16 May 2012

Toronto and Niagara Falls Travel Guide


ETA:

Canada now has an entry requirement for Visa Waiver travellers, similar to the American ESTA. It is called ETA, and currently costs $7.

Only use this link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp and not the scam sites that Google Ads will throw up for you.



Travel:


UP Train

https://www.upexpress.com/
This is a stylish and fast way to get from the Airport to Union Station. The $12 fare is worth it, and if you get a PRESTO electronic fare payment card first (you can buy one at the UP ticket desk at the airport), it's only $9.


A TTC Weekly pass offer good value on the subway, streetcar and bus system
http://www.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/Passes/index.jsp
It can be bought on a Monday or Tuesday and lasts until the following Sunday, and can be added to your PRESTO card
If you arrive after Tuesday, then daily passes are also available




Hotel:

Doubletree by Hilton

108 Chestnut Street
http://doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/ontario/doubletree-by-hilton-hotel-toronto-downtown-YTOCSDT/index.html
positioned just behind City Hall, on the edge of the Asian restaurant district, a short walk to St Patrick Station. Entrance to the underground PATH at City Hall gets you all the way to Union Station. Excellent breakfasts.

The Suites at One King West
1 King Street West
the tallest residential building in Toronto, suites feature kitchen with fridge, washing machine and microwave, but still with daily maid service and restaurant



Tourist Card:

We don't recommend any of the sightseeing cards for tourists, but there are some available for the Zoo, CN Tower etc if you want to commit to seeing everything.

NOW Magazine
https://nowtoronto.com/
Pick up a copy or download it to your tablet, for listings of events, music and exhibitions




Food:

Morning Glory
457 King Street East, Corktown
breakfast, sandwiches, drinks and desserts, all lovingly made and presented by our friend Hannah

Canoe
66 Wellington Street West
http://www.canoerestaurant.com/about/
This high class dining venue is also high level, situated on floor 54 of the Toronto Dominion tower in downtown Toronto. Booking essential. Take the lifts in the TD Bank Tower just north of Wellington Street West

Beavertails

145 Queens Quay West, just East of the Harbourfront Centre
http://beavertails.com/en/our-products/
a Canadian delicacy, think fried dough in the shape of a naan bread, topped with typical crepe or waffle toppings

Sobeys Urban Fresh

207 Queens Quay West, just East of the Harbourfront Centre
http://www.sobeys.com/en/stores/sobeys-queens-quay/
a supermarket with plenty of fresh selections to take out for lunch

Asteria

679 Danforth Avenue, just East of Pape station
(not to be confused with the one at 292 Danforth, or Astoria at 390 Danforth)
A great little Greek cafe, family run, one of many on the Danforth strip

Pappas Grill

440 Danforth Avenue
Another Greek restaurant on Danforth, this one is more fine dining

Marché Restaurant
http://www.marche-restaurants.com/en/marche-brookfield-place-street-level
A food court with 8 marketplace stations, really fresh food and a great selection

Carousel Bakery

http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/vendors/vendor_detail/56
famous for two things, the Peameal Bacon Sandwich, and their custard tarts. We'd recommend both!

Osgoode Hall

130 Queen Street West
http://www.lsuc.on.ca/osgoode-hall/
http://osgoodehallrestaurant.com/restaurant/
This is a top secret. The Law Society of Upper Canada has a lunch canteen that looks and feels like formal hall at an Oxbridge college. And yet the daily prix fixe menu is only $25. Dress smartly! There'll be people in gowns and wigs. Go through security (who are unwelcoming) and then take the lift to the dining room. 

Wahlburgers

46 Blue Jays Way
http://wahlburgers.ca/menu.asp
owned by Mark and Donnie Wahlberg and their family, this place is a must for fans of NKOTB and Blue Bloods

The Old Spaghetti Factory
54 The Esplanade
traditional bread, soup, salad, ice cream included with main course, for tourists only

Salad King
335 Yonge Street, turn East onto Gould Street
great noodle place, even faster than Wagamama

360o Restaurant at the CN Tower
301 Front Street West
mega-pricey tourist way to get a great view and enjoy a quality meal

Crêpe it up!
Lower Level, St Lawrence Market, 91 Front Street East
wide selection of fillings in the market basement

The Biermarkt
58 The Esplanade and other locations
a beerlist that reads like a phone book, delicious food and pleasant atmosphere

Asian Legend
418 Dundas Street, and other locations
https://www.asianlegend.ca/
genuine Chinese fare, with an exotic menu and local clientele



Sightseeing:

Anglican Cathedral Church of St James
65 Church Street, off King Street East
and visit the Toronto Sculpture Garden just across King Street from the Cathedral

Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West
www.ago.net
closed Monday

Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen’s Park Crescent, off Bloor Street West

Gardiner Ceramic Museum
111 Queens Park, off Bloor Street West

Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay West
gallery The Power Plant shows modern art: www.thepowerplant.org
excellent local craft shop
close to the Toronto Music Garden park

Fort York
Garrison Road, off Fleet Street
walk South on Bathurst Street from any East-West streetcar

Toronto’s First Post Office
260 Adeleide Street East
one of the oldest buildings in Toronto, with a history of the postal service in Canada

Casa Loma
1 Austin Terrace
a 20th-C stately home, used as a location in many films

St Lawrence Market
Front Street and Jarvis Street
indoor market with food and souvenirs, and across the street a weekend flea-market
The Market Gallery
95 Front Street East at Jarvis Street
$20, closed Monday
Bus 100 from Broadview (west end of Danforth) and Eglinton subway stations. Alight at Garamond Court on Wynford Drive.

Design Exchange
Toronto Dominion Centre, 234 Bay Street
design exhibitions on the ground floor, sneak upstairs to see the old Stock Exchange rooms with original fittings

Toronto Dominion Gallery of Inuit Art
Toronto Dominion Centre, 79 Wellington Street West
https://art.td.com/visit/
First People soapstone sculptures

Toronto Beaches Easter Parade
West along Queen Street through the Beaches to Woodbine Avenue, good views at Kew Gardens
on Easter Sunday, everyone travels East to the Beaches to see a good old-fashioned parade

Union Station
65 Front Street West
not as grand as NYC or LA, it still has interesting architectural features

Hockey Hall of Fame
Brookfield Place, 30 Yonge Street
https://www.hhof.com/
you might not know much about ice hockey, but after a visit here you'll be an expert! Try to catch a game by the Maple Leafs, Toronto's premier team, or the more easy to get tickets for Toronto Marlies.

Allan Gardens
19 Horticultural Avenue, off Queen Street East
6 greenhouses and a park with a wide variety of plants and flowers

City Hall
Nathan Phillips Square
http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=6f42372ad5f02410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRDThis dramatic curved building has a central dome featuring art, archives, a small library, a scale model of the city, and excellent views

For a nice walk out of town, Riverdale Park is on Gerrard Street East, just west of the Don Valley Parkway. It has a farm, Toronto's oldest cemetery, and a walk north past Chester Hill Lookout up to Todmorden Mills, close to Broadview subway for the journey back to the city centre





Boat Trips:


Toronto Island Ferry Service
Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, off Harbour Square
from 0635 to 2330, can be 2 hours between boats on weekdays, so checking essential
go to wicket 9 on the far left, behind the Westin Harbour Castle
in Winter there are only ferries to Ward's Island but the other islands can be reached on foot



Shopping:

Spacing Store
401 Richmond Street West, east side of the building
https://spacingstore.ca/
for unique Toronto-themed gifts, books, their own Spacing magazine, and art exhibitions

Umbra Store
165 John Street
homewares and stationery

Ben McNally Books

366 Bay Street
https://benmcnallybooks.com/

Sonic Boom
215 Spadina Avenue
http://sonicboommusic.com/
Toronto's greatest record store!

You couldn't have a nicer day out than to take a stroll down Queen Street West. Starting at City Hall, this 3 mile street has cafes, design shops, great architecture and hidden delights. Some of our top picks:


578 Smoke's Poutinerie: http://smokespoutinerie.com/ (plus other locations)
610 Urban Barn: www.urbanbarn.com
651 Crate & Barrel 2: http://www.cb2.com/stores/toronto/str330
694 Magic Pony: www.magic-pony.com
707 BLVD Interiors: www.blvdinteriors.com
787 Dufflet Pastries: www.dufflet.com/ (plus other locations)
883 Type Books http://www.typebooks.ca/
Trinity Bellwoods Park http://www.trinitybellwoods.ca/
1112 Poutini's House of Poutine www.poutini.com
1144 Drake Hotel: http://www.thedrakehotel.ca/
1144 Drake General Store: http://www.drakegeneralstore.ca/ (plus other locations) 
1214 Gladstone Hotel: www.gladstonehotel.com (art galleries on every floor)

There's not much west of Dufferin, but two picks are
1290 Public Butter Vintage Store: www.thepublicbutter.com
1605 Toronto Designer's Market: http://www.torontodesignersmarket.com/
After this you keep walking until you reach Humber Bay
Take the 501 tram back to downtown


Kensington Market
Spadina Avenue between Dundas Street and College Street

the closest comparison is with North Laine in Brighton, lots of little shops selling things you won’t get anywhere else, food and hippy vibes

Queen Street East

232 Acadia Art & Rare Books: http://www.acadiabooks.com/
246 Second Voyage: http://secondvoyage.ca/
Cross the Don River on the Queen Street East bridge, and head into a nice area of little art shops 
639 Mary Macleod's Shortbread: https://www.marymacleod.ca/
765 Ralph Thornton Public Library
790 Arts Market (also at 1114): http://www.artsmarket.ca/



Libraries

Toronto Reference Library
North of Bloor and Yonge
massive library with fantastic 70s architecture look reminiscent of Logan’s Run
also has Page and Panel, a great shop with graphic novels, book-related gifts, and both of the following:

All The Libraries

A colouring book with all 100 branches in it - only £10 and beautifully drawn
http://allthelibraries.ca/

Toronto Library Passport

If you plan to visit as many libraries as possible, buy the Library Passport, smart design and a good guide to carry with you
http://torontolibrarypassport.com/



NIAGARA FALLS BONUS BEATS


Getting there:

By rail, you have 2 choices. The VIA Rail service leaves Union Station at 8.20am and arrives at the Canadian side station at 10.16am. Because it's using Amtrak trains that are carrying on to New York, all the passengers for Canada are corralled in one carriage, and escorted off the train, before it then crosses the US border over the bridge. The Canadian station has a small waiting room and is on the North side of the Canadian city of Niagara.
Alternatively you can catch a more frequent GO Train, but this does not go all the way, instead you change onto a bus taking you to the centre of Niagara.
The return VIA Rail train leaves at 5.45pm, don't miss it! Again, you are corralled in the waiting room even though the train has been there for an hour, and allowed to board at the last minute. Our conductor entertained us during the journey with magic tricks!
http://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/trains/ontario-and-quebec/toronto-niagara-falls

Getting to the Falls:

If walking, head east until you get to the river road beneath the US border bridge. The scenic route along the river takes around 45 minutes, past diners, old churches and a great view of the American side.
By bus, the terminal is just south of the station, and runs every half an hour. You can buy a day ticket or just pay as you go.

City of Niagara:

As Niagara Falls is such a tourist trap, with rides, casinos and tacky arcades, you may want to explore a bit of the real Niagara. The City is on Queen Street, 2 blocks south of the station, running west, and then south down Victoria Avenue. It has the feel of small-town America (or of course Canada) and the local shops are interesting and have friendly staff. A real change from the tourist stuff. Look out for the Public Library at 4848 Victoria Avenue, and the Military Museum at 5049 Victoria Avenue.

Visiting the American side:

Don't bother. The Canadian cruise is fantastic, the access by foot and views on the Canadian side are infinitely better, and the American side is even more tacky. If you really want to walk across the Rainbow Bridge, make sure you have your passport and a couple of 50 cent coins for the turnstile.

Hornblower Cruises:

You can only be sure of cruising in the summer season, but we made it at the beginning of April despite heavy snow and ice, as the river was free of ice so the boats could run.
https://www.niagaracruises.com/
Book in advance, and board your cruise at Grand View Marketplace, a concrete shopping centre on the riverside just south of Rainbow Bridge. Go downstairs, have your tacky photo taken, and put on your poncho!
When you come back off the boat you are forced into a gift shop but you know you want to really.

Skylon Tower

https://www.skylon.com/
$15 gets you a ride to the top and fantastic views of the Falls, and the surrounding countryside, all the way to Niagara-on-the-Lake

Journey Behind The Falls

https://www.niagaraparks.com/niagara-falls-attractions/journey-behind-the-falls.html
This must-see attraction lets you walk through tunnels and then see the Falls from incredible close-up angles

avoid:

Winter Wonder Pass (unless you are there for 2 days) or Summer Adventure Pass
They are not good value for money.
Also avoid the tourist area centred on Victoria Avenue and Centre Street (unless you are in the market for Burger King or fairground rides)


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