Toronto: The largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario

Toronto: The largest city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario

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Shopping is one of the best tourist and local pastimes. Toronto caters to them with countless shopping arcades and avenues. The Yorkville neighborhood is one of Toronto’s most elegant shopping and dining areas and if you are there during the film festival, you could spot celebrities from all over North America.
The Toronto Eaton Centre attracts over a million visitors every week and is one of North America’s top shopping destinations.

A great place to shop for more kitschy apparels is the Yonge Street Strip, known locally as Highway 11. The strip is often cited as the longest street in the world, since it extends from north from the city, over the top of the great lakes, all the way to Rainy River on the border with Minnesota 1,896 km away!

The Greektown area boasts one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per km in the world and is home to the annual ‘Taste of the Danforth’ festival which attracts over one million people in its two and a half day of celebrations.

Canada’s most famous castle resides right here in Toronto. The Casa Loma is the former estate of Sir Henry Pellatt, a prominent Toronto financier, industrialist and military man.

If you are looking to escape from the city life, try staying in a cottage county such as the Waterloo Region to the west, Muskoka to the north and the Kawarthas to the northeast of Toronto, with country inns, provincial parks, lakes and rivers, that provide ample opportunities for camping, fishing, hunting, and many other year-round outdoor activities amidst natural beauty.

The Annex is a popular place for food and shopping and is said to be one of the friendliest neighborhoods of the city. Old style houses are lined beautifully along tree-lined streets. With the University of Toronto being nearby, many students and faculty live here. This has also prompted a large number of second-hand bookstores to come up in the area for their benefit, giving the neighborhood a somewhat intellectual reputation.

The Zion schoolhouse was built in 1869 and later restored to the 1910 period. It has provided elementary education to generations of children and is one of Toronto’s remaining one-room schoolhouses. Montgomery’s Inn, now restored to its 1847 glory, remains a meeting place where visitors share their everyday stories and culture.

Cabbagetown, located along Parliament Street, is a neighborhood of historic Victorian houses. Once home to poor Irish immigrants, it is now home to residents who have restored the area maintaining its original character.

Nearby is the Riverdale Farm – a working farm, with barns and outdoor paddocks, and animals of all types providing education about the farm life. It is a great place to take the kids.

High Park is one of the largest parks in the city where you can stroll through the gardens, zoo, playgrounds, and trails. It even has a swimming pool. In July or August, make sure to stop by for Dream in High Park, an annual event that showcases the works of Shakespeare.

Migrants to the city have built their own little corners around town. Toronto’s Chinatown is one of North America’s largest Chinatowns and is a good place to pick up souvenirs. Koreatown is home to dozens of Korean (and Japanese-Korean) restaurants and bars. Little India houses many shops, and restaurants. Little Italy is filled with music, sidewalk cafes and excellent food.

If you enjoy life after sunset, the city does not disappoint. the aptly named Clubland and the fashion district on Queen Street West are the most happening places in town for a rocking nightlife. The Phoenix, Toronto’s largest club The Guvernment and the Docks, literally operating on part of Toronto’s commercial port, are three of the major clubs outside the district.

Culture:
For theatre buffs, Toronto has a great theatre scene for every taste and budget, with more than fifty ballet and dance companies, six opera companies, and two symphony orchestras. The bigger theatres on King Street and Yonge Street present big flamboyant shows, such as Chicago, The Lion King, and Cats. Smaller theatres offer productions that range from original Canadian works, avant-garde, experimental theatre, small budget musicals to British murder mysteries.
If that doesn’t satisfy your cultural agenda, try the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, home of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada, and the Roy Thomson Hall where the Toronto Symphony plays.

Every summer, the Canadian Stage Company presents an outdoor Shakespeare production in Toronto’s High Park called ‘Dream in High Park’. The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the most important annual events for the international film industry. The Canadian National Exhibition is the oldest and the fifth largest annual fairs in the world, with an average attendance of 1.3 million.

From mid-July to early August, you can witness Toronto’s Caribana festival – one of North America’s largest street festivals. The festival is based on the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, and the one in Toronto took place in 1967 when the city’s Caribbean community celebrated Canada’s Centennial year. 40 years later, it continues to attract hordes of visitors to the Lake Shore Boulevard annually.

Mid-June sees one of the largest LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) festivals in the world attracting more than one million people from all over the world.

Getting in:
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is about 45 minutes by car from the heart of the city and is serviced by most major international carriers from around the world.

The city is also connected to most major cities in the region by an extensive network of bus and coach services. If you would rather drive into town yourself, it is relatively easy to find your way if you just ask someone. Being the largest city in the country, almost anyone could point you in the right direction. The main streets in Toronto are laid out in a grid pattern that makes it one of the easiest cities to get around in by car.

However, if you prefer to take the slow and easy route, catch a train. Toronto is situated along a primary VIA Rail corridor and there are express services between Toronto and Montreal.

Getting around:
The city has a safe, well-maintained and extensive network of public transportation. The buses, subway, and streetcars will take you to almost any point in the city, and they are easy to use. Taxis are plentiful and safe, but not cheap, and are prone to get stuck in traffic during rush hours, escalating the cost of the ride. By far the most healthy, and environment friendly way to get around is cycling. The central area has become relatively bike friendly in recent years and the government has installed many new bike only lanes.

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