Travel stories, tips and suggestions from Canada

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A Guide To Lake Temiskaming: 1 Destination, 2 Provinces, 3 Cultures

There’s this lake in Canada. It sits in a gorgeous, lush area where the air is so fresh you can’t help but breathe deeply, where the people are so friendly you can’t help but keep a smile on your face and the views are so stunning, you’ll want to keep coming back for more. It’s a lake that divides two provinces but manages to bring them both together in a completely unique and fascinating way.

Three cultures, two provinces, one lake. It’s called Lake Temiskaming but to us, it is one of the most fascinating destinations and experiences we’ve had during our travels.

Where Still Waters Run Deep

Lake Temiskaming, Ontario

Lake Temiskaming is aptly named after the Algonquin word Temikami, or Temiskaming, meaning deep waters as the lake can reach depths of 709 ft. But it’s not just the water that runs deep, the communities living on the lake have untold depths we only scratched the surface of while we were there.

It seems as though no matter where you are on the lake, you’ll find the influence of all of the surrounding communities – you’ll encounter a mix of French and English in language and heritage and a growing integration and influence of native culture around the lake. It’s fascinating to visit from town to town and see that each has its own vibe yet are also all intrinsically connected. Whether you spell it Temiskaming (a decades-old error), Timiskaming, or Temiscamingue depends on where you are around the lake and which language you are speaking but to us, they all refer to an area that is as peaceful and beautiful as it is complex and rich in character.

We were extra fortunate to be able to explore the lake with locals, especially a couple (Vivianne & Roger) who are pillars of the community and who have incredible knowledge about the lake, both past and present. They were our keystone from which we were able to connect to the whole and through them we saw how interconnected everyone was and what a beautiful place it was to be – thanks to the people, the cultures and the landscape.

boating on lake temiskaming, ontario and quebec

It was with them that we were able to delve deeper into life on Lake Temiskaming and experience so much of what the area has to offer for both residents and tourists alike. It was also with them that we got to witness first-hand the connectedness of the communities through Vivianne and Roger, and all of those we met along the way.

It truly is a phenomenal place to visit and if you get a chance, here are some things to do whether you’re on the Ontario side, Quebec side or plan to make your way to both:

Ontario Side of Lake Temiskaming – Temiskaming Shores

Temiskaming Shores makes up a large portion of the Ontario coast of Lake Temiskaming and is where we spent our time while on that side of the provincial border. It’s here that we found an interesting bilingualism of French and English in a way we’ve not seen anywhere else, spoken in soft accents, at times not noticeable no matter the language used. We also found a lively atmosphere, full of friendly people who all seemed to know one another… or at least have very few degrees of separation.

What To Do

There’s so much to do in the area but here are some of the highlights of our time there!

Vivianne and Roger were instrumental in getting us out onto the lake and in showing us some of the best spots to enjoy. If you’re able to venture to the lake with a motorboat there are some interesting sights to see, like the ancient cliff called Devil’s Rock, and many islands to observe, like Farr Island. It’s truly a pleasure to spend some time on the water and with marinas located in various towns in both provinces, you’ll even be able to dock and explore (i.e. Haileybury on the Ontario side and Ville-Marie on the Quebec side).

Tip: For now, if you’re looking to rent a boat or boating equipment, like kayaks or canoes, you’ll have to plan on your way into the area by stopping at one of the larger cities or rental places along the way and bringing it with you the rest of the way. For those travelling north into Temiskaming Shores, a stop in North Bay would be perfect.

Devil's Rock Lake Temiskaming

One of our most memorable outings was our hike and picnic at Devil’s Rock. We had seen this giant cliff from the water below while boating but it wasn’t until we hiked to it and got to see the view from the top that we truly appreciated it. It’s easy to pick out Devil’s Rock from below – rising 300 ft from the lake, one of the top peaks of the escarpment looks very much like a face. We took a hiking trail that led straight to the cliff and enjoyed a picnic with one of the most stunning views in the province.

If you plan your time in the area right, the craft beer festival – North on Tap – is a great local event to attend. Featuring Ontario craft brewers, as well as some local fare and music, the festival is a ton of fun and a great way to get a taste of the community, both literally and figuratively.

Where To Stay

Some of the accommodations in the area also offer boating experiences. Presidents’ Suites is a collection of historic homes that have been restored and reopened as B&Bs. They will also take you over to Farr island where you’ll find some of the many activities they offer. While there is treehouse glamping available for those that want to stay on the island, they are looking to build and open several glamping cabins in the near future.

Waterfront Inn New Liskeard Ontario

We had the pleasure of staying at the Waterfront Inn which, as its name suggests, sits right on the lake and offers a spectacular view. It was such a great room with a perfect location and we were thrilled to be able to open our patio doors and literally step out to the lake whenever we wanted. They were also closeby to a lot of the areas we wanted to see, as well as the marina.

Where To Eat

Not only did we enjoy our accommodations at the Waterfront Inn, we also loved their restaurant: Rooster’s Bar and Grill. Casual dining with a patio overlooking the lake and some really great tasting food made it a go-to spot whenever we were in the hotel around meal-time.

Cafe Meteor Bistro was another favourite of ours. Located in Haileybury, this cafe-at-day/bistro-at-night was brilliantly put together by the same owners of Presidents’ Suites which meant it was not only serving some amazing food but also jam-packed with history. Their food is made from fresh, locally sourced products when possible and offers an insight into the uniquely grown and raised culinary ingredients of the region as well as the cultural influences in the cuisine. The decor revolves around, and is based on, the famous S.S. Meteor passenger steamboat which was an integral part of lake life in the late 1800s until 1926 when it caught fire.

cafe meteor haileybury ontario breakfast

One of the local recommendations for the New Liskeard area was Ali’s Bar and Grill and it did not disappoint with it’s diverse menu large portions and delicious food. Though we enjoyed everything we tried, we really liked the firecracker shrimp and

Finally, if you’re looking to taste more of the local cuisine and see exactly what this area produces, you’ll want to check out the Riverside Farmer’s Market during the warmer months. It’s here you’ll see all the different kinds of food and produce grown and created around Temiskaming Shores.

Quebec Side of Lake Temiskaming – Temiscamingue

While native culture permeates Temiskaming Shores and all three cultures coalesce along the lake’s coast, it’s in Quebec where you’ll find the core of Timiskaming First Nations and the Timiskaming First Nations reserve. We were so fortunate to be able to speak with an incredibly talented artist on the reserve, Karl Chevrier who not only creates stunning works of art in all different kinds of mediums and materials but also teaches art forms to local students. His words were moving, his artwork enthralling and we learned so much from him about the history of his people and his community.

Karl Chevrier Lake Temiskaming Quebec

After Ontario, we got to explore First Nations culture and then head further along the Quebec side of Lake Temiskaming. Exploring this area – Temiscaminque – meant we only added to the list of things to do and see while on the lake.

What To Do

One of the best things to do on the Ontario side, is also one of the best things to do on the Quebec side – get out and enjoy the outdoors. Boating on the lake can take you to waterfalls and islands or you can kayak and take your time to enjoy the nature surrounding you. There are also recreational trails for hiking or biking in the summer and snowmobiling and winter activities in the colder months.

While it was an unplanned stop, we were so happy that we took the time to visit Fort Temiscamingue National Historic Site. It was this trading post that played an important role in the history of the area and of the country and its fur-trade. There’s also a significant number of displays and exhibits focusing on the thousand-year presence of aboriginal peoples.

lake temiskaming muskoka chair

One of the coolest things we did was visit the Fossilarium and got hunting for fossils of our own. The area is rife with fossils of living organisms that were previously living underwater but, over centuries, are now fossilized and exposed throughout the area. After learning about what used to inhabit the area and seeing examples of their fossils, we got to go on an excursion ourselves and find our own fossils. Not only did we find some, we were able to keep and preserve them before they became crushed or eroded by human activity.

Every year people from across the lake and all over come to attend one large food festival – Foire Gourmande – and if you’re able to go we highly recommend you do. Food from all over the region and northeastern ontario, craft beer and art by local artists are all available at this weekend-long festival. We had a chance to taste so much of the local food and produce and enjoy some truly fantastic music as the live bands played late into the night each day. This is something that unites the entire lake together while at the same time reaching to other areas of both provinces and beyond.

Where To Stay

We were able to stay in several different accommodations on the Quebec side of Lake Temiskaming and while we were impressed by all of them, two stood out to us. Miwapanee Lodge in Kipawa was a perfect B&B for a getaway. Beautifully appointed rooms, absolutely amazing food (Ask for the pancakes for breakfast. You won’t be disappointed!) and a beautiful setting on the lake. It was both private and romantic and we have already talked about going back.

Domaine TemiKami had us in another piece of wilderness paradise as we stayed in a cabin by the water. Here we had a fully equipped kitchen, an outdoor hot tub and a peaceful view. We loved that it was located close enough to Ville Marie to get to the town, restaurants and the Foire Gourmande Festival but was secluded enough so that we could truly enjoy nature and the beauty that is Temiscamingue.

Where To Eat

If you’re visiting during Foire Gourmande, you’ll have a bunch of food to taste and try but if you’re not, there are a few places that we tried and highly recommend.

fresh produce at farmers market ville marie quebec

If you look up or go to Station Centre-Ville, you’ll probably be a bit confused as to why we would suggest it. Yes, it’s a gas station but it’s not just a gas station. It was the vision of the owners to create something more and be something more in the community. Here you’ll not only find the best (and cheapest) selection of craft beers from both sides of the provincial border, but you’ll also find some gourmet, ready-to-eat meals like sandwiches and pizzas.

At Le Bistro Elle et Louis Bistro, you’ll find two menus playing off the name of the restaurant: one directed to men (Louis) and one directed to women (Elle). While you’re not limited to whatever menu you get, it’s fun to see who orders what in a larger group of both men and women. Both menus are packed with dishes that offer a fusion of flavours of the area and we especially loved their gourmet burgers and poutine.

L’Eden Rouge is a truly interesting restaurant on the site of a vegetable farm meaning the produce makes it to the table extremely fresh. Though they change their menus frequently, they are truly inspired and we ate every bite of each dish we were served.

We kept hearing about the restaurant La Bannick no matter where we were on the lake – Ontario or Quebec – so we knew we had to make it there for at least one meal. While we heard a lot about how good dinner is, we only managed to sneak in a Sunday brunch buffet but if that was anything to go by, it’s definitely a great place to eat! La Bannick also offers campgrounds and cottages, a spa and other outdoor activities if you’re looking for more than just a good meal.

If you’re looking to explore the area, you can always check out their Lake Tour Passport. While the contest is over, the passport map is a great guide for hitting up some of the great stops all around the lake! 

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Where To Find The Best Japanese Cheesecake in the GTA

We absolutely love Japanese cuisine and when we say that, we literally mean all things Japanese cuisine. There hasn’t been a thing we’ve tried that we don’t enjoy. Okay, you caught us. There was a brief period of time where we avoided natto but we’re over that now. So you can imagine our excitement when we heard there was a new restaurant opening nearby – Supermoon Japanese Style Cheesecakes – that specializes in Japanese cheesecake. That excitement only increased when we were invited to their soft launch to try out what they would be serving up… and what it is, is a whole bunch of delicious.

What is Japanese Cheesecake?

Japanese style cheesecake is much different than the western kind in that it is lighter, fluffier and doesn’t come with a base (like graham crumbs) that other cheesecakes typically have. It’s also a little less sweet and a little more melt-in-your-mouth (cue the drool now).

best japanese cheesecake in toronto

Japanese cheesecake is often described as a combination of the flavour of a light, creamy cheesecake and the texture of a fluffy souffle. For us, it is more like an airy angel food cake meets flavourful cheesecake but regardless of how you choose to describe it, what really matters is that it is absolutely delicious.

It’s something you’ll find easily if you travel to Japan but has begun to gain popularity elsewhere as Japanese chains and independent restaurants are opening around the world and as it’s a lighter dessert option, its desirability is guaranteed to continue to grow.

Where You’ll Find The Best Japanese Cheesecake in the GTA

You can find Supermoon Japanese Style Cheesecakes baking up delectable treats in unit 19 at 128 Queen St. South, Mississauga, Ontario.

When searching for a great Japanese cheesecake restaurant, we’re basically looking at several important things: first and foremost, the taste, texture and overall cheesecake experience. After that we look at the atmosphere of the restaurant, other menu options and any extras. We found that Supermoon Japanese Style Cheesecakes checked all the boxes for us and easily slid to the top of our Japanese Cheesecake list. (Phew, how many more times do you think we’ll be saying ‘cheesecake’ before this is done?)

Supermoon Japanese Style Cheesecakes Mississauga

Their cheesecakes have an ultra light and fluffy texture, with a brilliant flavour profile and perfect browning on the top. What makes this place so special is not only the amazing composition and culinary skill in creating these cakes, but also the unique flavour options like their chocolate or red velvet cheesecakes (with seasonal flavours to be added, well, seasonally). The recipe for these cheesecakes was meticulously developed for fluffy perfection and involves 3 different cheeses, but don’t expect the executive chef (and part owner), Mona Kustantini, to tell you all of the components. It’s those secret ingredients that give these cakes a mouthwatering edge.

Their bubble tea also impressed us as we rarely find bubble-tea-shop quality anywhere that isn’t, first and foremost, a bubble tea shop. Though we love our regular milk tea, we also tried and enjoyed their taro and matcha flavours and intend on going back to try more.

Supermoon legend mississauga ontario

With a unique story (check out the wall in their shop for the ‘Legend of Supermoon’), regular size cakes, cheese tarts, bubble tea and some amazing deals (buy 3 bubble teas, get one free; buy 10 cheesecakes, get one free; or buy any combination of tart, cake and bubble tea and get 10% off) it’s a place we’ll be returning to time and again.

 

Supermoon Japanese Style Cheesecakes is located in Streetsville, Mississauga and is a perfect place to get your fix of both Japanese cheesecake and bubble tea. Sure, you can head downtown Toronto and find yourself amid the big city Japanese cheesecake craze but you’ll find some of the tastiest Japanese cheesecakes, with a great story and some amazing menu options, after a calmer drive to this Mississauga take-out restaurant.

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An Ontario Getaway At Long Point Eco Adventures

We’re always looking for great new places to visit in Ontario, especially ones that promise unique experiences, opportunities to challenge ourselves, and pretty much anything to do with good food. So, we were especially excited when Attractions Ontario told us  about Long Point Eco Adventures, a place that offers all three of these in one destination and that makes for a fantastic getaway in Ontario.

Long Point Eco Adventures is located in Norfolk County, an easy 2 hour drive from Toronto and is a destination all in itself, even though the surrounding area is also quite a beautiful and interesting place to discover with Turkey Point Provincial Park, Long Point National Wildlife Area, a whole bunch of waterfront activities and small town charm along Lake Erie.

Whether you choose to spend some time sightseeing or not, you’ll find that pretty much everything you need, from accommodation to recreation, can be found at Long Point Eco Adventure. Our time there was spent enjoying nature while camping in style, overcoming fears while participating in exhilarating activities and dining on some delicious food after sipping on great wine from the vineyard right across the street.

Here’s a little look at what there is to do at, and why we love, Long Point Eco Adventures:

Luxury Glamping

You’ll find three types of accommodation at Long Point Eco Adventures and while one is rustic, the other two take camping from roughing it to living in luxury.

Long Point Eco Adventures Cabins

For those who prefer a more comfortable camping experience, the wilderness pods are a great alternative that will have you feeling like you’re still camping in the wilderness but without any hint of ‘roughing it’. These pods have a comfortable queen bed, a mini-fridge, couch and table with chairs. It also has a deck with chairs, a washroom with a flush toilet and running hot and cold water, though you will be using shared shower facilities. Since there are electrical outlets and wifi as well, you’ll have everything you need to disconnect and relax or connect if needed. You’ll also find a hot complimentary buffet breakfast in the morning.

long point eco adventure wilderness pod

If you want to step up the luxury factor even more, there are wilderness suites that will help you do just that. Spacious long tented structures, queen or king-size beds, all the amenities of the wilderness pods with the addition of a ceilingless shower allowing you the incredible experience of showering under the stars. It’s an incredible glamping experience and perfect for a weekend getaway or longer.

Of course, if you’re more into an authentic wilderness vibe, you can try one of their camping pods which are cabins with twin or queen beds, none of the interior amenities of the other options and shared outhouses and showers.

Eco Adventures & Outdoor Recreation

From the ground to the sky, it’s an incredibly fascinating destination that offers so much to do. You can tailor your visit to whatever you enjoy doing as much, or as little as you want, tapping into their eco adventures and outdoor recreational activities.

long point eco adventure ziplining ontario

For us, the huge draw was the ziplining and canopy tour which had us zipping through tree tops, catching great views of Long Point Bay and Turkey Point and completing a 40 ft rappel. It’s an exciting experience that can be done during the day or at night with 8 ziplines and 2 suspension bridges. We found it an amazing first ziplining experience and those on the tour with us said it was a great ziplining course even for experienced zipliners.

It was also an opportunity to challenge ourselves as Carolann managed to face her fears and push her boundaries. She fell in love after the first zipline and had a smile on her face until the very end.

We also got a chance to join in on axe throwing in the evening which had us learning some new axe throwing techniques by an expert and teaming up to compete in one epic axe throwing competition (we can’t help but brag, et, mention that our team won both games). It really offered the best axe throwing instruction we’ve had and was a ton of fun.

long point eco adventure axe throwing ontario

For those spending more than one evening at Long Point Eco Adventure, you’ll probably want to get involved in some more of the activities they offer. Between their zodiac boat tours, kayaking, fishing tours and mountain biking, you’ll be hard pressed to find a dull moment during the day. Later at night you can take a peek at the sky in the observatory where you’ll get a full astronomy experience and then sit by the campfire, with the bright stars above, before heading to bed.

Culinary Exploration & Excellence

If you like the idea of glamping and want to pair it with more laidback and low-key activities, or add some culinary pursuits to your already adventurous itinerary, Long Point Eco Adventure has got you covered. In fact, there’s a lot to do outside of the high-energy recreational activities they provide.

After our thrilling canopy tour and ziplining, we wound down by heading across the street to Burning Kiln Winery for a tour and tasting. Staying true to the area’s history in the tobacco industry, the Burning Kiln has incorporated architectural elements like the tobacco barn and even uses tobacco kilns as part of an innovative winemaking process.

We found it an incredibly interesting tour with some truly unique elements and discovered some great Ontario wines in the process.

The Burning Kiln Winery Norfolk County

For dinner, we headed to the restaurant on site. The Burning Kiln Restaurant welcomes David’s Restaurant on Tour for lunch and dinner from May to September and has some spectacular dishes to choose from. We had cauliflower bites to start and chose the beef tenderloin and the burger of the week as our mains and thoroughly enjoyed each one. It was a great way to end the tour of the winery and a fantastic meal to remember

The Burning Kiln Winery Restaurant

If you’re looking for more culinary adventures, Long Point Eco Adventures offers an apiary tour where you can don a beekeeping suit and learn all about the hives, honey bees and beekeeping. You’ll also get a chance to taste what the bees are all fussing over – the honey!

Taking a day to explore the forest and learn how to find and pick wild, edible mushrooms is another option. The guided tour will have you collecting mushrooms along the way which will later be used to prepare a meal for you and paired with wines from the Burning Kiln Winery.

 

Whether you’re looking to relax in style in your accommodation the whole time and venture only for food and wine or are interested in a full-adventure experience, Long Point Eco Adventure has something for everyone and makes it one of the best destinations in Ontario for a getaway.

 

A huge thanks to Attractions Ontario for making our stay at the Long Point Eco Adventure possible. If you’re looking for other amazing things to do in Ontario, head over to the Attractions Ontario website!

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24 Hours of Food in Orillia, Ontario

We love it when we stumble across a town or city that has an unexpected culinary scene. That’s exactly what happened when we recently visited Orillia, Ontario and found an abundance of incredible food at every turn. Though we could put together an extensive list of restaurants, we’re going to highlight a few restaurants that will get you through a day (or weekend) trip to Orillia and have you licking your chops long after you’ve left!

Breakfast: Shaws Maple Syrup Bush Pancake House

shaws maple syrup bush pancake house

If you’re in Orillia from February to April, you’ll probably not want to miss the chance to try some freshly made maple syrup from Shaws Maple Syrup Bush. Their pancake house is pretty much a perfect breakfast place in Orillia where you’ll find fluffy pancakes, delicious french toast, fresh pork sausages and maple syrup galore! We also tried some of the maple baked beans which we were told was a must – and we agreed!

Lunch: The Grape & Olive

The Grape & Olive Dinner

Though The Grape & Olive is a great restaurant any time of the day, it makes for a great lunch spot if you’re out and about in Orillia. They have a variety of menu options, great service and some dishes that will leave you satisfied and full, ready for whatever the rest of the afternoon holds for you. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal there and, as a tip, if you like bread, you may want to ask for an extra order of theirs before you even start!

Dinner: Rustica Pizza & Vino

Rustica Pizza & Vino Dessert

Rustica Pizza & Vino has become one of our favourite restaurants, especially for pizza. The flavour profiles are phenomenal, the wood oven pizza is created to perfection and it has a great atmosphere. We’d pretty much recommend any of the pizzas on their menu and if you can, take a peek at how they make them – the extensive training to master the art and technique of creating such a delicious pizza is visible as they work. What’s great is that the rest of their menu is just as fantastic, whether you are ordering a salad, some arancini or dessert. While the photo above doesn’t show one of their pizzas, it does show their incredible culinary talent with these pieces of fried pizza dough, nutella and strawberries!

All of the above & late night: Casino Rama Resort

St Germain's Casino Rama Meal

Since Casino Rama Resort is an entertainment destination, you’ll find more than just one restaurant here and even if you’re not staying at the resort itself (Casino Rama has some incredible hotel rooms!) you can still stop by for some food at one of their eight dining options.

Whether you go for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late-night meal, there’s pretty much something for everyone from their steakhouse to their pub. You’ll find a buffet with a huge assortment of food, a Chinese restaurant, a noodle house and more. We always find ourselves trying new dishes whenever we go and we’ve enjoyed every meal, no matter the time of day!

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A Winter Getaway in Orillia

Ontario’s Lake Country is a gorgeous area that, as the name suggests, has stunning landscapes of lakes and rivers and Orillia is one of the city’s in the area that not only has natural beauty but also cultural and historical finds as well. As it’s only a short drive from Toronto, it is an amazing destination to escape to – whether it be for the day, a weekend or even a week. It caters to locals and tourists alike with things to do and see for all four seasons making it a place you can return to again and again. Since Ontario has several months of winter weather, Orillia is a fantastic destination for a winter getaway – so, if you’re looking to head there in the colder months, we’ve put together a list of some of the amazing things you can do and see while there!

Maple Tree Tapping and Pancakes

maple sap samples orillia ontario

There’s really nothing like fresh maple syrup and whether you’re Canadian, or just visiting, you’ll appreciate the connection between maple trees, maple syrup and the country. You’ll definitely gain a larger appreciation while learning more about maple syrup production and luckily, there’s one must-see place in Orillia that will allow you to eat some amazing maple syrup AND learn about the whole process.

Shaws Maple Syrup Bush has been tapping maple trees since 1904 but there’s also so much more to do while there. We walked through the Maple tree bush with 4000 trees and saw the interconnected tubing that brings sap right to the processing area, saw the sap boiling area (there are times to view the boiling process) and, the tastiest part of the day, got a chance to enjoy recently produced maple syrup at their Pancake House! Here’s where you can try some fresh-made pancakes and french toast and several other maple-influenced items like maple baked beans and maple tea. It’s definitely a perfect breakfast in Orillia with a little something more!

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Horseshoe Valley Resort

Cross Country Skiing Horseshoe Valley Resort Orillia

There’s really nothing to do about winter and snow in Canada other than getting out and enjoying it and if that’s what you’re looking to do, Orillia has got you covered! There’s one place in particular that we enjoy because of the sheer number of options for outdoor fun in the winter – Horseshoe Resort. As the two of us are composed of a skier and an non-skier, hitting the snow in anything other than boots can be intimidating for the one half of us that is, shall we say, winter-sport challenged (hint: if you want to know who we’re talking about, take a look at the person on the RIGHT of the photo above…). Horseshoe Resort offered different activities for our comfort levels, amazing instructors and great ways to warm up after!

It was here that we first tried cross country skiing and snowshoeing and had an absolute blast. Downhill skiing is also available and while we were up for giving the slopes a whirl, the temptation of trying some of the other activities won out. Our instructor for cross country skiing was amazing and the trails for it and snowshoeing were a pretty sight with the white snow glistening. We also had the chance to go tubing which was not about skill but instead about pure fun! Warming up for lunch had us enjoying a great meal and heading back outside to sit by an outdoor fire and roast marshmallows.

Since they also have fat biking and snowmobiling, and we didn’t end up downhill skiing, it will definitely be somewhere for us to return to next time we’re in Orillia in the winter!

Explore Art & History

The Orillia Museum of Art & History Orillia

Though it may be considered a small town, Orillia has a cultural scene that shouldn’t be missed. From the Rama First Nations history, art and culture to the town’s own history and art scene, there’s something to be found if you’re looking.

We made a stop in to the Orillia Museum of Art & History (OMAH) and found some incredible talent along with some interesting tidbits of local history. OMAH is dedicated to showcasing local history and art as well as the artwork of surrounding areas. They have some incredibly interesting exhibitions that move through and we were fortunate to be able to be there for the 21st annual International Women’s Day exhibition with a theme of ‘renewal’.

History of the area is displayed in various artifacts and in the story of the building itself and these, combined with the stellar art, give a glimpse into the community of Orillia.

Exploring the Orillia Museum of Art & History is just one way to experience the arts and culture scene and a great way to spend some time out of the winter weather outside.

A Getaway at Casino Rama Resort

Casino Rama Resort Orillia, Ontario

Orillia is usually closely linked to Casino Rama Resort and is often what is first thought of by people from outside the area… and with good reason. The sprawling resort is more than just a casino, it’s an entertainment destination with so much more to do than just gaming and has been dubbed ‘The Great Indoors’.

It’s also a fantastic place for a winter getaway in Orillia – the spacious hotel rooms, multiple dining options, theatre that hosts amazing performers and the casino floor itself offer a multitude of activities and make for a perfect place to spend time while in Ontario’s Lake Country whether you plan to combine it with some outdoor fun or just stay inside the resort the entire time!

Imagine a cold winter day while inside the resort, swimming in the saltwater pool and taking some time in the sauna before heading in for a spa treatment. Whether you top that off with a fantastic meal and maybe a show is up to you, but either way, it’s a pretty fantastic plan for a day in the great indoors!

Tour The Phenomenal Culinary Scene

Rustica pizza and vino orillia, ontario

The food scene in Orillia may just blow you away. We know were were absolutely blown away by the meals we enjoyed while there. In truth, you could spend your entire winter getaway in Orillia hopping from restaurant to restaurant enjoying incredible food, but then you’d also be missing out on all the other things to do that we just mentioned!

If you’re already intrigued by the pancake breakfast at Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush, we’ve got a couple more recommendations to make sure your meals are covered while in Orillia – Rustica Pizza & Vino and The Grape & Olive.

Rustica Pizza & Vino not only serves ridiculously good wood oven pizza but also a variety of Italian dishes that are perfectly executed. We started off our meal with some arancini (rice balls) which were scrumptious and followed it up with some pizza – each option as good as the other but all of them out-of-this-world good. Seriously. We are planning to drive to Orillia again soon just to dine at Rustica. Their dessert solidified it for us – we had fried pizza dough with nutella and strawberries and we really don’t have to say much more than that, do we?

We quickly realized that The Grape & Olive would become one of our staple restaurants when visiting Orillia. The service was impeccable, the food was delicious and we had a fantastic dining experience overall. Though we ate off one of their featured menus, we took a look at their regular options and we’ve chosen a few dishes we’ll be ordering the next time – or we may even go as a group and check out the interactive dining that they have available where the chef will prepare your 3-course meal right in front of you!

 

No matter how long you plan to stay in Orillia, there’s no shortage of things to do and planning a winter getaway to the area gives you access to a whole host of activities to help you enjoy the cold weather and snow!

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6 Things To Do At Casino Rama Resort Beyond Gaming!

Though Casino Rama Resort offers an extensive gambling floor with over 2500 slot machines, including some of the latest technology, 100 table games and a room dedicated to poker, there’s a whole lot more to do beyond the casino once you are there. In fact, there’s an entire property offering many things to do whether you’re there for the day, a weekend or longer. “Casino” may be the first word in the name but the “resort” component shouldn’t be overlooked and after staying at Casino Rama Resort on two separate occasions and visiting the property for day trips several additional times, we’ve seen what a fantastic entertainment destination it is for visitors.

What To Do At Casino Rama Resort If You Aren’t Gambling

Please gamble responsibly. If you think you, or someone you know, may need help with a gambling problem, please visit the Responsible Gaming Council Site for more information & to find help if you are in Canada. In the USA? Visit the site for the National Council on Problem Gambling

With a location not far from the Toronto area, it’s definitely a fantastic option for a getaway or day trip, whether you’re headed to the casino area or not. To give you a better idea of all there is to do at Casino Rama off of the gambling floor, we’ve put together 6 things to do there that make it a destination in itself and a resort you’ll be excited to visit!

1. Watch A Show

Casino Rama Stage Entertainment Centre

There’s nothing that showcases Casino Rama Resort as an entertainment destination more than the 5000-seat entertainment centre where world-famous comedians, musicians and performers grace the stage. Whether you’re staying at the resort or just dropping in for a performance, watching a show is a great way to enjoy your time at Rama.

In fact, it’s an experience all on it’s own and we’ve had the chance to see several shows there between the two of us. From comedy acts by Russell Peters and Whoopi Goldberg to concerts by various artists from around the world, we’ve seen some incredible shows on their stage. What is especially great is that no matter where your seats are, you’ll find you have a fantastic view.

It’s definitely one of the parts of the resort that makes it stand out and is a huge draw when visiting the hotel, the casino and the area.

2. Enjoy Delicious Food

St Germain's Casino Rama Meal

With eight dining options, you definitely won’t be going hungry and each restaurant offers a different atmosphere and fare. It’s here that you can explore the culinary side of the resort and enjoy some truly great cuisine.

There’s St. Germain’s a steakhouse with absolutely phenomenal service and delicious, beautifully plated meal. They have superb cuts of meat, a variety of seafood and a dessert menu by an award winning pastry chef. It’s one of our favourites and we know we will always find a dining experience to remember.

There are also a variety of options for more casual dining like Simcoe Yard House, a sports bar and restaurant where we love to eat whenever we’re at Casino Rama. Their Ultimate Hot Dog – a half yard in size – is a fun and tasty meal to try. The Weir’s restaurant and Cedar are alternately open and also offer casual dining and a many menu options. For us, we tend to head to The Weir’s for breakfast and Cedar for a late night snack.

From the Noodle Bar to The Willow, serving Chinese cuisine, the Firestarter Lounge by the lobby to the Couchiching Court buffet, you’ll definitely not go hungry nor will you run out of options or variety.

The best part of it all? The food is exceptional at all of the restaurants so you really can’t go wrong with your choices!

3. Have A Spa Day

Casino Rama Spa

Casino Rama Resort has an entire oasis for anyone looking to get away and get pampered for a day… or longer! Their Balance in Life Spa offers massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and other treatments and it’s a great place for a little relaxation.

We both recently enjoyed a massage and can honestly say it was one of the best we’ve had. Though we went individually, there are packages for couples as well and we may just be looking into those the next time we go!

The other great thing is that even if you aren’t a hotel guest, spa guests have access to the pool and amenities and as you’ll see below, they’re pretty fantastic on their own!

4. Enjoy The Pool & Amenities

Casino Rama Pool

For guests of the hotel, there are additional amenities that are available. The pool area has long been a highlight for those we’ve talked to who have stayed at Casino Rama Resort. Their indoor salt water pool and hot tub are a draw for those looking to unwind during the day or get a few gentle laps in while feeling the incredible effects of the salt water on their skin. We especially love the patio connecting the pool to the outdoors. When the weather is nice, it’s a great place to go to dry off and enjoy some sun.

The eucalyptus steam room is also an amazing amenity and a great place to start before a spa session or after a workout in their adult-only fitness room.

It’s really a great space to spend some time while at the resort and a definite attraction for those who want to book a room and stay at the hotel.

5. Relax In Your Spacious Room

Casino Rama Hotel Room

The rooms at Casino Rama Resort are a destination on their own. They offer an inviting and spacious sanctuary with comfortable beds and a great sitting area with a large screen TV. It really is a fantastic place to relax and unwind, get cozy and spend some time.

The gas fireplace is a great touch in the cooler months and can add to the romance of the room if you’re there with a special someone.

No matter what you’re at Casino Rama for, you’ll want to spend some time in the room – ordering in room service, enjoying a bath in the Jacuzzi tub, watching some TV in the living space, and you may not want to leave at all!

6. Explore Rama First Nation Culture

Rama First Nations Casino Rama

Throughout the resort, you’ll notice architectural and artistic designs that illustrate Rama First Nation culture and history. There’s a lot to see and we’ve learned a lot by delving deeper into what the art and symbols mean and represent. Even the names of some of the resort’s features – like St. Germain’s – hold significance to the Rama First Nation peoples.

You can also stop into one of the shops and browse arts and crafts, gifts and clothing linked to Rama First Nation and beyond.

 

Casino Rama Resort really is an entertainment destination on its own and it only takes a short time there to realize there’s a whole lot to do and that there’s a reason why it’s called “The Great Indoors” – while they have a state-of-the-art casino floor that’s sure to impress, there’s a whole resort to explore and enjoy!

 

A huge thanks to SJ Consulting for the invitation & to Casino Rama Resort for hosting us. As always, all opinions are, and always will be, our own!

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An Epic Quebec Trip In A Room With Many Views

One room. Transported by helicopters, trains and trucks. One couple. Opening the curtain to the room each day in a new destination, with a new view. Unbelievable? Watch it and believe it:

Exploring Quebec, One View At A Time

This was just part of the journey this couple, Glennis LaRoe and Kip Geddes of New York, took in Quebec as they were transported from location to location in a mobile room. Each time they opened the doors to their room they faced a new and amazing view in the province. From the Chateau Frontenac to the Foresta Lumina to whales in the St. Lawrence River, the sights were epic and just a glimpse of the stunning scenes Quebec has to offer.

While the two of them had no clue where they would stop, or what they would see next, taking the same route while fully aware of what is to come is as much of a breathtaking experience. If you’re planning your own trip to Quebec, you can follow along with their itinerary, or use it to springboard an adventure of your own in the vast, spectacular province that is Quebec.

The Diversity of Experiences in Quebec

What this video highlights the most is the sheer diversity of experiences, attractions, sights and adventures to be found in the province. In just ten days, Glennis and Kip travel through only a portion of Quebec but manage to delve into the culture, witness some of the incredible landscapes and enjoy so much.

Though you can find a fantastic look at the various spectacular views and facets that the couple delved into, along with in depth information, on the QuebecOriginal’s site, here’s a quick look at what Quebec has to offer including a video for each that highlights what the two of them were able to experience as they travelled along in their room with many views.

Outdoor Activities

Quebec is truly a playground of outdoor activity no matter the time of year. Each season offers incredible opportunity to partake in, or witness, a whole host of stunning landscapes and exhilarating recreational activity. In the summer there is cycling, camping, watersports and views aplenty that are equally matched by the wintertime sports and sights that can be found throughout.

Gastronomy

You definitely won’t have a hard time finding good food in Quebec. From traditional Quebecois cuisine to dishes from around the world, the province offers a truly enjoyable gastronomic experience. There’s the classic poutine (as well as the variations that have been created around it), the wines and cheeses, the breads, the meats and game and the international fare all come together to create a culinary landscape to drool over.

Culture

With centuries of history, changing political and religious landscapes and influences from various countries throughout time, it’s no wonder Quebec is teeming with French culture. Through architecture, art, music and literature, you can witness culture around every corner, breathe it in with every step.

Adventure

With so much to do and see it’s no wonder Quebec offers an abundance of adventure and whether you’re into extreme sports or softer experiences, there’s something for pretty much everyone. If jumping out of a plane isn’t for you, ziplining may be the thrill you’re looking for. Hiking, with all the views of the province, can also leave you just as breathless.

 

For Kip & Glennis, this trip in the room with many views was a once-in-a-lifetime experience but for the rest of us, it offers a glimpse into a province that has everything any traveller or tourist could want and gives us all a small taste… not enough to quench our thirst but enough to leave us hungering for more and anxious to get out and plan our own adventure to la belle province: the beautiful province of Quebec.

 

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Things To Do In Toronto In The Winter

There’s something electric about the city of Toronto that makes it a perfect place to spark a little romance. With an unending list of activities, events and experiences, it’s a city that is always bursting with activity and excitement, no matter the time of year. It’s probably this infectious enthusiasm of the city that makes it an environment perfect for all couples, whether they’ve just met or have been together for years.

Sure, warmer seasons may seem like the best time to get out and explore a city as a couple but in Toronto the winter is actually chock full of opportunities to have fun, get active or even cozy up together. You may not be aware of it, but you don’t have to look far to find those opportunities. All it takes is for you to put on your coat, throw on your hat and gloves, grab your special someone and get those winter boots out into the city!

5 Date Ideas For Some Winter Fun in Toronto

In case you need some help planning, here are some great things to do in Toronto in the winter that also make for great date ideas in the city for any couple, whether you’re looking for a day of art, nature or recreation!

Enjoy Winter Festivals in the Distillery DistrictDistillery District Light Festival Toronto

One great thing about Toronto is the steady stream of festivals that take place and the winter weather only brings more unique events to the city, especially The Distillery District. It’s one area in Toronto that never fails to offer enjoyment during colder weather.

If you’re looking to plan your date before the New Year, a visit here will see you walking through Toronto’s Christmas Market. As you stroll the cobblestone streets, you’ll see the classic wooden huts reminiscent of the European Christmas markets it is based on. Decorations and activities, food and drinks and shops along the way to duck into and escape the cold will also line your way.

After the New Year, you’ll want to plan your date night around the Toronto Light Festival an exhibit of light art throughout the Distillery District that will illuminate the city at night and blends art, colour, light, movement and architecture. It’s a unique place for a date night and will offer something special on an evening out in Toronto.

Adventure To The Islands

The Toronto islands are probably one of the last places most people think of when planning a date in the winter but that only means they’re missing out! True, it’s not the tourist hub of the warmer months but what it doesn’t offer by way of tourist comforts, it delivers in privacy and charm along with some unique winter activities.

You can easily spend an entire day on Ward’s island, skating on the water if the weather is right, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing… or even all three! After some time in the snow you can find your way indoors to warm up and enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants that are open year-round like The Rectory Café. If you really want to kick up the romance, booking a night at a B&B and heading out to enjoy the view of the Toronto skyline together at night would make the evening complete.

With regular ferries to Ward’s Island, you’ll be able to come and go as you please and plan your date around whatever schedule you want.

Take A Winter Walk Hand-In-Handgraffiti alley toronto

Embrace the romance of the outdoors by taking a secluded walk through one of the city’s parks or trails as you hold hands and have some quiet conversation. Some of the more public areas, like Riverdale Park, still offer some quiet trails but will also give you the option of enjoying winter activities like tobogganing. It’s also one of the best spots for a view of the city line so an improvised picnic outdoors, with hot chocolate or coffee, while sitting on a bench could really up the romance factor.

A winter walk in an urban landscape, like Graffiti Alley, is also a great date idea. Stroll down the alley surrounded by stunning and colourful street art before heading to one of the area’s many cafes and restaurants where you can continue the conversation and exchange hand holding for some playful under-the-table footsies!

Find Outdoor Adventure Together At The Winter Village

If recreation and adventure is more your style, heading to the Evergreen Brick Works Winter Village may be your idea of a perfect winter date in Toronto.  A free skating rink, nature trails that you can take by foot or experience while fat biking (yes, it’s a real thing!) and campfires await any couple looking to spend the day enjoying winter activities. There are over 40 acres of outdoor space to enjoy and embrace nature while having fun and looking out for some winter wildlife.

The great thing about the Winter Village is that you can combine the day of outdoor fun with some culinary treasures at the Street Food Market. Local food trucks and restaurants can be found dishing out some amazing eats and demonstrating why the city is considered a gastronomic powerhouse. After a day of activity together, winding down with some delicious food is a perfect ending to a date at The Winter Village.

Explore The Art Scene Outside & In!toronto cityscape and street art

It’s no secret that Toronto is home to some spectacular art galleries and museums but before you go inside to escape the cold and warm up on indoor displays of art and culture at places like the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Royal Ontario Museum, take a look at the winter art installations that are making the city vibrant even in the winter season.

Though the Waterfront and Lakeshore areas are prime spots for couples to flock to in the warmer weather, these areas turn into creative masterpieces in the winter worthy of a visit during any romantic outing. Make a plan to walk together to each of the five incredible outdoor art displays part of Ice Breakers. Spread out along the waterfront, you’ll pass by interactive designs meant to inspire and add to the beauty of the already spectacular area.

Winter Stations will also grace the city’s waterfront areas as lifeguard stands will be used to create temporary installations as part of an international design competition. Take some time to explore the brilliant work of artists, designers and architects as you walk along the waterfront with its own stunning views.

For some indoor winter date ideas in Toronto, check out our article on SeeTorontoNow.com: How Locals Do Date Night in Toronto: Winter Edition.

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A Selfie Tour Of Quebec City In The Winter

Quebec City has become one of our favourite cities in the world and it seems that no matter what season you visit, there is so much to do and see. Even in the winter, the city is alive with activity and with so much to do and see, and we found ourselves spending much of our days and nights simply walking the streets, visiting the various attractions and taking in as much culture and history as we could.

It was during our attempts to document our time in the city that we realized something was missing from all the videos and photos we were taking – us! So, flipping our LCD screen of our Fuji X-A3 180 degrees, we began a self-guided tour of Quebec City taking photos of the two of us in some of our favourite places around the city.

Whether you’re looking to explore the city or are just looking to see it from the comfort of your own computer screen, we’ve put together a selfie tour of Quebec City in the winter to give you a glimpse of just some of the amazing things around the city… and an even bigger glimpse of our smiling faces!

You may want to take note of the places you’ll want to see. To help, we’ve provided direction for how to find your way to each of these spots!

Exploring The City

There may have been snow on the ground but we grabbed our hats and gloves, zipped up our coats and set off to explore the city – what we found were views and streets beautiful enough to warm us up all on their own!

We loved the parliament building in Quebec City and you can catch a glimpse of it in the background!

These steps behind us are called L’Escalier Casse-Cou or Breakneck Steps and can be found in the Petit Champlain neighbourhood. This happens to be the oldest staircase in Quebec City and, as you can tell by their steepness, have probably earned their name!

Dufferin Terrace is an area of Old Quebec that we love to stop at every chance we get. The view is spectacular and there is so much history surrounding the area. This statue of Samuel de Champlain is just an example of what you’ll find there. It’s a pretty spectacular place to place a monument to the father, or founder, of the city itself!

It’s impossible to tour the city and not want to stop at one of the most iconic of buildings. You don’t have to be familiar with the city to recognize the Chateau Frontenac, arguably one of the most photographed hotels in the world. Opened in 1893, it’s also a National Historic Site in Canada and a fully operational hotel… we couldn’t miss the chance to snap a photo of us with this landmark.

Or two photos… there are great views of the Chateau Frontenac from all over!

Look past those baby blues of ours to the beautiful building behind us – Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral. It holds huge historic and religious significance for the city, the province and the country and since it’s over 350 years old, it only makes sense that it has a prominent place in the landmarks of Quebec City and is a National Historic Site of Canada as well as a World Heritage Site.

Even city hall is beautiful! The City Hall of Quebec City, or the Hotel de ville de Quebec, is a National Historic Site of Canada. Inaugurated in 1896, it is built in the heart of the Old City and it a pretty landmark to see.

Of the gates you can go through to enter the Old City of Quebec, the Porte Saint-Jean is perhaps our favourite! As part of the Ramparts of Quebec City, which are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America (not including Mexico), it is a gateway to history in the city and this one also leads to Place D’Youville, a public square that also has an outdoor skating rink in the winter!

Finding Amazing Views

One of our favourite views can be found by the Plains of Abraham and La Citadelle de Quebec, two other amazing places to spend time in Quebec City. It’s here at the Terrasse Pierre-Dugua-de Mons, where you’ll find one of the best lookouts in the city. We stayed for quite some time taking it all in and even got a chance to see ice kayakers practice for the big race that happens each winter!

Like we said, it’s not hard to find amazing views of the Chateau Frontenac and though photos can never do a beautiful view justice, this is a great spot to look up at the Old City. Find your way down to the lower part of the city and to Rue Dalhousie, near Quai Chouinard.

We mentioned that we keep finding our way to Terrace Dufferin, multiple times whenever we are in the city and here is just one part of the view. It’s a stunning look over the water and surrounded by the beautiful buildings and lively activity of this area in the Old City.

Then there are those times that we just wander and stumble upon some amazing views as we do. The city is chalk full of scenic spots – from nature to architecture, history to urban settings – it’s a pretty fantastic place to witness no matter what the season happens to be!

Enjoying Winter Activities

About 20 minutes north of Quebec City sits a winter wonderland called the Village Vacances Valcartier, or the Valcartier Vacation Village. With a whole resort available, you can find a whole assortment of winter activities – like tubing and ice skating, as well as the famous Ice Hotel itself. To warm up from the cold, you can enter the hotel complex, head to your own room, one of the restaurants or the tropical indoor waterpark!

Though the entire region around Quebec City offers unlimited options for winter activities, you don’t really have to go far to find some fun in the ice and snow. From outdoor skating rinks, to snowshoeing across the city, Carnaval festivities and so much more, you’ll be surrounded by things to do and ways to warm up outside. We especially love the Nordik Village, or Village Nordik du Port de Quebec, located in the Louise Basin that offers skating, sliding AND ice fishing! The indoor Old Port Market that is right on site also offers fresh food and hot drinks as well as artisanal goods. Best of all, if you catch trout while ice fishing, you can bring it in to be cooked and served at a small extra cost!

Experiencing Carnaval

One of the most anticipated festivals of the year in Quebec is Carnaval and it doesn’t take long while in the city to see why. The energy and excitement are contagious, the festivities and celebrations are thrilling and the city is alive with people having fun almost everywhere you look.

From ice castles to human foosball, maple taffy to caribou (a traditional Quebecois beverage), you’ll find something for everyone and enjoy all the winter has to offer – as you can see below, we definitely enjoyed ourselves!

The king of Carnaval is Bonhomme, and you’ll see him represented throughout the city – if you don’t get a chance to see him in person! We found him everywhere!


Chasing Down Ice Sculptures

Though a part of the Carnaval festivities, the ice sculptures are a force of their own. Spread throughout the city, taking on a variety of shapes, sizes and designs, we went on a walk to see all the ones that were completed, as well as watch as some were being made!

Chowing Down On Food

Quebec City has an amazing culinary scene and our stomachs took full advantage of the opportunity to enjoy it. From churros at the Old Port Market after ice fishing, to an amazing traditional Quebecois meal at La Buche in the old city (now one of our favourite restaurants), we enjoyed drool-worthy fare wherever we went!

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Must Visit Toronto Neighbourhoods

Toronto. A constantly changing metropolis checkered with recent history and populated with people from all walks of life. If you’re taking your cue from the rapper Drake, you probably know it as “the 6”, though for years it was affectionately dubbed the ‘T-Dot’. Whatever you choose to call it, Toronto is for any traveller and, as Canada’s largest city, a destination that offers some of the most multicultural and dynamic experiences in the world.

If you’re headed to Toronto, the sprawling cityscape, vast network of roads and unending number of neighbourhoods, blending from one into the other, may leave you wondering exactly where you should be going to optimize your time in the city. Even to those of us from Toronto and the surrounding area, the districts tend to blur, though each one is unique in its own way.

Exploring Some of the Best Neighbourhoods in Toronto

Toronto Neighbourhoods Union Station

To help you narrow down the areas and explore the city even better than a local, we’ve teamed up with Expedia.ca to put together some of the best neighbourhoods in Toronto to visit! In case you want to know more about the city or need even more Toronto inspiration, check out their Toronto Travel Guide!

Bloor-Yorkville

Looking for gourmet restaurants and designer shopping? Elegance and fine dining combine in one of Toronto’s most fashionable neighbourhoods. This area is a huge shopping district boasting haute couture while also offering visitors a taste of Toronto’s theatre and fine art scene.

Each year, the restaurants, shopping and art of this chic neighbourhood draw stars and film buffs alike who have come to the city for the Toronto International Film Festival. Take a stroll in this area at the right time of year and you may find yourself bumping into Ryan Reynolds, Christopher Plummer or Drew Barrymore.

You’ll also find city parks like the Village of Yorkville Park, which continues the neighbourhood theme of art and design, or Ramsden Park, which offers a taste of nature and outdoor sport in the middle of a commercial hub.

Not enough culture and art for you in Yorkville? Just a short walk away gets you to the Royal Ontario Museum and the Planetarium.

**Bloor-Yorkville is approximately within the boundaries of Bloor St West, Avenue Road, Davenport Rd and Yonge Street. Closest subway stations for this area include Museum, Bay and the Yonge/Bloor Interchange.**

Harbourfront

Toronto Harbourfront area

If you head to the Harbourfront in the summertime, you’ll find yourself in a lakefront playground with a whole host of daily activities. It’s one of the most popular areas for tourists and with good reason.

A wave of events and festivals are ushered in with the warm weather offering music, dancing, food, film and theatre often incorporating the international flare so integral to the whole of the city. The Harboufront Centre is the main hub of activity where you’ll find most of the events of the area and is also a place we love to frequent to see what new festival or event happens to be going on.




Prefer to get on the water rather than enjoy the view from the shore or boardwalk? Boat rentals are available if you’re looking to cruise the lake and see the city line from the waters. If you’d rather be a spectator, you can hit up a baseball game at the SkyDome (true Torontonians will rarely call it The Roger’s Centre!), an event at the Air Canada Centre or observe an underwater world at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

Of course, no visit to Toronto, or the Harbourfront, would be complete without a closer look at the CN Tower, probably the most well-known and visited attraction in the neighbourhood.

**Harbourfront is approximately within the boundaries of Bathurst Street and Yonge Street on the North shore of Lake Ontario below Queens Quay. Closest subway station for this area is Union Station.**

Entertainment District

Just a short distance away from the Harbourfront is Toronto’s Entertainment District. It’s here that you’ll find the most activity during the Toronto International Film Festival. Fans and celebrities flock to the area to walk the red carpet and watch those films that have yet to make it to the big screen. It is such a huge event, it’s often been considered second only to the Cannes Film festival.

If you’re more partial to live theatre, the famous Roy Thomson Hall and the Princess of Wales Theatre can also be found here. Walking just outside these buildings will have celebrities like Jim Carrey and Rachel McAdams literally underfoot… on the stars of Canada’s Walk of Fame that is!

As day turns to night, no matter the season, the entertainment district becomes party central with nightclubs and lounges drawing in crowds looking to dance, enjoy a variety of music and experience the nightlife in Toronto.

**The Entertainment District is approximately within the boundaries of University Ave and Spadina Ave around King Street West. Closest subway stations for this area are Union, St. Andrew and Osgoode.**

Chinatown

Chinatown Toronto Neighbourhoods

Though the greater Toronto area has seven Chinatowns, the most well-known is located on Spadina and is often referred to as Old Chinatown. As one of the largest in North America, we are often in awe at the atmosphere and look of the area. It is completely reminiscent of the streets we walked in Beijing with colourful authentic signage and decorations gracing the many storefronts and restaurants. For us, dim sum is our first stop but you’ll also find many Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants.

With fresh markets and many places to find a cheap but delicious meal, Chinatown is a great place to visit to experience some of the cultural diversity of the city. If you’re visiting Toronto in the beginning of the year, this is the place you’ll want to be to celebrate Chinese New Year.

No matter the time of year though, a walk through Chinatown will have you enjoying the cuisine, style and traditions of a culture half the world away.

**Chinatown is approximately within the boundaries of Phoebe St and Oxford St along Spadina Ave. Closest subway stations for Chinatown are Queen’s Park, St. Patrick or Osgoode.**

Queen West

While you’ll want to visit Yorkville to find all the designer shops you need, if you’re looking for some of the most trendy shopping in the city, Queen West is where you should head. Also known as the Art and Design District, Queen West is a 2km (1.2 mile) strip lined with over 300 businesses including vintage clothing stores, shoe stores, arts and craft shops, restaurants and boutique hotels. It’s in this area that creativity abounds.

Extending further, West Queen Street West is considered a separate area though the vibe and creative bent continues from the Art and Design District. If you’re looking to discover some hidden gems, chances are you’ll have good luck in this neighbourhood.

Funky, original styles, boutique shops, many art galleries and small cafes are hallmarks of this area that is quite possibly one of the most artistic neighbourhoods in Toronto.

**Queen West is approximately within the boundaries of the King St, Queensway & Roncesvalles Ave intersection and Yonge Street along Queen Street. West Queen Street West lies on Queen Street between Bathurst St and Gladstone Ave. Closest subway stations for this area are Queen or Osgoode. The Queen St streetcar, Route 501, services the entirety of Queen St.**

Old Town

Toronto Old Town Neighbourhood

An original neighbourhood in Toronto, and the first to have an official nickname, Old Town is where you’ll find loads of history. Exploring this area offers a glimpse of the past when horse-drawn carriages clip-clopped their way down cobble stone streets, warehouses and factory buildings pumped out cast iron products and metalwork and distilleries poured with local brew.

Whether you’re a history buff looking to scope out the Victorian-era architecture that abounds in the area or are more interested in experiencing the revitalization of Old Town with its shops, restaurants and galleries, you’ll find this area provides a unique glimpse into Toronto’s heritage and local culture.

One of the must-see spots within Old Town is the St. Lawrence Market. It has been considered one of the world’s best food markets and is an integral part of Toronto’s history and current culture. You’ll also find some great deals and fresh local products from the 120 vendors that open shop 5 days a week.

For those of us who grew up in the area, regular visits as children to the market to pick up meats from the butchers, fresh produce from local farmers and straight-out-of-the-oven bread was commonplace. It’s an institution in the city that’s rooted in the history of Toronto and the memory of residents and visitors alike.

Every Sunday, when the St. Lawrence food market is closed, an antiques market is opened in the north building. Here you’ll find collectibles, antique books, vintage jewellery and a host of rare and unique items.

**Old Town is approximately within the boundaries of Queen St E and Front St E, and between Parliament St and Church St. Closest Subway Station to the Old Town is King Station.**

The Beaches

Think you can’t find sun and sand in Toronto? Think again! While not the white sand of some southern destinations, The Beaches is as close to a tropical oasis as you’ll find in Toronto with four beaches and, even though many people aren’t aware, waters that are safe to swim in.

The area is reminiscent of any other beachside town with a boardwalk for a leisurely stroll, some jogging or rollerblading, areas for beach volleyball and numerous cafes and clothing shops off the water.

Perhaps one of the biggest annual draws to the neighbourhood is the Beaches International Jazz Festival. One of Canada’s largest free jazz festivals, it spans over 10 days and draws international performers and local talent in addition to the hundreds of thousands of attendees yearly.

It’s probably not what you would expect to find in a large metropolis like Toronto but then, visitors will soon realize there’s a bit of something for everyone if you delve under the surface of the city.

**The Beaches is approximately within the boundaries of Coxwell Ave and Victoria Park Ave below Kingston Road. Take the Queen Street East, Route 501, streetcar to the Beaches.**

Distillery Historic District

Distillery Historic District Toronto

Though technically part of the Old Town, the Distillery Historic District could probably be considered an area to itself. If the Old Town as a whole offers you a glimpse of the past, the Distillery District transports you there. Abandoned Victorian buildings have been restored and turned into restaurants and storefronts to create a small village-like area open year-round to visitors.

During the holiday season, the Distillery District is transformed into a Christmas market that reminds one of those found in Europe and is a definite must see local attraction in Toronto. The cobblestone streets are lined with wood cabins selling a variety of holiday goods, food and handmade items. A festive, and enchanting, atmosphere is created by the lights and holiday decorations while people stroll the area grabbing some hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm up from the cold, before enjoying some of the delicious food offered by the many vendors. It’s a festival we attend every year, if we are in the area!

If you’re looking to tap into the history of Toronto – Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter – the distillery district is one place you shouldn’t miss.

**The Distillery District is approximately within the boundaries of Mill St and the Gardiner Expressway and between Parliament St and Cherry St. The closest subway station to the area is King Station though the King St East Streetcar has closer stops.**

Downtown Yonge

One of the areas where everyone in Toronto wants to be is Downtown Yonge. With The Eaton’s Centre, downtown Toronto’s largest mall, and a seemingly unending number of restaurants, bars, cafes and shopping options, it’s a popular stop for residents of the city and those just passing through.

At the heart of Downtown Yonge is Yonge-Dundas Square, an outdoor space that hosts events, concerts and other live music showcases in the summer. If the outdoors isn’t where you’ll be entertained there’s a movie theatre across the street and Massey Hall is close by!

**Downtown Yonge is approximately within the boundaries of Richmond St and Grosvenor St and between Bay St and Church St. The closest subway station is Dundas Station.**

Bloor West Village/High Park

High Park Best Toronto Neighbourhoods

 

Perhaps one of our favourite neighbourhoods to visit, Bloor West Village is located in the outskirts of the downtown core and has such a relaxed vibe you really do feel like you’re in a village rather than the busy city that is Toronto.

Though largely residential, the shopping district offers trendy restaurants and cafes, small markets with fresh produce and a variety of specialty shops selling clothing, food and household goods. We love walking down the street, taking in the people passing by and window shopping as we go.

What may be the highlight of this area however, is Toronto’s biggest park – High Park – though whether it is actually a part of Bloor West Village is debated. Walking trails, playgrounds, dog parks, cafes, a nature centre, a pool, a winter ice rink, and a zoo are just some of the activities and features of High Park. In the warmer months, it is a popular place for all manner of people looking to get active, relax in the shade of a tree, or just enjoy being in the outdoors.

Our favourite reason to visit High Park? The Sakura, or cherry blossoms, that bloom sometime at the end of April or beginning of May, if the weather is right. With a full bloom, the park is transformed into a magical, light-pink wonderland.

**Bloor West Village is approximately within the boundaries of Jane St and Olympus Ave along Bloor Street West. The closest subway stations are Runnymede Station or Jane Station for Bloor West Village, and High Park Station for High Park.**

Church-Wellesley Village

Church-Wellesley Village is an LGBT community that is inclusive of all people and is located right in the downtown core. Heading here you’ll find an eclectic variety of restaurants, cafes and shops.

Two larger events occur in this area annually. The first event, Halloween on Church, is a massive street party on October 31 where thousands of people dress in costume and head out to the streets to enjoy the festivities including live music, food and mass amounts of celebrating!

The second event is Pride Week which is centred around this neighbourhood and is one of the largest pride festivals in the world. Ten days of parades, concerts, events and parties celebrate the diversity of the city and the pride taken in Toronto’s acceptance of all people.

**Church-Wellesley Village is approximately within the boundaries of Yonge St and Jarvis St and between Charles St E and Gould St. The closest subway stations are College and Wellesley.**

Kensington Market

Kensington Market Toronto

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a round-the-world trip, you’ll not need to go any further than Kensington Market. It is a diverse neighbourhood of narrow streets lined with colourful Victorian houses and all manner of shops and restaurants.

Here you’ll experience the very definition of multiculturalism and take that trip around the world as you find shops and goods from the Middle East, South America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean.

If you’re around in the summer, head down on the last Sunday of each month when the streets become pedestrian-only and street performers emerge to entertain shoppers as they browse the goods available!

**Kensington Market is approximately within the boundaries of College St and Dundas St W and between Bathurst St and Spadina Ave. The closest subway stations are Queen’s Park or St. Patrick station though the College St or Dundas St West streetcars have closer stops.**

Centre Island

Since it is bordered by water, we consider Centre Island a type of neighbourhood or district in itself. Located a short ferry ride from Toronto’s downtown, it is one of the chain of islands off Toronto Harbour. Though it may not be what you typically think of as an island getaway, it has many components of that ideal image: beaches, canoe and kayak rentals to take out onto the water, outdoor sports areas and restaurants. The only thing missing is accommodation which can easily be found back in the city by Toronto Harbour or on one of the neighbouring islands, Algonquin Island, which has a bed-and-breakfast.

Centre Island is also home to Centreville Amusement Park, popular with families for its rides, bumper boats, water slides, miniature golf and animal farm. For those looking for more adult entertainment, music festivals are held on the island in the summer including Electric Island, a concert held at least once a month from May to September.

**Centre Island can only be accessed by ferry. See: currentCentre Island. The closest subway station is Union and the Spadina streetcar has a closer stop.**

 

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