Several thousand years ago, Toronto was inhabited by indigenous tribes that fished, hunted and traded throughout the area up until the arrival of the French in the 1600s. It took several decades, but in the 1700s the French began to set up several trading posts until the British ceased the City from them after the Seven Year’s War.
In the following century, large amounts of lower-class immigrants flooded the area after the Napoleonic Wars from the U.K., which turned a part of the city into a grungy, dirty area and remained so for a while. In 1834, the Town of York (as Toronto was previously called) became the City of Toronto, and just a few decades later, the City finally began to modernize with the construction of roads, streetcars, shops, businesses, schools and more.
As Toronto stepped into the 19th century, immigrants from all over the world began to make their way into the City, calling it their new home. From Portugal and Italy to China, Toronto steadily grew by population, resulting in the development of cultural areas such as Little Portugal, Chinatown and Little Italy. Today, Toronto is a magnificent destination full of diverse people that have influenced everything from the food and culture all the way to the architecture. So for those of you who are planning a getaway to the capital of Ontario, here are some gems we recommend you check out.
Winter Garden Theater
This one-of-a-kind theater has been designed with nature in mind. The Winter Garden Theater, built in 1913, features dried-up vines hanging from the ceiling and walls that have paintings of trees, leaves, brick walls and tree stumps. It’s as if you’re in a magical forest. If you visit, you can learn about its history via a 90-minute tour. Or, you can check out the calendar of events and experience a real show. The Winter Garden Theater also has original hand-operated elevators that you may be able to take a ride in.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
One of the most unusual finds in Toronto is a beautiful, white and large Buddhist temple called BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. The Temple has been created from white marble and limestone without the use of modern tools rather via traditional Hindu methods. The Temple was first built in India then brought to Toronto in parts that were then put back together on Canada’s soil. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is open to anyone, Monday through Sunday from 9am to 6:30pm. Please note that a dress code is strictly enforced when entering the Temple.
Parkdale Flea Market
We love flea markets and there are many different ones throughout Toronto. One of our top choices is the Parkdale Flea market, open April through September once a month on the second Sunday. From 10am to 5pm, you can look through and purchase vintage goods as well as new, handmade items—from skincare and crafts to jewelry and collectibles. There are even food vendors to keep you energized and happy while you shop around.
Antler Kitchen and Bar
There is a multitude of restaurants in Toronto—whatever type of dish you’re looking for, you can find. However, those who crave a Canadian dish should check out Antler Kitchen and Bar. From Venison Tartar and Mushroom Yakitori to Wild Boar Chop and Rib Eye, this place doesn’t only offer mouthwatering cuisine but the service is excellent as well. Plus, the drinks are well crafted and unique—they are absolutely delicious! Even if you don’t eat meat, Antler Kitchen and Bar is vegetarian-friendly, and there are gluten-free options as well.
The Cloak Bar
Speakeasies can be a lot of fun, which is why we recommend heading to The Cloak Bar to end the night. This speakeasy-type bar offers a relaxed environment, decorated in a prohibition-era style. To get to the bar, you have to go through another restaurant to the floor below. Aside from the well-made drinks, The Cloak Bar has small bites to help satisfy any late cravings. You can make a reservation in advance if you like but you don’t have to. The Cloak Bar is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 7pm to 2am. So go ahead, grab your friends, travel partner or loved one and enjoy a wonderful night out.
Toronto is a bustling city with plenty of shopping and dining options as well as some interesting sites like a Hindu temple and a theater that belongs in a fairytale. If you plan to head there for a few days, we hope this guide will inspire you to discover some of the City’s best gems.
If this or any other destinations speak to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and put some savings in your pocket. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!