DAY NUMBER 1: SPORTS
BREAKFAST: Start the day with a nod to a hockey legend and have an apple fritter at one of many downtown Tim Horton’s. Over Easy is the place for eggs as many ways as you can imagine. Marché has choices from fresh squeezed juices, to multigrain rolls and fruit salad to danishes, rosti and grilled sausage.
A.M. ACTIVITIES: After breakfast head to The Hockey Hall of Fame in BCE Place, right next to the Marché. If you’re lucky, the Stanley Cup will be on display. Tons of interactive displays will take up as much time as you let them. It’s a four-block jaunt west along Front Street to the second half of your morning-a tour of the fabulous SkyDome. If there’s a game set up and no tours, squeeze in a tour of the Air Canada Centre instead and check out where the Raptors and the Maple Leafs change and practice.
LUNCH: No sports theme day is complete without a meal at The Great One’s restaurant—Wayne Gretzky’s. The place is a veritable shrine to Wayne, with jerseys, portraits and hockey sticks all over. Plus, the food is really quite good, especially Grandma Gretzky’s family-recipe pierogis and meatloaf.
P.M. ACTIVITIES: Tour the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame, and afterwards take a turn at putting on some gloves and going a few rounds at Florida Jack’s Boxing Club. Later, hit a few buckets of balls at the City Core Golf & Driving Range, rock climb at Joe Rockheads, or rent a bike and spin around the lakeside bicycle trail.
SHOPS: Even sports types shop—leave a golfer in a good golf store and come back in a couple of hours. Just a wee sampling: Collectors Studio Motorsports Gallery and Sports Mint Yorkville for racing memorabilia, Nike Toronto for duds and equipment, River City Sports for all kinds of licensed stuff, and outdoor and adventure shops Europe Bound and Mountain Equipment Co-op.
DINNER: Think big sports guys, think juicy steaks and plate upon plate of pasta. Toronto has muchos places for big beef, see page 100 of the Dining Guide. Craving carbs? Go to Leoni’s Italian Kitchen where the checkered tablecloths have caught the drips of many a famous sports star. Their visits are so regular that their photos line the walls—Vince Carter, Antonio Davis and Roger Clemens, to name a few.
DRINKS: Try Alice Fazooli’s, with all its baseball paintings and decor, for sports celeb spotting.
NIGHT ACTIVITIES: There are tons of nighttime sporting activities. Take in a Blue Jays game downtown or a Lynx soccer game at Centennial Park. Closer to the airport is Woodbine Racetrack and the Slots at Woodbine, a quarter-mile track with nightly racing, a fab dining room, bars that overlook over the track and a gaming area with 2,200 slot machines. You’ll be good there for hours and hours.
NIGHTCAP: Vinnie’s is the place to wind down (or wind up) with a kid-free, games-filled bar in the middle of the Entertainment District. Bowling, foozeball, simulator rides, videogames, Vinnie’s has it all.
DAY NUMBER 2: HISTORY
BREAKFAST: History hounds, Toronto is the town for you. Begin at The Senator, a diner in all its classic glory. Corned beef hash, mmm. Or, visit the historic St. Lawrence Market, celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. You can help yourself to the signature peameal bacon on a bun, baked goods, cheeses from all over the world or fresh fruit salads, from the individual vendors. There are many spots to eat indoors and out.
A.M. ACTIVITIES: Stay in the area for a bit and wander about. In this part of Old Town, there are seven birthdays going on this year, not one of them under 100. (Visit www.WHERE.ca/toronto and do a search for the feature “In the Market for Birthday?” to find out about more historic properties in the area.) Toronto’s First Post Office is a quick and fun visit—see how many words Victorian scribes could fit on one piece of paper. Morning is a good time to explore Old Fort York and see costumed guides live the life of the late 18th century. If you stay until noon, be advised that the gunfire you hear is part of the show. Other noteworthy sites are the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, the City of Toronto Archives, or tag along on a guided tour of the University of Toronto.
LUNCH: If you’ve stuck to the Old Town area, very dressy types will love lunch at Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel’s Cafe Victoria, with its graceful seating and the lovely plasterwork; or The Courthouse Market Grille, where you can see some of the original jail cells or sup al fresco on the garden patio.
P.M. ACTIVITIES: If you are a scholar of the skies you must head north to visit Toronto’s homage to the Avro Arrow, at the Toronto Aerospace Museum—its consuming passion is the construction of a replica Avro CF-105 Arrow Supersonic Interceptor, which first flew over Toronto in 1958. If you want to stay downtown, you can spend the afternoon at the Royal Ontario Museum or tour Toronto’s own castle, Casa Loma, grandly set up above Davenport Road so as to allow Sir Henry Pellatt a view of the entire city. Find a bonus on the third floor—The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum (416-923-1171).
SHOPS: What do history buffs like to shop for? Why, antiques, stamps, coins, china, tin soldiers, military memorabilia—all likely found under one roof at the Toronto Antiques Centre, a collection of independent antique and collectible dealers. As well, check out the shops lining Davenport Road between Bay Street and Avenue Road; D&E Lake Ltd. for antique books, maps and prints; the always-worth-a-poke pawn shops on Church Street, where many local dealers pick up their stuff from the likes of H. Williams & Co. ; Mount Pleasant Road between Davisville and Eglinton avenues and The Beaches neighbourhood.
DINNER: There are many fine old restaurants that possess a historical ambience including Carman’s, a steakhouse celebrating its 44th year in business, The Old Mill and The David Duncan House. Or you can dine with one of the ghosts at the Keg Mansion, including the maid of the former owner. Slap on a paper crown and watch knights on horseback while you feast at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament.
NIGHT ACTIVITIES: Grab a cab and say Toronto Truck Theatre, where you will be in the audience of North America’s longest running play, The Mousetrap.
NIGHTCAP: If you’re not quite ready for sherry in bed, there is much history to be soaked up at the Roof Lounge, on top of the Park Hyatt. Or go to the bar at Tom Jones Steakhouse, for Old World ambience accompanied by a tinkling piano on the weekends.
DAY NUMBER 3: BROADCAST/FILM/TV
BREAKFAST: Start your day one of two ways. Eat in-room while watching Citytv’s BT-Breakfast Television, part of the 1980s ground-breaking studio-style television of Moses Znaimer. Or, try breakfast out at Movenpick’s Palavrion, across from the Metro Convention Centre, or at Ooh-La-La Wholesome Eats in the CBC Building, either of which will put you in perfect position for the first event of the day.
A.M. ACTIVITIES: Tours! A tour of the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, book a tour of ChumCity headquarters, the location of such TV networks as Much Music and Bravo, or check out the MZTV Museum of Television, displaying the coolest TVs you have ever seen.
LUNCH: Stay in the area and have deli fare at Shopsy’s TV City featuring 65 TV screens, or check out the collection of Hollywood memorabilia at Planet Hollywood, which includes Elizabeth Taylor’s headdress from Cleopatra, and an alien from Independence Day. For a different view of the silver screen, try Lakeview Lunch or Canary Grill, both favourites of film types, and used as sets for countless film and television shows.
P.M. ACTIVITIES: For a quiet afternoon, visit the National Film Board Mediatheque, where you can view documentaries, shorts, features, cartoons, dramas, basically anything that has been produced by the NFB (and that’s a lot of film) for $3 an hour. After your eyes adjust to the light outside, stroll over to Simcoe Street in front of Roy Thomson Hall and trace the Canada’s Walk of Fame. You’ll see the names of many film and entertainment greats such as Jim Carrey, Leslie Nielsen, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, as well as most recent inductees Mike Myers and Shania Twain.
SHOPS: The shopping is good for entertainment-related stuff. The CHUMCity Store, Retro Fun, Celebrities, Theatrebooks for scripts, Stardust for posters and licensed giftware. For neat stuff that attracts big stars, drop by Ice.
DINNER: Option #1. Now is the time to get serious about celeb spotting. As a rule, Bloor-Yorkville hotels seem to net the lions share of four-star celebs—must be that long-standing film festival relationship with Sutton Place, The Four Seasons, The Windsor Arms and The Park Hyatt. Try Sassafraz and be sure to check the celeb photos, Bistro 990, long the It spot for film fest celebrants, Bellini’s, Il Posto Nuovo, Avenues Bar at The Four Seasons and Sotto Sotto. Option #2. With more than 800 films and TV shows to its credit as a location, wander about the newly opened Distillery District and soak up the scenery. Can you see where Chicago, The Recruit and ,X-Men were lensed? Tuck into one of seven restaurants, then eat and drink the night away without going more than 300 yards. Option #3. Be a cast member yourself at Tony & Tina’s Wedding, five years strong and still going with its send-up of the Italian wedding feast; or join Second City and the current show Bush League of Justice to catch a rising star—the same troupe produced Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers and John Candy.
NIGHT ACTIVITIES: Check out some comedy clubs, see a foreign flick at Cinematheque Ontario at the Art Gallery of Ontario, or if you have a vehicle, reel back time at The Docks drive-in theatre.
NIGHTCAP: The Roof, Avenues at the Four Seasons or Club 22 at the Windsor Arms to see celebs and beautiful people, or Betty’s to see the city’s media types.
DAY NUMBER 4: DESIGN
BREAKFAST: Try The Senator to see the original art deco decor.
A.M. ACTIVITIES: The morning focus of Design Day will be gardens, the afternoon interiors. Travel east past Jarvis on Carlton Street and view the stunning glass Palm House, filled with tropical plants and blooms at Allan Gardens. Be mindful of the rather colourful folks who make their home on the grounds outside. Backtrack west to the Cloud Forest Conservatory on Richmond Street, a City of Toronto project that has transformed a second-floor rooftop into a steamy tropical oasis.
LUNCH: Still on the garden theme, try La Bodega on Baldwin Street for the incredible wisteria on the patio, or La Maquette, which overlooks the Toronto Sculpture Garden. Switch to interior design and arrive at The Design Exchange in time to take in lunch and some exhibits at Kubo D/X.
P.M. ACTIVITIES: Shop Queen Street West (Caban, Jalan, Pavilion, Quasi Modo), then King Street East, the area for home and office decor (Harvest House, UpCountry, UpCountry Gardens, Ziggurat, Neinkamper, Triede, etc.), then move on to Bloor-Yorkville (Ashley China, En Provence, Christofle, Amarynth, Williams-Sonoma, Boutique Sérénité, Pottery Barn). Sidetrip #1: The Textile Museum of Canada. Sidetrip #2: The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.
DINNER: If there is one thing Toronto is not in short supply of it’s incredibly cool restaurant and club design, partnered with superior kitchens. For dinner, try Rain, Monsoon, Centro, Xacutti, Rouge, Zoom, Oro and Susur.
DRINKS: Bar hopping amid cool interiors can take you to any of these: Two Rosehill, Shmooze, Brasserie Aix, Rain, YYZ, 606 and SpaHa.
DAY NUMBER 5: FASIONISTA
BREAKFAST: Set your internal clock to fabulous. Start the day at ultra modern Brassaii, in a converted tea factory, for a sit-down brekkie of Nutella and toast.
A.M. ACTIVITIES: Head out for Queen Street West and a stretch at one of the area’s many yoga studios. The Downward Dog is a haven for models and moms alike; Yogagurl is a small intimate studio. Then, shop, shop, shop, where there are at least four hours of shopping crammed into an hour and a half. Pick some athletic wear across the street at Lululemon. From there, hop on and off the eastbound streetcar to save time, looking out for Any Direct Flight, Lilith, Lowon Pope, Annie Thompson, Brian Bailey, Rubies Beauty Bar, Wenches and Rogues, Price Roman, Fashion Crimes, and Jet Rag.
LUNCH: In the Queen Street neighbourhood, lovely lunches can be had at Red Tea Box, a hot spot favoured for its large selection of exotic teas and original cakes, Swan with its hip vintage decor, and lovely trattoria Noce. Or, hail a cab and go directly to Holt Renfrew, where everyone not only looks fabulous, but is, and have lunch at the Holt’s Café. Annona, La Rotisserie, Pangaea and Dynasty Chinese Cuisine, Amber, Il Posto Nuovo, Le Trou Normand, and Signatures are also great in-the-area options.
P.M. ACTIVITIES: Bloor-Yorkville for the afternoon, with all the requisite 5th Avenue/Rodeo Drive/Rue de Faubourg names: Hermès, Cartier, Chanel, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Escada, Max Mara. Stores to search for: Harry Rosen, Andrews, Nicolas Menswear, Hoax Couture, Augustina, Peachy Fresh, Over the Rainbow. Sidetrip #1: The Bata Shoe Museum for celebrity shoe exhibit Starstruck. Sidetrip #2: Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue for Zola, Want Boutique, and a late-night latté at LaMarca Fashion Café.
dinner, drinks, NIGHTCAP: Cool places cluster in the College Street area, and with unique stores like Vespa haven Motoretta, Sim & Jones, Girl Friday and Rapp Optical, it’s easy to see why fashionistas head this way. Stay in the area the whole evening for dinner, drinks and nightcaps. Try Bar Italia, Coco Lezzone, Teatro, Café Diplomatico, Chiado, Café Societa, Sintra, Xacutti, Kalendar Koffee House, Li’ly and Butt’r.
More–>—the Where staff