See Toronto like a tourist

If you had just four days, where would you go in TO?
Trying to pack in the best of the city in short span, a challenge
By Kris Scheuer

If I can swing it financially, I am going to Europe this fall specifically to Paris, Rome and London.
No this is NOT a blog post about my trip – it’s about Toronto.
One of the challenges of this vacation, besides money, is how to see these historical, romantic, cultural European gems when I may have just three or four days in each of these world class cities.
And it got me thinking…if I had only four days and nights in Toronto what would be on my to do list? My point is not whether Toronto is in the same class as London, Paris or Rome but I am happy to hear your thoughts on if you think it is.
I am exploring the idea of what is essential about this city. What would I be sorry I missed out on if I had to pick and choose what to see in a short span of time?
Please let me know what you do and where do you take friends and family when they come to visit Toronto?
Based on a lifetime of living in T.O, here’s my top ten picks in random order. Most of what I love about this city is our neighbourhoods although being a downtown girl who doesn’t drive, most of my recommendations are skewed.

1. Kensington Market/Chinatown SW of College and Spadina. Kensington had Pedestrian Sundays once a month from May-Oct where it’s shut to cars and offers free music, buskers and people mingling. But I go for the cheese shops, patty and coco bread, freshly made veggie papusa. This is one of the best ‘hood for people watching. Chinatown is busy but in the warm weather has fairly good prices for exotic fruits and veggies, pastries, young coconuts (cut off the top and drink the water then scoop out the jelly) but it is harder to linger here as it’s crowded.
2. St. Lawrence Market at Front and Church is not cheap for groceries, but restos and delis on the lower floor do have delicious fried eggplant sandwiches, pirogues, crepes and fruit at very reasonable prices. Again it’s also the atmosphere of the oldest market in Toronto that started back in 1803. There’s also a great annual outdoor Busker Fest right outside the market for several blocks happening Aug 26-29 this year with acts from around the world.
3. The nearly 400-acre High Park at Bloor and Keele offers some nature in the urban environment with a small zoo, pond, cafe, playground and open-air live Shakespeare theatre with the summertime Dream in High Park.
4. Little India along Gerrard near Coxwell is another favourite. I like to look at the Sari shops, eat Paan (leaf with seeds, nuts and candies for digestion), pressed sugar cane juice, Indian buffet with chai tea and the occasional Indian sweets.
5. Scarborough Bluffs at the south end of Brimley Road offers a park, beach, cliffs. A great place to walk or watch fireworks with a clear view.


Scarborough Bluffs. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

6. Woodbine Beach at Coxwell and Lakeshore Blvd is a popular summer spot and offers close proximity to the Beach neighbourhood on Queen East for ice cream, a burger or drink (if you enjoy that kind of thing).
7. The Toronto Islands. To access the them by ferry go to the foot of Bay and Queens Quay for Wards Island a great place to go to the beach or bicycle the trails and “escape” from the city. And Centre Island has a exhibition.
8. Sunnyside Beach at the foot of Roncesvalles Ave at the lake. Another great place to walk, cycle, rollerblade along part of the Martin Goodman Trail.
9. CN Tower offers a great panoramic view of the city and lake and is just south of Front and John St.
10. Haborourfront at Queens Quay W and Lower Simcoe St is great primarily in the summer with live music with international bands for FREE festivals including Island Soul. But in the hot weather there are different festivals every weekend with food, music and arts. In the winter there is a frozen pond for skating.


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