. can't wait to hear more about your explorations.

James said...

Some off the top of my head:

Church & Wellesly, the "Gay Ghetto". Home of "This Ain't The Rosedale Library", a great bookstore.

For that matter, Rosedale. Old Money Toronto. Great to walk through, and a lot more tasteful than most of the Bridle Path (New Money Toronto).

Bayview Village, Bloor West Village, Harbord Street: good on-foot shopping areas. Lori'll have to introduce you to Miss Emma's.

Kensington Market: it's been a while since Al Waxman was king there, but it hasn't changed that much.

The Annex: Great walk-about neighbourhood north of the University.

High Park: Not as big as Central Park, but still good for walking.

Scarborough Bluffs: Another great bit of "nature in the city".

There's a map of Toronto neighbourhoods available from the city's website.

Beausejour said...

I lived in the Annex when I was there -- it was great! Bloor Street between Bathurst and Bay had everything I ever wanted in a city - bookstores, movie theaters, coffee shops (I wish they werent all chains), restaurants (cheap and pricey), parks, low-key bars.

Also -- you ought to check out the Danforth (Keep going east on Bloor over the DVP). Also, good friends of mine (also ex-Maritimers and ex-New Yorkers) live in the Beaches and love it. (She is a freelance writer/edtior, He works for a live-webcasting service)

kelly said...

Bloor West Village is lovely, and conveniently is where High Park lives.

The Beaches (aka The Beach) is lovely, with loads of fun little shops. If it's a nice day, head down to the Boardwalk, but it might be too cold for that now.

I second the Kensington Market recommendation. If you like cheeses, try World of Cheese or Global. My Market Bakery is yummy, especially try their Potato Leek bread. Divine!

L-girl said...

Also -- you ought to check out the Danforth (Keep going east on Bloor over the DVP). Also, good friends of mine (also ex-Maritimers and ex-New Yorkers) live in the Beaches and love it.

I've been to The Beaches and The Danforth, liked them both very much. I especially liked the Danforth, and can see spending more time there.

I love to explore neighbourhoods, but I'm also looking for museums, buildings, history, culture, views, pubs, bookstores, food, what have you.

L-girl said...

James: thanks, great list and a useful link. Keep 'em coming!

James said...

I love to explore neighbourhoods, but I'm also looking for museums, buildings, history, culture, views, pubs, bookstores, food, what have you.

Let's see... Off the top of my head (these are generally pretty obvious choices):

Major Museums:
* Art Gallery of Ontario (currently undergoing major renovations)
* Royal Ontario Museum (also currently undergoing major renovations)
* Ontario Science Centre (where the Bodyworks 2 plastination exhibit is on right now)

Minor Museums:
* The TV Museum, run by City-TV
* The Bata Shoe Museum -- no, really! I have no idea how interesting it is, but it exists
* The Design Exchange, museum of contemporary commerical design

Buildings:
* CN Tower -- as some people have said about the Empire State Building, the best view of the city is from there because you can't see it from there. :)
* Architectural walks through Rosedale, the Annex, the Beaches, etc.

History:
* Fort York
* Black Creek Pioneer Village

Bookstores:
* This Ain't The Rosedale Library
* Baka Books (science fiction bookstore)
* World's Biggest Bookstore (now a branch of Chapters/Indigo)
* The Beguiling (comic books)
* Dave Mason Books on Art (excellent store)

Actually, just spend some time in Mirvish Village for books. And you gotta see Honest Ed's.

Food:
* Anywhere. Everywhere.

Wrye said...

When I visited Toronto, friends physically prevented me from going inside Honest Ed's. They said people went in there never to emerge. Beware! Beware!

The outside sure was hypnotic, though.

hemlock said...

Once again...slow to the comment board.

I suggest the beaches. I haven't done much exploring along the streets, but I love the neighbourhoods. If I were to live in Toronto, I'd choose the beaches. Ha, I know...I'm dreaming....but it's true! ;)

Now...if I could only find that elusive high six figure salary.

mister anchovy said...

for bookstores, add Nicholas Hoare on Front St. to the list...
..go for a walk down Ronsesvailles....enjoy Sunday breakfast at Easy on Queen W....then walk east on Queen through Parkdale - not fancy, but very interesting. Once it warms up, go for a long bike ride, down the Don Valley, or the Humber River trails.
...Have a Korean fast food lunch on Bloor near Bathurst, then wander into David Mirvish books on Markham, and get lost in the art books for hours....

L-girl said...

The Bata Shoe Museum -- no, really! I have no idea how interesting it is, but it exists

Funny you put this under "minor museums" - it's hugely famous outside of Toronto. For many tourists, it's the first stop. I've read the Bata Shoe Museum is the #2 most visited site in Toronto after the Hockey HOF. I'm actually saving it for when my sister's visit. She loves shoes. :)

Brilliant list James, thank you.

Leafgirl, not only are you late, but you're not reading carefully. Beaches is one of the few places I've been. Got any other ideas? ;-)

Hey Mister Anchovy, those sound nice! On one of our exploratory visits to Toronto, before we moved, we looked at an apartment in Ronsesvailles. What a beautiful neighbourhood - it reminded me so much of lovely neighbourhoods in Brooklyn. (We had an odd experience with a crackpot landlady, who lives forever in our lore as "The Illuminati Woman"...)

Thanks everybody...!

James said...

for bookstores, add Nicholas Hoare on Front St. to the list...

Definitely. I don't get in there much, but it's an excellent store.

Once it warms up, go for a long bike ride, down the Don Valley, or the Humber River trails.

Or down the Don Valley, across the waterfront, and up the Humber River trails.

From my place, I can work that into a 50- to 60-km loop with almost no on-street riding. It makes for a great ride.

Next summer I'm hoping to work in a 100km loop up to Steeles.

Funny you put [the Bata Shoe Museum] under "minor museums" - it's hugely famous outside of Toronto.

I had no idea. I mainly know of it through personal (indirect) connections to the Bata family. The guy who started my mother's career as an art history tour guide in Europe, Sam Blythe, married Rosemary Bata, who proceeded to drive the tours into the ground with her inane suggestions, and pretty much ruined Sam's company.

I've read the Bata Shoe Museum is the #2 most visited site in Toronto after the Hockey HOF.

I've read that the Eaton Centre is the #1 visited site, but maybe your list didn't include it 'cause it's shopping. :)

By the way, one fun thing to consider: get a copy of Google Earth (the more sophisticated, non-web-based version of Google Maps) and use it to explore Toronto visually and find things you want to see in person.

Your place is a little hard to see in Google Earth 'cause of your tree cover. But the three swimming pools north of you are quite visible.

J said...

I actually posted a few more popular places to explore on my site a few posts back. check it out if you feel like it The Expatirate Mind. Enjoy!

L-girl said...

I've read that the Eaton Centre is the #1 visited site, but maybe your list didn't include it 'cause it's shopping. :)

Bingo. :)

I'm glad I didn't know that about the Eaton Centre. Maybe the list I saw was "most visited sites that aren't malls".

By the way, one fun thing to consider: get a copy of Google Earth (the more sophisticated, non-web-based version of Google Maps) and use it to explore Toronto visually and find things you want to see in person.

I dunno... I know you like it, but it just doesn't do anything for me. I don't need any excuses to spend even more time at my computer.

James said...

One other major site that hasn't been mentioned is Casa Loma, the eccentric Castle overlooking downtown. That's worth a visit as well.

James said...

Another: the Distillery District on Cherry Street.

L-girl said...

Distillery District: our Soulpepper subscription should take care of that. That's one area I'm really looking forward to seeing.

I'll be using your list today... :)

L-girl said...

CN Tower -- as some people have said about the Empire State Building, the best view of the city is from there because you can't see it from there. :)

!!!!!

I just caught this!! The Empire State Building is beautiful! It is one of THE classic art deco skyscrapers of its (or any other) age. There are plenty of ugly buildings in New York City (many even as ugly as the CN tower!) but the ESB is not one of them!

HMPH.