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what to do in toronto area?

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london uk
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what to do in toronto area?

Hi,

my husband and i will be living in toronto for a year and i am trying to find out about some good things to do in the area. Maybe good places to go for weekends away? Can anyone suggest things. Also can you advise about how good the transport is? We'd like to visit other cities like Montreal and whereever else is reasonably accessible... is it fairly cheap and easy to do this?

Thanks for your help...

Toronto,ON
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1. Re: what to do in toronto area?

Hello!

I am not sure what your interests are in terms of things to do in Toronto proper. Are you looking for family-type outings (ie. zoos, parks) or interested in dining, theatre, festivals and so forth?

There are numerous places within a short 1 to 1.5 hours drive from the city to spend a weekend. Niagara Falls - very touristy, 2 large casinos, numerous hotels in every class, many botanical gardens, and of course the falls! You can easily make a weekend of this!

There is also Niagara-on-the-lake - this is where the annual Shaw festival takes place from April to November (I think!) - there is a lovely small town feeling to this area - it can be very crowded in the summer months with busloads of tourists - so you may prefer too go in the spring or fall - both beautiful times of the year as well! There are excellent hotels for evey budget and many dining choices.

In this area (known as wine region) there are several winery tours (samples too of course!) which include lunch. Some wineries also have on-site restaurants which are open for a nice dinner.

The other area for weekend jaunts is north of the city - perhaps again 1.5 to 2 hours away by car -there are many many family resorts and higher class resorts and spas. There are too many to mention but there are several tourist publications available which include these resorts.

Fall is a beautiful time of year to venture up north as well as the leaves are changing colour.

I am not sure what you mean in terms of transport??? Within the city or outside????

In terms of visiting Montreal, Ottawa etc. I do not know what you mean by reasonably accessible. The fastest way to get to Montreal is by air, then train, and lastly driving. Having entertained some European friends I find that they don't really comprehend how great the distances are from city to city!

Other than the time it will take you to get to Montreal, yes you can do it on a budget!

I hope this helps!!

london uk
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2. Re: what to do in toronto area?

Hi, thank you for your reply... sorry I couldn't see how to reply to your message so I am having to reply to my own..!

We're interested in seeing the Canadian countryside - the lakes, parks etc - we're not so much likely to go to expensive hotels or casinos. I'm sure we'll go to see Niagara Falls though! Are there some good places to go camping near to Toronto which you could recommend? We're also interested in going to see other cities.. although I expect you're right about Europeans under-estimating how far away they are! How far is Montreal on the train?

I m eant transport outside of and away from the city...

What are the buses like? In the UK the buses are reasonably respectable although obviously not the most luxurious way to travel... I've b een led to understand that the buses in the US and Canada are not that nice a way to travel at all.... is this true?!

We're looking into getting a rail pass... how good are the trains? woudl you say you can get mst places? ��bviously you can't access remote wilderness areas that way, but do you think that with a train pass (and then buying bus tickets as necessary) you could get around pretty easily to some of the big parks etc? How far north can you get on the train? do the trains mainly just link the large cities or do they go into the countryside too?

Does almost everyone have a car there? Would we be at a huge disadvantage in terms of what we could reach without one? I suppose we could buy a car there... and then I presume we'd have to insure it to be legal to drive it, like in the UK? How much would insurance cost? Do you have any idea? I'm 21 years old.

Thanks for all your help!

Toronto,ON
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3. Re: what to do in toronto area?

Good morning!

I'll do my best to answer your questions!

Do you know in what part of the city you will be living? If you do, let me know and I may be able to help you find something interesting to do in your own area.

To give you a quick overview - Via rail www.viarail.ca is the rail company that travels throughout north america - coast to coast. From their website you can find info on going to Montreal - anywhere from 4hrs 45 min to 5 hrs 26 minutes - according to their site - there are so many variables to the cost so you may just want to look at the site to see what suits your budget best!

Greyhound is the major bus company that goes throughout north america as well. www.greyhound.ca - their given times to Montreal are 7 hrs 40 minutes to 9 hours and 19 minutes - again pricing is all dependant on the number of days and returns and so forth so best to check their site. I haven't heard of any problems with the bus lines. They are efficient and get you where you want to go! Are they luxurious, no but then you get what you pay for! I wouldn't have any worries.

Within the city we have the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) they are responsible for the subway (tube), local buses, and streetcars (trams?). You can find info about maps and prices at www.city.toronto.on.ca/ttc/

If you are living in the city then the TTC can get you anywhere and at any time of the day. People living in the downtown core generally do not have cars and depend on TTC. The younf professionals who live in downtown condos (flats) will rent cars on teh weekend if they are going out of town.

As for car rental rates they shouldn't make you winge! If you do it on a somewhat regular basis there are promotions where you can get a free weekend as well. Once you are here you can look around for the best deals. You will need insurance but I am not sure how much it will be. My husband and I are in our early 30s and we have never found it to be expensive.

Have you looked at www.city.toronto.on.ca ? You can find a lot of information there about both visiting the city and living in it.

As for the countryside. Well, there really isn't such a thing per se as there is in the UK. The outskirts of the city are very very built up and you will have to travel quite far to see any country. If you were staying in BC you would have much more to see! There isn't such a thing as taking the train for the weekend or for the day to let's say Bath or Weston SuperMare or the likes.

As distances are great, these types of jaunts take much longer!

But not to be discouraged!

For the outdoorsey stuff you can't beat camping in Algonquin Park. See www.algonquinpark.on.ca . People do come from all over the world to camp/hike/paddle there. It is about a 3 to 3.5 hour dive (longer on holidays - lots of traffic!) to get there but it is scenic and worth the drive to do it once. My husband and his father have paddled there many times.

Closer to home you can get onto the Bruce TRail for a day of hiking. We do that quite a bit. The trail runs along teh Niagara escarpment and you can meet up with it only about 20 minutes from teh city.

There are many provincial parks to visit but you won't be able to really get there without a car.

In teh city - completely TTc accessible - is High Park - it is quite large and you can easily spend a day there with a picnin - ther eis also a nice cafe there - swimming pool - recently redone - skating in teh winter - small zoo - flower garden. enough to keep you entertained for a good day out - and it is free!!! In teh summer they also have an outdoor theatre - Shakespeare usually - it is 'free' with a minimum donation of about $5 or so to charity - all you need is a blanket, a snack, possibly mozzie spray, and someone to cuddle with under the stars!

Another day outing is the Toronto Islands. You take a ferry from the city and you are there in a few minutes. Easily you can spend a day there wandering around.

Further afield, you can make a weekend out of the Georgian Bay area - there are cruises - around little islands and other small town things to go - again - you will need a car to get there. Point Peelee is nice too but again , quite further even.

As for visiting other cities, Montreal is the closest city- it can be done on a regualr weekend - many people in our / your age group do just that!

I hope I covereed everything! Anything, else please feel free to ask!

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: what to do in toronto area?

Toronto is the main transportation hub in Canada. So you can get anywhere from T.O.

If you're looking for a trip to Montreal, i would say take the train. There are several different options you can take, from an early morning train to an overnight train. Some trains make more stops then others so the travel times vary. The train i like taking is the express one. It takes you from downtown Toronto to downtown Montreal in just under 4 hours. The only 2 stops it makes is one at the east end of Toronto and the other in Dorval (Montreal's Airport). Both are quick stops and each one is only a few minutes. I prefer taking that train because it's just as fast as flying. If you look at the time it take to travel to/from the airports, checking in, flight time and baggage claim, that around 4 hours there anyway. So the express train is just as fast and cheaper too.

Another place that you may want to check out that you can reach by train is Ottawa, Canada's capital city. There isn't an express train to Ottawa but travel time is between 4 hours and 4.5 hours. But i prefer to fly to Ottawa. Fares to Ottawa are pretty cheap and it's only a hour flight.

I think the other posters have given other great ideas. I just wanted to add this.

Toronto, ON
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5. Re: what to do in toronto area?

I agree with all of the above recommendations - and thought that I'd let you know that neither my FI nor I drive... and we manage to travel without too much difficulty. All it requires is a little planning.

I'd also recommend that you take the time to check out the town of Stratford - they have beautiful restaurants, spas and one of the best theatre festivals in Ontario.

I'd also check out the St. Jacobs region. St. Jacobs has a lovely farmers' market (open Thursday and Saturday) as well as a touristy town attached to it (crafts and household decor). If you're into outdoor activities - I'd visit in the fall and also take a drive to Elora (about 25 minutes away from St. Jacobs) to hike along the Elora gorge. Elora is also a very pretty small town with lots of small shops and artist studios.

Hope that helps. Enjoy your trip!

Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: what to do in toronto area?

Toronto is the 3rd largest English theatre centre in the world after London and NY. There are big "Broadway" type productions (Lord of the Rings will be opening here first next Feb), as well as wonderful smaller local productions -- CanStage, Tarragon Theatre, Factory Theatre, etc. The National Ballet oF Canada is fabulous and we have both an excellent opera company and orchestra, all getting new homes next year.

The Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery oF Ontario are MUSTS. The ROM houses some of the most phenomenal collections from China, Japan, Korea and India. The AGO is more modern in scope, and showcases many of the Canadian Group of Seven paintings, which you may have heard about. Both are in the process of major additions. Work is ongoing while the museums remain open.

Another wonderful gem is a little outside the city, the McMichael Collection in Kleinberg. It specialises in Group of Seven works, but shows other excellent pieces.

Niagara-on-the-Lake was voted the prettiest town in North America by Travel & Leisure magazine. And the George Bernard Shaw Festival that takes place there every year from April until November was voted by the New York Times as the best repertory theatre in North America -- two good reasons to visit. But tickets for shows and accommodations at the small B&Bs and inns there book up early, so check it out now at www.shawfest.com.

The Niagara area has become famous for wine and ice wine, with wine producers growing exponentially in recent years, producing many award-winning products. Although the area is one hour from Toronto, you may want to book a few nights to take in the plays, the sites and wine country.

Also an hour away is Stratford, home of another wonderful summer theatre festival. Here, Shakespeare reigns, and here too, things get booked up early. So check out their website: www.stratford-festival.on.ca

In Toronto itself, there are many very large green spaces, places where one can forget one is actually in the city. Check out Sunnybrook Park and Edwards Garden, just two of the many city parks that punctuate the city.

The city is VERY spread out, and while local transport is safe and affordable, its tentacles do not reach far enough to keep people from using cars. If you'll be here for a year, I'd suggest you purchase a car. Gasoline (petrol) is much cheaper than it is in the UK, the roads are very simple to navigate, and it'll give you access to suburbs that would take you hours to get to by transit.

Montreal is 500 km away, which means you'll need a long weekend to go there -- at the very least. It is largely French-speaking, but everyone understands English well enough to help you out whether you get lost, are ordering food in a restaurant or making a purchase. People in Montreal like to eat out -- a lot! -- and bars and restaurants stay open later than they do in Toronto. Prices on meals are often cheaper because they often include a 'table d'hote', one price that includes an appetizer or dessert and a main course with coffee.

The Laurentians, Montreal's 'Alps', are less than an hour away, and much prettier, in my view, than the countryside around Toronto. It's much more mountainous and there are countless lakes. Check out St Sauveur, about one hour from Montreal, a delightful little town and Mt Tremblant, resembling the Alpes more than the Alpes themselves!

When in Montreal, make sure to enjoy the wonderful croissant (available almost anywhere!), but my favourite place to purchase them is Premiere Moison, where you'll also find marvellous French pastries. Also, check out St. Viateur and Fairmont Bakeries, both famous rivals for Montreal bagels -- the best anywhere!

Other famous eateries are Moishes and Schwartz's (steaks), Milos (expensive, but great Greek Food).

Walk along rue St. Laurent and rue St. Denis, long streets that run north to south. And enjoy a soupe a l'oignon in any French bistro.

When shopping check out Simons, a Quebec institution that carries fashion clothing at excellent prices. Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew are more high end, but cheaper than Harrod's so check them out.

Hope all this helps. Welcome to Canada! I hppe your stay is enjoyable.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
30 posts
46 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: what to do in toronto area?

Toronto is the 3rd largest English theatre centre in the world after London and NY. There are big "Broadway" type productions (Lord of the Rings will be opening here first next Feb), as well as wonderful smaller local productions -- CanStage, Tarragon Theatre, Factory Theatre, etc. The National Ballet oF Canada is fabulous and we have both an excellent opera company and orchestra, all getting new homes next year.

The Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery oF Ontario are MUSTS. The ROM houses some of the most phenomenal collections from China, Japan, Korea and India. The AGO is more modern in scope, and showcases many of the Canadian Group of Seven paintings, which you may have heard about. Both are in the process of major additions. Work is ongoing while the museums remain open.

Another wonderful gem is a little outside the city, the McMichael Collection in Kleinberg. It specialises in Group of Seven works, but shows other excellent pieces.

Niagara-on-the-Lake was voted the prettiest town in North America by Travel & Leisure magazine. And the George Bernard Shaw Festival that takes place there every year from April until November was voted by the New York Times as the best repertory theatre in North America -- two good reasons to visit. But tickets for shows and accommodations at the small B&Bs and inns there book up early, so check it out now at www.shawfest.com.

The Niagara area has become famous for wine and ice wine, with wine producers growing exponentially in recent years, producing many award-winning products. Although the area is one hour from Toronto, you may want to book a few nights to take in the plays, the sites and wine country.

Also an hour away is Stratford, home of another wonderful summer theatre festival. Here, Shakespeare reigns, and here too, things get booked up early. So check out their website: www.stratford-festival.on.ca

In Toronto itself, there are many very large green spaces, places where one can forget one is actually in the city. Check out Sunnybrook Park and Edwards Garden, just two of the many city parks that punctuate the city.

The city is VERY spread out, and while local transport is safe and affordable, its tentacles do not reach far enough to keep people from using cars. If you'll be here for a year, I'd suggest you purchase a car. Gasoline (petrol) is much cheaper than it is in the UK, the roads are very simple to navigate, and it'll give you access to suburbs that would take you hours to get to by transit.

Montreal is 500 km away, which means you'll need a long weekend to go there -- at the very least. It is largely French-speaking, but everyone understands English well enough to help you out whether you get lost, are ordering food in a restaurant or making a purchase. People in Montreal like to eat out -- a lot! -- and bars and restaurants stay open later than they do in Toronto. Prices on meals are often cheaper because they often include a 'table d'hote', one price that includes an appetizer or dessert and a main course with coffee.

The Laurentians, Montreal's 'Alps', are less than an hour away, and much prettier, in my view, than the countryside around Toronto. It's much more mountainous and there are countless lakes. Check out St Sauveur, about one hour from Montreal, a delightful little town and Mt Tremblant, resembling the Alpes more than the Alpes themselves!

When in Montreal, make sure to enjoy the wonderful croissant (available almost anywhere!), but my favourite place to purchase them is Premiere Moison, where you'll also find marvellous French pastries. Also, check out St. Viateur and Fairmont Bakeries, both famous rivals for Montreal bagels -- the best anywhere!

Other famous eateries are Moishes and Schwartz's (steaks), Milos (expensive, but great Greek Food).

Walk along rue St. Laurent and rue St. Denis, long streets that run north to south. And enjoy a soupe a l'oignon in any French bistro.

When shopping check out Simons, a Quebec institution that carries fashion clothing at excellent prices. Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew are more high end, but cheaper than Harrod's so check them out.

Hope all this helps. Welcome to Canada! I hppe your stay is enjoyable.