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Planning a trip to Toronto - please help me!

(19 Posts)
Twirl Fri 31-Oct-08 18:11:29

I have read the old threads about holidaying in Toronto with great interest as we are planning to go next year. I am looking for advice on a couple of points:
1. Do you recommend staying Downtown in Toronto or in one of the suburbs, eg Oakville? We want to rent an apartment or house as it is easier for us with the kids. We want to see sights in Toronto itself as well as Niagara and African Safari etc, but also want a relaxing base where the kids (5 and 3) can chill.
2. Weatherwise which is nicer/cooler, June, July or August? Don't want it to be unbearably hot!
All advice welcome please!!!

misi Fri 31-Oct-08 19:42:19

I was last in toronto in october a few years back and is was very warm, but I was told that was an exceptional year. June will probably be the coolest of the times you mention. can't say about the accommodation as I stayed in a centre of town hotel which was great for the sights, the CN tower was not that far away but then I was with 2 other adults and no kids!!

the kids will love niagara though. must go down the ''cave of the winds'' as they say over there, totally awesome!! seven sisters island is amazing. my 2 companions did not like the geology museum/centre though but I loved it blush. there is a wonderful italian restuarant about 1/2 mile from the rainbow bridge on the canadian side, the spaghetti was better than that I had in italy itself and they catered for kids exceptionally well.

make sure the kids have used ''the facilites'' before you head down the QE11 highway down from toronto to niagara as pit stops are few except for the odd souvenier shop, but I felt uncomfortable going in for that and not buying anything grin

have you thought about visas too? as I went to the US first, going back and forth over the rainbow bridge to canada required no visa, but apparently if you go to cananda, if you cross into the US (most of the niagara experiences are on the US side) you need an extra visa, not sure exactly what and it may have changed due to the new visa requirements of the US for UK visitors but well worth looking into as a lot of people when I was there had overlooked this point!!

Twirl Fri 31-Oct-08 20:28:57

Misi, thanks so much for the advice on Niagara - I will look into that restaurant, do you remember what it was called?
We live in the US so have a visa for here but I should check whether we need one for Cananda...

NotQuiteCockney Fri 31-Oct-08 20:39:27

If you're UK citizens, you don't need a special visa for Canada.

I prefer downtown - are you going by car? Do you want to drive a lot? Toronto traffic isn't London bad, but it can be tiresome. The transit system is pretty good.

Oakville is pretty far out - you could maybe go for something suburban, but still on the transit system.

misi Fri 31-Oct-08 20:46:15

ah ok, well for brits going from the US to canada we didn't need a canadian visa. I am not totally sure but I don't think US citezens need a visa to cross over to canada, just don't take fruit across blush (another story!!)
can't remember the name but the floor was blackandwhite small square tiles and it had a big stone oven in the centre of the restuarant for the pizzas and granny was in her rocking chair approving all the dishes bought out by her children/grand children and no doubt great grand children!! I'll dig around and see if I can find the name.

that same year I was in toronto I was based in little rock. I had been there for 3 months and I left on columbus day. at 10am in LR it was sunny and 82*. in charlotte by 2pm it was 91* and 80 something % humidity!! when I got home to london, it was sleeting and -1*C, quite a contrast that was!!

Twirl Fri 31-Oct-08 20:47:07

We are UK citizens, so that should be ok, thanks!
We will be driving to Toronto and we don't mind driving when we are there although don't want to every day (kids can aonly tolerate the car so much!) I thought we could do public transport for Toronto itself and use the car for any day trips further out. Is this realistic?
NQC, having seen your name on some other Canadian threads, I know you are a wealth of knowledge on the area grin, so please, do you have any downtown areas to suggest or avoid?

Twirl Fri 31-Oct-08 20:49:41

Thanks Misi! We are trying to avoid the DC heat and humidity although I suspect Toronto will still be hot. It would be nice to be able to breathe for a few weeks tho.....

NotQuiteCockney Fri 31-Oct-08 21:20:05

Yes, public transit for Toronto is entirely reasonable - but not from Oakville, not unless you're right near the Go station (and even then, those trains don't run that often).

(I'm good for Toronto and Montreal, not much use for the rest of the country.)

Right, areas. What are you looking for? The area I like best is right near Dufferin, but accommodation there is, well, rare. We have a weird rent-a-family's-house deal, which works very well for us. There's a playground called Dufferin Grove which is my favourite playground in the world (I'm sure I've mentioned it on here before!).

The Beaches is good. It's nice out there.

Are you thinking self-catering? I'd look on vrbo or similar and see what you can rustle up and then consider areas. The bits near Bathurst and Bloor are pretty good. Oh, look, here is a neighbourhood map for downtown. I wouldn't stay in Downtown West or East, or St Lawrence. I'm not sure about the eastern bits here - Cabbagetown is meant to be good, dunno about the rest, they might be a bit grotty. All the bits to the west are nice.

NotQuiteCockney Fri 31-Oct-08 21:21:53

Oh, a big argument for the public transit: they have trams (aka streetcars)! There are buses and tubes too, but the streetcars are great fun (ok, the stairs are a giant PITA with a pram. But they're nice once you're on.)

For this age, I'd recommend:

- the science centre (bit old for them, but good)
- the hands on bits of the ROM
- the islands (you take a ferry from downtown)
- Ontario Place (really really really good).

Twirl Fri 31-Oct-08 21:41:43

Thanks so much NQC, VRBO is definitely the way to go, self catering is just easier and it's nice to have somewhere to sit when the kids are in bed! I found the Dufferin Grove website and it looks fab! I think we will stay downtown then rather than further out, it looks easier all round.

misi Fri 31-Oct-08 21:43:08

what was the tram that starts under one of the shopping centres? the eaton mall perhaps?that was good. the driver (listed as a tourist atraction I am told) did a running commentary and started out as if he were a pilot and the tram an aircraft. the arts and craft centre down by the water front was good too.
top floor eaton mall where all the food places are, not to be missed! (especially the chinese place).

NotQuiteCockney Fri 31-Oct-08 22:07:43

VRBO tends to be the pricier end of the market - also there are nearly no properties in Toronto. I would be trying to sort dates and book something soon, if I were you.

(www.homelidays.com is ok, too, but mostly French. There are a bunch of other sites, if you google you can find them, but vrbo is the biggest. Oh, I've found accomodation through craigslist, too - likely to be more flaky than vrbo, but worth a go.)

A tram that starts under a shopping centre? There's one that passes under the eaton centre, kinda ... there's a tram station inside Union Station ...

misi Sat 01-Nov-08 12:11:34

ah, that sounds like it, went down to the waterfront on the tram to the arts and craft centre. quite an experience!!

Twirl Sat 01-Nov-08 17:17:45

I'm hunting for accomodation, but like you said, there aren't many houses. Can't find anyting down-town but have found a few mid-town - Davisville Village, Leaside, and Danforth Village. Do you have any ideas what these areas are like?

NotQuiteCockney Sun 02-Nov-08 20:21:39

Danforth Village is nice, I think - where exactly? It varies a bit. There's a good park there. Don't know about the other two. Will have a google.

(Montreal has a lot more tourist accommodation, and is a lovely place ... in case you might be tempted ...)

NotQuiteCockney Sun 02-Nov-08 20:23:57

Ok, looked it up - Leaside and Davisville are fairly central, really, just a bit further north. I'd get more precise ideas of where they are, so you can look at neighbourhoods, but they both look fine, tbh. Young + Eglington is a good area. If you get me nearest intersection, I can tell you about the other two.

All three neighbourhoods are good - the downtown is a bit soulless business district anyway ...

Twirl Mon 03-Nov-08 01:08:25

The nearest intersection is Eglington Ave E / Mt Pleasant Road, Eglington subway is closest. I have read a bit on the neighbourhood and it looks good, so unless you tell me anything bad I think I'll book it! Thanks for your help!
One last question, do you think 9/10 days is too long to visit the area? We will stop for a few nights in the Niagara area on the way too.

NotQuiteCockney Mon 03-Nov-08 07:53:21

I think 9/10 days should be fine, if it's warm. You can do:
- High Park
- the Islands
- Science Centre (drive!)
- Ontario Place (for v good weather, ideally - they have Imax, too)
- the zoo (drive!)
- ROM
- Eaton Centre (if you like shopping malls?)
- the Harbourfront
- Castle Loma (if you want a fake old castle?)

That should do you ...

Twirl Mon 03-Nov-08 23:51:11

Cheers so much for all your help!

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