EVEN MULTI-SPORT FANATICS NEED AN OCCASIONAL BREAK FROM THE NEAR-CONSTANT COMPETITION DURING THE PAN AM GAMES’ 17 DAYS. A FEW HOURS SPENT EXPLORING THE HOST CITY’S MYRIAD NEIGHBOURHOODS IS JUST THE TICKET!
Although they’re definitely the summer’s main event, the Pan American Games are hardly the only, well, game in town. Get the most out of your visit by setting aside some time—between checking out the basketball tournament, cheering on the triathletes and being wowed by wakeboarders’ stunts—to get to know Toronto’s compelling history, shopping hubs and cosmopolitan restaurant scene through these four downtown neighbourhoods.
WEST QUEEN WEST
The city’s cool cachet arises particularly from the hip pockets along Queen and Dundas streets, west of Bathurst. The former is especially well known as Toronto’s art and design district: many top contemporary art galleries are open for viewing, while indie boutiques boast trendy fashions from Toronto, across Canada and abroad. Feeling peckish? Among the area’s many dining destinations are restaurants serving the cuisine of varied Pan Am-participant countries: visit Branca for Argentinian barbecue, Mata Petisco Bar for Brazilian-inspired bites, La Cubana for a Cuban diner experience, Arepa Café for Venezuelan sandwiches and Fonda Lola for modern Mexican.
OLD TOWN TORONTO
Established more than 200 years ago, the original 10 blocks of the town of York places our history directly adjacent to the Pan Am Athletes’ Village—soon to be our newest ‘hood. There are many must-sees here, including the quaint cafés, stylish restaurants and contemporary art galleries of the Distillery District, as well as the world-renowned St. Lawrence Market.
Get some rest and relaxation in Toronto’s east end: The Beach boasts a huge stretch of sand and surf, plus quiet residential streets to stroll. If you’re looking for something a little livelier, the beloved Beaches International Jazz Festival features a Games-inspired celebration during its opening weekend. From July 10 to 12, two stages at Woodbine Park pay homage to the musical traditions of Pan Am nations, with performances ranging from the Latin jazz of La Gran Colombia Orchestra to reggae and calypso by Bustamento to the locally honed funk of KC Roberts and the Live Revolution.
Picking up a Pachi plush doll is certainly one way to remember the Pan Am Games experience, but if shopping is your favourite sport, Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood is your proverbial coliseum. Many of the world’s most coveted brands line Bloor Street West between Yonge Street and Avenue Road. You’ll want to ensure you’re in peak form to race from Burberry to Hermès to Williams-Sonoma. Of course, regardless of your fitness, you can get as much gold and silver—though not likely bronze—as you can carry at the likes of Royal de Versailles and Cartier. Off the main strip, Yorkville proper boasts a bevy of refined local retailers, including bespoke suit shop Nicolas and sophisticated ladies’ fave Pink Tartan.