Over the years, Toronto has grown to become a truly cosmopolitan city—full of diversity, character and unique attractions for tourists and locals alike. If we had to narrow down the reasons to love Toronto, including the top things you should do while visiting, these would be it!
1) Diversity – Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. So much so that more than half of Torontonians were born outside of Canada, and more than half identify themselves as a visible minority. This amazing melting of cultures is no doubt what contributes so much to the city’s character and energy.
2) The Neighborhoods – Toronto is a city made up of multiple local neighborhoods and communities, which reflect the diversity of the city. From Chinatown, little Italy, little Portugal, little Tibet, little India, Greektown, and Koreatown, to the Gay Village, Yorkville, Beaches, The Annex, and more—you can almost travel around the world within the city itself.
3) The Festivals – Toronto is full of activities throughout the year. One of the biggest events is the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), featuring celebrities, red carpets and some of the year’s biggest films. Did you know Toronto also hosts the annual Caribana (the largest Caribbean culture festival in North America) and Nuit Blanche (an all-night arts festival)?
4) Pride - Toronto also hosts one of the biggest Pride celebrations in the world! The month-long celebration takes place in June and in 2018 is culminating with the 38th annual Pride Parade. Pride Month in Toronto attracts over 1.2 million visitors each year, and the city transforms itself to welcome the world and embrace diversity.
5) Restaurants – Toronto’s restaurant scene is renowned for having amazing food from all over the world. From local ethnic street food to high-end fine dining, you’ve got to try it all! Toronto has no shortage of great restaurants for every type of diet, budget and cuisine. Restaurants in the city are LGBTQ-friendly—many proudly so. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this list of popular restaurants that will have you coming back for more.
6) Local Breweries and the Distillery District – If you like beer, you’re in for a treat! Toronto has some of the best craft breweries and many even offer tours, giving you a look into the brewing process, talking about the city's beer-making history and, of course, offering a taste of the freshly brewed beer. Also, make sure to check out the Distillery District—it used to be the home of Gooderham and Worts Distillery, which was once the largest distillery in the world. This is now a cute neighborhood with local artists, restaurants, cafes, and the Mill Street Brewery, where you can sign-up for a tutored beer flight tasting and a sample of their Bierschnaps.
7) Toronto Islands – The chain of small islands just off the downtown core, is one of the gems of the city! It’s also the home to a series of parks and small beaches. Access to the island is generally by ferry, where you will have an amazing view of the city—so get your cameras ready! A great way to beat the crowds is to take a water taxi on the way to the island and take the free ferry back. It costs a little bit more, but it’s less stressful and quicker.
8) CN Tower – The CN Tower has become a symbol of Toronto and part of its iconic skyline. It’s well worth a visit, especially if you have never been before. The tower offers 360° views of the city and for thrill seekers, the Edgewalk is your chance to walk outside around the circumference of the roof of the tower. There is also a revolving restaurant and if you book a meal there, the ride up to the observation deck is included in your meal price.
9) Niagara Region – While not in Toronto, Niagara Falls is an easy drive from the city and a must-see, especially for first time visitors. You can experience the power of the falls from the observation deck or get a closer look with Niagara Hornblower Cruises, which gets you up close to the rim of the falls. Many visitors often make the mistake of just visiting the falls without stopping in the Niagara wine region for a winery tour and wine tasting, so make sure you stop to enjoy the views, wine and the quaint town of Niagara on the Lake.
10) Where Love is Love – Canadians are known to be friendly and welcoming. Torontonians may not be the first to greet or talk to a stranger, but we still live up to the stereotype of being nice. We embrace diversity and inclusion—this is where love is truly just love.
This article was submitted by Barry Joy (aka asianmapleleaf), an ambassador of all things travel – he was born and raised in Toronto and currently lives in New York City. Follow his adventures on asianmapleleaf.com or on Instagram @asianmapleleaf.