In Toronto, it’s all about the ‘hood’
Several years ago, Tourism Toronto used the tag line “The world within a city”, which then and now aptly described the city. Toronto is recognized as being one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. In fact, there are some 140 languages and dialects that can be heard in and around the city! Toronto’s personality is an expression of its people. Rather than a melting pot, Toronto is represented as a mosaic of colourful cultures from around the world. Residents often retain their cultural identities, traditions, languages and customs. You’ll see this personality in the several vibrant, yet sometimes quirky neighbourhoods that make up Toronto. And you can experience this personality in the miscellany of the art, theatre, and dining in and amongst the many areas of Toronto. Several hundred years ago, the Huron Indians used a word meaning ‘meeting place’ – to describe the area, and their take on the region is still accurate. Here is a brief description of just some of the larger and most distinctive neighbourhoods in the city …
During the 1920s, Kensington Market was known as the Jewish Market. Today, you can sense the city’s rich, multicultural mix, obvious in the shops packed with goods from Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South America and Asia. A visit to Kensington is like a sensory trip around the world! It’s also a treasure trove of vintage and second hand clothing shops, tucked in among eclectic restaurants and cafés.
This ever-expanding area is home to ethnic Chinese from Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, and elsewhere. A wealth of shops and fruit markets spill out onto the street, and a vast selection of authentic Chinese restaurants feature such delicacies as dim sum. Toronto’s second Chinatown is located in the Broadview/Gerrard area, and three other distinctive Chinatowns are located in the suburbs.
This part of town is known for its fashionable shops that reflect what’s hot in Europe. Top-of-the-line Italian fashion shops draw crowds, as do a multitude of cafés and restaurants offering the cuisines of various Italian regions.
This lively neighbourhood is the spiritual home of Toronto’s Italian community, which has for the most part migrated further north. It’s packed with trattorias, trendy restaurants and cafés, and a few more traditional poolhalls. Like Greektown, Little Italy’s sidewalks are busy on weekends – especially in the summer, with locals and visitors alike sipping espressos on outdoor patios.
A large collection of restaurants feature authentic Greek cuisine in this energetic area, which also features a fascinating mix of specialty shops. “The Danforth” (its local nickname) is also a night owl’s haven with clubs and cafés open into the wee hours.
Toronto’s Indian community congregate here in a festival-like atmosphere, where you’ll find Indian-food restaurants, grocers, and shops that specialize in traditional clothing like saris and brightly-coloured scarves.
An enclave of Eastern European and Russian residents, this area specializes in traditional cuisine, bakeries, cafés, and special events from the ‘old country’.
Toronto’s large Portuguese community is centered in this neighbourhood, with dozens of bake shops, restaurants, cheese stores, and fish markets – especially along Dundas and College Sts West. The community is also well represented in Kensington Market.
St. Lawrence Market
The area is the site of the city’s original market. Though popular most of the week, the market comes to life on Saturdays with local farmers, artists and artisans plying their wares. This historic area also has numerous old warehouses that have been converted into residences, stores, restaurants and pubs.
The Delta Chelsea Hotel
Located in the heart of downtown Toronto the Delta Chelsea Hotel is just minutes from the Theatre District, Toronto Eaton Centre and Yonge-Dundas Square. Featuring four restaurants and lounges, an adult-only fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, indoor pool, seasonal sundeck, Family Fun Zone including the Kid Centre, Teen Lounge and the 130-foot long Corkscrew – downtown Toronto’s only indoor waterslide. The Delta Chelsea offers guests great rates and packages from Great Canadian Weekends to No tax and Your Stay, Your Way options.
Dozens of towering glass, concrete and steel monoliths are a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. Toronto’s Financial District is actually quite compact and walkable, even in inclement weather. That’s because of the “underground city” which comprises11 kms (6 miles) of interconnecting passageways under the streets that feature more than 1,200 retail stores and services. Street entrances to the subterranean walkway are indicated with “PATH” signage.
You’ll find some of the city’s best theatres, bars and dance clubs in this area of town. The undisputed entertainment capital of Canada, the Entertainment District is a spirited concentration of theatres, restaurants, nightspots, retail shops, and visitor attractions – located in the vibrant city core. Tip: If there’s a lineup, chances are it’s worth it.
North America’s best preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture is located in this historic enclave in downtown Toronto. Formerly the Gooderham & Worts Distillery founded in 1832, The Distillery has been developed as a centre for arts, culture and entertainment. It is filled with galleries, artist studios and workshops, boutiques, retail stores, restaurants, bars and cafés.
Queen Street West
Queen West (a.k.a. Queen West SoHo) is one the city’s more popular shopping districts. It features trendy restaurants, cutting-edge fashion, galleries, antique shops and dance clubs.
Toronto’s garment district has terrific bargains on local fashions, fabric, leathers and furs. If you’re looking for a custom-made original design, this is the place to shop.
This Toronto hotspot is strictly upper crust. One of Toronto’s more elegant shopping and dining areas, Yorkville’s designer boutiques, antique shops and galleries are absolutely first-class. The area features a gallery of small courtyards and alleyways, including a contemporary park located in the very heart of the neighbourhood.
Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville Hotel
If you are visiting Toronto, you will want to be located in Yorkville – the soul of the city’s fashionable areas. The Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville is located in the heart of downtown’s chic Yorkville District. Heighten your senses and prepare to be enlightened by our hotel’s exciting guest room renovations featuring 42-inch LCD TVs, large work spaces, ergonomic chairs, and much more. This upscale Toronto hotel welcomes guests with award-winning service, Marriott’s luxurious Revive Bedding Collection and convenient amenities. The hotel’s neighborhood is where you will find some of the city’s most sought-after attractions. Various (And creative) packages are available.
The Gay Village
Dubbed “The Village” by locals, this predominantly gay neighbourhood in the heart of downtown is host to Canada’s largest annual gay and lesbian Pride celebrations. Check out the many bars, shops and restaurants walk the strip or simply enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by …
Antique shops, clapboard cottages and quirky stores and restaurants typify the Beach. The beachside boardwalk is crowded with joggers, dog-walkers and picnickers, and the beach itself is packed in the summer. Home to students, professors and media types, the Beach is upscale and laid-back at once, with a relaxed attitude unlike anywhere else in the city.
Rosedale and Forest Hill
Home to many of Toronto’s most established (and moneyed) citizens, these parklike districts feature winding streets lined with magnificent homes, well-tended gardens, and secluded parks.
Bordering and enveloping Toronto’s most prestigious university, The Annex is a student-friendly neighbourhood sporting easy-on-the-wallet pizza joints, sushi restaurants, pubs and cafes. Bloor Street is the main drag with institutions like Honest Ed’s and The Bloor Cinema anchored conveniently near the Bathurst subway stop. Further south on Harbord, new-ish restos bring in the 30 plus crowd to a stretch that is quickly becoming a dining destination.
Cabbagetown, once one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Toronto, is now a much sought-after enclave boasting restored Victorian homes, friendly neighbourhood pubs and one of the best cafes in the city. For the local gossip, head to Jet Fuel, where patrons are so hyped on caffeine they refuse to stock decaf. Nearby Riverdale Park is home to the Riverdale Farmers’ Market, one of Toronto’s best. And if talking to the farmers doesn’t feel like you’re close enough to the source, there’s always the family friendly Riverdale Farm which affords a more intimate encounter.
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