Revision as of 03:12, 23 November 2008
Skating at Nathan Philips Square
The Downtown core is the economic powerhouse of Toronto, although it lacks the cultural appeal of the outlying districts. Many of Toronto's larger attractions are located here, however, so it's an essential part of any visit to Toronto.
Dozens of towering glass, concrete and steel monoliths are a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. Toronto's Financial District is actually quite compact and walkable, even in inclement weather. That's because of the "PATH"  - 27 km (16 miles) of interconnecting passageways under the streets that feature more than 1,200 stores and services. Street entrances to the subterranean walkway are indicated with "PATH" signage.
Map of Toronto City Center
- Go Transit  runs trains from the north, east and west heading from outlying districts to Union Station. Fares from $5-10.
Head to Union Station to visit the downtown core. The stop is located on the southernmost tip of the Yonge-University-Spadina lines. Fare for a subway ride is $2.75.
Most of the major highways passing through Toronto pass through the downtown core at some point.
- From the DVP: follow the DVP south towards Front Street - the southernmost exit brings you into downtown.
- From the Gardiner Expressway: exit at Spadina, next to the CN Tower.
- From the 401: follow the 401 until you reach the Don Valley Parkway (just east of Leslie Street), then exit onto the DVP southbound, and follow until you reach Front Street.
The easiest way to find downtown Toronto is to locate the CN Tower, and head towards it. Be advised that Toronto is considered a very dangerous city to bike in by many people, and accidents are frequent. Stick to less populated roads, and be aware of people and vehicles around you.
- Art Gallery of Ontario, 319 Dundas St W (St Patrick subway station), . The AGO is currently closed for renovations. It will reopen November 14 2008. Home to many famous pieces of art ranging from very recent to artwork hundreds of years old. Artists from Monet to Warhol are represented here and the AGO has one of the largest collections of Henry Moore sculptures in the world.
- CN Tower, 301 Front Street West, +1 416 868-6937, . Su-Th 9:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 9:30AM-10:30PM (for specific attractions - prices vary by access). The much-acclaimed CN Tower is Toronto's most recognizeable and famous feature, and the world's tallest free-standing structure. Clocking in at a dizzying 553M, a visit is worth it for the view of the city alone. Visitors can look out from behind glass windows or go to an outside observing area to look through a metal screen. It attracts large numbers of tourists; best times are weekdays in the morning. Visitors can jump up and down on the thick glass floor in parts of the observatory (the view from the floor downward essentially shows the base of the tower). 360, the revolving restaurant, is located in the main deck, but isn't particularly renowned. Restaurant diners with reservations can avoid the lines of the observatory, and at night the lights from distant Rochester, New York are visible over the lake. Approx. $20 (budget) or $28 to go up.
- City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square, (Queen subway station), . Toronto's modernist City Hall designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell and was completed in 1965. Nathan Phillips Square features a reflecting pool that turns into a skating rink in the winter. Old City Hall, completed in 1899, is located across the street at 60 Queen St. W.
- Two other historical buildings are on Queen Street just west of City Hall: Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West (Queen and University), which houses the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Superior Court of Justice, was built in the 1800s. Across the street, Campbell House, 160 Queen Street West, , is the oldest remaining house from the original Town of York and is one of the few examples of Georgian architecture in Toronto.
- CBC Museum at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, 250 Front St. W, . Mo-Fr 9AM-5PM. Free admission. The collection contains over 4,000 items that chronicle the history of Canadian broadcasting.
- Design Exchange (DX), 234 Bay St, +1 416 363-6121, . A museum of design in Canada and around the world. The permanent collection is only open by appointment, but the 3rd floor showcases interesting changing exhibitions, and there's always something on for free on the 1st floor as well.
- Hockey Hall of Fame, 30 Yonge Street (at Wellington, in Brookfield Place), +1 416 360-7765, . M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 9:30AM-6PM, Su 10:30AM-5PM. A shrine to Canada's pastime in the heart of the city. The Stanley Cup is usually housed here - if seeing it is important, call ahead and ensure it's not in another city before you visit. Adults $12, Youth + Seniors $8.
- The PATH, , is the world's largest underground shopping complex with 27 km (16 miles) of shopping arcades. It is a city under a city. The PATH is accessible from Dundas, Queen, King, Union and St Andrews subway stations.
- Rogers Centre, . The world's first stadium with a fully retractable roof. It is the home venue to the Toronto Blue Jays and hosts other special events.
- Union Station, 65 Front Street West, . Designed in the Beaux-Arts style and finished in 1921, the station is one of the city's landmarks.
- Casa Loma , Visit Canada's Majestic Castle, Casa Loma and step back in time to a period of European elegance and splendour. The former home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt, Canada's foremost castle is complete with decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables, and beautiful 5-acre estate gardens (open May through October). A self-guided digital audio tour in 8 languages (English, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin and Korean) is available. Casa Loma is located at One Austin Terrace near the corner of Davenport Rd. and Spadina Ave. www.casaloma.org.
- Toronto has a vibrant theatre scene. Check the entertainment listings to see what's on at the area's many theatres and concert halls, including the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatres (189 Yonge Street) and Massey Hall (178 Victoria Street). The Royal Alexandra and the Princess of Wales Theatres, which generally host big name musicals and plays, are located in the nearby Clubland/Entertainment District on King Street West.
- See a performance of the Canadian Opera Company, , or the National Ballet of Canada  at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (Queen subway station).
- Take in a game at the Air Canada Centre (the ACC), 40 Bay St., , home of the Toronto's NHL team, the Maple Leafs, and the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
- Take a historic walking tour of the area. Muddy York Walking Tours, , offers "Toronto History: the 20th Century" and "History of Downtown Street Names" tours that cover the downtown area.
The Eaton Centre, Toronto's largest mall
- Dundas Square is a neat little centre of shopping and includes the Eaton Centre.
- Toronto Eaton Centre, Yonge and Dundas (Dundas or Queen subway stations), . Over 285 shops and services, including most of North America's most popular brands. The flock of fibreglass Canadian geese suspended from the ceiling are a popular photo op.
- St Lawrence Market, Jarvis and Front, . Closed Su and Mo. Rated among the top 25 food markets in the world by Food & Wine magazine.
- King Street West (between Yonge and Bathurst) is a very popular shopping district. Contained within it is Toronto's Fashion District and many other fine retailers. Be sure to check out it whilst in Toronto.
This area had been generally considered a culinary wasteland. However, new places with good food are constantly opening and closing, and the vast array of Asian eating options in Chinatown are just a short walk away. King and Queen streets West of University avenue offer wide range of decent midrange restaurants. Some options:
- Burrito Boyz, 218 Adelaide St W (west of Simcoe), . Open until 4AM on weekends. Very tasty burritos. The halibut burrito is especially popular. Arrive early for lunch as there can be a long line-up by 12:30PM. Large burrito $6-8.
- St Lawrence Market, 93 Front St. E. (at Jarvis), . Closed Su and Mo, best on Saturday morning. Great for grazing. Options in the South Market building include Mustacio's (downstairs) for an eggplant (or veal and eggplant) sandwich or Carousel Bakery (upstairs) for a peameal bacon sandwich.
- Richtree Market (formerly Movenpick Marche), 42 Yonge St (Brookfield Place), . Good if you have to please many tastes as options include personal pizzas, pasta-of-the-day, sushi, stirfries, seafood, steak, rosti potatoes, soup, sandwiches, crepes, waffles, etc. Casual, cafeteria style.
- Beerbistro, 18 King Street East (at Yonge Street), , open to 2AM Th-Sa. Over 130 ales and lagers. The dinner menu offers a wide range of appetizers and steak frites, mussel bowls, roasted knuckle of pork, seafood chowder and rabbit curry. Patio. Also open for lunch and brunch on weekends. $18-24 dinner mains.
- KAMA, 214 King Street West, Toronto, ON, M5H3S6. Tel: (416) 599-5262. Fax: (416) 599-4640. Indian buffet (Lunch $11.95, Dinner $18.95), slightly whitewashed to suite tastes of largely non-Indian clientele, but with very good selection. Good way to introduce novice to Indian foods.
- Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, 9 Church Street (south of Front St), 416 362 1957, . Open Mo-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 11AM-11PM. Tapas-style menu, casual atmosphere, open kitchen. A good place to dine alone if you sit at the bar.
- George's Chicken, Dundas east of Sherbourne, open to 2AM, whole barbecued chicken and fries with gravy. No seating. No whacking people ahead in line.
- Pickle Barrel Grand, 312 Yonge Street N. of Dundas. A large menu of North-American cuisine. It also has a selection of dishes from further afield, their take on traditional English fish and chips is a nice surprise using halibut instead of Cod or Haddock. Reasonable prices, decent food but nothing fancy. Nowhere near as much fun as any of the above places.
- Red Lobster, 20 Dundas Street W, inside the Atrium On Bay. A large and friendly restaurant serving mainly seafood but cooking up many other dishes as well. Good service and food makes this restaurant a pleasant eating experience. Moderately priced. A word of warning though their margarita cocktails are considerably larger than the pictures on the menu would have you believe.
- C'est What, Front Street at Church  has an affordable, eclectic menu and an amazing selection of microbrews, including the house specialties Coffee Porter and Hemp Ale.
- Bistro 990 990 Bay Street, +1 416 921-9990. Great French food, good wine. Game, seafood, homemade desserts. Mains $30.
- Canoe, 66 Wellington Street West (TD Bank Tower, 54th floor), +1 416 364-0054, . Regional Canadian cuisine, breathtaking views of the city skyline. Mains $40-44.
- Lai Wah Heen Restaurant, 108 Chestnut Street (the Metropolitan Hotel), +1 416 977-9899, . Open Mo-Su. Dim sum at lunch, a la carte menus at lunch and dinner, take-out available. Luxurious, Hong Kong-style dim sum.
- Le Commensal, 655 Bay Street, north of Dundas, +1 416 596-9364. A good selection of vegetarian fare, served buffet-style and priced by weight.
For basic groceries, visit The Kitchen Table at the Atrium on Bay (Dundas subway station).
- Steam Whistle Brewery. The Roundhouse, 255 Bremner Blvd, . A brewery in an old roundhouse close to the Rogers Center and the CN Tower. They offer tours of the brewery and samples of the beer.
There is an LCBO liquor store in the Atrium on Bay (Dundas subway station).
Le Germain Toronto, 30 Mercer Street, +1 416 345.9500, . Le Germain Toronto is located in the heart of Toronto's Entertainment District, right next to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Courtyard Toronto Downtown, 475 Yonge Street, +1 416 924-0611, . Offers accommodations, a wedding location, meeting space, banquet facilities, and hotel packages. Located two blocks from the University of Toronto.
Sheraton Centre Toronto, 123 Queen Street West (across from City Hall), (416) 361-1000, . Toronto's largest year-round pool, 24-hour fitness centre, business centre. Connected to the PATH.
Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre, 525 Bay Street, +1 416 597-9200, . Located at Toronto’s Eaton Centre, this hotel features a swimming pool, fitness center, restaurants, and meeting facilities.
Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front Street West (across from Union Station), (416) 368-2511, . Historic building, indoor pool and fitness centre, on-site restaurants and bars, business centre.
Renaissance Hotel Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, 416 341 7100, , 348 rooms in total, with 70 rooms overlooking the stadium. Pet friendly.
- The Distillery District, Parliament and Mill St area, , is located to the east of the downtown core. It has been designated a national historic site as an example of Victorian industrial design. The area features shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafes, and a theatre. Walking tours are available from the Distillery Visitor Centre.