A great way to begin a visit to Toronto is with a walk along Queen Street West, which starts out more hipster than bohemian artist. Walk a block west of University Avenue along Queen Street West to take in big name clothing stores, snag a south-facing patio table at The Rivoli or local-favourite, The Black Bull, or nosh at the elegant Peter Pan restaurant at Queen and Peter Streets. Toronto’s Textile District is located a block or two west of Spadina. Mixed into this ‘hood, is great value and cuisine at bistros such as Taro Grill, Epicure Cafe, The Red Tea Box, and The Tequila Bookworm.
West of Bathurst Street, Queen Street becomes more eclectic with shops of local up-and-coming and already there fashion designers, cool home accessories, and more restaurants and bars, including new kid on the block, Vdara, and vegetarian foodies’ hideout, Fresh. Head a few blocks west and end up at hipster heaven, The Drake Hotel (a misnomer, it’s really a collection of bars, cafes and lounges although there are a few guest rooms). A table on the rooftop patio where local artsy types hang is a must.
Summer Sounds at The Molson Amphitheatre
The Molson Amphitheatre is one of the best outdoor venues to enjoy a concert, resting on the shores of Lake Ontario and nestled into Ontario Place. Before taking in a top-billing artist, visitors can enjoy the facilities of Ontario Place such as the Cinesphere, or just kick back at a lakeside cafe with a cool drink and watch the boats go by from the National Yacht Club. Scheduled acts at the Amphitheatre this summer include Pearl Jam, Incubus, Beyonce, Rise Against, The Killers and The Offspring.
Toronto’s Cool Jazz Festivals
After an ear-splitting evening, visitors to Toronto can chill and groove to the smooth sounds emanating from Toronto’s two jazz festivals. The main stage is at Toronto’s City Hall, Nathan Phillips Square while other acts are featured at various venues downtown. Running from June to July, the festival includes big name acts such as Tony Bennett, Sony Rollins, Gary Burton Quartet with Pat Metheny, Branford Marsalis and Kool and the Gang.
For tourists visiting Toronto at the end of July, the Beaches International Jazz Festival runs along the eastern lakeshore in the ‘hood known simply as ‘The Beaches’. Jazz acts play the main stage, which is situated in Kew Gardens next to the lake, and local bars and restaurants along Queen Street East. Most events are free.