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Spotlight: Toronto

Feel the buzz of a world-class metropolis

For all of its world-class attractions and thriving cultural scene, Toronto’s greatest feature might just be something that’s impossible to define adequately or properly quantify: its people.

Blessed with a kaleidoscope of diverse neighborhoods, an easy-to-navigate layout and an astoundingly friendly atmosphere, this is also one of the most multicultural cities in the world. More than 140 different languages are spoken here. More than half of the city’s nearly 3 million residents arrived from elsewhere, and 47 percent of residents consider themselves a visible minority. It’s no wonder why the city is known locally as the “Big Smoke” is so often compared with the “Big Apple” further south.

But the comparisons between New York and Canada’s largest metropolis mostly end after the first glance. Dig any deeper or spend any amount of time here at all and you’ll discover a city that’s remarkably free from violent crime and racial intolerance, regularly ranking in the top 10 safest cities in the world. The people are friendly, and the diversity of ethnic neighborhoods is championed loudly and proudly by locals. It’s no wonder why. When you’re feeling adventurous, it’s possible to sip, nibble and sample a lion’s share of the world’s cultures over the course of a single weekend here in the fourth largest city in North America.

The Distillery Historic District

The Distillery Historic District

Brews, Big Buildings and More

One of the best places to start is St. Lawrence Market. If Toronto is a coming together of the world’s ethnicities and cultures, St. Lawrence Market is where Toronto itself comes together. Established in 1803, the modern day market is split into two: Market North and Market South. Market North teems with fresh produce and baked goods from local farmers and bakeries. Market South mixes a blend of specialty food stalls with boutique shops.

From here, continue your city sightseeing with a stroll through the Historic Distillery District, where steam-punk-inspired vintage Victorian-era warehouses have been converted into a world of trendy art studios, design houses, coffee shops and gourmet eateries.

Of course, no trip to Toronto would be complete without a ride to up the CN Tower. Built in the 1970s, this is still the tallest freestanding structure on the planet. The ride to the observation deck is done in style, too. Glass walls and a glass-bottomed panel in the floor will make you feel the ride in the bottom of your stomach. But that’s more than half the fun. Above 1,000 feet, a revolving restaurant makes for a great place to treat the family to lunch, while an observation deck offers unparalleled panoramic views.

If you’re a dyed-the-wool adrenaline junky, there’s also the stomach-churning EdgeWalk option, which is exactly what it sounds like. You don a jumpsuit and safety harness, clip into a rail on the outside of the tower and go for a nice leisurely stroll around the top rim of the observation deck, more than 1,600 feet above the surface of the earth.

The Royal Ontario Museum with the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal addition.

www.torontowide.com

Trips to the Past

When your feet are back firmly on the ground, downtown Toronto is perfectly tailored to please all interest and all age groups.

History buffs will want to spend some time spelunking about in the depths of the massive Royal Ontario Museum. More than 6 million items, artifacts and specimens are found here, and truly curious visitors can expect to spend at least an entire day combing the collections. The museum is spread across four floors and divided into two sections: The Natural History Galleries (showcasing the biological history and diversity of the world’s plant and animal species) and the World Culture Galleries (full of artifacts spanning the history of civilization, from Ancient Egypt to the turn of the twentieth century).

For sports enthusiasts, a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame should be high on the must-visit list. In Canada, the significance of this timeless institution borders on being spiritual. The hall offers a high-tech overview of the history of the game of hockey through a mix of visual displays and interactive exhibits. Highlights include a virtual reality experience with Wayne Gretzky, the evolution of the goalie mask exhibit and, of course, the Stanley Cup itself.

Animal lovers can make their way to the north side of Roundhouse Park, where Ripley’s brand new Aquarium of Canada displays more than 15,000 marine animals. After your done there, the Toronto Zoo is located about a half-hour away on the north side of the city. Home to more than 5,000 exotic animals and occupying 700 acres, it’s one of the largest zoos in the world.

For More Information

Toronto Convention and Visitors Association
800-499-2514
www.seetorontonow.com
Ontario Travel
800-668-2746
www.ontariotravel.net