I love Toronto. Never in a million years growing up in Montreal would you have ever heard me utter those words. As a proud Montrealer, I have to say that you are brought up to dislike nay despise Toronto. I pretty sure it goes back to hockey teams and sports rivalries. I have no idea if that is true today but I have come to love the ‘big smoke’ for many different reasons: (1) it is a short 2 hour drive, bus or train ride away from London; (2) it has the best multicultural feel anywhere in Canada (even Vancouver doesn’t seem to have as many nationalities as Toronto); and (3) you can concentrate on an entire area for one day and never get bored. On another trip, you can concentrate on an entirely different area. That is the beauty of a big city.
5 Things to do in Toronto over March Break
There are a few areas that I think are well worth the visit if you happen to have March Break this week. My kids do and we may very well find ourselves in T.O. by the end of the week. There are plenty of things to do from eating at a great restaurant (Bannock or Baton Rouge), to seeing great play, concert or museum to visiting the coolest attraction around. I hope that you are inspired to visit some of these great places that I have gone to over the years:
She Blinded me with Science
There is nothing cooler for a kid than a science center. When you are a child there are so many different things that are a mystery to you: how bugs fly, how diamonds are made, what do dinosaurs eat, how does electricity work and how can you produce it. The Ontario Science Center always has great programs during the March Break and this year is no exception with BRAIN: The Inside Story (from their Facebook Page):
“Discover how gases become fluids at extreme temperatures and chill out with liquid nitrogen in Cool Science. Explore the essential bundle of neurons that is the human brain in the exhibition BRAIN: The Inside Story. Learn more about the brain and the effects of concussion at Research Live! Get your feet moving and your heart pumping with the musical aerobic adventure JiggiJump, or relax under our dome screen for a larger-than-life IMAX® film. Take in a planetarium show, have a hair-raising experience at the electricity demo or dive into a creative hands-on paper-making workshop”
1000 Leagues Under the Sea
During the Christmas break I had the opportunity to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada with my whole family and we absolutely LOVED IT! It was so much fun and we know we have to go back. There is just too much to see from the Canadian Pike, to the octopus to the most amazing Shark tank that you can imagine. In my review I mentioned that it is probably a good idea to get there early or stay late. Here is a suggestion from their Facebook Page: Come early and beat the rush! Doors will be opening at 8am from March 16 to March 20. Join us before 9am and receive FREE coffee and a SunRype snack. Tickets available online and onsite. http://bit.ly/14qP70T
Make sure to allot at least 3 hours possibly 4 to this particualar attraction. Don’t feel rushed. Take your time and be prepared for crowds (see note about an early start above ;))
Everything is Coming Up Roses
Honestly, it does not always have to be ‘all about the kids’. Sometimes there are a few moments that you just want to spend by yourself or even on a ‘date’ night with the hubby. Why not take in the biggest garden show in Canada? Canada Blooms is one of my favourites. It opens up the spring and gardening season with a full week of nothing but flowers. The last time I attended was in 2013 and I went with my sister. We had a wonderful time taking in the spectacular displays. There is always a shopping area where you can find bulbs, seeds, gardening tools and books. There are also garden ornaments and art that can be added to your little piece of heaven. I admire anyone that can garden and my sister and mother do it well.
This year, it runs from March 13th to the 22 at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place. Simple to get to and amazing to see there are gardens, outdoor living displays, floral competitions and speakers and workshop. This show if for anyone that is a gardener or aspires to be one. The Canada Bloom Rose is the official flower of the 2015 see her as well as the other displays with the Let’s Play theme this year.
Stop, Drop and Shop
A visit to Toronto would not be the same if you didn’t take the time to do a little shopping. There are two places downtown that I enjoy taking my time and going for a stroll and doing a little shopping. The first is St. Lawrence Market. I have become a big fan of Kozlik’s Mustard and when I start running low (my husband is amazed at what I put mustard on), I always drop into the market and pick up a few jars. Don’t stop there, there are so many gems that you can pick up while you are here. I have been to a few of the different food stalls that sell stuffed olives, grape leaves and hot peppers. A few years back I found the loveliest black truffle cheddar (that, alas, I have not been able to find since) at a cheese stall. You can find gluten free pasta or fresh baked Montreal-style bagels, fresh fruits, meat, poultry or fish. Everything you could imagine is here at St. Lawrence Market.
There are also vendors downstairs that sell clothing, jewellery and art. If you are hungry you can visit the food vendors and have a meal from just about any continent in the world. The nicest things about St. Lawrence Market is that it has outdoor seeing on the second floor and you can just sit and watch the busy, bustling world just pass on by while you enjoy your 100% Crab Cakes from Buster’s Sea Cove (a staple at the Market for over a decade) and a pop.
The second is The Eaton Center. It is one of the largest retail stores in Canada and has just about every single retailer. It is four stories high and is so large that has two different subway stops (Dundas or Queen Stations). There are over 230 retailers, restaurants and service providers here. There is the iconic Hudson’s Bay Store to the south, a huge Apple Store, William Sonoma, Ted Baker, Coach, Birks and other wonderful stores.
Maybe you just want to take some time and grab a bite to eat. You can drop by Baton Rouge and get a good hearty meal to get you through the day. I highly recommend their ribs.
Art overload – Generation X’s Douglas Coupland at the ROM & MOCCA (the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art).
If you love art and contemporary writing and art you need to see exhibition hosted by both the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA). This collaborative exhibition, using divers media ranging from Lego to found materials, painting to installation, explores issues which affect us all: the 21st-century condition, Canadian identity, the power of language and the pervasive presence of technology in modern life. If you really want to see what Douglas Coupland has to say, you can attend an evening of thought provoking conversation on March 27th. From the website: “ROM Speaks: Beyond Our Contemporary World. Using contemporary Western life as a point of departure, Douglas Coupland–along with a panel of astute observers of the challenges and conditions of our current world–contemplates the future and what it might hold.
This lively conversation will touch on issues explored in the exhibition Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything, presented by the TD Bank Group. We’re bringing together global thinkers who are not afraid to take on the 21st-century condition, Canadian cultural identity, the power of language and the pervasive presence of technology in modern life. And, of course, ask what it all means for our future selves.”