FLAVOUR A constantly bustling neighbourhood where nonstop entertainment is the name of the game.
THE CLOCK From lunchtime to well after 2 a.m. when the bars and nightclubs close.
GETTING THERE Take the University subway line to St. Patrick or Osgoode. If travelling by car, take the Gardiner Expressway to York Street.
WHAT TO DO Sample a night or afternoon of theatre at a number of different venues offering everything from classical concerts at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe St., 416-872-4255) and live comedy at Yuk Yuks, to full-scale musicals. There is also a bounty of tours available throughout the district including several behind-the-scenes opportunities at Toronto’s largest and busiest sport venues, the Air Canada Centre, home of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs, and SkyDome, home turf of MLB’s Blue Jays and CFL’s Argonauts. Longing for hockey season to start again? Check out the Hockey Hall of Fame or if you prefer watching the game on the box, explore this country’s radio and television history at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. For big-screen thrills, check out The Paramount (259 Richmond St. W., 416-368-5600), a sky-high movieplex . After all that sport and culture, unwind with a walkabout and a sample at the Steamwhistle Brewery.
While a tour is a great way to get special access, setting out on foot can be just as rewarding. The most obvious starting point is the one you can see from almost anywhere you stand downtown—the CN Tower. But before you step into the glass elevator, don’t miss Canada’s Walk of Fame, featuring the sidewalk stars of such Canadian talent as Mike Myers and Shania Twain. If you haven’t been star-struck enough, head down to the MZTV Museum of Television (277 Queen St. W., 416-599-7339) for a look at the evolution of the boob tube. To find out what the TV brings you now, check out the neighbouring ChumCity building (you’ll know it by the car jutting out the east wall), home to several popular TV programs and channels including MuchMusic. After all that sightseeing, feel free to offer your own review of the city—or just about anything else—at Speaker’s Corner (299 Queen St. W., at John Street), where $2 gets you the chance to vent, cheer or simply smile for the video camera.
WHAT TO BUY Make sure to save some daytime energy to take advantage of the the great shopping throughout the district. For a huge selection of sports gear and paraphrenalia, there are plenty of specialty shops along King Street West. If you want to take your athletic interests a step further, head to the Canadian owned and operated Mountain Equipment Co-Op (400 King St. W., 416-340-2667).
Some of the best retail in the city can be found along Queen Street West, where home decor boutiques and funky clothing shops combine to create one of the most unique shopping destinations in North America. Meanwhile, West Queen West offers a bevy of commercial galleries for art aficionados and novice collectors alike, as well as one-of-a-kind fashions by local designers.
WHAT TO EAT Whatever your tastes—from fine dining and casual lunching, to fabulous brunches and lively sports bars—the Entertainment District is guaranteed to stand and deliver. For a romantic dinner try 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower, La Fenice (319 King St. W., 416-585-2377) or Le Sélect Bistro. If fine dining is what you’re craving then don’t miss The Fifth, YYZ and Avalon (270 Adelaide St. W., 416-979-9918). For funky pre-theatre dining try Club Lucky, Kit Kat and Barootes. For a more lively environment try Leoni’s Italian Kitchen, Wayne Gretzky’s and Loose Moose.
PHOTO OPS CN Tower Canada’s Walk of Fame; animal sculptures outside the Metro Convention Centre (255 Front St. W.); sculpture outside the Hockey Hall of Fame; ChumCity Building.
Considered on par with New York and London, Toronto’s world-class theatre productions raise their curtains nightly and offer everything from big budget musicals to experimental theatre.
One of the biggest shows, Mamma Mia!, the feel-good musical jam-packed with ABBA hits, closes July 2 for a summer hiatus and is set to reopen on September 30. Toronto’s other Mirvish production, The Lion King, has been a blockbuster since it opened. With its timeless story, award-winning Tim Rice and Elton John soundtrack and innovative art direction, this popular show is a must-see, especially before it closes for good on September 28.
The riotous Tony & Tina’s Wedding (pictured), a send-up of the Italian-American wedding, continues at Second City. Second City also offers a variety of comedy reviews and improv shows every night of the week.
Look for Evita in August at Jane Mallet Theatre and coming up for next season, Chicago, The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, Copenhagen, Hairspray and The Producers light up local stages.
There are numerous theatres across the city that showcase great works throughout the year, including the Portland Street Theatre, Factory Theatre, Buddies and Bad Times Theatre, Famous People Players, Toronto Truck Theatre, Artword Theatre, Berkeley Street Theatre, Toronto Centre for the Arts, St. Lawrence Centre, Hummingbird Centre, du Maurier Theatre Centre, Tarragon Theatre, Canon Theatre and the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres.