As I write this, I’m sitting in front of a heat pump, in a hoodie I found at the Salvation Army, wrapped in a furry blanket. Winter has officially arrived to small-town New Zealand and, while I’m happy to be traveling, pictures of Christie Pitts and beer on patios is making me miss home something fierce.
Torontonians, do me a favour: enjoy and explore your city this summer!
I took off at the end of March to travel the world and see the sights, but I just can’t keep away from my favourite city on Earth. I’ll be in a hostel at the bottom of a mountain and find myself searching Toronto blogs and clicking through #bikeTO hashtags on Twitter. I scour my Facebook feed looking for mention of our
magical maniacal mayor, and even check the weather every few days. Don’t get me wrong; I love traveling and can’t wait to explore the world! But to me, Toronto in the summer is one of the best places anyone could be.
There are XX* annual summer festivals in the city (most of them free!) and, no matter how much we bitch about the crowds at Taste of the Danforth may be, there’s something special about walking the yellow line down a major street with a thousand of your unknown neighbours. I love stumbling across unknown events in Queens Park or Christie Pitts and treating myself to an overpriced kebab, or making a day of it and taking in the sights and smells of the Festival of South Asia.
(*I tried to count them all but couldn’t remember/find them all. Let’s go with “at least 20”)
Westenders: explore the East! The Beaches are a great place to spend a sunny Saturday, and if you bring a pram or puppy, you’ll fit right in! Eastenders: explore the West! Roncesvalles is a fantastic neighbourhood to take a stroll in, and Bathurst just south of Dupont has really changed in the past year or so. And hey, there’s a whole world waiting to be explored just north of Davenport (if you dare).
Pedestrian Sundays are a delight, weekday farmers markets in hidden parking lots are a must, garage sales offer great finds, andCentreIslandis almost mandatory. Buy yourself an Indie Coffee Passport and plan out a great biking route to get to your next coffee shop. Into Yoga? The Passport to Prana will show you not only new studios, but new areas of the city you might have never made it to otherwise. Hell, you could even go check out the bars in Yorkville if you haven’t been recently. Treat yourself to a patio pint at The Pilot if sipping bubbles with suits isn’t your deal.
Things are cheap too! There are archery classes at Casa Loma on weekends (you really can’t beat $34 for a 2 hour lesson taught by a guy who used to joust), more cheap comedy than you can accommodate in your calendar, sunny Jays games, cheap brewery tours, free events at the Harbourfront Centre, and you can even TTC to a campground and stop by MEC along the way to rent a tent.
And the tours THE TOURS! Tour Guys give some great tours that are perfect for visitors AND locals (who doesn’t love knowing more about their city?! ) and the ROM offers free walking tours at least once a week. Cheap historical walking tours? You’d do it in Europe, so why not do it at home!
Perhaps the best thing anyone can do in Toronto in the summer is just get out and DO things. We all have our favourite patios and pubs, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who has the New Gen number in my phone (one order Spicy Vegetarian Maki for pick-up, please)…but the city is full of other wonderful places to explore and try, and I think we forget that. To us, Toronto isn’t the big, scary city it appears to be to the rest of the country, but it’s a series of smaller, lovely neighbourhoods each with their own charm. Go out and explore them, even if it means simply grabbing a Frisbee and finding a new park in your own ‘hood.
When I travel, I can’t wait to get out and explore, and I vow to explore Toronto more when I get home next year. Traveling has made me realize just how amazing my favourite city is, and I hope you realize it too. So go out and explore, Torontonians! Give our city a big hug for me while you’re at it. I’ll be home soon.