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What to do in Toronto (by myself) in October

(50 Posts)
JennyWreny Tue 13-Sep-16 17:21:26

I'm lucky enough to be able to go with DH when he visits Toronto for work mid October, but he will be busy with a conference and meetings from Breakfast until after dinner for at least 4 (probably 5) of the 7 days we are there.

I'm pretty sure I can occupy myself just wandering round and exploring reading by the hotel pool , but I thought I'd ask if anyone could recommend anything that I shouldn't miss. I have been to Toronto a couple of times but not recently (1998) so I've done CN Tower, Casa Loma, Science Center, Niagara although I may go there again.

I'd also be interested in -

Any restaurants that you'd recommend.
Nice parks/walks.
Great coffee shops where I can sit and read for a few hours.
Anywhere other than Niagara to go on a day trip?

We are staying right by Union Station, so quite central.

TragicallyUnbeyachted Tue 13-Sep-16 17:28:47

Mackenzie House.

Go out to Black Creek Pioneer Village.

I remember liking the Royal Ontario Museum.

All the restaurants I can vaguely remember were chosen on account of their child-friendliness which I imagine is largely the opposite of what you're looking for...

JennyWreny Tue 13-Sep-16 18:43:22

Thanks Tragically, I've had a look at those and they look interesting. From looking at the map I should be able to get to the Pioneer Village by bus.

You are right about the restaurants - I'll definitely not be looking for any which are likely to contain large amounts of children! grin

lemonpoppyseed Wed 14-Sep-16 03:07:35

Take the subway to High Park and enjoy an hour or two exploring the park. It's glorious in the fall. Walk west along Bloor St to Bloor West Village. It's a Ukrainian neighbourhood originally, so lots of delis/bakeries but now also lots of coffee shops, browsing-type shops and a great little bookstore. My favourite spot for reading is Baka cafe at the corner of Beresford and Bloor. They have a great upstairs room that is very quiet and perfect for reading.

Another day try The Junction. Subway to Dundas West then take 40 bus north to Dundas and Keele then walk west on Dundas. Great furniture stores, restaurants, coffee shops. Best coffee shop is Crema at Quebec and Dundas, but lots to choose from. Great restaurants include Indie Ale House, Cantina and Bricco. Don't go on a Monday - most shops are shut that day. Interestingly The Junction was dry until quite recently. It's a good example of a neighbourhood that's changed hugely over the years but is still quite true to its beginnings.

My favourite restaurants in Toronto:
Nota Bene
Queen Margarita Pizza on Queen St.
Richmond Station
La Societe

If you are a library fan visit the Toronto Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor- usually there's an exhibit or two. It's great for browsing and they have a great coffee shop and gift shop too.

I love Toronto. I now live in the US Midwest, and miss it every single day. You'll have a wonderful trip.

UltimateFrisbee Wed 14-Sep-16 03:24:45

Come and see mee!

I love Jimmy's Coffee which is near University and College for coffee.

Toronto Island is a lovely island park a short ferry ride from Queens Quay, v. close to Union Station. There's a clothing optional beach if that's your thing but you may prefer to hire a bike (available out there although check in Oct, otherwise you can bring a city bike on the ferry) and cycle around. There are houses there but they can't be sold, only inherited through family or, I think, there is some waiting list system too. It was more residential until the 50s, apparently, when the city decided to make it a park. There is also a city farm there. No cars really so very peaceful.

I agree that the ROM is good (Royal Ontario Museum) - dinosaur bones and a gorgeous Chihuly glass exhibition at the moment.

Allan Gardens is a downtown treat, a bit east of the core, it's a free greenhouse garden. Not huge but a lovely wander.

Ashbridges Bay is a beautiful beach for a sunny day- you'd barely believe you are so close to the city. Take the queen st streetcar east to coxwell (check that but I think that's right) and walk south. Huge sandy beach.

And come and see me for coffee in Kensington Market, a hippy, hipster area in the West end bounded by Spadina/Bathurst, College/Dundas.

UltimateFrisbee Wed 14-Sep-16 03:28:56

Oh, and October is a lovely time to visit- hope to still have nice, sunny, warmish weather and the gorgeous autumn colour. High Park good for that or Trinity Bellwoods (queen and Shaw) where you might catch sight of the white squirrel!

Normandy144 Wed 14-Sep-16 04:04:20

I used to live there until about 2 years ago. Autumn is the best time of year! There will be pumpkins everywhere and the smell of pumpkin spice in the air.

Do go to St. Lawrence market which is footsteps from Union station. It's a great foodie destination and there's lots of food stalls in the basement for a nice lunch.

Take the streetcar (I think the 501 or 504) East towards Broadview subway and head to Greektown. Lots of great shops and restaurants to check out. You can basically walk the stretch of Danforth Avenue right from where you get off at Broadview Subway all the way East to as far as Pape Ave and then get back on the subway at Pape and head back to Union. The streetcar is fab and will give you a chance to see the city or you can just hop on the subway and Broadview is about 4 stops East of Union. Along The Danforth check out Crema coffee and Astoria is my favourite greek. Also Pizza Libretto is very good for a Napoli pizza. Lots of great gelato spots too. I also am a sucker for frozen yogurt - try Menchies!

One of my favourite coffee spots is Rooster Coffee House on Broadview Ave. It's just south of Broadview subway (about 10 mins walk) or if you are coming by streetcar get off at the withrow Ave stop just south of the broadview station. It's a fab spot with a few seats outside overlooking Riverdale Park. If you are lucky you will have sunny fall weather and the view of the city from there is fab.

Also try heading to The Beach. Another gorgeous neighbourhood. Take the streetcar. There is a Boardwalk that you can walk or Rollerblade along. Beautiful on a sunny fall day. The Beach has a stretch of restaurants and shops along Queem St East. Some of the houses are stunning and they will all be dressed for fall!

Another great breakfast place is Lady Marmalade on Queen St. east. Be warned. It's popular on a weekend but you could easily head there on a weekday morning and get a.table for 1. It's in Leslieville. Take the 501 east streetcar and get off at Logan.
It's a.fab time of year to go.

JennyWreny Wed 14-Sep-16 10:42:33

Wow! Thank you so much for spending the time to reply to my thread. So many ideas! I'm so excited about visiting Toronto now and not at all worried that I won't have anything to do. I was meant to have a meeting this morning, but my client didn't show up, so I've spent all morning looking up the places you have suggested and "walking" around Toronto on Google street view!

I've got a couple more questions if you don't mind.

A few of you have suggested that I use Streetcars to get around which seems like a good plan. Is there some sort of visitor ticket that I can get which will last a few days? Do I buy tickets on-board?

Any suggestions for the best coach trip to Niagara?

I think we will just miss the end of the baseball season, so won't get to go to a game. I can't seem to find anything about ice hockey either, am I too early for that?

Thanks again for your advice, I really appreciate it.

UltimateFrisbee Wed 14-Sep-16 11:59:30

You can pay on board the streetcar- $3.25 per journey or you can by tokens in advance (they are tiny little coins) and it's a bit cheaper. Some convenience stores sell these - look for a sign saying TTC ticket agent. There are also day passes, I think and it covers buses, subways and streetcars

UltimateFrisbee Wed 14-Sep-16 12:39:04

For Niagara, we just took a Greyhound bus from the station at Bay and Dundas a few months back. Journey was an hour and a half and the bus station is a little away from the falls but we got a taxi from there. Not sure about what tour companies are good.

nmg85 Wed 14-Sep-16 13:51:07

For restaurants I like the Loose Moose which is near the station.

MadisonAvenue Wed 14-Sep-16 13:56:55

We just got a bus from Toronto to the Falls (well, the other way around as we have family in Niagara Falls US but we did a return journey). Depends what you want there but the US side is lovely with nice parkland and paths for walking alongside the river to the top of the Horseshoe Falls. The Canadian side is very glitzy and touristy. Maybe worth getting an ESTA and cross the bridge (by foot) to the US?

SJane45S Wed 14-Sep-16 14:43:18

Also used to live there and Autumn is really special. Go to Etienne Brule Park which I thought was really the nicest park and has great walking trails and a river running through it. Get the subway to Old Mill. There's a posh and old (in Canadian terms!) hotel there as well which would be nice to have tea in! Would also second the Beach.

Normandy144 Wed 14-Sep-16 20:34:31

I would agree with what Madison says about the Canadian side being quite touristy. It's a bit 'blackpool' in places but you can do the journey behind the falls from the Canadian side. Also look into whether the Maid of the Mist is still running - I think it runs until mid/late Oct depending on the weather.

I'd make sure any tour you do takes in the little town of Niagara on the Lake which is about 15 mins drive from the falls and downtown Niagara itself. It's quaint and cute and very beautiful in fall. I would say that I'd your tour includes that then I'd really not bother going over to the US side.

Normandy144 Wed 14-Sep-16 20:42:09 is the website for the public transport system. Tokens is the best option. A day pass looks to be about $12 so I think you'd get better value from buying a bag of tokens. They are little gold and silver coins about the size of a 5p. Look out for the TTC logo (on the website) and either buy in a news shop etc or directly from the subway station.

My top tip is get a good map and have a sense of whether you are heading north, south, East or west. The lake is considered the southern most point of the city and everything is based from that. They use cross streets there like they do in the US because the major streets that run West to East and north to south are so long.

Normandy144 Wed 14-Sep-16 21:09:37

Also forgot to say Streetcars generally traverse the city in an East/West direction. Buses go north/south. Both buses and Streetcars bisect the two main subway lines; the Bloor-Danforth lines runs East West and the Yonge-University line which is a big U shape.

If you wish to.continue your journey after you leave a subway station by either bus or streetcar then collect a 'transfer' which is a paper type , and then just hand it to the driver or the bus or streetcar you are getting on. Transfers are available from machines in subway stations and also available from the driver on a bus or streetcar. It sounds more complicated than it is! Most people are very helpful.

JennyWreny Thu 15-Sep-16 08:21:14

Thanks so much all of you - I really appreciate your help. This is all sounding much less daunting and I'm looking forward to spending time exploring Toronto.

I wondered whether there are any neighbourhoods that I should avoid from a safety point of view. I presume that everywhere is pretty safe during the day. How about walking around/using public transport after dark. Should I be getting cabs? I guess I won't be out much after 9pm ish. It will definitely be dark by the time I've had dinner though. I presume the area round the hotel (near Union Station) will be quite busy and therefore fairly safe.

UltimateFrisbee Thu 15-Sep-16 13:26:46

Can't really think of any neighbourhoods downtown that I'd avoid for safety but I don't go out much at night!

SJane45S Thu 15-Sep-16 20:31:14

Toronto is a very very safe city - you are good to walk around on your own at night and cabs and the subway are all fine late at night.

lemonpoppyseed Thu 15-Sep-16 21:13:24

I never felt unsafe in Toronto. And yes, they'll be plenty of people around in the evening.

One other thing we would always do when friends visited was have dinner at the top of the CN Tower. It's a bit of a cliche, but the food is good, the views are spectacular (especially around sunset), and by making a reservation for dinner you avoid the long lineups for regular admission (the price of going up is also included in your meal). Definitely worth it if you have a free evening.

Normandy144 Thu 15-Sep-16 22:03:19

Another couple of suggestions for you! Amsterdam Brewery have a restaurant downtown at the harbour front. Good locally brewed beer and food is good. Lakeside views. Another Toronto brewer is Steam Whitsle. They have a brewery right behind the CN Tower. Nice beer and you will get a free sample by just popping by.

Lastly if you like wings (as in the chicken kind) then head to Duffs on College - they have a branch in the little Italy area.

Final tip (although you may not thank me) for a true Canadian experience try a Caesar. It's a Canadian cocktail and is essentially a Bloody Mary but made with Clamato (clam broth and tomato juice) juice instead of Tomato. It's an acquired taste but I urge you to give it a go. All bars/restaurants serve them.

snowman1 Thu 15-Sep-16 22:28:33

Hi, I have been to Momofuku and it was fantastic. It is a few restaurants in one, but they have a casual noodle bar which would be lovely for lunch, like Wagamamas but a lot better! Also, Canoe (local Canadian food, very expensive but first class). Pai, a northern Thai restaurant I believe is also really good (on my list!)
Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) have a permanent place, it might be worth seeing if there is anything on during the day which might interest you, talks, films, that sort of thing.
Hockey, at the Air Canada centre is fun. If it is a sport you are new to, it is really good, as unlike American/Canadian football, you have a vague idea of what the point of the game is (get the puck in the net!) and watching it live is thrilling, even with the cheaper seats, they really are incredibly skilled sorry I have no idea how to do links that look pretty!
The time of year is great, take warm clothes, especially by the lake. There is a PATH system, basically linking all the buildings together underground, so you can go underground when it gets too chilly. Bring a good hat and gloves.
I second other's views about the time of year and the fall colours, you would do well to get out to the country and Niagara on the lake is lovely, Cows ice cream is some of the best in the world, the wineries are amazing. Ontario wine is just fantastic. Sadly they are rubbish at exporting so definitely worth trying when you are here. failing that High park should also be pretty.
One last thing to mention as no one else seems to have done so is that the Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving, so a bank holiday and some stuff might be closed. Don't be put off if Monday feels dead!

UltimateFrisbee Fri 16-Sep-16 03:32:24

Yes, Monday 10th is Canadian thanksgiving so worth being aware of. Lots will be closed but downtown shopping may be open "major malls" sometimes are.

UltimateFrisbee Fri 16-Sep-16 03:34:51

P.S. entering my 6th year here and have not needed hat and gloves in October. Jacket, yes but not a warm coat. Of course, this year may be different and mornings can be a bit cool but check the forecast before you come before wasting space on warm stuff in your luggage!

JennyWreny Fri 16-Sep-16 08:09:20

It's actually the following week we will be there, so will miss the Canadian Thanksgiving. I remember when we went to New York (years ago) one of the three days we were there was a bank holiday - no shops open sad.

lemonpoppyseed Your post re: CN tower made me smile. I said to DH a couple of days ago that if we wanted to eat there we should probably book a table before we go and his reply was - "The welcome dinner for the conference is there" He suffers from vertigo - I don't think he's particularly looking forward to it! I'm not sure that's the kind of place that I'd want to get a table for one . . . .

Unfortunately, looking at your link snowman1 there aren't any hockey games on the week we are there sad.

Normandy144 I'll give the cocktail a try If I'm feeling brave grin

I think I'm going to print a map off and highlight the places you have all suggested and try and make a plan!

Thanks again!

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