How to spend a perfect weekend in Toronto

May 23, 22
How to spend a perfect weekend in Toronto

TinyMart is sharing this content, the original was posted on Lonely Planet by Jessica Lam Aug 13, 2019 • 4 min read Lonely Planet Writer So please click here to go there
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From hip brunch restaurants to cool street art, Toronto is a fun destination for a weekend getaway. Sure, it’s a huge city with enough experiences to fill weeks, but there’s also plenty to do in just a couple of days. Here’s how to spend the perfect weekend in Toronto.

The Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square is lit up in red and white and blue, and reflected in a pool, as the sun goes down in Toronto; Weekend in Toronto
Toronto has something for everyone, whether you're in town for a couple of weeks or just a couple of days © Pierre Ogeron / Getty Images

Saturday: a more local experience

Morning

Start your weekend in Toronto with brunch at one of the city's most popular brunch spots. Being such a diverse and multicultural city, you can find amazing restaurants and places to eat in every corner. Stop by the stunning Le Select Bistro for an elegant Parisian brunch or enjoy some hearty pancake stacks at Old School.

Toronto is known for its varied neighborhoods, and the West End is where you’ll find the more trendy and hip places. Queen West in particular is where you’ll be able to find most of the cool spots, and you can get over your brunch food-baby with some shopping. Whether you’re into quirky knickknacks or cool thrift finds, there are all kinds of unique stores to shop at along Queen Street West. Visit the Drake General Store for fun Toronto-themed goodies or hunt for chic vintage gems at House of Vintage.

Colorful graffiti covers a wall in an alley in Toronto; Weekend in Toronto
Graffiti Alley isn't an official sight, but that hasn't stopped its popularity as a visitor destination © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Afternoon

After you’ve done all the shopping your feet can take, stop for photos at Graffiti Alley, located just off Queen West. Graffiti Alley is an unofficial tourist hotspot perfect for your Instagram feed – the alleyways are covered in incredible street art from over the years. You’ll find street art all over the city, but Graffiti Alley has some of the best.

Walk over to Spadina and head north past Dundas to the eclectic Kensington Market neighborhood. Here you’ll find international food stores, vintage boutiques, and trendy cafés. It’s a small neighborhood, but a fun one to explore.

You’re probably going to want to refuel after so much walking. Luckily for you, Toronto has probably the best café scene in the entire country. From fair-trade beans to nitro cold brews, there’s something for everyone. Stop by Jimmy’s Coffee in Kensington Market, or venture to another of Toronto’s great coffee shops via the TTC streetcar or subway. Toronto is walkable, but it’s more pleasant to take public transit if it’s hot (even if locals will often complain about it).

Wheel of Fortune games with electronic displays and other adult amusement game displays fill a room; Weekend in Toronto
Games and attractions are a highlight at The Rec Room © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Evening

The last stop of your day will be dinner, and literally anywhere in the city has great food. Visit Seven Lives in Kensington Market for cheap tacos, Little India in the Entertainment District for mouthwatering butter chicken, or Core  in the East End for a fabulous Canadian tasting menu. Whatever cuisine you’re craving, you’re bound to find at least one restaurant offering it.

If you’re not already exhausted from a long day of exploring the city, grab a swanky drink at BarChef or catch a live band at the Horseshoe Tavern. You can also visit Snakes & Lattes for board games or The Rec Room for arcade games and VR experiences.

A sunrise creeps up along Lake Ontario at the waterfront in Toronto; Weekend in Toronto
Get to Harbourfront early to avoid the crowds © Jessica Lam / Lonely Planet

Sunday: the typical tourist spots

Morning

Spend the morning wandering around Harbourfront before it gets too busy. Enjoy the waterfront views, check out the Powerplant Art Gallery, and relax under the enchanting Toronto Music Garden. You might even be able to catch a local festival while you’re here. Afterward, grab some patio brunch at Joe Bird or Boxcar Social.

Walk over to the CN Tower and head to the top for incredible panoramic views of the city. It’s more cost-effective to dine at the CN Tower’s 360 Restaurant and get free entrance to the observation deck, but if you’re only doing a weekend trip in Toronto, you’re better off visiting other restaurants and getting a taste of the different cuisines.

Features - Ripleys_Aquarium-ea4242db2ded

Afternoon

Conveniently next door to the CN Tower is Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, another fun touristy spot worth visiting. You’ll be able to see more than 20,000 aquatic animals, and it’s a great spot if you’re visiting with kids. While tickets for the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium can get a little pricey, you can find package deals online for a bit cheaper.

Across the street from both attractions is the Steam Whistle Brewery, where you can get samples of their pilsner, brewed in a historic roundhouse. Before you leave the area, check out the Toronto Railway Museum, which is a fun quick stop for photos.

Colonial buildings sit behind a vintage black street clock with Roman numerals in Toronto's Distillery District; Weekend in Toronto
Toronto's Distillery District is a heritage site and major tourist landmark © Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images

Evening

For the later part of your day, walk up to King Street and take the streetcar east to the historic Distillery District. Formerly home to the largest distillery in the world, the Distillery District is now a trendy pedestrian-friendly neighborhood filled with cafés and shops. Enjoy a lavish French dinner at Cluny Bistro or some juicy tacos at El Catrin. Finish off your weekend in Toronto with local scoops at Greg’s Ice Cream or crepes at Cacao 70 (a Montreal-based dessert chain with a love for quality chocolate).

While you won’t be able to experience all the city has to offer with just a weekend in Toronto, you can still get a good taste of the city. You'll want to come back again and again.

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